Playing the piano is many things: fun, satisfying, enjoyable, entertaining, worthwhile.
One thing it is NOT: easy.
Learning to play is always more difficult than anticipated. It always takes longer than one thinks it should. It always takes more work than a student first thinks it will take. Is it worth it? Absolutely!
I believe that anyone of average ability, with the interest and willingness to work can learn to play acceptably. When you add talent to the mix, anything is possible. But let's be realistic: attaining a high level of proficiency at the piano is something most people will not accomplish. Whether from lack of work, motivation, interest, or natural ability, most students will quit before learning to play well.
When I was a young teacher, I would take any student and allow them to continue as long as they wanted to pay the fees. Students who never practiced would string along for months, accomplishing very little, and their parents would continue to pay for it, thinking that something might change. This is a waste of time and money, when the student could be finding something he was truly interested in.
While I am patient and compassionate toward students, I have a full schedule and I choose to spend my energy with students who are motivated to learn. Therefore, I set standards for my students, including an initial 6-month probationary period. I will continue with a student who meets the following requirements within 6 months:
- Completes the first music book appropriate to age and experience
- Demonstrates a willingness to follow instructions
- Is generally attentive during lessons
- Practices appropriately for her age (bonus for keeping a log of daily practice)
- Learns at least 4 scales appropriate to age and experience
- Participates in at least one Performance Saturday
- Is able to count aloud while playing when asked
This is not an issue of talent, and it is not because I want only the "cream of the crop." However, I am not interested in babysitting, or in trying to force a student to learn. Any student of average ability is able to meet these requirements without difficulty if she is genuinely interested in learning.