RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning piano?

From: Joseph Moore <>
Date: Mon Dec 5 15:36:00 2005

Welcome, Matt. Good questions.
3 of my kids take piano. I follow the method Keith Jarrett (a phenomenal
piano player) says his parents followed: they simply reminded him that
the piano and lessons weren't free, and that his practicing was a
condition for the family keeping them. The practice comes and goes -
some weeks, the kids pound away at it, others, not so much. But they all
seem to be learning to play, and I don't waste time bugging them.

This seems to me to be in keeping with the Sudbury approach - we freely
entered into a deal (I supply a piano and lessons, they practice) that
they are free to end at any time. There's the implicit 'coercion' of my
obvious pleasure in their playing, I suppose, but, other than that, they
ultimately call the shots here.

Not a scientific survey, but it seems to me that I've run across several
times as many adults who were forced to play as kids who no longer play
at all, as adults who express gratitude that they were forced to play -
and still play. YMMV. Also, there are tons of people (like me) who began
playing later in life (teenagers on up) who seem to enjoy it a lot
despite having missed out on that 1 in 10,000 chance of becoming a
concert pianist because they failed to start early enough.

A couple important points: There's an infinite supply of worthy things
to learn about. Piano is a very good thing to know, but so is Urdu and
whittling and computer repair and poetry and plumbing and so on - nobody
ever learns even 1% of all the good things to know that are out there. A
key step, it seems to me, is to let go of kids and let them learn what
seems good to them - they'll do OK, and, as a parent, *you* get to be
the one introduced to surprising things by them - a much better
arrangement, as their tastes are almost certainly less encumbered than
yours, and their joy in discovery more pure.

Also, there's learning and there's learning. Almost everybody who really
wants to learn a language, for example, does the classroom part as
preparation for the 'go someplace where they speak that language and
sink or swim' part, if they plan on really speaking the language. And
many people skip or delay the classroom part, and still learn by
immersion. It's key to keep in mind that learning only rarely looks like
a classroom or lessons - most learning of any value takes place in other

Diablo Valley School parent

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Matt Schick
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 8:30 AM
Subject: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning piano?

Hi. I'm new to this forum (and to the Sudbury model in general). A

In my experience, there are things that I have learned (musical
instruments and foreign languages
jump to mind as the best examples) where, after an initial period of
interest/excitement when
starting out, things get really difficult - you're working uphill
towards a goal that's way off in
the future somewhere, there's very little benefit in the present (just
the opposite, actually - a
whole lot of dull repetetive practice), and it's VERY tempting to give
up. But after a while (a
year or two? more or less?), once you start getting good, it becomes
enjoyable in and of itself.
In a Sudbury school, how do kids come to recognize that hill and what it
takes to get over it? I
know that I would have given up flute within the first year if my
parents hadn't pushed me to keep
practicing - but in the long run, I'm VERY happy they did.

You know, that's not actually my question. I think I already have a feel
for how you'd answer that
one. Here's the real question I think I want to ask: If you have 8-year
old kids and you make them
practice piano 30 minutes a day (despite any resistance they may put
up), the kids may hate it at
the time, but by the time they're 16 they'll almost surely be REALLY
happy that they can play the
piano pretty well. What would you say about that? Where's the harm? I
know that it goes COMPLETELY
against the Sudbury model, but still... Small price to pay, maybe? Or
does it completely ruin the
adult/child relationship? Or destroy a child's sense of his or her own
power in life? (And not to
mention that trying to get a kid, or anyone else for that matter, to do
something that he/she
doesn't want to do is NO fun at ALL...) I don't doubt that there IS harm
done, I just can't seem
to find it myself. So I'm asking you.

[When I was 16, I would REALLY liked to have been able to play piano
(both of my parents can play)
and speak French (my mother's bilingual). Of course, I can learn these
things now (and am in the
process of doing so), but...]


- Matt

Yahoo! DSL - Something to write home about.
Just $16.99/mo. or less.

Discuss-sudbury-model mailing list
Received on Mon Dec 05 2005 - 15:35:56 EST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Jun 04 2007 - 00:03:13 EDT