Weekend vote: Did your mom first introduce you to music?

May 8, 2021, 8:27 PM · Sunday is Mother's Day in the United States, and so Mom's on the mind.

Very often, it's Mom who deserves some credit for introducing a young child to music, and so I thought it would be fun to do a little vote and start a conversation about what that role was, for each of us.

Mom and kids with violins

Here's a nice example: a viral video from several years ago shows a baby at a music class, completely falling in love with the violin (while, coincidentally, the violinist is actually playing "Can't Help Falling in Love"!) The boy actually toddles straight up to the violinist and plops himself at her feet, then a few moments later, hugs her leg!

Props to his mom for bringing him to this music class, and who knows? Maybe by now she has found a way to get him started on the instrument. I know that, for me, one of the most enjoyable things I did as a young mother was to attend Music Together with my small children.

For many people, the first music they hear is their mom singing to them, and this is another introduction to music.

For some, they can thank their mom for enrolling them in violin lessons or an instrumental music class. Some moms even supervise practice for their children. Occasionally I'll meet someone whose mom played, and actually taught them violin!

Of course, this is not always the case. Many people start playing the violin as adults, with their mom no longer around. But - sometimes even for adult starters, the seed may have been planted by some kind of introduction to music at an earlier age.

While my mom did not have quite that heavy of a role, she and my father were certainly there, helping me find teachers, paying for lessons and driving me to countless lessons, youth orchestra rehearsals, etc. They also played me plenty of LPs when I was very young - mostly of musicals. And my live-in grandmother had her role: she played me albums by the sentimental crooner, Andy Williams!

What was your mom's role in introducing you to music, if any? Please choose the answer that best describes her role or was the most memorable to you, and then tell us all about it in the comments!

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Replies

May 9, 2021 at 02:24 AM · My Mom was responsible for every aspect of my gaining a musical education as a child/teenager without having any skill or interest herself.

She helicoptered my practice, enrolled me in camps, pushed me into MCYO (youth orchestra).

These things helped my resume and I believe was instrumental in my pursuit of higher ed.

Thanks, Mom!

May 9, 2021 at 02:28 AM · My mom made sure I practiced and was supportive of all my efforts on the violin, attending all my concerts and recitals. She was particularly proud when I came back to the violin after a long absence and began writing for violinist.com. I am forever grateful that she got to read many of my posts on this site prior to her passing. She was my biggest fan. (Thanks for linking to my blog about her, Laurie. That means so much!)

May 9, 2021 at 04:11 AM · My mom played recordings, but not necessarily for me. It was for herself frankly, and not necessarily the greatest music, but it wasn’t bad music either. So I’d say that exposure started me loving music. I found my own teacher, paid for my own lessons and bought my own instruments. So my mom gets minimal credit. She had her own issues to deal with though.

May 9, 2021 at 05:13 AM · My mother didn't like music but when I wanted to play the violin she at least didn't stop me. My dad played Mozart and Bach records. He had played clarinet in high school and college and played in a swing band in college.

I loved Yehudi Menuhin, still do. He was why I wanted to learn to play. I heard Scherchen's recordings of the Brandenburg Concerti with the Vienna State Opera orchestra. They are supposed to be very flawed but there is an honesty there that even a child like me could tell.

May 9, 2021 at 05:23 AM · My mum was a conservatory trained organist. We lived on a relatively remote sheep station in central Queensland, so I didn’t start piano till I was 8 as we didn’t have one till then. She was my first teacher.

I badgered my parents to learn the violin after finding one in my mothers childhood bedroom at my grandparents. There was no way to learn until I went to boarding school at 12.

I learnt for a year, but for several reasons, only lasted a year then. My mum remained a formidable piano coach on school holidays, and although I had a good teacher, she was the one that put in hours getting my pieces ready for upcoming exams, so much so that one of the music teachers asked me to play a particular piece that we had worked particularly hard on for her students.

With that experience, it was a bit strange to practice the violin at home with no input, when I was always aware of her keeping an ear on my piano practice.

I do wish she was able to know that I started learning again, many years later, and that that year was not wasted.

May 9, 2021 at 11:26 AM · Mom was an important musical influence for me. She was a skilled pianist; and I remember her playing recordings of Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky -- even before I started school. By age 7, I had made my own routine of sitting in the living room every Saturday for several hours, listening to one classical music album after another from my parents' collection.

