Good morning. This is Hazel, and I would like to speak with you a little bit about my three-quarter of a century career of teaching piano.
I taught many hundreds of students during my lifetime, and I learned that there is nothing … it’s the only career that you can’t wait until you get to college to do. Well, I guess sports. You can’t wait to get to college to learn to play football, but most things, you can decide once you get to college what you want to do as a career, and then you can do that. But with music, if you haven’t started when you’re young, there is no way that you can major in any serious music career.
So, it was my job, when I had my children, to start them with piano when they were five years old. I started them all with piano. Now when a child is five years old, they have no clue about what they want to do when they grow up. They may have some ideas about, but in reality, they don’t really know for sure what they want to do, and if they were to want to be a musician, the answer would be no, if they hadn’t had the training. That’s one of the fields of endeavor that they will not be able to enter if they haven’t had some training ahead of time.
So I advocated that it’s a good idea to start them when they’re young. Now, remind you, you have to encourage them to practice. They’re not going to practice on their own. I taught all those years and I had two students out of my entire career that practiced on their own without their parents giving them either encouragement or insisting that they do it. It’s not something that children are going to run to the piano and practice on their own. They just aren’t going to do it. So you have to have a set time for them to do it, a place, a quiet place of them to do it. And require that they will fill that.
Now, see I had five children, so we had to practice … we had to have a schedule when everybody was to practice, and they had to do it then, because we had to share the piano with other people. That’s the only way that you’re going to have success is to insist that they do it at the same time, the same place, and do it consistently all the time. Now, I believe in bribing them. I believe in doing any kind of thing that you can do to encourage them to practice.
With my children, I just made it a way of life, just like I insisted they brush their teeth. It’s that easy. People would say to me when my children were performing, they would say, how do you get your children to practice? And I said, well, I tell them to. Hmm. I just tell them to, and they do it because that’s what you expect. I’ve learned that if you don’t expect, you’re not going to get.
They will do what you expect. If you expect them to do a certain thing, that’s what they’ll do and music is no exception. They will practice if you expect them to practice. And then, they get self-esteem by the fact that they can perform. And they feel very good about themselves, because they can perform. Self-esteem is something that is not taught in a book. It’s taught by doing something that is worth something.
Not just, oh, you’re so beautiful. Oh, you’re so sweet. Oh, you’re … well, sweet is good. But oh, you’re just so wonderful and all of that. I think you should tell your children that. I think you should tell your children that you love them. But, you should also insist that they do the things that you expect them to do. Don’t let the world decide what your children will do. The world doesn’t have their best interests at heart. You do. So if they’re your children, you need to guide them in the way that you would like for them to go, and they will respect you for it.
Every one of my children have told me over and over again how happy they were that I insisted that they play piano, and play music, learn to love music. It’s not just to make them concert pianists. It’s not to make them a musician as a career. It was just to make them a better person, and help them to understand life better and just be a better person.
Music is the only thing that we are really hard wired for. Did you know that? We’re not hard-wired for math or for English or for anything else. And it is the only thing that you use all of your senses simultaneously. Simultaneously, that is so important. The only sense you don’t use is smell and it could be that way if you play badly enough, but you use all the other senses simultaneously. It’s like a river flowing. If a river comes to a boulder, it doesn’t stop just because it comes to a huge rock. It either goes over it and goes around it, but I keep on flowing. The minute it stops, it’s not music anymore.
Simultaneous is what has to be done with all of those senses working together, and it’s very good training for anything that your children are going to do in life. My girls were … didn’t have swimming or didn’t know how to swim very well at all and when they were in high school, they decided they wanted to be on the swim team. And they did very well. When they finished high school, the swim coach came to me and said, I have been trying to figure out how your girls excelled. I have coached swimming for many, many years, girls swim teams, and I’ve never seen girls do what yours did. Come from nothing. Come from not even being able to swim to being tops in the state in diving and distance swimming.
He said, I’ve tried to figure it out and I finally decided that it’s because of the training they had with music. And I said, hallelujah, I’m so glad somebody finally recognizes that music helps them in everything they do, not just because it’s something they listen to, but because it taught them to make goals for themselves and do the performance and just set, you know the consistency and persistence of practicing. It goes a long way in whatever your children decide to do.
I hope you’ll take some advice from someone who’s been there. I know I don’t have all the answers, but I could help a lot of people with their discipline with their children if they would like it. I’m 88 years old. I take no medication, everything works and nothing hurts, and I decided I would rather eat my vegetables that to become one.
To become more fit and live a better life, or for public speaking inquiries, please call Hazel at:
720 810 6161