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
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? Continue reading
Occasionally sincere young teachers call me in anguish over a particularly serious problem that arises when a parent wants to make a change that the teacher accutely feels is not in the best interests of the child. It breaks my heart to have to confess that there’s a Very Important Principle which I myself have learned the hard way, that has taken me years to accept and that I transmit with sorrow:
YOU CAN’T SAVE YOUR STUDENTS FROM THEIR PARENTS
I have said that I never give up on a student. And I don’t. But when I am in front of the superior force of parents who cannot or will not take my advice for their child, there is very little I can do. Here are a few of the impossible situations that have presented themselves over the years: Continue reading