V.com weekend vote: Are there any other musicians in your family?

May 12, 2018, 11:28 AM · Sometimes being a musician runs in the family -- and sometimes it does not!

fiddle family

I really admire those families that produce a musical group or just a lot of musical people -- for example, the Ahn Trio; the highly talented DePue brothers; people like the Suzuki pioneer William Starr, who immersed all eight of his children in music and got them all playing...And how about Ani and Ida Kavafian, sisters, amazing players and world-class teachers. Other violinists who have talked about coming from musical families include Leonidas Kavakos and Rachel Podger, and many more. I always think that family get-togethers must be very fun, when everyone can sit down and play quartets or jam together!

My own family does not have its own band, though certainly music has always been a presence in both the family I grew up in and my own family. My parents were not musicians. Though my sister did not become a musician, she and I did quite a lot of singing together as children, and she continues to sing in her church choir.

My children took various music lessons - violin, piano, guitar, singing. They also heard a lot of music lessons in the house! I think that exposure has informed the other pursuits that they have chosen, and occasionally I notice some independent music-making!

How about you? Do you have any other musicians in your family? And do you ever play together, or actually even have a group? Please vote and then tell us about your experience (or lack of experience!) with family music-making -- and also feel free to describe other musical families you know or know of!

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Replies

May 12, 2018 at 07:44 PM · My parents are not musicians, though one of them is an avid music fan who used to (but no longer) play with a keyboard as a kid, and can also read music. My one and only sibling also plays instruments, and we occasionally play duos together.

May 12, 2018 at 08:43 PM · My parents did not play any instruments. My grandfather worked on the railroad and played fiddle tunes for fun. I still remember sitting on his lap while he was teaching me "Turkey in the Straw". When he died my grandmother gave me his violin. It was too big, but I borrowed another one from my mother's friend and started lessons.

I majored in music-ed in college (violin) and went on to be a school orchestra director.

My daughter started violin lessons and then switched to viola after a few years. She also plays piano. My son sings semi-professionally and plays keyboards.

May 12, 2018 at 09:20 PM · All of us played instruments to some extent, though we didn't frequently make music together. Mom was a skilled pianist. I was the one who first took up violin. One sister had some lessons in it, then laid it aside, and later became an adult starter in cello. Another sister became quite advanced in flute and voice. Her twin brother played the trumpet and was pretty good at doing ragtime piano by ear. Dad could play "Silent Night" by ear, or from memory, on the piano -- in the key of B-flat.

My most frequent musical partner was Mom, who would sometimes accompany me on piano in some of the simpler pieces I learned during my first year. We would occasionally get together for informal run-throughs during the week, in between my lessons.

May 12, 2018 at 09:56 PM · My father was a professional violinist. My mother the church organist. I and my 3 sisters all played string instruments. I teach violin. My 2nd sister plays violin in a professional orchestra and teaches The 3rd sister teaches violin/viola and free lances. The 4th sister played cello and now sings in a church choir. The next generation have all played mainly string instruments and sang. The great grands are now playing violin

May 12, 2018 at 10:24 PM · My parents never had the opportunity to be musicians. My father was Ukrainian, leaving his country at 16 to fight in the Second World War. Coming from the Ukraine, he had a very musical culture and I was exposed to this as a child. He had a good singing voice and could play a couple of tunes on the guitar.

My mum who is English, grew up during the war where things were tough. The family didn’t have much money and I don’t think anyone was musical. She too had a good singing voice and always sang songs to me when I went to bed.

I consider myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn the violin.

May 12, 2018 at 10:28 PM · My father was an amateur violinist, my mother played piano and my wife plays piano. I play violin, cello, and viola and I gave my older granddaughter violin lessons for 10 years, from age 6 - 16, fairly successfully. She played in her high school's "Chamber Gladiators" for 2 years and then switched to "Roots" or "World' music for the last 2 - she is also a singer (some training) with a beautiful voice - she sang the solo for her HS graduation. One of my great joys was the semester when she (about age 12 then) gathered a group of her friends, another violinist, a cellist, and a clarinetist (and maybe a flutist, I can't recall) to form a small ensemble which culminated in a Christmas concert for the parents that included Haydn's Toy Symphony, with the parents drafted to play the toy instruments.

