My children have always loved playing music.
Drums, piano, guitar, violin, and a whole host of percussion instruments that we've collected over the years.
Last year I was excited to have the opportunity to allow them both to have piano lessons. I made it clear from the beginning they would be responsible to practice the lessons and that I would not be reminding them to play. I wanted them to be inspired all on their own. They both took the first lesson from a very kind piano teacher.
My youngest son immediately told me that he did not want to take lessons anymore. He couldn't sit still for the whole half an hour session and thought he might wait until he got bigger.
My oldest son was thrilled! He loved having a teacher to show him things about the piano that he didn't know. So we started the lessons once a week, and I was so happy to watch my son excited to do his lessons all on his own each week. He seemed to be right where he needed to be, living authentically and peacefully on his musical path.
This was when the idea that "more is better" came over us. Inspired, my mother-in-law said she would pay for lessons if he wanted to go twice a week. My husband was thrilled and thought since he is doing so well with one lesson a week, two lessons a week would make him great.
We spoke to my son and he replied with an unsure, "yes."
What was a great love, quickly turned into "have tos" and "shoulds." With two lessons a week, he had so much more to do and so much more to learn, he couldn't keep up. My husband and I for the first time began reminding him to practice and asking him if he was caught up.
His resistance to piano grew and I began to notice this connection between piano lessons and stress for all of us in the house. I asked my son if he would like to go back to one lesson a week. His "yes" reply was quick. I believed everything would go back to the way it was. He would have more time to learn his lessons and practice and his love for learning the piano would come back the way it was.
He continued to be resistant to learning his new lessons and he asked if he could only go every other week. The piano teacher agreed even though she didn't have this schedule with anyone else. One month later, my son had still not practiced his new songs once. He asked if he could take a break for now. Of course, we said yes.
As I thought about the turn of events of a child whose natural love for music needed no help, turn into a child who was inspired to learn at a pace that made sense for him. With outside influences coming in to pressure him ever so lovingly to be bigger better and more, his fire of inspiration was put out.
This made me wonder how many times overzealous parents, like ourselves, with the best intentions, try to ensure that their children will be the best at something they already love. Through this innocent action they unintentionally create a child who is afraid to love anything for fear it will become the next thing they need to perform so they can receive kudos from their parents.
So maybe he won't be a concert pianist at age 15, however, maybe just maybe, as time goes by he may just fall in love with the piano again.