Why Students Quit Music Lessons (and How We Can Prevent It)

Every year students sign up for music lessons, full of hope, inspiration, and promise, and by the end of the school year, many quit for various reasons. Were you one of the quitters? Did you take music lessons as a kid, promptly quit, and live to regret it? You’re not alone. Rarely do we hear parents and adult students say “I really regret learning [insert instrument here],” and why is that?  Because music lessons are fun, relaxing, and rewarding! If we know that music brings so much joy and peace, why do so many people quit and what can we do to stop this from happening?

Here are the main reasons we see students quit their music lessons, and the best actions we can take to avoid those major pitfalls.


  1. Practice Time
    So much of progress is connected with practice, and effective practice, especially in the early months, comes through routine and consistency.  Help your student set time aside for practice by attaching it to the existing routine. This will remove the decision factor as well as any feelings about not “feeling like it,” since the time is already structured into the schedule.Additionally, it’s critical that students set realistic plans about practice and progress, or else guilt comes in and shifts the student’s perception of how they’re doing.  Set small goals that are easily achievable with routine practice, and the rest will come easily!Finally, parents need to help guide and motivate their children to practice, as discipline is also a skill that requires practice. When parents expect children to practice on their own, it creates tension and unrealistic expectations.  Instead, help build those skills and eventually your children will have the intrinsic motivation to practice by themselves!


  1. Teacher Connection
    If your current teacher isn’t helping you find the joy in music, find a teacher who will!  Finding the right fit teacher is crucial for student success.  Students are more motivated to succeed in their music lessons and practice when they have a good working relationship with their teachers. Since teaching is just as much a skill as performing, make sure your student is paired with an instructor who can guide them towards the best technique and repertoire while also inspiring them to be the best performer. Here at ISM, we are flexible and work hard to match students with teachers who best fit their personality, learning style and musical goals!


  1. Lack of Sticktuitiveness
    When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, but only if you stick with it.  Teaching children resilience is a crucial part of music study and even more imperative as a life skill.
    Sometimes struggle is a part of learning, and in order to get to places you’ve never been, you have to do things you’ve never done.  You’re not growing if you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone, so instill the value of hard work and push through the difficulty of practice or that challenging piece.  Their success will be all the sweeter!
    If you’re feeling stuck, talk with your teacher about changing up the pace or repertoire, and seek ways to reignite the spark and interest in your instrument.  Join an ensemble, write your own music, perform, record, or go hear live music and remember why you love music! 


  1. Prioritizing Music Lessons
    Children are like sponges — they absorb everything from their surrounding environment, from body language and mannerisms to values. So when parents don’t treat music as important as other subjects, children see that and adopt that attitude too. Studies show that music improves cognition and understanding in other academic subjects, so if you wouldn’t let your kid quit math class because fractions are hard, why would you treat music any differently?
    Prevent your child from quitting by showing them that their musical education is equally valuable to academic subjects and sports, and they’ll be less likely to back down.
    Students feel much more accomplished and empowered when they look back and see all that they have achieved, which is a great life lesson. Teach them not to quit when it gets hard, but to be persistent, patient, and work through hard concepts by addressing once concept at a time.


  1. Shifting Interests
    It’s easy to be in love with the idea of music lessons at the beginning.  You have visions of making beautiful music, playing a cool instrument, making new, exciting musician friends, and performing for crowds of adoring fans. During this honeymoon period, like a new relationship, everything seems to be just great, but once the novelty wears off, you realize that learning an instrument takes work and dedication. While this can be daunting, once you look back and reflect on how much progress you’ve made, it’ll be easy to move forward.That said, kids are frequently over-committed with after school activities and distracted by all the options, making it difficult for music to take priority. Between art, sports, karate, and the myriad of things to do, it can be hard to keep up with The Schedule. However, it’s important to realize that the lifelong social and psychological benefits of music are just as impactful as those of sports, so make sure there’s room for music lessons and practice!

Like any venture that takes time and effort, learning music has its ups and downs, including practicing, challenges, teacher dynamics, and outside distractions. Of course, students need to practice, but finding the balance between pushing against their will and guided discipline will make all the difference in the world. While there may be times of struggle, ultimately, students will thank their parents later for not letting them quit. After all, music skills will stay with children for their whole lives, even when they grow up. Unlike with sports, you never grow too old or out of shape to make music. Additionally, music lessons provide so many different benefits to children:  concentration, discipline, analytical thinking, presentation skills, listening, and motor skills.

For adults, many students find that music lessons provide great stress relief, as well as numerous preventative health benefits from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, PTSD and more.

Overall, music instruction is beneficial to individuals of all ages, however research suggests that children benefit most when beginning at an early age.  To learn more about the many music lessons and teachers available, call 301.365.5888. From piano to drums and everything in between, we are here to help you find the right music instruction for your family!