View Full Version : Let him quit music school or not?

03-17-14, 07:25 PM
Ok, I am asking for my best friend, where I am quite often for weeks. She has a 14 year old son with ADHD.

He wanted to play drums since he was 12, and she enrolled him into music school. But there was no space anymore on drums, so the music school suggested he enrolls into another instrument classes as to better his change of enrolling into a drum class later (those in music school have a priority and can enter earlier and it's more sure they will get space in the class than new ones). So he choose to play french horn as he was on the waiting list for the drums.

He enjoyed playing the horn for whole year. Then in September, he expected to start learning drums, but there still was no space as the classes were still full of studets. His motivation suddenly dropped. He still loves to go to orchestra and loves performing, however we all always have fights when he has to go to his horn lessons and musical theory. He doesn't want to go there. He says he hates the instrument, but loves performing with it.
If he quits music school, he'll not be able to go to the drums next year, as they will release some space.

He said he wants to change the instrument, but if for that, he would change it every few months... once he wants the guitar, next time he'd like to know piano, etc, the only thing that is the real long-time wish, is the drums.
May I say that the boy is highly talented for music and has perfect pitch, hears the song and plays it. I'm teaching him a bit of guitar and he does fine. His horn teacher said he is very talented and wants to place him into even better orchestra, which is the music student city orchestra. That is far from a bad thing.

But he needs to understand that he can't just change the instrument whenever he sets his mind to a new one, and that the only road to playing the drums is him staying in music school. So he quite HAS to play the horn till september and go to music theory (not because of us, but because of better chance to achieve his dreams). Then in September he could start with the drums, his teacher said so.

Now the biggest trouble is getting him to stay motivated, getting him to regularly practice and go to lessons, and what to do when he fights back hard saying he will quit right now and doesn't want to continue practicing or going to music school. In his mind he would only go to the orchestra each week, which is not possible.
How do we handle it? Does anyone have any advice?
Thank you very much, as we really don't know what to do. O

03-18-14, 06:08 AM
changing you mind and interests is very common with adhd. I would really really have a talk with the orchestra director and cajole him into trying to squeeze your son in. Nothing kills a love for music faster than being forced to continue an instrument when you want to try something else. I played clarinet,french horn,mellophone,flute and finally piano. I did the best with piano and I do wish I continued it but after 5 years I begged my mom to stop because the stress wasnt worth it. So now I am reteaching myself again.

03-18-14, 06:27 AM
If he could change instruments briefly and stay in the music school until he learns drums....? ( I have absolutely no idea how the system works there)

if he really is very good, he should be able pick up another instrument relatively quickly. He's already got the music theory of course, that doesn't change! Maybe a different brass instrument?

It's too bad though, there always seems to be a need for French horn players.

03-18-14, 06:32 AM
motivation is closely linked with connection... he wanted drums... now for other "living" things and kids... yeah.... i can see some sort of respect of place and limitation.... in this case though it's a persuit and passion...

your right in having concern about "dropping/quitting" persuits... whether we do that or not as adders is less relavant... yes.... short.... even medium maybe we need external systems to instil a pattern or "turn".... to keep a top of why were doing things.... to stay aware of achievements and process / progress...

start with wording... the "traditional" words like committment... resilience... discipline... especially with passions are a little restrictive... ( this is to show mindset approach for us... not any judgement of you! )...

use words like channel, develop, extend, reveal.... demonstrate, harness.... test.... and so on....

yeah, i reckon he's done pretty good as it is :).... emphasis ( conversation ) should be;

-"geez ds.... you did so well to stick it out ... tell me all the things you picked up doing that?"
-"do you think that these things can be harnessed on other tasks / intruments etc later in life?"
-"explain to me your feelings when you found out you couldn't do drums? no explain some successes or things you didn't expect on instrument B? What does this tell us?"....

etc. etc.

then "ok, what pursuits can we take this dedication and passion to? see if we can learn some more things we didn't expect.... might get hard.... especially at first.... but that's half the fun!".....

or alike....

so fostering expression and replaying the timeline and framing positive experiences is paramount... it's about him being somewhat self determining.... with a guiding hand on the underlying skills.... not so much timeframes or pursuits... though him setting minimum commitments in future ( for hobbies/persuits ) will help foster self steadfastness...

were trying to get to a stage where he can stay for three months because that was a minimum committment he laid out.... he can come to his mom and verbalise changing attitudes... wins.... along the way... so he can be steered into developing tangential benefits in all activities... and presence to not dwell in "want" but "let's see"

03-18-14, 08:01 AM
Your title says "Let". He's 14, if he decides he's not going, then what! Obviously you can't force him, it would defeat the purpose. So really we are looking for how to handle this situation whether he quits or not.

