Monthly Archives: November 2019

What I Wish All Parents Knew….

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Not long ago on a forum for teachers, the question was asked, “What do you wish that all parents knew?” What a question! But I do have a little list…

First of all, that parents (and the rest of the human race) knew that music is a core subject, just as important as reading and writing, even if it isn’t taught in school. Notwithstanding all the studies that abound on the internet that the study of music makes us all better in myriad ways, many parents seem not to be aware of this. Why? Because the schools don’t seem to be either. I wish I could count the numbers of times I have seen desperate elementary, middle and high school teachers lament on numerous forums how little support they get, how their jobs always seem to be in jeopardy, how they are constantly told that music isn’t important as a subject, how they are overworked and under-appreciated not only by parents, prinicipals, but even by other teachers. It’s disheartening, to say the least. This, of course, makes it very easy for parents to ignore the studies. If their local school doesn’t think music is important, then why should they?

An excellent example of school board short sightedness: my grandsons live in a very high-income county on the east coast with high property taxes and excellent schools. They have a string program in their elementary school (up to fifth grade) which is very well attended. The teacher does a magnificent job, way above and beyond the call of duty, and after their end of year concert I went to congratulate her. She then told me that there was some question on whether the funding would be pulled for this excellent program and she, an accomplished string player herself, would be forced to teach band. In third grade. Where conventional wisdom says that children that young really shouldn’t play most wind instruments as their lungs are not fully formed. And in an area where lots of these children were taking private lessons in stringed instruments anyway. Fortunately, disaster was averted and the program continues for yet another year. But the fact that the school board even considered stopping a very successful program and substituting band sends a very big message to parents: playing a stringed instrument simply isn’t important, even when you have a thriving string program. It’s more important to train a band to play at football games. What chance do parents have?

So, I wish all parents realized that music, especially the study of the piano and stringed instruments which are more suitable for small children, are important and that they should make sure their school boards know it, too.

I wish all parents realized that the discipline necessary for learning a musical instrument will help their children in other areas in their lives. That the same discipline applied to school subjects should be applied to music – it shouldn’t be a choice to do homework OR practice. I never cease to be amazed at how many things parents expect of their children, but when it comes to practicing a musical instrument – society tells them that it should be “the child’s choice” which translates for the parents into an excuse not to impose the necessary discipline. The problem is that unless they study a musical instrument, scholastically talented children who never have any difficulty in school may not acquire the mental and physical rigor that can be a big help when they run into something truly difficult when they grow up. I tell my students and parents that there’s nothing more difficult to do on the face of the earth than play the violin well. Therefore, if they practice it, they will acquire all kinds of benefits that will serve them well later in life (if not immediately): the main benefit being that they will learn how to face, work through and solve difficult problems that seemingly may have nothing to do with music. My older daughter, who has a MM in Violin Performance,, and who has achieved various successes in her professional life outside music, says she owes a great deal to the violin. I read somewhere that Einstein solved the mathematical problems of his General Theory of Relativity playing Mozart quartets. I also read that 60% of CEO’s of multinationals play a musical instrument to a professional level. This last statement may be apocryphal, but where there’s smoke…

But just to show you how pervasive and insidious the arguments are against music, I once got Continue reading

18 November 2019