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13 year old doesn't want to practice piano

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Dear Dr. Laura,

I've got a question. It's something we're really struggling with. Our 13 year old son has been taking piano lessons for a long time. Now he's giving us a hard time. He does not want to practice, which I think is quite common.....We have tried to sit down and come up with some things to make it more enjoyable - like adding some fun stuff like Star Wars pieces, etc. He still fights us on the practice every day. I do not want to make him resent piano. But also, he has nothing else that he has to work at. Not much homework, no other sports, etc. Any advice on how to handle this?


Most children don't willingly practice piano. It is hard work. And while it has rewards, you have to work very hard to get those rewards, because the difficulty of the pieces you are learning keeps increasing, so every week you have a new, harder piece. Of course, working through the difficulties that arise when you are pursuing any kind of mastery is one of the ways you build resilience and confidence. So pursuing mastery is worth it. BUT that is when you are motivated, when you are passionate about whatever you are pursuing. In the case of piano, most kids are not that motivated. It is the parents' idea.

Puberty is the age when most kids give up piano. And most are sorry later. On the other hand, it is his life, and he should be following his own passions, not yours. If he has not found piano rewarding enough to want to play, after all these years, it would be better if he could pursue a passion of his own.

You say he has nothing else to work at. Isn't there anything that is important to him? Sports? Art? Writing? Or, to build on the foundation of his big investment thus far in piano, maybe guitar or some other musical instrument? You might challenge him that if he finds some other instrument that he loves more than piano, that he can switch.

One last idea. There are piano teachers out there who are so inspiring that the child WANTS to practice for the teacher. Switching teachers might make a real difference. Good luck!

Good Luck!
Dr. Laura

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