Rebellion and forced lessons…

Somayeh Foroushani said: Jun 16, 2015
 1 posts

Hi gang.

I am in a unique position of posting about my younger sibling. To be clear, I am an adult living independant from the household. My younger brother (9) and his mother (not 9, =D) have a bit of a motivational problem, and I am hoping other parents and teachers could chime in :)

He is young (9) and very musically inclined. He enjoys music and takes lessons in voice and guitar. He also plays drums and piano casually (I don’t believe he’s ever taken piano formally). The problem is he appears to have lost interest in guitar. He wants to quit studying it, although he expresses no interest in quitting voice, which he continues to enjoy. I think he has expressed interest in studying piano or drums instead. He does not touch any of his guitars (he has multiple) unless forced to practice or go to lessons. He rehearses his vocals all the time. He plays drums & piano from time to time to amuse himself. He never touches his guitars.

His mother is concerned that letting him quit guitar at this stage would foster a quitters-mentality, signaling that it’s OK to quit when the going gets tough. She’s also concerned that letting him quit at this point would be a major waste of money, given the investment they’ve made in the instruments and lessons.

I am a teacher (not of music) myself. If he were my pupil and aged 13, I’d be inclined to consider this as a fun new pre-pubescent phase for them to get through, but he’s 9. I worry that this is a reflection of too much pressure being placed on his musical achievement. But what to do then?? Let him quit guitar? Let him switch to another instrument he already owns? Force him to continue as is?

I’d really like to hear from both teachers and parents about any part of what I’ve written here. I’m not entirely sure where the correct place for this post is, but I think this might be it. :)


Heather Reichgott said: Jun 17, 2015
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
102 posts

Switching instruments is not the same as quitting.
Many, many musicians start on one instrument then switch to another. Sometimes people who switch instruments as late as college age still end up having a career playing the new instrument!
Many things he learned on guitar will transfer to other instruments.
Or maybe he will discover he doesn’t actually like having to PRACTICE the new instrument and will decide to switch back to guitar… so don’t give the guitar away yet :)
good luck!

Mengwei Shen said: Jun 17, 2015
Mengwei Shen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Cello
Jersey City, NJ
220 posts

Has the going gotten tough for voice yet he still does it willingly? How long has he been learning guitar, whose idea was it to start, is he at a level where he could be called not a “beginner”? There are some very good insights on quitting vs. switching vs. adding here:

If you (general you) were planning to become a professional guitarist and now aren’t, then perhaps you might call it a waste of money or maybe there’s the opportunity cost of what else you could have been doing other than pursuing guitar. But most people don’t take up music (or most parents don’t choose music for their children) for future professional intent. I wouldn’t consider the educational experience or the added joy in life a waste of money.

Joseph Barker said: Jun 17, 2015
 Piano, Guitar
2 posts

I say let him switch, with a caveat. If he’s singing and playing piano and drums quite a bit, he’s clearly interested in music. Keep encouraging that interest by letting him pursue what he likes. The caveat: set some clear rules. For instance, your mom could only let him quit guitar and let him take voice lessons if he agrees he won’t quit voice lessons for the next year (or two or three, or 10!).

Kids change interests all the time, and your brother should be allowed to explore what interests him. BUT, there should be some clear rules. For my family, the rule was that I had to take lessons in two instruments through high school. I chose piano and drums. There was a rough stretch with piano when I didn’t practice and really hated it. But I knew the rule. So I stuck with it.

Learning any instrument is a challenge, and everybody struggles with motivation at some point. Having a teacher that knows how to deal with those moments is KEY. Good luck!


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