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

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Tue Dec 6 00:36:20 2005


I think you have nailed it here! We have no right to force kids to play an
instrument and they have no right to force us to pay for lessons they have
no interest in. I think people often confuse not taking away kids' freedom
with imposing restrictions on the adults around them.

Instrument practice, like homework of any kind, is such a fascinating thing.
I remember when I was a teacher but before I helped to found The Highland
School. Kids would often ask for homework simply because they thought they
were "spozed" to do it. When I would say, "Well, then take something home
and work on it!" They would almost always respond, "But you're spozed to
assign it!" I think this was so that they could not do it and then feel
righteous about not doing what Teacher had assigned them. In my system, they
"assigned" themselves any homework they did. It's hard to rebel against
something one has decided to do oneself!

~Alan Klein

-----Original Message-----
From: Joseph Moore
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
Received on Tue Dec 06 2005 - 00:32:34 EST

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