I spoke to a set of parents in the company of their 14-year-old daughter recently. When they found out I taught piano they told me that their daughter had just completed Grade 7.


I looked at the girl. She was not only embarrassed at her parents boasting of her achievements, she then told me that she wasn’t musical at all and couldn’t wait to finish Grade 8 so she could stop.


A large number of adults tell me each year that they did all their grades as children and now can’t play a note. They either want to reconnect with the piano themselves or want their children to learn the piano but with a different outcome.


I teach people to play the piano by ear and sometimes these people sign up with me for lessons. The thing is, just like people who take their grades, I know that plenty of my students won’t be able to play a note as adults either. They’ll go to third level, forget about the piano, and by the time they want to take it up again, they have usually forgotten pretty much everything. That’s life.


So given that this is the outcome for the majority of students, why send them to lessons at all? 


Well firstly, as an adult looking back, it’s clear that I no longer partake in many of the activities in which I did as a child. However, I also know that this doesn’t make the time I spent at them any less valuable.


As a parent, I send my children to various lessons and clubs so as they can try out different sports and pastimes. Not so they can win trophies or get the highest marks, but so that they will learn lessons such as how to play as part of a team, how to win and lose gracefully, and that practice and hard work can lead to real results.


So, here are some things to consider…


The right teacher/club for your child isn’t always the one who gets the best marks.


The right teacher/club for your child may not teach the most talented children in your area.


The right teacher/club for your child may not put on the best end-of-year show.


The right teacher/club for your child will have values and principles that align with your own.


The right teacher/club for your child will develop your child’s character.


The right teacher/club for your child will treat your child with respect, care and dignity.


Good luck, and choose wisely!

I'm Kieran Quinn and I get my kicks (and my wages) from playing piano.

Actually not just from playing, also from teaching others how to play, and from writing, arranging and directing, and now blogging.

A father of two (7&4), I live in Co. Sligo and am enjoying the many challenges that parenting has brought.

Finally, I really believe that it's not about how good you are, it's about how good it is for you.