The Playground

The Simply Music blog

The Ups & Downs of Learning to Play the Piano

Found in: Coaching

What do raising children, going to school, holding down a job, and taking piano lessons have in common? They each start with a goal that requires a long term commitment! In Simply Music, we talk about the goal of having music as a life-long companion. Reaching that goal requires that we go through the cycles of long-term relationships including peaks, valleys and plateaus. These ups and downs can last for short, medium or long periods of time. Let’s make it real…

I’d like you think back to any lasting friendship that you have had. You can likely recall the beginning of the friendship, when things were exciting and you couldn’t wait to spend time with that friend. Every time you were together it was great and you were happy. Eventually, the excitement became a little less intense and things felt a bit calmer but there was a steadiness and a good feeling when you were together. Maybe at some point in the friendship, you fell out of touch. Perhaps you didn’t even talk for weeks at a time. You eventually became a bit complacent, even bored. However, you continued to call and spent time when you could. The friendship was important to you so no matter how busy you got, you worked at it. At some point, things changed with that friend and suddenly, it was exciting again!

Let’s talk about piano. At the beginning of learning to play it is very exciting! You cannot wait to learn the next song and you want to play every chance you get. Maybe you have to set the timer so you can get other things done. Maybe you skip a meal just so you can play! Eventually, at some point, weeks or months into learning to play, you start to relax and things aren’t quite as exciting. You are still enjoying learning but you are not quite as enthusiastic. A few months later, you find you have to make yourself go to the piano. Your playlist sits at the instrument and it is looking like it needs some attention. You just don’t feel like working at it.

What I have just described are the peaks, valleys and plateaus of a long-term commitment. These cycles are a normal and expected part of any long-term relationship and you can expect to have them, no matter what it is you are committing to—a friendship, a job, a marriage, college, or acquiring music as a life-long companion. When you experience a peak, valley or plateau you need to understand that it won’t last. It will change, no matter what. When it is a valley or plateau, armed with the information that this is normal, you don’t have to worry that you (or your child) isn’t good at piano or it just isn’t their thing or that there is something wrong with you, your piano teacher or the method. It is just the nature of long-term relationships.