Q Is it worth forcing piano lessons on a kid who hates them?
The advice we got from our piano teacher, who could be accused of having a vested interest but has some experience in the matter: To paraphrase our teacher, he can’t quit yet, no, not at 10 years old. He’s not yet at the age where he can make balanced decisions for himself, and any musical ability that he’s gained from all those lessons and practices so far will evaporate, before the last chords fade away from “Fur Elise.” But by age 12 or 13, he’ll be better able to decide what activities to pursue and will be much more likely to retain at least a recreational piano ability. — Doug George
If he has given it a shot, and if he really hates it, I would let him quit. You have exposed him to it, and he can pursue it later, of his own free will, if it interests him. But making it a negative experience — torture, he may say — will have the opposite effect you are looking for. You are looking for an appreciation of music; you could be causing a strong dislike. — Dodie Hofstetter
I think another important piece of the equation is this: Does your son have some ability at piano? If he can’t keep time, or he struggles with his left hand, then all the perseverance in the world isn’t going to help that much. And he’ll have spent a big part of his childhood fighting through frustration and parental pressure just to wind up barely OK at something. — Steve Johnson
A 10-year-old is entering early adolescence, a stage when pushing can be counterproductive, says Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, author of “You Can’t Make Me (But I Can Be Persuaded): Strategies for Bringing Out the Best in Your Strong-Willed Child” (WaterBrook Press).
Tobias recommends asking questions: Why do you want to quit? What would you do instead? What could we do to make piano more appealing? If the answer to that last question is “Nothing, I just don’t want to do it,” you may want to suspend lessons for three months, with the proviso that your child will think about remedies and alternative activities.
If resistance is stronger — “I hate it and it’s ruining my life” — it’s time to pick your battles, she says.
“If you really think you have a budding concert pianist, and his talent is so extraordinary that you don’t want to let it go, then I would say, ‘Let’s give you a break for a few months and revisit it.’ ”