Every parent with a young music student has been through the following:
"Mom, can I play the _______?" Please? I'll practice every day, I promise! Then before too long, the practicing slows or stops and the student says they don't want to play that instrument anymore. Sometimes they want to switch instruments. Sometimes they want to quit altogether.
If you're lucky, you can find incentives to keep them practicing and motivated through the ups and downs, until finally the need to succeed among their peers is enough to carry them forward. After that, if you're really fortunate, you end up with a music student that stays with their instrument because they love playing it, and have fallen in love with music itself.
But what do you do if a child simply doesn't follow that path? What if you have spent several years encouraging, cajoling, pleading with a student to "just keep trying", but the results don't follow? Is there a way to tell when enough is enough?
We reached that point with my youngest son this year. After raising six successful music students, one of whom has gone on to major in music performance, our youngest child has not responded to playing his instrument even after four years of trying. Practicing has been torture for him and for us. Last year, the band director called and said he needed to talk to me. That our son was just not progressing. It was tempting to quit. In fact, we made that decision. When suddenly, our son decided just before school started this year that he WANTS to play the horn in band and play it well. He has been practicing (on his own) for 45 minutes a day. A minor miracle is occuring. Maybe we have suddenly hit the 'peer pressure' age? I hope so. I really do. So we are not calling it quits yet.
If you'd like to follow some online discussions about this subject, here are a couple of links:
Top 10 Ways To Encourage Your Child To Practice
How do you know when it is ok to let a child give up playing a musical instrument