A Necessary Attitude
Music is an amazing experience. It takes us to new places, it changes our feelings, and can bring us peace. After we've taken that plunge to make music a more personal part of our life, we take on a participation, creation role.
But as with everything, time marches on, old habits take root, and we struggle. We struggle to continue with the passion we felt. At this point a person can double down on their effort, riddled with guilt, or they simply let the musical pursuit fall to the wayside.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Especially for children who are taking lessons. We often try to instill a sense of discipline in our children when it comes to practice. "Every day!" "Thirty minutes!" "That's how you become an amazing pianist/guitarist/drummer!"
I often hear from adults, "I wish I had learned to play when I was younger." This attitude implies that learning only happens at a young age, preferably before the age of 20, and that after that, it's just too late.
Both of these attitudes fail to develop an necessary attitude. Music encourages life long learning. As I work with students and parents I often repeat this phrase, "We are building a pattern of life long learning with music."
Who wouldn't like to learn a new language? Learn a new skill? Even develop a new career?
We want our musicians to play for the rest of his or her life. If we get frustrated or angry with a 15 minute practice session vs. a 30 minute practice session, we miss the boat. Instead we should be asking (without judgement), "Did you enjoy your practice time?" (We can always encourage more or better practice time, but it should never be a fight or a struggle.)
As parents we carry a big red button on our forehead. This button says, "I paid for this, so you owe me!" As long as we have that big red button on our forehead, our kids will figure out a way to push it and engage our frustrated side. As long as music has a "frustrated parent" price tag associated to it, our kids will never take personal responsibility and more important personal interest in music.
We have to remove that button, and allow our children to discover love for music on their own terms. It is only then that they will continue that life-long pursuit and continue to play even after they have left our homes.