The following letter was written by a piano teacher who said that It’s the time of year when we find ourselves saying “goodbye” to some of our teen piano students as they graduate or move to private schools for their last years in high school. They are making decisions about whether or not they will continue with their piano studies in their new locations.
As she listened to one of her beloved students explain to her that university sports conflicts and the threat of increased homework meant that she was likely not going to continue piano lessons, she found herself composing a letter to her in her mind… a letter filled with all of the things she wanted to tell her… all of the reasons that she wanted her to continue playing… all of the reasons she was so glad that many of her past teen students had continued on with piano when faced with similar “life moments”.
When she left, she sat down and wrote that letter out… and she plans on giving it to all of her future teens as they head out her studio door and into the first phase of “adulthood”.
She has given permission to other piano teachers, like myself, to use and adapt her letter. Here it is as she wrote it:
Did you know we’ve spent almost 200 hours together since you started piano lessons? Did you also know that those 200 hours were some of the most enjoyable times I’ve ever spent teaching? I feel fortunate to have been your teacher and I am so excited for what the future holds for you.
You’re at a moment in your life when you’re making some big decisions… where you’re going to go to school, where you’ll live, which program you’re going to pursue… and I know you’ll also be deciding whether or not you’re going to continue with piano lessons. I know life feels overwhelming at the moment.
But before you do what feels easiest and choose to simply move on from piano, I’d love to share some thoughts on why I would be so happy to see you continue to take piano lessons in your new location.
- I’ve seen the piano provide an escape for you from the pressures of friends and school and work and homework. Your piano was something you could rely on as a break from all of that… a few moments in your day when you could just make beautiful music. Not everyone has the ability to escape into something like that and those who don’t, certainly wish they did. When life tries to take over, you can hold it at bay… even just for a few minutes… by playing the piano. Your heart will thank you.
- All of the hours you’ve spent at the piano are just about to pay off. You’ve worked your way through the “beginner phase”, you’ve pushed through the “When will I be good enough to play…” stage and now you’re at the doorstep of having the ability to play whatever you want. You’re an advanced pianist and very few people in this world can say that. You’ve invested so much time in honing your abilities that it seems a shame to stop at the very moment when you’ve reached the goal you had in mind when you started lessons 10 years ago.
- School is expensive. Part-time jobs don’t pay that well. But your piano skills have the ability to put you ahead of the game in the work world. If you keep up your piano playing you’ll be able to accompany, teach, join a band, play for weddings… you name it! All of these things pay better than most student jobs. You’ve worked hard at the piano… now let it work for you!
- Being a pianist means you’ll meet the most amazing people that you would have likely never connected with otherwise. The music world is filled with wonderfully creative people and your piano skills are your ticket into that world. Don’t miss out on the soul-food that collaborative music-making provides. The friendships you’ll make because of your piano will be the ones you will cherish for years.
- Continuing with your piano studies doesn’t mean you have to practice every day for the rest of your life; you’re an adult now… you make the rules. But setting a goal for yourself to continue with lessons and to continue to use your piano skills will mean you will keep progressing. It’s so hard to re-start… it’s so much easier to keep on going!
- And… continuing with your piano also doesn’t mean you need to continue to play Sonatinas and Minuets. Explore pop, jazz… join a techno funk band. Surprise me, I dare you ?
- High-level piano skills looks great on a resume. Put yourself in the shoes of your future employer. What does 10+ years of commitment to learning the piano tell you about the person whose resume you are holding? That they are determined? Diligent? Creative? Tenacious? Can you think of better words to describe a valuable employee? Nope! Plus, your ability to make connections between music, art, architecture and history will mean you’ll be an interesting and educated conversationalist in any setting.
- The moment that you start university you’ll likely feel like a very little fish in a great big pond. It’s at times like these when you really need to feel as though you make a difference, and sharing music with others is a meaningful way of doing this. You will feel the need to reach out and connect, to help others, to bring a smile to a stranger’s face. Sit down at the piano and I promise all of these things will happen.
- The world is changing rapidly. Jobs that were once imperative are now done by computers. We have no idea what the future holds, but what we do know is that music will stand the test of time. The world will always need musicians. Your piano skills are the one thing you can take with you that will always be applicable and will never become redundant.
- There is more beautiful music in this world than you could ever play in a lifetime. Cutting your time at the piano short mean thats you will miss so much of that wonderful music. Life is short… fill it with things that are marvellous and that make you happy.
As I piano teacher I hear “I wish I hadn’t stopped piano lessons” all the time. It would make me so happy to hear the opposite from you when we meet years from now. You are so talented and you’ve worked so hard. Congratulations on everything you have achieved.
With all of my best wishes for your future and with immense gratitude for the times we’ve shared. Please do keep in touch.
Your Piano Teacher