Mom suspected I might have musical ability and enrolled me in beginning piano lessons on a trial basis when I was 7 y/o. But the violin muse got hold of me soon afterward, and I made the switch.

The video of the baby at the music class reminds me of one late afternoon or early evening in summer 2012 when I was practicing and playing in the garage. Unknown to me, a neighbor's kid, about 6 y/o at the time, had parked his bike in the driveway and stopped to listen. He walked up to the garage door and knocked. You guessed it -- he wanted to try out my instrument.

May 9, 2021 at 01:32 PM · My parents were not particularly musical. Church on Sundays meant going to an early service with no singing; my dad believed that music lessons ruined your ability to play by ear. He sort-of played the banjo.

I listened eagerly to almost all music, and sang along. Particular favourites were Rogers and Hammerstein/Lerner and Lowe Broadway cast albums, and a 45rpm selection from Tchaikovsky's 'Sleeping Beauty' - in mono, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. I thought that was the essence of music itself, and I'm still fascinated by Ormandy and the Philadelphia.

I have to thank my sister who taught me how to operate the gramophone (magnificent word that captures the importance of that machine!), and my parents for loads of support (even if some of it must have been tinged with mild bafflement,) and I started violin lessons with a lovely and very musical local family that ran a little music school. My mum instituted a plan whereby if I saved half the price of an LP, she would chip in the rest. Early purchases were Beethoven Piano Concerto no.3 (Julius Katchen, Pierino Gamba, LSO), Schubert symphonies 5 & 8 (Fritz Reiner, Chicago SO), and Dvorak's 'New World' (Karajan and the Philharmonia).

As a less-than-average violinist, I am grateful for the encouragement and the freedom this gave me to make my own way in the world of music.

May 9, 2021 at 02:21 PM · It was completely my decision to start music lessons at age 10, so she had no input at all sadly

May 9, 2021 at 03:06 PM · My mum might have introduced me to music, but I suspect she was pipped to the post - I spent the first two years and several months of my life in Wales (where my refugee parents had landed up), and mum couldn't sing quite as well as the Welsh, and my father led the BBC Welsh Orchestra (until the soldiers came back from the war and, rightly, took back all the orchestral jobs and he soon had to go to London to find work, us joining him nearly three years later when he'd managed to get a mortgage). I first handled a violin at the age of three. So I don't think mum got much of a look in, musical though she was.

May 9, 2021 at 03:50 PM · I got my introduction to music at school, not at home. After I took lessons in school for a while and showed that I was going to stick with it, my parents paid for and drove me to lessons, festivals, and Youth Orchestra, but they never became classical or violin music lovers. My mother struggled with mental health issues and did the best she could, in music and other things, but it wasn’t enough and thinking too deeply about what could or should have been is just a recipe for grief. She is doing better now in her senior years; sometimes she even asks me about music because she knows it’s important to me. She sings in a church choir now, and I have done so in the past too. I am much more talented, accomplished, and interested in playing the violin and viola than I am as a singer, but singing does give me an important connection to my mother, so when the pandemic allows, I plan to go back to it.

May 9, 2021 at 03:51 PM · My mom sang and played the piano. She and I sang together all the time. She started me on piano and then supported me when I started to learn to play the violin. She and my dad were very supportive of all my musical efforts through my life. They were attending my recitals and concerts when they were in their 80's. I miss them both but I really miss singing with my mom.

May 9, 2021 at 03:59 PM · My mother was a concert pianist and taught me how to play piano at an early age. There was always classical music playing in the house. There are pros and cons of having your mother as your teacher! It was tough having her there every time I practiced! And the times I didn't want to practice - well, we won't go there right now. However, music is a huge part of my life and I have my mother to thank for that.

May 9, 2021 at 05:21 PM · I can really identify with the practice issues, Joe ! I didn’t go there either!

May 9, 2021 at 06:52 PM · My mom liked music and I think my first introduction was probably listening but I don't remember anymore. I just know I enjoyed playing with a toy keyboard before starting piano lessons at age 4.

May 9, 2021 at 07:13 PM · My mother played the recorder (alto). She used to play little baroque pieces, menuets and such like, accompanied by my father on a little one-manual harpsichord (it took less space in our small apartment than a piano). They often played after putting my brother and myself to bed. I remember falling asleep while they were playing.

