What I learned from experience:

When my son was 5, he asked me for violin lessons.  I said that’s fine, but you have to do it for a year.  The following year he came to me and asked for saxophone lessons.  I said that’s fine, but you have to do it for a year.  Three years later, he asked me for karate lessons.  I said that’s fine, but you have to do it for a year.  Five years later he asked me for voice lessons.  I said that’s fine, but you have to do it for a year.  As a result of this process, my son was a decent saxophone player, a 2nd degree black belt, and the Senior Soloist at his graduation from high school who later earned a degree in Voice and Music Education.  Today he owns his own financial planning firm.  He did this because he knew how to work towards a goal.


 The Results

I didn’t care what project he wished to do.  I wanted him to be accomplished at something by the time he graduated from high school and hoped that he’d come to understand that every process in life was the same.  I also wanted him to learn the value of being committed to something.  The “honeymoon” phase is over after 30 days, no matter what you’re learning.  The next 60 days are the struggle and after that we are “in the money”.  It takes 12 months to get a return on your investment and for your child to become moderately successful at a particular project.

Now comes the request:

So, out of nowhere, your child comes to you and says they want to take bagpipe lessons.  You jump on the internet and find a teacher.  If you’re lucky, that teacher will be local, but it’s often difficult to find a teacher nearby. Otherwise,  your child’s lessons will be remote over the internet.  In most cases these days, bagpipe lessons are given over the internet with great success. I can attest to that.

This is how I view my job. Specifically, there are 2 things I do:

  • Teach your child to play the bagpipe
  • Give you a return on your financial investment.

How do you support this?

You might think you have done your part by hiring the teacher.  However, unlike group sports and activities, private music lessons aren’t practice.  Your child isn’t coming online with me for 30 minutes per week to practice.  My job is to teach them how to practice in the coming week.  Their job is to follow my program and do what I’m teaching them to do.  The growth happens between lessons.  Your job is to do the following if you want a return on your investment and you want your child to succeed:

  • Inform your child that they are committed to this project for 12 months. (I can have them playing the bagpipe in 12 months.)
  • Set up a regular practice time every day.  Even a 15-year-old who’s finally starting a project like this needs structure as they likely only have a few more years left with you before they depart for college or the workforce.
  • If you have a younger child, you should monitor their practice by sitting in the room with them, not supervising but reading a book or working on your own project.
  • Take them to “bagpipe-related events” like Highland Games or concerts.  You can find these events from spring to fall listed on the internet.  Some of those events will be a bit of a drive but you and your child will benefit from the experience.
  • Help them find bagpipe music to listen to on Spotify or YouTube.
  • Practicing 30 minutes before school puts your child in the 5-year plan.  Practicing another 30 minutes after school escalates the process to 2 years.

Who is ultimately responsible for the outcome?

If your child comes on Skype with me or comes to my studio and tells me that he hasn’t practiced this week, it’s not his/her fault.  It’s yours.  If your child wanted to play soccer, he’d be on the field whenever the coach called practice and no one would blink an eye.  The difference is that learning to play any instrument is a private endeavor.  There isn’t group practice and our relationship as teacher/student is only 30 minutes per week.   The goal of music lessons is to get to point B sooner rather than later.  As I said previously, I tell my students that an hour of practicing per day puts them on the 2-year plan,  30 minutes per day is the 5-year plan and practicing whenever you feel like practicing puts you on the 50-year plan.  He/she may never get there.

I want your child to succeed!  I want him/her to become a bagpiper sooner rather than later.  The goal is to get the work out of the way so that they can truly enjoy playing the bagpipe forever.  For that to happen, I need your help.