Before you let your child quit music lessons, try these 5 things


The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows children are mostly likely to start studying music between the ages of nine and 11.

Researchers in a 2009 UK study suggested the dramatic drop in music tuition after age 11 was linked to children starting high school.

The study also revealed the main reasons for children ending music lessons were boring lessons, frustration at a lack of progress, disliking practice and competition from other activities. Some children regretted stopping music lessons.

Stopping as soon as a child experiences difficulty or expresses frustration denies that child the benefits of music and reinforces the message that, if something is hard, it’s not worth doing. But continuing lessons for someone who has come to resent them is futile.

Fortunately, there are some things parents can try which might keep kids in music class longer. And if that doesn’t work, it’s OK to stop.


1. Find out the reason

Sometimes a child likes the music lessons but has stage fright, doesn’t like exams or feels inferior to other musicians their age. These issues can be managed. Although they might result in a change of teacher, or repertoire or pattern of learning, they’re not of themselves a reason to stop.


2. Choose the right instrument

Music tuition can go wrong quickly when the wrong instrument is chosen. One study suggests if children select the right instrument (determined by simple aptitude tests and a preference for the sound of the instrument) they will keep on with lessons longer.

The choice of instrument can depend on the child’s preference, a parent’s suggestion or the availability of the instrument. Parents should take advice and, where possible, rent an instrument prior to making a financial commitment.

Gender expectation can influence instrument choice. Research shows guitarists, saxophonists and drummers are overwhelmingly male; violinists, flutists and singers overwhelmingly female.

Particularly where a parent’s preference differs from that of their child, it’s wise to reflect on what is motivating the preference. Kids shouldn’t feel they have to conform to a stereotype.


3. Make practising less of a burden

Around 70% of 5-14 year olds who play an instrument or sing spend two hours or less per week on the activity. But most children will not always want to practice and many won’t know how.

Some children feel they are letting their parents down by not practicing. This can make learning music miserable. Parents can help by: