August 31


Unspoken Intentions

There's an interesting phenomenon that happens with piano families once in a while.

The student's parents are very committed to music. In fact, most of the time the parents played themselves as children. So, they're passionate about making this happen for their own kids.

While the students have some success in the beginning, it never quite takes off. They plateau. And they don't seem to enjoy music very much when they do.

As time passes, the parents start to inquire about different approaches. How to get the love of music going again. But new approaches don't reinvigorate things for long.

And at last, the students either leave to see if another teacher possesses the magic to change things, or they stop lessons altogether.

For a long time I wondered, how could this be? How could parents who clearly want their kids to succeed in music end up not being successful?

And it finally occurred to me. It's the unspoken intentions.

The unspoken intentions and messages that came across through their actions.

Upon reflecting, it occurred to me.

Yes, the parents said they were committed to making music happen. On a regular basis.


Every fall, their piano lesson time would be only be scheduled after all the other activities' schedules had come out.

Sports and other events would always take priority over playing in student recitals.

If they were scheduled to perform on a student recital and anything else came up, they would bail on the recital instead of saying no to the thing that came up.

And if practicing wasn't happening, there was always a reason that was out of their control. Something else to blame.

So on one hand, some parents may say that music is a priority and they are committed.

But with their actions, the unspoken message that kids pick up on is "piano comes last."

This isn't a criticism by any means. We all get busy, and we have more obligations pulling at us than any human was meant to endure.

But whether for our kids or ourselves, we have to remember.

We may say certain things to ourselves and each other. But what will ultimately make the difference is our actions.

And the unspoken messages they send.

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About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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