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Siblings. Encourage the Rivalry?

August 25, 2011 at 6:57 PM

If you have been fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have a brother or sister then you know what it's like to have a rival.  I know that at times, they can also be allies...but not today!  Today, I want to address the competitive side of kin.  Some are reading this and may be thinking, "wow, she has some sibling issues."  Or, "what does this have to do with the violin?"  To those, I would say, "you betcha," and "don't worry, I'll get to the point."

For those of you that have read my Mozart vs. Beethoven blog, you have had a slight introduction to my twin brother.  Despite his questionable taste in music, he is a knowledgable and talented musician (P.S. Don't tell him I told you that!).  We both started singing in kids choir around age 4 and started piano lessons at age 7.  He caught on to theory quickly and could memorize songs after playing them only 3 or 4 times.  In fact, he still remembers some of the early songs 20 years later.  I wasn't struggling, but I had to practice twice as much to make the same progress.  

At the time, I was so mad that I was practicing more than he was, but I was practicing!  The rivalry I felt only spurred on my participation and my desire to learn.  By age 10, I realized that I loved music and I started the violin.  There wasn't any competition driving me to play the violin, I just wanted to play.  I don't think that I would have gotten to that point though, if I didn't have that early rivalry stirring me up and pushing me on past the point of music being a chore.

Practical application time.  I've seen and heard of teachers and parents trying to silence the rivalry of siblings when it comes to music lessons.  I think they could be missing a tool they could use to their advantage.  I'm not saying that any parent or teacher should breed this in their children and I'm not saying that when things  get out of hand that no action should be taken.  What I think is that a little rivalry can fuel a student forward when no other motivation will (candy only goes so far).  

I'm not the only one that thinks so.  Some psychologists suggest that sibling rivalry is vital to social development skills.  Fighting may be a way to test and gauge their own emotions.  Regardless, parents and teachers have the last word on how to handle siblings and their rivalry.  

Today, I have switched from violin to cello, although my interest in the violin still lives on.  I am an active member in the music community working in music business and playing with symphonies, quartets, and a rock band.  My brother wen't into journalism and film and won "Best Comedy" for a short film he did last year.  The rivalry is still there even if it isn't so much on the surface.  He insists that he is going to become a household name in his field before I do.  We'll see.

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