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

From: Hughes <>
Date: Tue Dec 6 13:54:00 2005


Please oh please promise me you will never ever repeat those words again
that you started too late to.... Unless you are in your 90's and have severe
artritis, you absolutely can become a concert pianist. I had someone tell
me I started studying seriously too late when I was 18 for crying out loud.
A couple of books I recommend... Never Too Late by John Holt, When the Music
Stopped by Tom Cottle, and if you haven't yet read it Education and Ecstasy
by George Leonard. A huge bonus for me when I was raising my kids to have
free minds and spirits was that my own spirit was freed up to be, to do, to

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan Klein" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 12:32 AM
Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Learning piano?

> Joseph,
> 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
> ways.
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Received on Tue Dec 06 2005 - 13:53:08 EST

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