V.com weekend vote: Did/does Your Mom Make You Practice?

June 29, 2018, 4:04 PM · This week Diana Skinner wrote a lovely tribute to her mother, thanking her for making her practice violin as a child, and that is the inspiration for our Weekend Vote.

mom made me practice

"Mom made practicing as natural as eating a healthy breakfast, playing outside, or reading a book. It was simply something you did each day," Skinner wrote.

From the perspective of a mother with grown children, wow, that is one heck of a feat! It is not easy to get your children to practice, and to do it with such grace. From the perspective of a violinist who was once a child, I must say that my mother did not make me practice. Certainly my parents were supportive of my musical endeavors, but practicing was completely up to me and there was no parental enforcement. From the perspective of a teacher -- well it's great when students practice, whether it's motivated by parent, self, or a combination thereof. It certainly helps to have a parent creating an environment for practice. On the other hand, there is nothing that beats self-motivation. Usually, it has to be a combination.

What have your experiences been, when it comes to parents and practice? Did your mother or another relative make you practice the violin or another instrument? And if you are a parent, do you make your children practice? And if you don't fall into these categories (or maybe if you do!), please tell us your thoughts on practicing, and how much parental involvement has seemed to work for you or your kids.

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June 29, 2018 at 09:34 PM · My Mom certainly made me practice when I was younger. It has become a habit over time, so she doesn't worry anymore.

June 29, 2018 at 09:48 PM · It's one of my very few regrets about my upbringing as that my parents never 'made' me learn a musical instrument. In fact, I never really thought of learning one until I was in my 40s and then decided I wanted to learn the violin (although my first, and still the best, teacher transitioned me to viola shortly thereafter).

However, I did get my love of classical music, and music in general, from my parents. For that, I shall be ever grateful.


PS: In the absence of any mother figure I struggle to practice consistently. :)

June 29, 2018 at 10:01 PM · My dad regularly got me up half an hour early in order to practise, but I don't know what would have happened if I then were to say "No dad, I don't want to practise today". I never thought of saying anything like that.

June 29, 2018 at 10:06 PM · I certainly loved to play my violin in music class at school, and in the school orchestra, but I absolutely hated to play/practice alone, at home, in my room. My mother traded 30 minutes of practice in exchange for not having to do the dinner dishes. Then, and now, I'd much rather practice, alone in my room, than clean up the kitchen. Hmmmm. And I love orchestra rehearsals and concerts more than anything else! (I'm now 67 yrs old)

June 29, 2018 at 10:15 PM · My parents were the opposite. They didn't want me practicing when they were around.

They weren't totally unsupportive. They were willing to pay for piano lessons. When I wanted to take up the violin and viola, they had my uncle bring my late great-uncle's violin over from Taiwan and even tried to find me a teacher. (That was when I was rejected as "too old" by multiple teachers in my early to mid teens.) As long as I wanted to learn music, they were willing to help make it happen.

But I think both of my parents are among the 3% of the population with musical anhedonia. They find all music irritating, regardless of genre. I was rarely even allowed to listen to music without headphones, and except in the last weeks before a piano recital or competition, was asked to practice only when my parents were not home.

June 29, 2018 at 10:16 PM · Of course my mom made me practice piano.

But she was one sharp cookie.

Stuff like, “what are you practicing in there? And don’t tell me a bunch of left handed exercises because if I come in there and catch you reading a comic book with your right hand, you’ll be sorry!”

June 29, 2018 at 10:50 PM · My parents didn’t at all, and I was allowed to quit whenever I wanted. I went through a few instruments before finally settling on the viola, and all of the instrument choices were 100% my decision. During high school, I voluntarily put in 4-6 hours a day, and my parents started encouraging me to take more breaks. I hate to see parents forcing their children to practice and picking an instrument for them. Sometimes the parents’ interest lines up with the child’s coincidentally at some point during the forcing, but oftentimes the relationship gets strained, and the kid ends up wasting time on something they hate instead of pouring their heart and soul into something they love.

June 29, 2018 at 11:56 PM · She did, but not for violin. My parents enrolled me in beginning piano lessons for a trial period when I was 7 y/o. They thought I probably had musical ability -- I had already shown a strong interest in listening to classical music.

I didn't get far with piano, though, because the violin muse soon got hold of me. Once I'd made the switch, my parents didn't have to make me practice. On the contrary, during the early stages, they would sometimes have to remind me that it was time to wrap up for the evening. More details here:


June 30, 2018 at 12:06 AM · I find it a bit embarrassing that this question is still being phrased in a gender-specific manner. It's a bit like reading the old Suzuki books where instead of 'parent', they wrote 'mother'. Music doesn't have a gender. While mothers have generally borne the bulk of the childcare responsibility and still do, including in music education, the gender distinction in the case of music, as with many other fields, is not important in itself. What's important is parental or other adult support for music education and practising, which should be more recognised and celebrated, as it was with Suzuki, despite the unfortunate gender bias.

