You know, if I had a dollar for every time a parent wanted me to tell them that their kid could manage to learn music without practicing, I'd be rich. There is a local music teacher who tells the parents and kids that they don't have to practice.
He's full up with students.
His students aren't learning much of anything, either. He's just taking their money, and I don't have that gene.
You know, I don't care what kids learn, whether it be music, sports, or whatever. But I do care if they learn priorities and committment. Kids don't come hard-wired with anything but instant gratification; we need to teach them the satisfaction and fulfillment of working toward and reaching a long-term goal.
But then up pops the question, what if this isn't their thing? What if they don't end up being concert musicians or professional soccer players or gold medal ice skaters?
What if they do make a committment, and they end up just like anyone else? Think of all that time they missed watching tv! Think of all those video games that they were dying to play! They're going to regret that for the rest of their life!
(Er, was the sarcasm too strong there?)
I hear the worry. What if they invest all that time? What if they invest their heart and soul into the pursuit of a goal that they don't, or even can't, achieve? People look at Sasha Cohen and say, look at all she's worked for! All she's sacrificed! And what for? A Silver Medal???
No, really. People say that.
So is the prevailing attitude that nothing is worth pursuing or sacrificing for, unless you can be the best?
What about all that we learn from pursuing an art form and striving for excellence? It's never wasted time. Excellence, once learned, transfers into every pocket of our life. Studies have proven that children who learn delayed gratification are far more successful than those who choose instant gratification.
And what of--my favorite--the striving? What of the satisfaction one gets from pushing oneself further than one thought one could go? That's no small satisfaction!
Yesterday, a student made it from the beginning to the end of piece. It was easy, and he was pleased. Yesterday, another student also managed to make it through to the end of piece she'd cried over, hated at times, struggled with for weeks, and sacrificed countless hours over. One she thought she couldn't do, one she almost quit over.
You can bet she was WAY more than pleased. She was so ecstatic she practically cried--this time with joy. She wasn't just happy, and she didn't just learn to play the piece; she learned self-confidence. She learned to trust herself and the learning process. She learned that there is no greater thrill than doing something she thought she couldn't do.
Is that a waste of time?