Her younger brother played and sang professionally for about 5 years - had a band (3 CDs) and is working on his 3rd solo CD) and composing with at least 40 - 50 songs under his belt. He started on and studied classical piano for about 10 years and then studied Jazz piano and guitar. Switched to a music major in college.

Their dad has been an avid pianist since his son started taking lessons (same teacher) and has 3 lovely pianos (Beckstein, Steinway, and Pleyel). He now keeps the Beckstein at his work office - helps him unwind (I love that piano).

Our youngest granddaughter (different parents) started on piano and "ballet" as a little tot, and even tried violin and simulated cello when she was 7 (I put an "endpin" in one of my violas for her) She was progressing in the Suzuki violin book about 1 piece per week, but quit after a month. But she "made her mark" as a singer with the San Francisco Girl's chorus (age 8 - 16, maximum age allowed) and had years of voice lessons and performed with such groups as the San Francisco Symphony, Cypress String Quartet and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Hers is one of the 400 voices on the SFS's Grammy winning recording of Mahler's 8th.

My son, the grandkids' uncle is also studying violin now - playing gigs too. He started on piano at age 5 and moved on to trumpet because his arms were too short to play trombone - but he started out "buzzing his lips" playing Taps through his bicycle handlebars while lying on the front lawn. In high school band he played trumpet for 4 years. In his late-teens and early 20s (about 35 years ago) he played guitar and sang professionally for a few years and still gigs and open-mics and writes songs. He has a small recording studio (studied recording engineering in LA for a year or two back when).

May 13, 2018 at 01:12 AM · I think the definition of family used here is too restrictive. Given the choices I had to vote that I am the only musician in my family, but two of my first cousins on my father's side also did music performance degrees (piano and french horn) in college, as did two of my nieces (voice).

May 13, 2018 at 02:46 AM · I agree with Katherine. It also doesn’t account for when these family members quit or die. I had a great uncle who was a musician. A great aunt gave up on a professional cello career long before I was born. An “other family members who are/were musicians” option would be nice.

May 13, 2018 at 07:40 AM · while everyone in my family growing up had some training. I'm the only one still playing. Currently my wife does not play but I do have a niece learning violin.

May 13, 2018 at 08:15 AM · Non-musical family here. The only musician before me in at least five generations of my extended family before I got into music was a great-uncle who died years before I was born, though my younger sister went on to play keyboard and drums in an indie rock band. My parents don't even listen to music of any kind, much less play.

May 13, 2018 at 01:11 PM · My mom played piano and sang. We kids were all expected to play an instrument in school. I am the only one who continued playing beyond school. These days my cousins and I have formed a renaissance group, playing gigs at wineries and such. Great fun.

May 13, 2018 at 05:53 PM · Both of my children have musical talent. One started out well but later spurned it. The other had no interest in music when he was younger but when he was in high school he discovered his passion and performed, studied theory, and composed in college. He has a mathematical mind and is super-coordinated so he excelled in all aspects. Eventually the realities of being a professional musician became apparent and he doesn't even have time to play now, let alone compose. I hope that some time later in life, one or both of them rekindle their interest.

May 13, 2018 at 07:22 PM · My family has been full of professional or professional quality musicians for several generations, although with my kids' generation, we seemed to have reached the point where there really aren't any. Perhaps the generation to come will have some. Let's hope so.

May 13, 2018 at 08:41 PM · My great-grandfather (or so) played the violin, apparently a Stradivarius, although I doubt the accuracy and honesty of that part. The story of how he came in possession of one is that he visited New York, and a violinist who frequently performed at Carnegie Hall approached him and told him he didn't want to play any longer, but wanted his 'Stradivarius' violin to go to someone who would play it. Does that sound the least bit credible? Anyway, I'm told he played very well, but was a drunkard, gambled quite a bit, and lost the violin in a gambling game.

