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Karen Allendoerfer

Too much

November 8, 2006 at 12:03 PM

I never got around to calling the piano teacher back for my daughter. I got the recommendation at the beginning of the school year, sent the email, got something back, said I wanted her to start lessons when soccer was over. Well, soccer is over. She's bugging me about piano.

I feel in a quandry: I don't have time to supervise her practicing both violin and piano. I got a bunch of good recommendations for teaching her to read music from the Teaching Music Reading thread. I thought I might get a music book or two for her for Christmas, but she wants "Amazing Allysen" instead, this doll that costs $99.99 and talks to you. Getting "Adventures in Music Reading" when you want a talking doll is probably not going to make you feel well-disposed towards the music reading. She already thinks mommy is too much of a music geek. Probably what she needs is to practice violin more and watch TV less ;-)

Already my life feels good but too full. Last night I was watching the election results on TV and I just couldn't get off the couch and practice, I was so tired. I have slides to make for my boss' genetics lecture tomorrow and I need to do that instead. It's not really like school where all subjects were more or less equal and playing violin was going to help show how well-rounded I was. Now, work pays the bills, music doesn't, so I feel I have to choose work. And it's not as if I don't like what I'm doing for work, I do. I just wish there were more hours in the day.

From Theresa Martin
Posted on November 8, 2006 at 2:28 PM
Hey...I know what you mean about days being too full. I too have balked about having a kid taking lessons on two instruments. I have a friend whose daughter studies piano, clarinet and harp, and a son who studies piano, marimba (sp?) and french horn, but those are rather extraordinary children (and now both young teenagers, though they've been doing that for years), and both completely self-motivated and practicing hours each day with no adult supervision at all (neither parent is particularly musical, which baffles me, but the kids are extraordinary--the seventh grader was pulled out of seventh-grade band and put in the ninth-grade honor band, where she's been first chair ever since, etc.)

But my own kids require practicing supervision (well, the older one doesn't anymore, but the younger one does). Neither of them plays a stringed instrument, where I know supervision is even more critical. They've always had music lessons, and this year, after a three-year hiatus, my younger son wanted piano lessons again (he played for four years earlier), so he had to stop saxaphone lessons. It's not so bad, though, because he plays every day in school band, but I just couldn't handle it. There's such a thing as too much. Both boys play soccer, both boys are in their respective choirs and bands, one was in the school play, etc. and they really do need time to just hang out. Your daughter sounds younger, and it seems especially important to me (a mom who believes in leisure time) for kids to have no obligations.

But I have no child prodigies here--just pretty fine teenage musicians, for whom music, though they protest my playing and my musical friends who come over all the time to play, is a source of continually pleasure and positive reinforcement. They love band and choir at school. My sixteen-year-old listens to Beethoven in his bedroom all hours of the day and night. THey may not be on track for being professional musicians, but they're getting a foundation, and they have the love, and for me, that's good enough.

I've probably not addressed your issue at all, but as always, do what seems right for you and your family.

From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on November 8, 2006 at 3:41 PM
When I was a kid I took all sorts of lessons. At the time I was overwhelmed and stressed. Too stressed for a kid. But now, I am continually greatful, because I have a working knowledge of ballet, theater, choir, poetry, etc. etc. But it was violin I chose to dedicate my life to. If I had not been exposed to it (kind of hard as my dad was a violin/violist), how would I have known this is what I want to do? I would have wanted to do something else, and probably been just as happy and just as dedicated and neurotic about it(!:))

So it depends on the kid. I was taking something almost every day of the week, and had a paper route and jobs as well. I didn't have good relationship skills and was sickly. But what I wanted to do? I was begging for piano lessons. So I worked out something where I babysat a woman's kids for lessons.

Then I moved to live with the other parent, and I had nothing of the cultural culturing I was used to. And I remained just as stresed and unsocial.

So what is the answer? In my humble opinion, now as a teacher, it is really frustrating to have a student that plays several other instruments, is in sports, in school, and extracarricular activities. They don't have the time to focus on violin, which in turns stresses the kids out in anticipation of lessons they cannot be prepared for.

But it is essential to explore the options with a child to see what they have the aptitude and enjoyment for. It might just be better done in succession and not all at once. If she wants to play piano, let her try, but if it isn't somehing she obviously has a passion for, then maybe better to focus on the violin. Have her take a break from the violin to try other things, so it doesn't stress the whole family out.

If the violin is for her (maybe not as a career, but an important part of her life), she will know it is, once being away.

All that said, I don't have kids, and am not in a position to give true advice on the matter. Take your health into consideration as well. A mommy can only do so much before it compromises one thing or another.

And kids do need to play.


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