My Son's Piano is Killing Me


Karl Greenfield is like every other parent on the planet: worried, stressed out, and exhausted. The problem is that his 13 year old daughter is even more so. He would find her pretending to go to sleep only to be doing homework instead. She was skipping out on activities and family time to finish algebra problems and memorize English quotes. 

He wondered whether her extreme study habits was a result of her inefficiency or a burdensome workload and decided to find out. So, for one entire week, he did all of her homework with her. Over a period of seven days, after a long day a work, he sat down and did everything he could, but not everything that was required. 

It turns out that HER workload was more than HIS body could handle, as for seven straight nights; he fell asleep long before his daughter did.

Despite the popular belief that young people are lazy, students today work harder and longer than ever before. As I chronicled a few weeks ago, today’s high schools have an entire extra year of graduation requirements to meet than was the case just twenty-five years ago. In general, today’s students are doing more with less academic time than my generation did.

And our students carry the extra burden of music on top of that.

Students involved in music can spend up to an extra twenty additional hours a week involved in rehearsal, practicing, sectionals, etc. They rise before the sun and go to bed long after the moon has risen and through it all spend their entire days academically engaged with little room for rest or relaxation. And yet, I still constantly hear the phrase, “Kids today aren’t as committed as I was?” 


I remember myself at 16 and I was a bonehead. Even as a teacher wanna-be, I was late, lazy and lack-luster in all things, musical and otherwise. I was slacker personified.

Yes, it's easy to question the work ethic of young people. In fact, it's as old as time itself as Socrates lamented over the same thing. And in that way, and that way alone, Socrates and I are similar.

Just yesterday, for the bazzillionth time, I had to remind my lazy son to practice his trombone and piano. He sharply responded that he had already practiced five days this week and that was enough. Just as I was about ready to lay the hammer down, he screamed, “When was the last time YOU practiced?” I told him that I play every single day. He said, “Playing Billy Joel is NOT practicing! When was the last time you PRACTICED?”

Ummm… Let’s just say it’s been awhile. A VERY long while.

It turned out that I was criticizing him for, well… Being like me: a lazy undisciplined pianist.

So, yesterday I sat down to work on the same piano excerpt he was was working on. As I painfully blundered my way through the excerpt I was reminded that sometimes I am better at talking the talk than walking the walk. 

I guess that’s why I have the job I have and he has the job he does. He does all the walking and I do all the talking.

Being a student isn't the the most difficult thing in the world, but it's not the easiest either. Students deserve credit when they achieve and guidance when they fall short. Through it all, let's remember that in good times and in bad, we're in it together!

You don't have to be Socrates to find the flaws in our youth. But, you don't have to be a genius to find the good in them either.

Have a great week.

p.s The picture above is my son and his piano teacher at their lesson last night. Miss Megan (as we call her) is a saint as she always sees the good in my son. That is why she is his piano teacher and I am not. Well, that and the fact that I am a terrible piano player.