June 30, 2018 at 01:13 AM · When I was young and took piano lessons, practicing was enforced. 1/2 hour a day usually... As soon as I started violin, practicing was something I loved to do and never had to be reminded.

June 30, 2018 at 02:32 AM · Um.......hey, J Ray......lighten up. If it wasn't for my mom, I wouldn't have even looked at a violin. I'm talking about the 1950's when things were very different. My dad worked, and mom was the manager of the home. Like it or not, that's how things were. Also, we didn't have any money. Going to the grocery store - the A&P (ever heard of it?) was a major weekly monetary adventure. We used bread for hot dog buns, and paper napkins for wiping our noses. Kleenex was a luxury item. We were four kids and two adults living on a teacher salary in 1959. Still, with all the tight budget, mom would buy one copy of Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia every other week at the grocery store. The other weeks she would buy one record by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, or Mozart. I'd listen to those records on our old record player along with Elvis and Brenda Lee. Also, I had no idea things were as tight as they were. We had dinner together every night, and laughed a lot. Mom had a 4/4 violin. No chin rest, but I took it and tried my best to play the darn thing. I was awful, and I quit, causing a 58 year gap in my violin education, but it wasn't her fault. She tried her best, while my dad worked extra hours, took extra jobs, and saved for our one two week vacation every August. That was life. So, don't try to PC mothers and reduce their role in music education. Music may not have a gender, but for a lot of us, moms did it all and dad's were too busy keeping bread on the table to look sideways. "Gender bias?" Please. That was a luxury a lot of us never knew existed.

June 30, 2018 at 06:17 AM · Michael Kennedy: If there was a LIKE button under your comment I would have clicked it.

I don't know a lot of the details of our financial situation, but I do know that there were not a lot of luxuries. My brother and I had a full time mother at home and a dad who worked swing or grave yard shifts, so we pretty much only saw him on week-ends. He didn't come to life about my involvement in music until I started college, when he bought a used upright piano and dug out a few of his old music books and started re-learning the piano. I had no idea he played! Perhaps I inspired him to practice. I like to think so. My mom had a nice singing voice, but could not read music or play an instrument. I'd frequently hear her calling out to me as I practiced: "That's not right. I don't know how to make it right, I just know THAT was NOT right."

June 30, 2018 at 09:37 AM · Surely the interesting thing about this data is that 51% of us had no input from parents. We were self motivated. Learning a stringed instrument needs the student to take ownership right from the start or it is doomed.

June 30, 2018 at 02:48 PM · Annabel and Michael,

Gender bias is no luxury. It is a reality for the vast majority of us and it doesn’t discriminate based on income. Also, imagine a two parent household where BOTH parents work a lot, and may not even be a man-woman pair, living paycheck to paycheck as happens frequently today. Gender bias is often subconscious and arises out of the subtle and not so subtle messages our culture sends us starting from birth about what is expected out of each gender, and is exactly what Laurie demonstrated, whether she knew it or not. Did you grow up with messages like “Pink is for girls, blue is for boys”, or mostly see women portrayed as things like homemakers, nurses, or objects of men’s desires on television, or in magazines? If the answer is yes, then most likely you have gender bias.

June 30, 2018 at 03:19 PM · I'm old enough not to be able to remember in detail (had my first piano lessons 75 years ago), but the likelihood is that I was encouraged one way or the other to practice. What probably helped was that both my parents were talented pianists, so could supervise a practice session intelligently when necessary, but nevertheless their policy was to have someone outside of the family to actually teach me.

June 30, 2018 at 03:26 PM · Wait. Did I miss something? Laurie offers up answers for the vote with the options of "parents," "mom," and "dad." She was referencing an article titled "Thanks for Making Me Practice, Mom." How did this innocent vote get to be about gender bias?

June 30, 2018 at 03:57 PM · My parents urged practice as to not waste their very limited money on lessons. That was for guitar however, and as long as I wanted to learn they would support it, but practice wasn’t optional if I wanted their continued support, no practice = no support, so the ball was always in my court. I started violin at 50, so my parents were not involved!

Another question would be, did your parents made you learn an instrument?

June 30, 2018 at 04:11 PM · When I approached my parents about learning the violin the answer was: NO! So, I had to wait until I was an adult with an income before I could start. So, my parents never told me, or even encouraged me, to play or practice.

June 30, 2018 at 04:25 PM · Hi, read the introduction to the vote: it was inspired by an article called "Thanks for making me practice, Mom." And then I added other areas to the vote that encompass all genders. Notice that in the cases where a parent made a child practice, in a higher percentage of the cases, it was the mom. It's simply a statistic. Dads help with practice as well, as is completely clear here.

