The Price of Passion

by Idaho Dad on April 18, 2012

Helping your kids discover their passion is expensive!

Sports training, chemistry sets, art supplies. It all adds up quick.

But I don’t think anything represents a major, long-term investment like music lessons. Just to get your kid to learn an instrument to a point where it doesn’t sound like they’re strangling cats in the living room, you’re going to shell out thousands of dollars.

We did this with piano lessons. For both kids. For two years.

You do the math.

Did my kids learn to play the piano? Yes, they actually did. Both of them reached an intermediate level of skill, and can now sit down to play a wide variety of songs, from The Raiders March, by John Williams, to The Minute Waltz, by Frederic Chopin.

But did my kids find their passion? Sadly, no. Neither one of them wants a career in music. Neither wanted to pursue piano to a higher level beyond where they found themselves after two years of dedicated practice.

I saw no further need for investment in this particular passion pursuit, so last month we stopped the lessons. And neither kid was sad about it. The only truly sad person was the piano teacher (the lost income probably hurts).

My kids still play the piano. They pick songs out of their plentiful piano books (another sizable investment) and figure out how to play them. I like that they can read music, and that they can sit down to play some relatively complex songs for their own enjoyment (and mine, although I really don’t need to hear the Angry Birds theme another 100 times).

Playing a musical instrument is a confidence builder, and I’ve seen that in my children. Spending a small fortune on piano lessons was worth it, however painful to the pocketbook, but you reach a point where the passion just isn’t there and you realize it’s time to move on to the next big thing.

What that next big thing is going to be, I’m not sure. Golf lessons, perhaps?

Whatever it is, I hear a cash register ringing.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Katrina April 19, 2012 at 7:44 am

How about writing? Paper is cheap, and the skill runs in the family. ;)

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2 Jennifer April 25, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Yes, it is expensive! I have heard that it takes about 10,000 hours devoted to something to master it. My daughter is well on her way with gymnastics. 8 years now. Once she hit team she went 6 hours a week for 3 years, 12 hours a week for 2 years and starting this summer will go 16 hours a week. We calculated it one time and she will hit 10,000 hours around when she graduates high school. I have NOT calculated how much this is costing us. But it doesn’t matter because at the age of 3 she found her passion and hasn’t looked back since. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and you never know what will end up sticking with them for life.

I have a son who has tried just about every sport imaginable and has yet to find his passion. He is currently playing rugby and this is the most I have ever seen him like something, so maybe after 13 years he found it?

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3 Jim May 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

After 5 years and some pretty good success, my daughter just told us last night that she wants to drop her clarinet as she heads into high school. I’m not excited about that, but I’m not going to be the guy who chains his kid to her instrument, so we’ll see what’s next.

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4 flea July 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I think you did the right thing and if it’s not a passion then leave it.
They know the basics and can help themselves. I did piano lessons in school too and years later I bougth a key board and can still mess around with it if I feel like it, reading music helps with singing too and I see the learning part as stimulating some brain neurons that never would’ve been awaken. It’s great for other learning, activating the parts of the brain.
What about a language, it does the same thing for the brain that’s why schools teach music and language, not because they care who will or want to learn it, it’s all about activating parts of the brain. (or so I heard).
Paining or photography classes?
We do things yearly or 6 monthsly, short courses, seems to help.
Let us know what you decided.

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