The ever plaguing question for parents. We have asked ourselves this question time and time again. When we look at our child keep walking past their guitar or piano, day after day. Not practicing. the question then arrises... Am I wasting my money? Is this even worth my and my child's time? ARE PRIVATE LESSONS WORTH IT?
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
If you have ever felt this way, then please don't feel like you are alone in this. I have seen my children act this way with many things. My daughter had done this with dance and even the very lessons that I teach her. She seems to not have interest in the things in the moment. This is actually not an uncommon thing with skill based things.
Skills are developed over time and so children with short attention spans (essentially all children) will tend to lose interest in even a short amount of time. I can hear the question now "but why would I spend money on something that my children don't have a 100% interest in?"
That's a really good question and I have a few thoughts on that. But first I want to talk about what a child really learns when they are in music classes. Music is more than just playing music an learning. It also has some other aspects that have been proven to grow children in mutiple ways. One of those ways is socially.
This is especially good with children who are homeschooled. When children take music and are collaborating with other children (either in our parent child classes or in our group music classes) they learn how to talk to other children and express their ideas. This is huge when talking about social development with extends all the way into adult life. We rely heavily on social skills to convey and communicate what we would like. Then come to a concensus of what that actually looks like and how to achieve it. It also helps with teamwork, and problem solving. All of these things are important for growing children and teens into productive adults.
If that isn't compelling let's talk about all of the other ways lessons benefit children.
When children are exposed to music at a younger age they tend to excel in things like math, language development, pattern recognition, and more. But how does it do this?
Music is a vessel in which education can flow freely and easily. Much like when playing a sport you love, the exercise exerted isn't as excruciating as if you were to do it without the fun aspect of the sport, in the same way music provides a fun avenue for learning to happen. Language development comes through lyrics and hearing them over and over again while fine and gross motor control is practiced through movement along with and to the music. Put them together and you are bridging the gaps of music, movement and learning. Patterns found in music help in recognizing patterns in language and math. Put the kids in a group and do this and one song can easily help develop gross and fine motor control, pattern recognition, speech development, and social skills in the group setting. ALL IN ONE SONG!!! This is much more effective than sitting still and listening.
So, what about older kids? As I mentioned before, problem solving is a really important skill to learn and older kids will be pushed to exercise that in lessons (even if they don't pick up the instrument at home). But they also learn how to teach and grow in knowing the material by helping fellow classmates.
Private Lessons? Wasting there?
Private lessons may look different but they achieve similar results (not so much the social part). In a private lesson, students progress at their own speed. This doesn't mean that practice isn't important but it certainly isn't the most important thing.
I know, I may have turned some heads with that statment but give me a minute to explain. Practice is certainly important, it helps students progress much faster when done correctly. However, if a student spends time at home practicing hours a day and dreads every second of it and then comes to lessons apathetic because of that practice time instead of loving lessons, then that really isn't a win. It's not always about the end product, but is more about the journey on the path to musicianship.
If a student enjoys the lessons, eventually they will start to enjoy the process of playing the music. This means the more time that they spend playing durring the lessons that they love, the more likely they will pick up their guitar at least once or twice a week for 5 minutes. When they start to hear music on tv that they like, eventually you will see them run to grab their guitar and try to play it.
So, is this all a waste if your child doesn't seem to want to practice? Well, ask yourself this question, have they ever been excited to tell you something about lessons? Or maybe, you see excitement on their face after they perfrom for the first time on a stage? Or maybe, they have been listening to more music with their instrument showcased? Or, have they showed a sibling something they learned on their instrument? Or any other small thing like that. If the answer is yes then I would say it is absolutely NOT a waste of time.
If your answer is no? Then I would say it still is NOT a waste. They still are in a place that is able to facilitate, better than any other medium, an academic environment with the goal of growing the minds and creativeness of these children. Just like my daughter who doesn't dance all hours of the day after her class (even sometimes durring class) however, just the meer talking about going to lessons is enough to show that they are very much interested. Don't give up on lessons. You're children will thank you in the future.