June 30, 2018 at 05:11 PM · Of course the inspiration is a lovely personal story and the author couldn't have written it as "Thanks for making me practice, parent", or "dad".

But why the singling out of "mom" in the survey? What purpose does that serve? If you say sampled Japan in the 50's, that ratio might have been close to 100%. Were mothers more perfect then? Are they better off now, having music education for their kids added to the list of expectations made of them? Is music education more important then for girls so that they can help their own kids? And sports for boys?

Or is the greater reality that "thanks for sharing your love of music with me" belongs to whoever made that happen, regardless of gender and relationship?

My thanks go to my high school music teacher, who made that the experience for hundreds of us, which I've shared with my own child.

June 30, 2018 at 05:19 PM · My mother didn't make me practice at all. I would practice for hours each day on the weekends and every day over the summer when school was out, so there was never any need for her to enforce it. She had to crack down really hard with my youngest sister, though.

July 2, 2018 at 02:16 AM · My parents focused on results, so they never said anything about practicing. As long as I got into youth orchestras, won scholarships that paid for the lessons, got high scores and laudatory comments at ASTA competitions, and one a concerto competition when I entered, they were fine with whatever worked. I knew they were fine, as long as they were willing to drive me to lessons, rehearsals, and auditions. Some of my friends had parents who tried to control to process, rather than let their kids figure out what worked for them best.

July 2, 2018 at 07:12 PM · A wonderful Question, Yes! My Pianist - Mother, a devoted musician & pianist for Arnold Schoenberg's most advanced classes in Theory, Form & Analysis + Orchestral Structure

& Composition at UCLA, greatly encouraged me to practise with subtle supervision from

her kitchen & bribes of, "If you can play through that Paganini Perpetual Mobile perfectly,

I'll let you have a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie!" Of course, I practised & got the

cookie then she would up the ante by offering 2 chocolate chip cookies if I could play it

twice perfectly!! You bet'cha!! I could well have become the fattest kid on the block, but

one person saved me from that -- my brilliant Violinist - father, who would give me lessons

Carte blanche, & his Cheshire Cat smiles meant the world to me!!! He also was a Great

Teacher & psychologist with a Sports approach re How to practise & train as an athlete for

whatever public performance or audition was upcoming. The metronome was Center Stage

in our home and a Fidel Friend, Never letting me down in the most exacting technical passages

as my violin skills developed & violin repertoire along with such ~

There is so much I could write here. But suffice to say, being born into a home of love with

Great musician - teacher parents with heads screwed on re pitfalls of prodigy-hood, was an

amazing blessing & grace of & from God ~

Momma and Dad's "lessons" have been the sure foundation and bedrock of my violinistic

growth & its furtherance right into Jascha Heifetz's original Violin Master Class at USC, &

our Television Films (now in YouTube for all violinist's & musicians to see, learn from & enjoy

whilst passing on truthful accounts of Heifetz as a Master Teacher in real time & real mistakes

by all 7 of us. Mr. Heifetz's devoted and adoring, admiring pupils !!!! )

My beloved parents amid their more than busy professional live's, made time to encourage and

'Walk the Talk' by teaching me How to play; How to practise, and How to be a truly rounded &

musically informed musician, classically and in a 'Hollywood' setting, then on to London, & the

major Music World inhabitants there, & in Continental Europe. all the while keeping me focused with Dad's Mantra: 'Keep you eyes on the Doughnut, not the Hole!'

It was lovely to see Diana Skinner's Tribute to her Mom, writing of her and all which developed

Diana Skinner into a savvy Teacher whom Jascha Heifetz thought so highly of, acting on it in

sending some of his pupil's to Diana Skinner in Summer's for attendance to those Scales + !!!

Respectfully submitted by ~

Elisabeth Matesky

July 2, 2018 at 08:27 PM · One of my students 'a-few-years-back' when asked why he was the only one in the class that could play the lesson, teared-up and thru the eye-wash, said, "Because my mother makes me practice"...you may have heard of him ROB GRONKOWSKI"...Yeah, The Gronk was one of my students....

