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What Causes a Talented Musical Student to Become Lazy?

It’s up to you whether to believe me or not, but there comes a time when these quick-witted children start to suffer from poor results not only in musical school, but also in their regular academic studies.

Have you ever heard or used the phrase “talented but lazy” while characterizing your child?

Let’s try to determine just how lazy our talented, gifted “musical student” really is.

Having noticed the child’s talent for music, doting parents will aspire to find the best music teacher as soon as possible. And they are doing the right thing! A professional is required to hone the talents of a musical student.

Next, the music lessons begin. The child is delighted to hear and learn new things. After the lesson he can’t keep his mouth shut – he has so much to tell! During a lesson, such a musical student easily absorbs new knowledge, just like a sponge. As soon as he touches the keys, his hands and fingers acquire the right form. He finds and names the notes in the textbook and on the keyboard with ease. Listen how adroitly he uses those foreign musical terms!

After literally two months the child can be called a small expert. He wins the affections of his teacher, his parents, and everyone around due to his talent. Mother and father have a whole bunch of tremendous stories about their child’s great memory, attention and newly acquired skills. Indeed, they have a point: imagine that the beginner musician is given the task of dividing a new piece of music into bars and phrases, and while he was doing it, he learned it by heart!

Saving time for memorizing, the talented musical student is capable of considerably expanding his curriculum repertoire; the child is ready to leap forward, far ahead of children with more modest musical abilities. Soon you start hearing other parents say, “You have such a talented chid!”

It is certainly very flattering to hear something like this, although you, like all parents, have many duties around the house and the right to rest and spend time alone or with your spouse. Besides, you didn’t quit your regular job or a few part-time ones. As a matter of fact, you, as well as the music teacher, don’t seem to make great efforts in the child’s additional training – after all, he is such a capable musical student! Why interfere with his natural development? On the contrary, you practically do not put any effort into the studying process – your child runs to the instrument and shows you what he has already learned. Very frequently, you either have no idea how to play a musical instrument or have forgotten how to do it: a lot of time has passed since then …

Being a child, he does not go into detail and asks himself questions like, “How did I do it?” It’s very simple for him: he saw, he “photographed” it in his memory, and he repeated it; he heard, he remembered and he repeated. And that is all!

Let’s just admit it: there’s no parent who would refuse to have a child with remarkable, seemingly inborn musical abilities.

So, the child is praised. You, the parents, of course, stand by in admiration; the teacher is proud of his musical student; and all the people who know you and your talented child are awed and amazed. And rightly so! Your child is creating very pleasant and unforgettable sensations… they fill you up from your head to your toes.

But some time goes by and the music teacher says that your child, depending on his age, should train at home for no less than an hour or an hour and a half each day. You quietly nod, taking the teacher’s  request into consideration, and continue to go about your day as usual, occasionally asking your child how many minutes (hours) he spends playing the instrument. You agree with the teacher that the curriculum has become more and more complex and will require additional time for your child to learn. And again you are sure that your child will be able to do this because he is such a talented musical student.

Does any of this sound familiar?

After a while, the music teacher says that today his diligent, talented musical student came to the lesson absolutely unprepared and strongly urges you to track his progress and studying at home. You are at loss; it’s not possible! How could this happen? Yet on this very day as well as the following one, having put aside all other matters, you, as parents, demand the continuous sound of the instrument during a specific time. And during such time, you are listening very attentively to every single sound. You often notice that he plays unevenly, so you ask him to repeat the piece or a part of it again and again.

After the next lesson you wait for the teacher’s comments like a man on trial waits for a verdict. The teacher appears to be happy, starts to praise you and says that the improvements in his musical student are significant and that he can see “You worked with him,” and your child “can,” but “does not want to” and advises you to extirpate the child’s laziness. You agree with the teacher just like before. He must know what he is talking about! And the child, having picked up the teacher’s idea, repeats to everyone: “I can! I am just too lazy!”

Next, you notice that recently your child has become preoccupied with other interests, so you begin to struggle against his laziness. Besides your requests for him to play the instrument, you give vast lectures on having to study even though he might not feel like it. You use yourself as an example and say that you go for work against your desire, and eventually you say that the child simply must study and he will thank you for it in the future…

One thing about “lectures”: they vary, and I don’t need to list them: you know them better than I do. I can, however, tell you a secret – your “lectures” are absolutely useless to your child. They are not convincing. Threats will not work, either.

So what happened? Your child indeed became a bit lazy. The “musical student” lost his interest in the lessons. And each of us knows that laziness does not appear out of the blue; there must be serious reasons for it.

Such a “euphoric” state in the musical student can last from several months to three or four years. But as time goes by, the child starts to fall behind those who always were noticeably behind him. And this gap becomes more and more noticeable every day. And one day it starts to roll downhill as fast as a snowball from a mountain …

The child doesn’t understand anything. The only thought he has is, “If I want to do it, I can. It is simple.”

But something is not quite right. He can’t seem to be able to do it. Suddenly your child only plays the instrument for a specific time – recommended by the music teacher.

I often talk to adults who used to be “capable” musical student in childhood. These people said that the moment they were given the “from… to…” time frame to study, their interest in music was gone, and the “teacher as idol” simply dissolved. Now their main task during practice was not to enjoy the music but to stay put for that hour, or that hour and a half, or two. Slowly and insidiously, their attention turned to the hands of the clock, which always ticked past as slowly as a snail.

What kind of creativity can you pull from a situation like that?

The truth is that even if you force a talented musical student to play the instrument three hours daily, including weekends, and even if he learns the musical piece by heart, he will still stumble and make mistakes during his performance. At this point, the parents, teacher, or both, must have missed a very important detail while training the child at the very beginning...


In this issue, we will discuss special children. No, I’m not talking about the musical “genius”, though there is a category of students who are called “child prodigies,” and only the most advanced teachers should be involved in their training.

Instead, I am referring to the musical student who is quick to learn everything that comes his way, including music lessons, but is far from being a “child prodigy.”

Look around – there are plenty of them among us. Such capable children do not need to spend long hours studying in order to do the homework. All they have to do is focus on the topic for a short period of time, and the result is obvious!

Many of us can only dream of having such abilities for ourselves or our children. And there are many envious people among schoolmates of such a musical student and even his parents’ social circle who will be jealous of his talents.

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