Discipline is a marvelous word which has its origins in the Latin word for learning. There are many definitions but I would define it as, “The capacity to do something anyway (and do it well) when you REALLY don’t feel like it.” This is fine for adults, but are children born with this capacity or do they have to acquire it? Can we expect children to become disciplined on their own?
The answer is “Sometimes yes.” There is a school of thought that says that if children have enough desire to arrive at a goal, then they will do all the unpleasant things necessary in order to reach it. Perhaps, but what if you have a child who has no goal in particular other than playing video games as much as possible or avoiding anything that resembles work? What do you do about a child who has a very short attention span or one would rather be playing with his friends than learning to do anything?
The marvelous video below was recently published by Violinist.com. The cellist, Steven Sharp Nelson, is part of the successful group, The Piano Guys. Here he thanks not only his teachers for giving him his passion for music but his father for the discipline he imposed on him which made it possible for young Steven to pursue this passion. He describes his father as a benevolent dictator who believed in freedom of choice. Here are the choices he offered his son:
- Practice the cello and eat
- Or not
I almost stood up and cheered when I watched this video. If I had been at the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) convention where he gave this speech, I probably would have. Yes, his father was obviously a stern disciplinarian and many would not approve of his tactics but the important thing here is that Nelson IS GRATEFUL to his father and his teachers for not giving up on him even though he was a difficult student.
Nelson said jokingly in another interview* that his father gave him “incentives” which Nelson thought of as “threats.” Whatever. The fact is that he plays, he plays well, and he LOVES music. You can’t argue with success like this.
Have a look.