Have you ever heard someone say this…
I wish I hadn’t quit those music lessons when I was a kid…?
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that phrase over the last 20 years.
I think most of us could agree that music lessons are a good thing and if we just stuck with them, they would greatly benefit us.
So why don’t more people stick with it? The answer may surprise you…
The obvious truth is, it’s not easy. But after over two decades of teaching, I’ve come to believe that isn’t why people quit. I think the answer is a little more complicated than that.
You see, when I was a kid, I took piano lessons. And at first, I really struggled with it because I didn’t like to practice, which (as you might imagine) made it difficult for me to really progress. It wasn’t until I was a little older, after taking lessons for a few years, that I started really progressing.
So what was the key for me?
Well, first of all, it wasn’t all about practicing…
Wait what?? Don’t you have to practice to get better??? Isn’t there a strict discipline you must maintain? A rigid regimen you must follow?
Personally, I think far too many people fall into this trap, which is often why they burn out and quit. For me it was my motivation that changed. I got a new teacher… This teacher would give me prizes every time I would practice 5 days a week or more. And I LOVED to earn prizes! Then, every 6 months, she would have recitals. This became an even bigger motivation for me to practice because I wanted to impress my friends and family! The recitals gave me a platform and stage to do so.
Over the years, as I got better the prizes seemed to get better too! For instance, at the recital I would be one of the last students to play (they always save the best for last). The honor of getting to play at the end started to become the best prize of all.
Then I started entering competitions and winning a new kind of prize… I started winning trophies and scholarships. This trajectory continued through high school and college and all the way to a Symphony Hall in Khabarovsk, Russia.
You could say that I was talented or that I just had a regimented discipline to practice every day. But I would argue that my teachers understood one thing about me very well… They knew how to motivate me.
One thing is true… You're never going to get good at anything if you don’t stick with it. No matter how talented a student is, if they don’t stick with it they won’t improve. But the only reason they will stick with it is if they have a motivation to do so.