Frustration with parents and instrument maintenance
I'm getting a bit frustrated with some of the parents of the young musicians in the orchestra where I assist by tuning and making some small adjustments (primarily bridge alignment) to about 60 violins and violas each week. Occasionally I find problems I cannot fix such as dropped sound-posts, broken fine tuners, frozen pegs, et cetera.
I've given notes to the young musicians to give to their parents telling them about the problem that needs to be fixed and sometimes directly spoken to the parents who stay for the rehearsals. Unfortunately, week-after-week the same instruments return with the same problem unaddressed.
Any suggestions on what to do to get the parents to take care of these instruments?
Perhaps there are other issues that need to be addressed to the student themselves? What comes to my mind is that if the bridge is continually getting knocked out of alignment, week after week perhaps the student lays the instrument face down on a surface when installing the shoulder rest? Things like that.
I agree that this should be addressed by the youth orchestra's leadership, and that arriving with a problematic instrument is equal to an unexcused absence from rehearsal.
Call me when one of your parents insists on using homemade rosin collected from the pine tree in their yard. (true story)
Not having idea what is behind a symptom, restrain from group approach. Always treat every child / parent on case by case basis. There are so many dysfunctional families, violence, addiction, etc... when violin and possibly that orchestra is the only bright spot in young person's life. Taking that away may be the last straw... there are way more important things than the state of a piece of wood.
I bet if you went to their homes you would find that many things are maintained just as abominably -- cars, furniture, plumbing, even their kids' health.
Nothing you really can do. That's just how it is. Some people do, and some people don't. You can't force donters to be doers.
This problem isn't particular to violinists. My wife is a flute teacher and some students will continue playing on a broken instrument for weeks in spite of being told to get it fixed. She finds she often has to make the repair appointment for the parent before anything gets done.
They are not the only child in family, parents have limited free time distributing upon each child. They do not consider learning an instrument seriously, and someday many of them will drop off the routine. In fact, I think many families do not qualify the condition for supporting their children playing an instrument in many countries, unless their children are extremely self-disciplined. The very ideal and suitable family is which having one or both parents with strong desire for dominance, command and control over the their only one child, they will devote all their time and effort on the unique child and prepare all detailed trifles.
There are always going to be parents who don't give a damn , but I think that most want to be supportive if they know what or how.Parents like to feel helpful to the kids, but often when they are not knowledgeable of the topic, they distance themselves...
In some households the cost of instrument repairs/maintenance would be quite low on the list of financial priorities, especially if the parents have little real interest in the child's musical development.
As someone whose parents didn't know that you have to have your piano tuned :-) I expect a certain amount of this is a benign lack of awareness by parents who didn't play an instrument as kids. (It's partly why I overcompensate with my kids' gear.)
"Nothing you really can do. That's just how it is. Some people do, and some people don't. You can't force donters to be doers."
If you are spending their lesson time fixing their instruments instead of teaching them, the parents are already paying for the repairs by way of wasted lesson time. Perhaps if you pointed this out to them, they may become more interested in instrument maintenance themselves.
Thank you everyone. The idea Madeye presented, having a luthier present at some rehearsal sessions would probably work the best. I guess, as an alternate, and seeing that I'm retired I could take the instruments to the shop for the parents and arrange to get them back by the next rehearsal. Of course I'm not sure all the parents would be prepared for the cost of repairs.
The main problem that any violin teacher/tutor/assistant is going to run into (whether group or private) is that 95% of students and parents won't care about violin as much as the teacher does. To them, it's just a hobby (like soccer, or playing Magic the Gathering), and it takes many years of convincing to show people how positive the impact can be compared to other pursuits, to where they start to adopt the same level of importance as the teacher does.
Erik, et al.,
As stated by many here, generally music is not seem as important in the long run, so why bother about keeping the instrumwnt top notch?
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