Monthly Archives: April 2015

Where’s the Balance?

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Sometimes I get extremely frustrated in my teaching, NOT because my students don’t practice enough or don’t have enough interest in their own progress, but because their other teachers are demanding so much of them. Yes, schoolwork is extremely important and doing it well is essential to future academic success. Yes, it is important to play sports and exercise. But it is also important to play music, as studies – too numerous and ubiquitous to cite here – have long shown. Where is the balance? Continue reading

22 April 2015

Games Children Play

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There are all sorts of ploys, gambits and tactics that children use to avoid practicing. I don’t know how this happens, but children seem to be born with a complete knowledge of tactical warfare that would do Julius Caesar proud. As a child myself who didn’t want to practice, as a parent of children who didn’t want to practice, and as a teacher of students who don’t want their parents to make them practice, I consider myself something of an expert on, if not a veteran of, the practice skirmishes. Here are some insights on three of the favorite tactics: Continue reading

14 April 2015

Who’s in Charge?

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The biggest problem most parents face with music training is getting their children to practice. Some of my colleagues have invented systems for making practice fun which is laudable and I heartily approve. But the very fact that there is a need for this means that practice is inherently NOT fun and has to be made palatable. However, no matter how wonderful and enjoyable these systems are, there will still be times when a child will not want to practice. Not just the typical “I want to go play with my friends instead,” but a fairly constant lack of cooperation or out-and-out resistance to doing even a small amount of practice. Parents can try new methods or call the teacher for advice but in my experience, it always boils down to one thing – is the child going to do what the parent says or not? Who’s in charge?

I have many parents who tell me, “You don’t know what he does to me at home!” (Oh, yes I do – I have two violinist daughters, remember?) My answer to these parents is always the same: is your child going to do what you say or not. Who is in charge?

This is a decision that a parent has to make. If you feel that children should make their own decisions, then music lessons are probably not for you and your young one. If, however, you decide that your child is going to study music as an important part of his education, I offer a Very Important Observation: Continue reading

7 April 2015