I have a friend who is a professional musician. When his son was about 6, he tried to teach the kid piano, but the child didn’t like it. Then the boy was taken to a better teacher, supposed to be an expert with kids. Still the same situation; my friend’s son refused to learn or practice the piano and hated being taken to those lessons. In the same time he started to hate even the idea of music. They tried with other instruments to no avail. So my friend’s son grew up without learning any music.
Ten years later, the boy started to listen to Nirvana. He loved the songs of that band and soon wanted to express himself through music. He found a band in need of a drummer, then started to learn drumming, practicing many hours per day. But his ability in playing those drums couldn’t match the other band members level so they let him go. He became depressed (‘I’ll never learn to play drums’) and enraged at his dad (‘why you didn’t teach me music at an early age? now it’s too late for me…’).
This situation is not rare. Most kids don’t like to learn and practice a musical instrument. When I was 6 my dad bought me a small accordion; I didn’t like the sound. Then I was taken to a piano teacher – that was the first time I saw a piano – and hated its coldish and unfriendly sound (now I know that a small harpsichord would sound much warmer and friendlier to a kid, but it’s too expensive to own one). Then, later in school, I was invited and somehow forced to sing in the school’s choir all kind of boring and unattractive songs. On top of that I was supposed to learn that yucky music theory. I would had rather solved math problems than learning scales and time signatures!
Then one day I heard two of the Beatles early songs. That was the first time I heard interesting music (of course, according to my teachers that was not music, but I already had formed my own opinion…) and soon I wanted to learn how to play guitar, then later even to learn music theory, related to the rock style. But in public schools they didn’t teach that. Later on, I was able to learn some guitar from a few older guys playing in a band, while working as a roadie for them, but never got too good at it. It was quite late for me…
With my kids I was more careful. I took them to piano teachers only to learn some basics, and of course they hated it. The kids don’t quite know how to say it, but the truth is they don’t like the piano sound: it’s cold and unfriendly. Then I bought an electronic keyboard with sampled natural sounds and the kids always choose any of the sounds except the piano. They mostly choose the harpsichord, the French and English horns, some baroque string, organ, but never the piano. So why in the world the adults keep insisting that their kids should learn that instrument?
Then comes the style of music the children are supposed to learn. The so-called classical music. Most kids, if asked to compare, would always choose rock instead of classical. But most rock is not suitable to children. So what is left? if you find some good recordings of medieval music, they might feel interested to listen and play it. Especially if you tell them a nice story during the audition, they will associate the music with the story and will like it. Because a good recording of medieval music (preferably instrumental) would emanate somehow the feel of the Fairy Tales. And kids love that!
That’s why my kids learned to play medieval songs and never got tired of it. Besides that they also listen to and learned some rock music – filtered by parents, in order to eliminate any influence of that stupid ‘drugs, sex and rock’n’roll’ frenzy. From Beatles to Rammstein, there are many songs suitable to kids, only if the selection is done properly.
In conclusion, if kids don’t feel any attraction towards music, try to replace the two culprits: the piano and the classical style. Playing some simple medieval songs on an electronic keyboard with a nice harpsichord sound, or a pleasant English horn, might do wonders.
Trust Bach, he never liked the piano (actually he tried the early pianoforte) and played only on organ and harpsichord.
Note: don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. There are expensive pianos which may sound very nice, and a lot of experienced players who can perform very well and make it sound really good. But too many times children were turned off by the sound of inexpensive pianos and lost interest in music. Our suggestion applies for these situations.
More info about our kids band: http://childrenmedievalband.wordpress.com