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Listen carefully and you will hear your child telling you just what they need. When I hear my six-year old piano student ask me questions about how her mother will be able to understand the things I am teaching her in her lesson, I see that she is telling me something important. She is informing me that she is confused about the roles the adults in her life are taking relative to learning piano.

She is informing me that it is time for her to own her own lessons. At first parents bring the music to the child, set up the lesson, buy the music, get things started. But then comes a point when it is right to let go and for the child to be in charge of their own learning and growth, to own the experience herself. I see it as an opportunity to offer a child a chance to learn and take pride in doing hard things, on their own, with the teacher.

So my student and I discuss the challenge of playing the duet. It is harder to play your part when a second set of hands is on the keyboard. It is confusing. It is challenging. But we talk about it and we decide ahead of time that it need not be perfect the first try, and we expect success but don’t insist on it. When it happens that my student does well she can then take that home to show the rest of the family, and be the one who ‘knows more’ than the others about piano, even if they are all virtuosos. It feels powerful to do so. It feels successful, and it feels joyful to master the challenge set forth by the teacher.

We celebrate the invisible development of self-esteem and emotional growth that apparently occurs before our very eyes.