The lesson or goal is to join an activity and to have fun, learn and grow.

Once those things are gone, there is really no reason to continue no matter what the activity.

The other important goal is we don't want our children to give up or quit when things don't go there way.

I have always supported the theory with kids that if you start something, you finish it. So when they tell me they are interested in something I always remind them, "If you start, you finish"

Once they finish, if they really don't want to go back all I can do is to ensure they understand the repercussions of that decision. I want to know how they feel and I want them to know how I feel about their decision.

As parents we may not like the decisions they make, we have this fear that some of the decision they make may affect them negatively in their future, but at the end of the day it is their decision to make and sometimes the best thing we can do is to educate and support!

03-18-14, 09:02 AM
Well I don't know if this is right or wrong, but in our situation my daughter (age 11) has ADHD and so does her music teacher. What she does is switch back and forth between vocals (her main interest) and piano (what she likes to learn when she gets tired of practicing vocals). It was her teacher's suggestion, based on her insight as a person who also has ADHD.

How it will work out though, I really don't know. Her teacher was raised in a strict family and was forced to take lessons and practice, and she has come really far. My daughter on the other hand seems to be progressing fairly slowly, but switching back and forth It keeps her going and gives her something to engage in.

03-18-14, 10:28 AM
I can understand he's disappointed. He started playing the horn believing that in another he'd get v to play the drums and that didn't work. If you have adhd working for fsomething that's far in the future is tough. We don't do well with delayed rewards, especially not uncertain rewards. For him what is the guarantee that he will ever get to play the drums? His teacher says so but I don't blame the boy for having doubts. I think anyone at any age, adhd or not, might struggle to keep up motivation in a situation like this. If he's got adhd I think it's quite amazing that he's lasted a year.

Does he play the drums already? Does he have a drum kit at home? is there no other school where he could learn the drums? How about lessons with a freelance teacher? Is there no way that he could start playing the drums outside that school while continuing playing the horn in school?

He sOunds very talented and it does sound like it's worth hanging on but I think he needs something right now to show him that his dream of playing the drums can become reality at some point. Well actually not at some point but I think, pretty much right now. At least the first step.

That might also help him with his motivation for music theory. Why would he want to learn music theory for the sake of an instrument he doesn't enjoy playing?

03-18-14, 10:47 AM
can they do private lessons on drums

03-23-14, 12:02 AM
i played music too, and i hopped from one instrument to another all the time, in a span of months. i too picked them up really fast, and then i learned to play it, i didn't have the perseverance to 'perfect' the skill. i doubt there's any way to really 'motivate' him to stick to french-horn, if that's not what he truly liked. (we wouldn't even know for sure if he'll really stick to drums after getting on it in case it turned out to be different from his expectations) is that the only school that offers drums? if theres no other options (ie. private schools or teachers) then let him fiddle around with other instruments meanwhile. if he had reached the state of loosing interest, theres nothing much you can do to coaxed him back into enthusiasm. for the record i was able to continue with my violin for decades so yea, if we find out what we're suited to, we can stick with it. =) it might be that drums could be his thing, but it might not, not until he start. otherwise, look for other places that might provide him lessons on drums.

03-31-14, 08:39 AM
I agree, that must be very disappointing to wait for a year to play the drums and find out you have to wait for another year.

Your question is about letting him quit -- but from what you say, he doesn't want to quit. What he wants to do is change instruments. Should his parent(s) let him do that? I think so. He stuck with one instrument he didn't want for a year. I think it would be fine to let him change instruments as often as he likes this year; he'll stay in the school and be able to play the drums next year.

Another option as people mentioned is learning to play the drums elsewhere.

03-31-14, 11:59 AM
Being a MuEd person, I'd say let him stick with it. But don't allow him to switch instruments too often! It's fun to be a 'Jack of all trades' but music requires dedication to one instrument! I would also allow him piano lessons. Being a music major with ADHD and possible dyslexia, theory is impossible without piano knowledge! Also, if there are other music programs where he can play what he WANTS, let him change programs. I understand why programs limit instruments, but it's cruel to force someone to play something like that. Maybe even look at just going rogue and letting him play percussion with private lessons only until they can find a different program. But seriously, let him have piano, you have no idea how essential it is unless you're a music student at a university getting lost in each theory class.

Also, at 14 the school he attends doesn't have a music program? If the school has a program just let him do that along with private lessons, worked for me and the other 95% of college music students in the US :) and if the program you're talking about is through the school, look to colleges and universities with their own ensembles for young musicians.