Thursday, January 10, 2008
Are we pushing to hard?
Kelten has been in Piano for 4 1/2 years. He is 8 now and he still loves it. We changed teachers at the beginning of the school year because his old teacher had a hard time with the fact that Kelten would play the song correctly to get signed off and then he would play it again and add a bunch of stuff he thought sounded cool. She was all over his case about how he had no right to go off and change music just because he felt like it. I can assure you at 7 years old he wasn't thinking, "hmmm I think I can do this better then them." It was more about how great these cords sound together and experimenting with the new techniques she was teaching him. Kelten has a great ear and this too caused her some moments of frustration that she had no problem sharing with him. We understand reading notes are the top priority but in his case it comes as second nature and therefore takes more work on both their parts. In the long run we just decided a change was in the air and so we moved on to another wonderful teacher. He is like 80 and he totally lets Kelten's creative side come through and he still manages to instill the "proper" methods and techniques. As a result this year Kelten has improved by leaps and bounds (imagine that) and has been asked to take part in the Washington State adjudication. We talked to him about it and it was something that really interested him so he agreed. Normally he was practicing 1/2 hour per day but over Christmas practice really took a hit as far as it rarely happened. So Karl and I talked with Kelten and we discussed the fact that the adjudication is coming up in one month and he is a bit rusty so how about practicing a little longer? We suggested one hour per day and he agreed. So far he has been fine and he hasn't complained at all. Now normally he sits and plunks around for an hour or more anyhow so this is really only different in that the time spent is being directed only towards his lessons. Granted this does take up a bit more of his "free time". Lessons, homework and chores in our house are the priority and they get done before play time. Before when he would sit down and mess around for an hour it was usually in the evenings before bed so it didn't affect that at all. Now this is the problem. We have shared this with some people and they really feel strongly that we are pushing him to hard and that he will get over saturated to the point that he is just done and wants no part in it and will resent us in the end. I guess my feeling on it is so far is this. It is voluntary on his part. We gave him options and this is the one he chose. He isn't complaining and HE is noticing improvement so it makes him want to work harder. Is it our job as parents to give them opportunities and allow them the tools and the freedom to grow in the experience even if it does cut into "play" time? Or is it our jobs as parents to rein them in and say you need to play more and work less. We recognize that an hour per day is a lot to ask of an eight year old. We also understand this is temporary and ultimately, in our opinion not damaging as much as character building. I don't know, maybe we are pushing him and we need to back off. I know sometimes it's hard to make the right call when you feel so strongly and are immediately involved so now I find myself questioning our decision on this just a bit. Am I so close to the situation that I am pushing him into this and just don't realize it or am I simply guiding my child and allowing him to make the final call? What do you think?