When I was seven she bought me a soprano recorder and sent me to the lady upstairs who gave me lessons. This is when I learned to read music and other basic skills (my violin teacher later said that the recorder was the worst thing to teach children--it "killed" their intonation).

At 11 I was judged old enough and wise enough to play a "real" instrument. The choice was entirely mine (though my parents were rather glad I did not pick the piano). I got a 3/4 size rental violin and a freshly graduated pretty young teacher (she married and left town a year later--my second teacher was less pretty but more experienced and a bit of a drill sergeant. I owe her most of the technique I have).

My mother used to nag when my brother (cello) and I were too lazy to practice but did not interfere with our practice (except sometimes to complain if we sounded really bad). We both liked that and would not have wanted her to micromanage our practicing. When we were advanced enough (approximately around the time I got to begin on third position) we got into the habit of playing baroque sonatas (Telemann, Vivaldi, Handel and more) with my father on the harpsichord. We played on rainy Sunday afternoons or evenings that would have been boring without music. We sometimes played through all 12 sonatas of Vivaldi's op. 2 in one go. My mother had abandoned playing the recorder by that time and liked to just relax and knit something and listen.

Both my parents were very keen to give us a music education. And in their admirably hands off way they did a perfect job.

May 9, 2021 at 07:24 PM · For once I cannot vote on this question because my mother (as well as my father) flatly refused to support my budding interest in the violin while in Jr. High (Middle School).

It was an economic issue as they did not have the disposable income required. My father qualified his refusal with "you can when you can pay for it." That is what happened, as an adult I could afford it and I did.

Some have wondered why I don't charge for providing lessons. My childhood is that reason. While I will help any violinist who wants my help, I seek budding young musicians who could never get lessons if the family has to pay for them.

May 9, 2021 at 07:49 PM · My mom's relationship to my music making is a complicated one. When offered the opportunity for me to take piano lessons, she took it, and then my parents paid for my piano lessons until I graduated from high school. My mom also tried to find me a violin teacher when I showed interest in it in middle school (unsuccessfully as multiple teachers rejected me saying I was too old to start learning a string instrument). But neither of my parents like music and neither listens to music at all to this day; I was expected to practice piano every day but was also asked to try to do it when my parents were not home if possible. I also didn't really get a chance to start listening to music at all until I had my own bedroom and could listen behind a closed door. So I got financial and logistical support, but also a lot of hindrance from my parents' personal dislike of music.

Ironically, one of the biggest ways my mom made me a better musician was by pressuring me to quit as soon as I started college. My act of rebellion was not only continuing to play piano, but also picking up several new instruments and starting to compose, all while pretending I had quit. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that my parents began to accept that music was actually important to me.

May 9, 2021 at 09:24 PM · George, You have taken a lemon and made gallons of full strength wonderful lemonade. That's great.

May 9, 2021 at 09:25 PM · Andrew, That's my kind of rebellion!

May 10, 2021 at 11:49 PM · First, I must say “George Wells, good for you!”

My mother loved classical music, as did my father, and I listened to a lot of classical music on the phonograph and radio when I was growing up. My parents also took me to free classical concerts (we were poor), one series funded by a local brewery.

My father really championed the cause of my violin playing. He took a strong, participatory interest, not only taking me to my violin lessons but sitting through them and then talking to my teacher. My parents became friends with my teacher and his wife, often having them over for dinner. He was like extended family (grandfather) to me. To this day, I have his photograph on display in my room. My father took me to community orchestra rehearsals, sat through them, and befriended the conductor and the other musicians. He also bought me my first good violin, even though it took him years to pay for it. Memories of my father and my violin teacher are the strongest, dearest memories of my childhood.

May 13, 2021 at 03:06 PM · My mother was the single reason I was exposed to classical music - but for the Nazis she might well have had a professional piano career and she also sang and played klezmer. She delighted in my violin playing, probably more than I did as a child. Perhaps most important she listened a lot to classical music and delighted in playing mem recordings by Heifetz who she adored.

My father, bless him, also tried (he played violin for a while as child) but his efforts were not so constructive and I ended up avoiding playing at home and only practiced at school! His favorite violinist was Kreisler - and I remember arguments between them as to which was better.

What a marvelous exposure - part Heifetz, with his superlative technique, and part Kreisler with his instinctive expression. If only I had turned out half of each!

Thanks for this poll Laurie - it gave me some wonderful memories.

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