My aunt plays (or played) the piano but cannot read sheet music. She is a beginner violinist, except that before she started she thought she'd be able to play Rimsky-Korakov's Flight of the Bumblebee immediately. When she learned it would take her a while to be able to play basic scales and tunes with a good sound, she became a bit discouraged. I'm hoping she'll continue. I don't know how often she practices piano (keyboard, really), or if she even does anymore.

When my mom was younger (probably 9-19), she played basic melodies on an organ that was at her parent's house. I don't know how much she could play. She doesn't read sheet music, and she didn't take lessons. She stopped playing after she moved out. She may take up the guitar, given that my brother (as told below) doesn't play his, but I'm not sure. She enjoys singing but never took lessons for that, either. I don't think she'd ever identify as a vocalist.

My brother was a guitarist, but discontinued learning it a few years ago. When he played, we'd sometimes play together, with me on the piano, and later the violin.

My uncle has a banjo that he hasn't touched in years. I think he may have played extremely basic things on it, but I'm not sure. One string has broken off and it is majorly out of tune.

There may be others in the family (our family's huge, so it's likely), but those are the ones I'm aware of.

Basically everyone in my family decided to stop playing at some point for some reason or other, except for my aunt and the piano that I am aware of. I'm determined to not follow the same course;)

On that note (not intended as a pun), I am going to vote that I am the only musician in my family, since the options don't mention aunts, and all the above examples gave up at some point.

May 13, 2018 at 10:33 PM · Professional musicians: Me, my mother, my sister, a great-uncle; my great-grandmother was a conservatory-trained violinist before she married and had children; many other distant relatives.

Enthusiastic amateurs: Many other family members!

May 13, 2018 at 11:36 PM · My family became more musical after I had a few years of violin lessons, but I doubt any of them would say they are "musicians". My dad has kept up the longest with guitar, but even today was saying that he hasn't practiced a lick for two weeks. It's hard being an adult!

May 14, 2018 at 02:24 AM · When I was young there was a don't touch cello with no strings, it belonged to my Dad who when he was young played in a dance band I always felt sorry for that lonely cello ,I had a try at the piano as did my daughter we where both turned of by our teachers and now we have found tutors and violins ( Strad copy and a Rich Duke ) which sound great my daughter is in her 50ties and I am over 80ty every time we meet we jam and are always passing info to each other it is great if you add theory to your practice depending on how you feel you have a choice of music john A

May 14, 2018 at 06:05 AM · Neither of my parents are musicians, but both of them likes singing and performing, especially my dad. He's never attended any music classes, but he is found of the old songs so much that he always sings them aloud. Though he has some problems getting on the right tune, I can tell that he truely loves it.A deep love for music is more important than anything else.

May 14, 2018 at 05:24 PM · I differentiate "musical" from "musician". My mother was musical. She sang in the choir and had an interest in piano. We had a piano which she played. She was passionate about music though. My siblings never took an interest making me the odd one out.

In my extended family the "artsy" side comes from my mother's side. Many on her side are/were artists, musicians or poets. One of those gained notoriety.

None of my children have a serious interest in becoming a musician.

May 15, 2018 at 09:08 PM · My father had a love of Opera which resulted in just about every Saturday being spent with Milton Cross and The Met. When I expressed a desire to learn the violin in seventh grade I learned how loan-sharks work he would loan me the money and if/when I couldn't pay the amount it just got added to the principle. Even my rudimentary math skill told me it was a bad deal. I didn't actually start the instrument till I was 30 and on my own.

May 17, 2018 at 12:50 AM · I've posted about my late father on this site more than once. His mother had been a concert pianist. In addition to providing the English translation of Hauck's book on Vibrato, my late mother, who had had piano lessons in her youth with my paternal grandmother (Three guesses as to how my parents met!), was musical enough to struggle through the 48 on the piano in her retirement. I still play chamber music and in orchestras with my 'cellist brother. His younger son can play violin.

May 17, 2018 at 08:39 AM · With the proper training, how big the talented you have, how far will you go. The talent is from natural born, is from the family, The family doesn’t have musician, probably just because no one offer them the opportunty. The natural talented are still there.

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