I Wish I’d Never Quit My Music Lessons


in Learning Music

How many times have you heard “I wish I'd never quit my (piano, guitar, trumpet, cello) lessons from folks that might have heard you play or hear someone else play? There are lots of reasons that many young students quit lessons, but one that Kenny Werner expounded on has me very intrigued this week.

Can education system be the problem with learning to play an instrument? The answer will only be given in what ever situation you are in now and what approach is taken with the study of music.

The First Experience

When we first encounter the music world be it through listening and singing or our first adventure with the piano, drums, guitars, or other instruments we are filled with the magic of making sound and potentially music.

For me it there was a dual problem of conflicting interests. I had a fascination with motorcycles and where I lived near the desert it was motocross and tearing up the countryside with those powerful 2 stoke engines. I loved music but it wasn't at the top of my priority list of things that had to be done.

I lasted about one year of the so called traditional lesson in middle school. I recall the recital and how fun it was to perform. However, I just didn't want to put in the time to study and practice. Sure I'd play around and work on things on my own, but I never really got good, I just had fun.

The Fallout

This difference in the enjoyment of music and the study of music becomes the bane of every teenager that plays.

Experimentation and improvisation is nearly always the fun part and the study was laborious and dull. When the study of music becomes a homework assignment we often lose the drive we had when we first were introduced to the music world. There is progress, but it is slow and it's hard to want to spend time with the essentials of scales and arpeggios.

For years after quitting formal lessons, I continued to try to teach myself. With some help of a very good friend, I was able to learn and move forward with playing songs and even creating music. At age 36, I decided to return to music instruction because the progress was so slow. Best decision I ever made. When I went back and studied the theory and applied technique my progress was amazing. But I digress…

Getting Back to Groove

So my dilemma now is how to encourage my teenager to practice, but not kill the drive to learn. Encouragement seems to go only so far. Here's an interesting observation and maybe a way in that I'll try to explore.

I will often sit at my piano and improvise around a few chords and some created rhythm, I can usually make it sound good and pull off a mediocre performance of sorts. Now I've noticed that my daughter is starting to attempt to do similar things. It's certainly a little rough at this experimental stage, but there are glimpses of passion and what seems to be a desire to create.

I'm hoping that I can provide a some guidance in encouraging this new expression of art. My ideas are centered around taking what she has recently learned in scales or chords and give a framework to play with. Maybe taking the study part and putting it to use.

So my intent is to use what is deemed as practice and refocus it to experimentation and the true fun of playing music.

Be sure to consider picking up Effortless Mastery, especially as an older student you will absolutely relate to the analogies and stories Kenny offers.
Additionally I've picked up a recommendation called “The Music Lesson”. I believe this is going to provide some new insight to learning music as well, and I'll cover some of those ideas in the future.

Featured Music Resources

Learn Guitar Online with Videos: JamPlay Guitar

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