Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why Kids Quit Piano Lessons

Ever wonder why kids stop playing the piano? (This is only my perspective on viewing hundreds of situations during daily piano servicing over many years).

As a piano technician, I am always astonished at the condition of pianos that children are asked to play. Amazingly, some of these kids are absolutely top notch and are somehow able to compensate for the lack of playability of their pianos.

Here are just a couple of examples of the pianos I have encountered recently.

Case #1: An institution has a piano that is used regularly. I was called in by a fellow technician to work on the piano because it was not functioning properly.

Believe it or not, I could not get any of the notes to play - AT ALL!! Wondering what the time line would be to get the piano in working order, I asked how often the piano was used (assuming it was not played at all). I was told that it was in use ALL THE TIME!

How is this possible? How can kids be asked to play pianos that simply do not work? How can they stay inspired if they are asked to play something that has no sound? I know - it was a completely unbelievable experience for me as well.

Case #2: A customer brought the family piano from Asia. I was called in to work on it after a teacher gave me the referral. I was told that the children were keenly interested in playing but some of the notes (every time I hear those few words, alarm bells go off) were not sounding quite right.

The piano was a complete disaster! Tuning pins horribly loose, action parts wobbly. There was simply no way the piano could be played. It needed to be completely rebuilt!

My opinion is that kids are astonishing at hearing good quality sound. After all they listen to sound tracks on the computer much of the time. Their hearing becomes so highly developed, they are actually able (in my experience) to hear quite well when the piano is going out of tune.

Kids advise their parents that "the piano sounds funny" and that they should get the piano tuned. Most of the parents hear the complaints, but either put off the tuning because of budgetary reasons or because they ignore the requests of their children.

Kids start to lose interest and stop playing the piano entirely. It is a very sad situation. After all, the parents have paid good money to get an instrument so their kids would have an interest in playing but are usually neglectful in paying a small amount extra to get regular piano servicing every year.

It is a lose, lose situation. The kids quit piano and the parents don't understand why. Then the parents have to find some other interest for their child.


www.paulbrown.org

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