We have this old piano in our lounge room that is about to be retired and upcycled to a desk.  As I was talking about these plans my friend and I started to talk about the girls and how they are going with their piano playing.  In the midst of the conversation I made a passing comment that I have never made my girls practice piano.  And this is why.

 

Piano has been a delight subject to my girls.  It has been their choice, something they wanted to learn.  I have provided the tools, the lessons, the time – but never the motivation.  The motivation has had to come from the student.

 

Practically speaking I have said to them as they were working out what next to do: Have you had your piano practice today?  But if they were to shrug it off, that would be the end of it.  Until lesson time came – I’m paying for lessons, and if they have to go to lesson time unprepared then that is the consequences of their choices.  Of course, there have been times when I’ve cancelled lessons, but rarely because of irresponsibility.

 

Our homeschooling day is set up with several priorities*:

  • Discipleship studies – these are the studies that foster relationship with God and man. Bible study, family devotions, Character lessons, heart conversations
  • Discipline studies – these are the subjects that need daily practice. And yes, music needs daily practice, and for those who want music as a part of their children’s education this is the part of the day it could belong to – but it wasn’t for us.
  • Discovery subjects – these were our general knowledge subjects: history, science, technology, art, geography, business etc. These were the subjects that were required but where shaped by each child’s interest and capacity.
  • Delight subjects – these were the things that were very much an individualised choice, particular subjects that each child wanted to become proficient in. This included hobbies, passions, interests (even if they only lasted for a short time).  Most of their delight subjects were worked on in the afternoon.

 

Music for us was a delight subject – something that came from within a child, something they were interested in, something that they wanted.  Music may not be like this for you.  It may be central – it may be a discipline subject where you make sure that it happens as a part of a full education you want for your child.

 

Taking our position though meant that

  1. We didn’t start music lessons until I felt that the children wanted it bad enough to practice, and were old enough to understand that it was their responsibility not mine.
  2. The girls went as ‘far’ (formally) as they wanted, if it was my responsibility, and I made sure they practiced, it is conceivable they would have achieved more.

 

But I’m okay with this – I wanted them to enjoy music, to have it in their life but I didn’t want it to become a burden to me, and I didn’t want me making them practice to be a burr in our relationship.  We must make decisions based on our values and priorities.

 

My goal has been to expose them to the things that they are interested in, to give them every opportunity to grow in knowledge and skill within those areas.  Because each of my children are so different these subjects they have pursued are varied as well:  history, cricket, trains, blogging, cooking, music, art, drama, photography, writing, animation, woodwork.  As a homeschooler I have included each of their pursuits as a part of their education, but not as lessons, but rather as self-directed discovery and delight.

 

So now, as our old piano moves on, making room for Jessica’s new digital piano, I know that the girls both choose to sit at the piano and make music.  And that delights me!

 

*These 4 D’s (discipleship, discipline, discovery, delight) are taken from Clay and Sally Clarkson’s book – Educating the Wholehearted Child

 

Why I don't make my kids practice piano.

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