Parents are More Important Than the Teacher

Monday, September 18, 2017 by Daniel Ales | Uncategorized

Right now today, I have 60 active students. Over the years that I have been teaching, I have instructed easily more than 200. And in all those students, I have never seen one, that was exactly like the other. But what I find interesting, is that after two or three lessons, I can tell who will stick with me after their first semester, and who will not. I can tell which students are really going to have a chance at developing into great players and those that will just fall by the wayside wishing 20 years later that they would have stuck with it. What is most interesting, is that the students themselves are not responsible for this predictive power I have obtained, but rather the parents. *Gasp*


Yes mom and dad, I am talking about you. It is your attitude and actions that will keep a child in the game or take them out of it ... (Mostly). You might ask, "But Mr. Ales, how can I be responsible for my child not succeeding? I put them in lessons with you. You're the teacher. If they don't succeed, either they don't have the talent, or you're not a good teacher." I know that's what your thinking. But let me see if I can debunk those thoughts.


First (1st) Let me be clear. I don't believe that there are any lost causes out there. Almost anyone can learn to play music. Also, I hate the word TALENT. It is almost a curse word in my dictionary. It's a cop-out term that no one really understands. Allow me to explain myself. Talent is simply a head start. That's it. Nothing more. Imagine you were running a race, but the person you were racing was starting a quarter mile closer to the finish line than you. That's all talent is. For example, let's compare, very crudely, two of history's greatest composers. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Do you think that Mozart would have become known world wide for the past three hundred plus years if he had not used his natural talent (head start) to make music? Of course not. He was a child prodigy for sure, but the head start is useless unless you actually run the race. If he would have quit and gone off to be a carpenter, (not that there is anything wrong with that. My Savior was a carpenter) no one would have ever heard of him. On the flip side, Beethoven had no such head start. As a matter of fact, if you read about his life, he had most things going against him. Beethoven slaved for months or sometimes years over every note he wrote, whereas Mozart had completed symphonies in his head all the time and all he had to do was write them down. Even though Mozart had the greater Talent by far, Beethoven is still more widely known. Hard work and dedication beats natural talent every time in my opinion. Encourage your kids to keep at it even if they don't see to have the knack (yet). It can be learned.


Second (2nd), I as the teacher can only do so much in a 30/60 min lesson once a week. I would love to spend hours a day with all my students, making sure they truly understand every facet of the piano. But I also want to pay my mortgage and buy groceries. You, parents, hopefully see your kids every day. I need you to make sure they are practicing what I went over with them in their lessons. I need you to listen to them and say things like: "Good job", "I love that one", "You play so well", "I can tell you are getting better". Clap for them after they play. Ask them to teach YOU what they learned in their lesson. If they are real young beginners, ask them to teach you their songs. Ask them to play for your friends and extended family. Show them it's important to you, and it will be important to them.


Mom and dad, your kids look up to you more than you or anyone else probably realize. What you decide is important in your household is what your children will decide is important in their lives. I am nothing compared to you.