Last week I paid my daughter $100 for playing a piano song. And I don’t regret it one bit.
Since our 10-year-old turned 8, she’s had a weekly piano lesson. Her teacher doesn’t have a piano in her home, so she comes to ours—we got an old free piano a couple years ago. My daughter whined and complained about practicing, but she loves her teacher and her teaching style.
It’s $20 a lesson, but it’s worth it to us. My husband and I both took piano lessons as kids. I made it through two years, he made it through four, and now we sorta kinda play. We like to have music in our home, though, and we want the kids to learn to read and play music. (And hopefully pick up some discipline and patience along the way.)
Last fall, her teacher’s daughter was in and out of the hospital. Her teacher wasn’t available for lessons, and we totally understood. Weeks turned into months, though, and by December my daughter hadn’t had a lesson for several weeks.
I made our daughter keep practicing, but it was always a battle. I also tried to teach her, but I play like a 10-year-old myself.
One day around Christmas, I was stumbling through a version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” My daughter teased me about playing it over and over as I tried to figure it out, so I said, “Hey, this is hard! Girl, I’d pay you a $100 if you could play this song.”
She perked up. She said, “Are you serious?” I immediately started to back pedal. Would I seriously pay my kid to play the piano?!
But I reasoned it’s a tough song! She hated to practice and I couldn’t imagine her pushing herself to play it. Plus she’d definitely missed more than five lessons, so we had more than $100 available. So I shrugged and finally told her, “Sure. Why not?”
She started trying right away. When her lessons were able to start again in January, she showed her teacher her progress with the song and we all agreed on how it needed to be played in order for it to be worthy of $100. My daughter kept practicing, and I didn’t even have to nag.
Then the pandemic hit, and her weekly piano lesson stopped again. I went back to still making sure she practiced and trying to teach her myself. But really, she mostly just wanted to keep plugging away at the ol’ Christmas carol.
Well, by June—much to my disbelief—we paid her for the song. She plays it beautifully! In fact she plays it just as well or better than I do. After sooo maaaany months of repeating it, she memorized it. (Heck, in a way the whole family has.) Best of all, the lesson wasn’t just about piano. She learned perseverance and persistence and that she could do something hard. And now she’s planning to give and save and make a plan for that money, and I couldn’t be happier.
So we spent $100 on 6 months of practicing. She may not be on her way to being Beethoven, but we feel like it was worth every penny.