"You have to do different things with both hands at the same time!"
I was 10 years old at my first piano lesson, and only because my brother had insisted on receiving piano lessons, like his best friend, for months. My mum thought, if anything, then let's have both children go. But I didn't want to.
My main argument was: you have to do two completely different things at the same time with both hands! How complicated! Not doing it! (I hear those words today quite often as a piano teacher.)
Since 8 I had learned recorder (my first instrument) and formed part of a musical group in the church. I could read music, had flute lessons, sang in the children's choir, and had many friends there. I was splendidly sorted in the music department. But I was curious, too.
Intellectual and non-emotional piano lessons
My piano teacher and her husband tought privately in their home. He was a concert pianist, she was actually a cellist. (Maybe there lay the first error.) My brother would have lessons with the husband, me with the wife.
As a person, I liked my teacher; she was always cheerful but could be strict, too. I always admired her. From today's perspective, I find her tuition intellectual and not body oriented, not focusing at all on sound or emotion. I kept learning one piece after the other like on an assembly line (of course I could: I was 10, and with that intellectually "loadable", I could read music and had some performing experience). I could do it - though it was not much fun.
The natural consequence: I practiced less and less. I specially hated walz-like pieces where the left hand would jump several times each bar. I could never manage that well. She probably tried to explain to me how to do it, but I didn't understand. The feeling of doing two separate things continued. I didn't learn much about music. I could play pieces, but music was not expression, just plain pressure. And I was insecure.
In spite of it all, apparently my teacher liked my progress; she had me play for her husband sometimes. At class recitals I was terribly nervous but they always went well. Once, she tried to convince me to participate at the German children's competition "Jugend Musiziert". I refused categorically. I was against any form of grown-ups showing off at my cost. But actually I would have liked to do it. She and my mother tried to convince me for (what felt like) months. When I was about to say yes, they stopped asking. And so I didn't take part.
How to effectively quit the piano
After about one and a half years I didn't want to continue. The mixture of pressure and insecurity had become too much. Hands were thrown up in despair, admonitory words spoken, one last attempt tried: did I want to have lessons with the husband instead? Yes, ok. That went for a few months. From today's perspective I remember him as a capable teacher and a little distant. Maybe it was just too late to "convert" me with this kind of teaching. I'd have needed something else. The change didn't light up the flame. Then, my father said: you can quit. I was 12. I felt incredibly relieved.
If you've been reading until here, then I'm sure you have your own experience with piano lessons, and I'm interested in that.
Did your child have piano lessons? Did you have piano lessons? Did you stop, did you continue, did you maybe even get a piano diploma…? Do you teach? I ask because my most important project for this year is to write a book about piano and Resonance Training. Where can this book support you as a parent, as a student, as a teacher?
I created a survey to quantify the answers. No claim for science, just to feel the pulse of current or past piano lessons. So that we can together create solutions for the future of piano lessons.
You can participate as a parent, a student and a teacher and receive only questions that are relevant to you. The survey takes 3-5 minutes. It would mean the world to me if you want to participate.
The survey is closed now. You can still send me your experience by email. I'd love to hear from you.