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5 Things to Consider Before Your Child Abandons Music Lessons

5 Things to Consider Before Your Child Abandons Music Lessons

There are plenty of reasons to start learning music – but, what about reasons to stop? Enrolling your kids in music lessons is an exciting new journey, especially if you’re a music lover yourself. Studies have found that kids who take music lessons perform better in math, exercise greater patience, and are more collaborative in nature.

There comes a time in every music-practicing family, however, when your child asks to stop taking music lessons. The reasons for the request vary, but almost every parent will run into this at some point – and parents should think twice before granting the request. It’s okay for children to stop doing an activity they don’t enjoy. But make sure your kids are quitting for the right reasons; otherwise, they may miss out on an enjoyable and fulfilling lifelong hobby. It’s not often that music teachers hear adults regret having stuck with their music lessons as a child – it’s typically the other way around.

Keep these considerations in mind before allowing your child to ditch music lessons for good.

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The Instrument

If your child expresses disinterest in music lessons, perhaps it’s time to switch instruments. Ask her instructor about other lessons – the teacher may have a good recommendation, or may allow your child to test out a new instrument. Sometimes, adding a second instrument can provide a new level of excitement about music education – and renew interest in the first instrument. Understanding the way instruments work together brings in a new component to music lessons, and may re-energize interest.

There’s another psychological component at work here: if your child feels like the decision of what instrument to play was made by parents, he or she may not feel as much ownership over the activity. This can change entirely, if you give the decision back to the student. Talk with your music lesson provider about the options available to your children – then, come up with a plan to either integrate a second instrument, or replace the first one with something new (that your child chooses herself!).

Scheduling

Take a hard look at everything going on in your child’s schedule – between school, extracurricular, and social activities, is your child getting enough down time? Contemporary research shows that children who are over-programmed have higher levels of stress, and depression. It’s tough to know where to draw the line. Which is more important – music lessons, or sports? Homework, or choir practice? Are all of the activities in your child’s life feeding long-term goals, or are some just arbitrary?

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Start by looking at your child’s current schedule, and ask which activities he or she likes the most – then, ask what he or she wishes there was more time to do. Point out the gains the child has made in each area, and decide if some things can drop from the schedule, to allow more time for music lessons and practice. Remember that practicing is a huge part of learning music – if your child’s schedule doesn’t leave enough time to practice, music lessons can start to feel stagnated or stressful, as progress becomes more difficult. Perhaps there is a way to cut back on music responsibilities, but still remain in lessons. Before you make the drastic decision to completely stop lessons, look for ways to rearrange or build time in your kids’ schedules.

Motivation for Lessons

When music lessons begin to feel overwhelming, consider the whole point of taking them in the first place. Many extracurricular activities for kids are designed with fun in mind, but music goes deeper than that. When kids experience challenges in music lessons, it may seem easier (in their minds) to simply stop taking lessons – but often this isn’t the best policy. Some of the world’s greatest musicians bloomed late in life. If they had abandoned their dreams based on difficulty, the world would have never known showstoppers like Leonard Cohen, Susan Boyle, or Sheryl Crow.

Ask yourself – why did you enroll your children in music lessons? You probably enrolled them because learning music builds confidence, boosts academic performance, and stimulates brain waves – the challenges that arise are part of that quality-building process. Anything worthwhile in life comes with some difficulty, and takes hard work to accomplish; your child may be too young to understand that yet. If your child is asking to stop taking lessons, ask why. If it’s because it’s “too hard,” have an honest conversation about how challenges bring opportunities. Ask how you can help get your child past the current obstacle, and encourage him or her to ask for more guidance from the instructor – this is a great opportunity to learn firsthand the triumph that comes with overcoming a challenge.

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The Parent

This may be the most difficult factor to consider, as it requires some self-reflection. As a parent, ask yourself if you could be doing more to support your child’s musical learning. It’s easy to assume the responsibility for nurturing musical growth lies with the paid instructor, but in truth, parents share in this role. It may not be enough to tell your child to practice; sit down with your kids while they play – give instruction if you know how to play, or simply give encouraging feedback. Perhaps sit in on some of their lessons, and get excited about performances.

Remember that part of the satisfaction kids experience from music lessons is pleasing their parents. Show your kids that you’re proud of them, especially in times when the lessons seem particularly difficult. If you want to foster their musical interest, don’t complain in front of your child about the time it takes, or the cost of the lessons. When your kids see that you are completely on board with lessons, they will have more enthusiasm too.

Don’t Quit for the Wrong Reasons

If your child truly doesn’t enjoy his or her musical activity, it’s okay to stop taking lessons, or change course with a new instrument. Children often don’t have the emotional insight to analyze their own feelings accurately – so it’s your job as a parent, to help figure out if your child actually dislikes music, or if there’s something else at play.

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Before you throw in the towel on music lessons as a whole, think about the reasons behind your child’s request to quit. How can you better accommodate the lessons in your family schedule to keep them? Does your child have the big picture in mind? Parents have the responsibility to look at music lessons – and all character-building endeavors – from every angle, before making any permanent decisions. Down the road, you won’t likely regret the decision to persevere with your child’s lessons – but you might have second thoughts if your child abandons music too young.

Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Jennifer Paterson

President of California Music Studios

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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