by Jay Payleitner
Adapted from his book, Hooray for Grandparents!
When grandparents pay for piano lessons, at least six things might happen. And they’re all good.
FIRST—and most obvious—you’re enabling that youngster to pursue a valuable and rewarding skill.
If they enjoy it and keep at it, there’s a high likelihood music will bring joy to their entire life.
SECOND, it’s equally possible your grandchild will not master the piano.
Maybe they give it a couple of years and decide it’s not their thing. That’s okay. Not every kid has the music gene. But during those weeks sitting on that piano bench, they’ll develop a deeper appreciation for music and musicians.
THIRD, you’re supporting the arts.
Quite literally, you’re putting money in the pocket of a piano teacher, ensuring that the world has more music. That’s a welcome gift to humanity.
FOURTH, you’re helping balance your son or daughter’s budget.
All families go through periods when money is tight. When cuts are being considered, piano lessons for the kids are a line item that may seem nonessential. Since you’re footing the bill, that’s no longer a question. Plus, some young parents may be a little too proud to ask for financial help, but they will say yes to grandparents paying for music lessons.
FIFTH, through your generosity you have earned permission to ask how it’s going—and hear samples.
Say, “Hey, Cole, how’s the piano going?” Then, if there’s a piano nearby, you might even say, “Play me a tune. Anything you want. Even if it’s something you’re working on that’s not quite polished.” Chances are your request will be honored. By the way, that mini-concert will also be a gift to the pianist’s parents. When Grandma or Grandpa ask, there’s a better chance they’ll sit down at the piano than when Mom or Dad asks. When my own kids were first learning to play, it was a request from Papa that allowed me to hear their best work.
SIXTH, let’s imagine music becomes a significant and passionate part of their life. You can take some of the credit!
When they get a public acknowledgment from the middle school band director, scholarship to Juilliard, recording contract, or standing ovation at Carnegie Hall, your heart will swell with pride. They may even mention your love and encouragement in their Grammy Award acceptance speech. (Did you ever wonder why they call it a “Grammy”?)
Even if you can’t swing the cost of piano lessons—which could be a couple hundred bucks a month—support of your grandchildren’s artistic activities should be an ongoing endeavor. Whether it’s classical music, techno, dance, sculpting, painting, storytelling, slam poetry, photography, filmmaking, podcasting, new media, or whatever, make sure their exhibits and performances are on your calendar. Attend every one you can, and if you can’t make it, insist on a full report and video, if possible.
An intergenerational connection through the arts can be a blast and a blessing. Believe me, it’s a memorable experience when grandparents grab a corner table at a brew pub to watch their grandson’s band play a raucous set of covers and original tunes. I’ve seen it firsthand when my son Alec invited my parents to see The Bandages. Between songs, Mimi and Papa even got a shout-out from the lead singer.
How have you supported your grandkids in a similar way? Share your experiences and wisdom on our Facebook page here.
Jay Payleitner is a best-selling author of Hooray for Grandparents! and more than a dozen other books on marriage, family, and doing life right including 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, 52 Ways to Connect as a Couple, and What If God Wrote Your Bucket List? He and his wife, Rita, live near Chicago, where they’ve raised five great kids (and now have eight grandkids) and have loved on ten foster babies. For information on booking Jay to speak at your next event, visit jaypayleitner.com.