July 2, 2018 at 09:03 PM · A Wonderful Idea of asking about Mom's intervening in their child's practise on an instrument & particularly our instrument, the Violin, Yes! My exceptionally gifted with 'savant' talent for the Art of Transposition & Harmony, (serving as Prof Arnold Schoenberg's Advanced UCLA Classes in Theory; Form & Analysis + Orchestral Structure & Composition Pianist, who was performing, impromptu, vast portions of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphonies & Orchestral Symphonic scores, some of which lacked Piano Reduction parts!) greatly encouraged me to practise my violin very early on & with tempting tactics such as enticing me to practise Paganini's Perpetual Mobile 3 times in a 'walking speed' perfectly & if accomplished, I would be given 3 chocolate freshly baked cookies as a reward! No doubt 'Betty's Bribes' Always worked!! She would then up the ante to 5 times w/cookies, & so forth! On the way to becoming the fattest kid on our block, my brilliant father, superb Juilliard violinist (Grad/pupil of Ysaye's 'Apostle', Edouard Dethier) M-F would consistently come home from a long day of teaching + playing in the Hollywood Studios of Paramount, RKO & MGM Pictures, to give me undivided attentive lessons with a Sports approach re training - how to pace one's speed build up as an Olympic athlete in Season Training did, plus musical ideas re violin repertoire mirrored & aligned with Symphonic repertoire he insisted I learn as a member of school orchestra's, Summer Music Camp at USC affiliated Idyllwild Arts Foundation Jr,/ Sr. High School & later, College Camp which made 2 huge Tours to England & Wales, to be followed by a full Orchestra Concert Tour across all Scandinavia! All musical experiences added to one's violin practising & advancing violinistic skills + Concerto literature w/Ch. Music fusing together, built a concrete solid musical - violinistic foundation which propelled me right into Jascha Heifetz's 1st International Violin Master Class at USC, which was subsequently filmed by NET/PBS, now on YouTube for all violinists & string players plus music lover's to view in truthful teaching of the Great Jascha Heifetz, in Real time, with deliberately almost unedited footage from which many young generations have & keep learning from vis a vie 'Heifetz As Is' instead of mythical stories of How Heifetz Taught his original 7 pupils despite the film camera's rolling!

Without the remarkable musical background's of both musician parents, my playing might never have taken me to London on the Fulbright, a formal London concert soloist Debut in the Brahms Violin Concerto w/ Sir Adrian Boult, inviting me as his soloist, conducting Royal College of Music's Honour Orchestra in the Great Hall across the street from The Royal Albert Hall on Prince Concert Road, SW7, then playing Sibelius' Violin Concerto across Scandinavia & in The Master's Birth - House before the entire Family of Sibelius on his Centenery Birthday, December 8, 1965, including All Five Daughter's of Jean Sibelius seated in the front 2 rows in their father's boyhood living room in Hameenlinna, FI, proclaimed on that Finnish Ceremonious Day, by the Finnish Minister of Culture, the 'Sibelius National Memorial Museum' before world-wide television camera's with Eurovision broadcasting/televising my Live performance w/Sibelius 1st Int'l Violin Competition Finnish born pianist, Mary Lakos, squeezed on the piano bench, and myself knowing this Once in a Lifetime performance of the Master's 'Adagio di molto' would imprint my musical life & personal interior Forever as a result ~

Being born to greatly knowledgeable & loving Music parents is & remains a Heaven sent Blessing, and if I may say, without Momma, anything one might think, say or write would be noted as a nice aside yet Arnold Schoenberg's great confidence in his young pupil, Betty, who more than rose to many tasks of occasion, when asked by Schoenberg, himself, 'How can you play my new atonal music at sight, Betty?' modestly replied, 'Because I just hear it in my head, Maestro!' says it all!!!

Listen to Mom's, everyone, for they do know Best!!

A Second Time 'Round,

I Love You, Forever, Momma ~

"Lizzie" *

*On this Fifth Year Anniversary of Momma's Earthly Passing ~

July 2, 2018 at 09:57 PM · To 98.5.150. 253 ~

I Love your Story of 'The Gronk'!!!!! God Bless You and your pupil ~

Sending Musical Hugs!!!!

Elisabeth Matesky

July 3, 2018 at 04:43 AM · One thing my mother allowed me to do was quit piano when I was in junior high. I came back to it on my own in high school. I was the same with my daughter. I have a feeling she won't come back to music in high school (she'll be a Junior in the fall) and I have a nagging fear that one day she'll demand to know why I allowed her to quit.

July 4, 2018 at 06:50 PM · My mom knew I hated practicing but I enjoyed my lessons. So any threat of not practicing was overcome by the threat of cancelling my lessons. Why do parents always have to be so damned clever? Oh ... now I am one so I know why: Because kids are clever too and you've got to stay a step ahead.

And following up on Elizabeth's comments, my violin teacher's wife very frequently gave me freshly baked cookies. (She did not, however, invite me to stay for High Tea, which was too bad because I had my lessons in the late afternoon and whatever she was cooking always smelled great.)

July 5, 2018 at 08:03 PM · She never really tried shoving it down my throat sort of thing. But I was still burnt out after 4 years. Picked it up a few years later though, and I like to think it's because she didn't force me to practice, so it wasn't ruined badly like other kids.

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