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Problems with parents

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As a parent I have been wanting to start a thread on parents, I know a number of amazing youth musicians, I mean kids who win big money, get expensive violins given to them, get scholarships to big camps, great players. I can't think of a single one of those kids whose parents are not enchanted with their child's progress, trying to make sure that the right teacher's are leading the way, and involved in the process especially when the child is young. I am sure as a teacher it is hard to deal with and parents are often wrong. I often sense bristling at the thought of a parent meddling but without the money, the transportation, the encouragement, and of course the initial exposure opportunity I don't think there would be very many violinists.

I think when you have children, you really need to devote yourself to them when they are young or you are being very irresponsible. Am I proud of my children.. you bet, did I try to find the best possible situation for both of them with whatever they were doing? YES! did I question their teachers? YES! was I always right? NO! did I make my children into who they are? NO! They make themselves from what they take of all their interactions and they decide who they are going to be. I have tried to help out along the way sometimes I have been in the way, but to have not been around at all would have been a real mistake. It is a balancing act for a parent, stepping away at the right rate as the child ages, and it is not necessarily an easy one. I think that it is too bad that parents are so easy to despise, even the most difficult, probably has the best of intentions and should be treated accordingly.

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Hey, are you trying to start trouble here? Just joking. Having been involved in music and theater for most of my life, I have witnessed creative, productive input from parents and even input that could be construed as very destructive. I suppose there's a world of difference between a parent's input regarding a child starting off studying the violin in a small music store as compared to sending them to a prestigious music school demanding their performance be within the top 10 percent of the entire class.

But then, the parent is paying the entire bill. Lessons, violin rental, books, transportation to and from the school, etc., not to mention the bills and responsibilities associated with raising the child to begin with.

In my own retrospect, I wish that I had developed an interest in the violin when I was very young. And that my parents had the money for lessons from the best teacher possible and the best violin possible as well. It was really great playing all those mindless games when we were kids, but if I could have studied an instrument like the violin, even with the tremendous structure that would have been placed on me, I feel it would have been a real treasure now.

Of course, anything can be pushed too far. It's knowing just how much the child can take and that's the problem with some parents. Just my own thoughts here.

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Sorry, the parent is not paying the entire bill. They may be paying the financial bill, but if they screw it all up then the risk is the child is the one left paying the emotional bills - sometimes for the rest of their life.

Neil

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quote:


Sorry, the parent is not paying the entire bill. They may be paying the financial bill, but if they screw it all up then the risk is the child is the one left paying the emotional bills - sometimes for the rest of their life.

Every adult involved in a child's life will have an impact on that child - parent, teacher, private teacher especially. It is a huge responsibility for all concerned.

Neil, were you thinking of some particular scenario?

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Well I have seen parents go beyond the range in reasonableness and have felt waves of horror watching a mother brow beating a gifted 7 year old at a suzuki camp. And certainly by my standards the parents of Mozart, Paganini, and Beethoven would be held up as examples of the overzealous. Perhaps I would end all great art if my standards of how children should be raised was the eternal standard.

But in terms of being just regularly pushy I think it is the parent's responsibility, actually I think it is the teacher's responsibility too. Everyone in contact with a child should try to safe guard them and get them into the best position that they can be in to develop into the finest person that they can be. Whether that means questioning a teacher or questioning a parent so be it, be diplomatic but just do it.

The instinct to protect the young is fierce, I have respect for that.

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Neil, your point of an emotional "bill" is what I was referring to by my entire post. But I was referring to the financial bill initially. But this is also taking into account, presumably, the child having a strong desire to study a classical instrument to begin with. Which is really wonderful. However, for the parents to go way beyond seeing such as an interest of the child to be nurtured, and instead, to treat it as a talent to be terribly exploited, literally run ragged, is potentially terrible. One can look at all the child stars who've been ruined by their parents as an example.

Still, a proper balance from the parents of structured lessons for a child plus all else the child needs, can be a wonderful thing.

I think that as long as the child is not made to feel that their interest or talent is a curse to them (by their parents excessive demands) then the potential for a talent to grow, can be very rewarding.

I'm sure that most, if not all of the top talents today, had parents who at least made some demands of their children. But who also knew just how far to go.

