Why Students Quit Music – Don’t Fall for the Trap!

Every year we have kids that start their musical journey, being motivated and enthusiastic. When the next year arrives half of these music students stopped, and the other half carries on or chooses another instrument. What could be the potential reasons for such a change of heart, and what happened to their previously motivated attitude?

Kids need mentors, motivators and dreams. They need guidance in goal setting and their instruments should not be kept too far away from them. It is recommended to have friends that play music during this journey. Make sure that their programs are balanced correctly and that they are able to persevere through challenging periods.

Let’s have a look at the reasons why kids stop playing instruments and what we as adults could potentially do to prevent this from happening.

Kids need role models and mentors

A child that’s forced into learning an instrument, for no specific reason, and without the correct motivation, will quit that instrument within the first year without a doubt.

Kids that have parents practising music, or regularly play music loud, will stay motivated for a long since this is in their family framework.

Also, share your idols when you were younger and ask your kids what they think about them. 😉

Music students need musical friends or siblings

Kids that learn music by themselves, tend to feel lonely and uninspired very quickly. Luckily we can learn music as an individual and also perform solo, where you need a team to play football.

This theory has cost the music industry many beginner musicians to give their instruments up for team sports or other activities because of feeling lonely.

A possible solution is to create music groups at schools and music schools so that kids can make friends and play together there. The journey of growing together as musicians is extremely rewarding when one looks back at what you’ve achieved during the last few months or years.

Having a group of friends that plays music together motivates kids to keep practising regularly.

Experiencing the lack of a goal

The hardest that I have practised for an instrument was when I know there was a gig coming up. I was highly motivated and visualised regularly this concert and how I would like it to go.

This is a massive motivation for all musicians, knowing that you have something that you are practising for. Practising without having goals set for yourself will let the journey feel useless and unnecessary.

Sit together and think of a few things that are possible to reach in the near future. Reflect on it regularly and reward hard work once these goals are reached.

Instrument out of reach

When I placed my guitar in its box and cleaned it away, I only touched it again when I had to practice, or when I had to go to band practice.

I would recommend having a guitar stand (either a standing one or one mounted against the wall), where you can keep your guitar close to you to practice during periods of time filling. The moment it takes you more than 5 minutes to set it up, you are already annoyed by it.

The old-fashioned music teacher

The era of the teacher is ending, and the era of a learning guide has arrived. This means that our kids will practice and perform well once we place the right tools in their hands.

One of these tools is knowledge, another is skills and the last one is motivation. Once you equip your music students with this powerful trio, they will do the magic for you.

Be their friend and their colleague. We are none better than the other.

There will be many times that students don’t get to practice their theory or scales. Use this opportunity to play a bit together and teach them tricks to make the learning process easier.

Kids have too busy programs

This is just such a shame since learning music is a skill they will have for life. The saddest is that music is the first component to fall out of the program and the sports are to stay in.

I am the first person to suggest a balanced program since I love both music and sport, but I feel that learning an instrument plus playing one type of sport is a good recipe for a holistic student.

We need to balance the left and the right brain development with the applicable activities.

Kids lacking perseverance

Kids get used to the habit of being allowed to quit as often and easily as they would like to. This means they try out something, but as soon as it has some stumbling stones or reaches its first challenge, they are allowed to quit and try something else again elsewhere.

This is not only an unhealthy habit but also questionable parenting. Our jobs as parents and teachers should be to motivate and teach our kids how to work through the challenges of life so that they will grow accustomed to this habit of trying, failing, try again.

Parent pressure takes the fun away

Once parents start to enforce their own will on kids to practice and set these unrealistically high expectations, the fun in music goes out the door.

We live in a modern era where we don’t force people to do things that we would like, but rather guide them to find their own potential.

An important tip would be to decide together when a good time would be to practice the instrument. Let your child decide for themself. Set a boundary and a few suggestions and they will choose a time and do their practising independently.

Using a substandard instrument

I understand that we first would like to see how a student would perform, grow and fit into the music school before we spend money on expensive equipment.

Would you like to learn tennis by using the same racket from 1980 to see if you like it?

My tip would be to either borrow a good-level instrument from the music school, buy a cheaper but on-par instrument second-hand, or ask around at school for someone looking to sell it.

These are all good examples of knowing that the seller had success as a beginner.

A good quality instrument can make a big difference.

There’s also proof that kids that practice music regularly have more success in school. Go ahead and read the post I wrote about Do Students Who Play Instruments Do Better in School?

There are some interesting scenarios that I have experienced during the last two years.

Carry on and make a difference!

Till next time 🙂

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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