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I was watching Masters last week (golf) on TV. The guy who won was from South Africa and stated in the interview his parents even took second mortgate to place him with the right instructors, tournaments, etc. and entire family moved around the globe with him. Maxim Vengerove and his mom said that she used to yell from the kitchen to practice constantly and he hated practicing, but told her "I am practicing for you only because I love you." They also moved around with their teachers. It is a touchy subjects. Even those pushy parents, I believe, they are doing because they believe in their children's gift/talent. But when parents lose sight of how their children are feeling emotionally, the dangerous situation is ahead of them.

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so we're talking specifically about a certain kind of parent who behaves a certain way toward their child's music. That is differnt than a blanket hostiity toward all parents and implying that they mess their kids up.

I still maintain that every adult brears a responsibiity, and that includes teachers. Wasn't there one a year ago who stuffed his student in a garbage can and said damaging things that would have cause d real long term harm if thechild's father had not stepped in? We bear a responsibility toward children. I would also venture that kids have more wisdom than we give credit for, and it is wise to lend them an ear.

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Hi stillnew, I think you're referring to my child's experiences with his previous teacher, who was becoming incresaingly bizarre and abusive. (That was back when my user id was FrazzledPop.)

I'm not exactly sure where this thread is headed at the moment. I would say that I am in agreement with outside and with stillnew. Being a parent is a huge responsibility, and so is being a teacher. As I see it, part of my role as a parent (and this is even more the case the younger the child) is to be protector/advocate for my child when it comes to interactions with other adults, educators especially. This is not meant to imply anything like an adversarial relationship with teachers -- quite the opposite, in fact. It just means that it's part of my job to know what's happening and why it's happening, and that I will ask questions when I need to, and make the best decisions I can as a result of what I learn. I'm not second guessing pedagogical methods (once that starts to happen, I realize now, the relationship is on its way out the door), and I do take pains not to waste the time of busy teachers.

In my case, I was probably a little too hands off, too respectful of my child's teacher for too long. When things started getting really bad, I tried to communicate with the teacher, and then when that was pretty well ignored, I became more emphatic. Pushy? Maybe so. But I felt I had to do it.

I've seen a lot of different parents at my kid's school. Some of them are hands off and relaxed in all things related to music training, some are in there and involved in what seems to be a positive way, some only think it's positive and are probably doing more harm than good, and then there are the wackjobs who browbeat their children, are always in the music director's office complaining about judging in competitions, scores on evaluations, chamber music partnering, etc. Oh, and there are also the parents outside the school whose children aren't involved in music training at all, or only in a very casual way, many of whom would probably be horrified by most of the parents at the school for simply putting their kids into a music school in the first place. And it's true, this serious music training is intense. When my kid was 4 and noodling around on the violin I was completely unaware of how large music would grow in our home, how long practice would become....but I'm rambling. Every parent seems to believe that their position on this hands-off-to-"strangling" spectrum is the correct position, and that all those to the right of them (that is, more involved/demanding) are pushy stage parents destroying their children. There's always someone they can find who's more extreme than they are to convince them that their approach is one of reason and moderation.

At the same time, to be fair and honest, it's the same with teachers. They all claim they care, and maybe they do in their way, but it sure takes different forms. Some are all praise and would never ever push (not so many of those at my kid's school), some are kind but with high but achievable expectations, some become hugely invested in positive and negative ways, and a few have insane expectations and so are always miserable and mean and have been known to abuse and even strike their students in their frustration. (And that whole vicarious thing mentioned by someone above? In my experience, it applies to teachers as well as parents.)

In my case, we moved on from the abusive miserable teacher to someone who is kind but with extremely high expectations of my child. My child is extremely happy and doing extremely well -- he's improved so much so quickly under this new teacher. He's blossomed. While the first teacher would probably say I was a pushy parent (and maybe I was), I'm pretty hands off with the current teacher -- although I don't believe he'd mind at all if I phoned or emailed him with any questions -- in fact, he's said as much.

So someone's responsible parent is some else's abusive stage parent. I make no claims about where I sit on the spectrum, except that I'm doing my best, but I would say we parents are definitely not all bad. Teachers aren't all bad either.

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Remember that there are musical kids and not so musical kids.

As parents you push them to do wrong kind of things when they are young is

a big mistake. You ruin their golden childhoods. No small regrets.

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