Printer-friendly version
The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Did you grow up in a musical family?

August 23, 2013 at 8:00 PM

This week a reader asked if a budding violinist has any advantage, growing up in a musical family.

I've often wondered the same thing! I can't by any stretch say that I grew up in a musical family -- neither of my parents played an instrument or sang -- though fortunately, they did play the radio and record-player! (Not to date myself!)

I often wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where the whole family plays quartets together, or where someone can play piano while everyone else sings, etc. It looks really fun!

Did you grow up in a musical family? Are there musical families you admire?

From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 8:08 PM
You bet I did. I was one of the lesser talents in several generations including many professional musicians and a couple of superstars.
From Cara Krzyzanowski
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 8:41 PM
Both of my Grandfathers played violin. One of them also played bass. My mother played piano when she was younger. My father and brothers both play guitar. My oldest brother is in a band, plays not only guitar, but also mandolin, flute, keyboard, and ukelele. My younger brother also played drums in school. My brothers are 12 and 14 years older than me. When they used to babysit me, they would take me in their room so they could play their instruments. I would fall asleep, until my parents came home. As soon as the music stopped, I would wake up and complain. I guess I can definitely say music is in my blood. :)
From Emma Otto
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 9:32 PM
My mom had played piano as a kid, and my dad played a little guitar. But neither of them were serious musicians. To my knowledge, none of my direct ancestors played any instrument seriously either.
From Susan Jeter
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 9:38 PM
My earliest memory is Dad playing Burl Ives records, and I had a 45 rpm record in red vinyl of "Alexander's Ragtime Band". There was always music in the house.

My paternal grandfather played trumpet, Dad was a baritone, and one of my brothers plays French horn.

I had two years of piano lessons at age eight; started violin lessons after that and started my orchestral life in the 5th grade. Choir started in the early grade school years and has continued most of my life.

I can't imagine a life without music.

From Amy Nemecek
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 10:03 PM
My mother was a trumpet player and encouraged all of us kids in musical pursuits. I'm the only one who stuck with it, though. Both of my grandmothers played the violin, and both of my grandfathers were singers (one a soloist, the other as part of a men's octet). My great-grandfather was a church organist, and my cousin is a church organist and choirmaster. So music is just sort of in the genes, I think.
From Steve Reizes
Posted on August 23, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Really I wanted to select "sort of". We all learned something at some point, but music wasn't regular in the house.
From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on August 24, 2013 at 1:00 AM
I'm not especially in a musical family but my family promotes clever hobbies IF we like it. No pressure!

My grandmother used to play a bit of piano (Christmas songs, church music etc.) when I was young and she actually taught me and my sister some musical basics such as note reading and simple piano tunes. We liked it and were talented but not serious at all.

We didn't have a serious musician to show us the way... Music started in the highschool band where me and my sister played flute (me) and clarinet (her).

She did 5 years of clarinette and became really good and played in a semi-pro wind orchestra. I quited flute to go towards violin since I always had a "crush" for string instruments sound(violin, cello, electric guitar etc.) I also though wind instruments were too demanding... as doing jogging or so! Well, I wasn't aware of violin's muscular and finger acrobatics back then :)

When my sister quit, my grandma hadn't play for years either so I was for a long time am still am the only musician in the family...

There is good and bad sides to this...

The bad:
progress and coaching must come from yourself. Those who start as a kid have very few chances of beeing mature ennough to "teach" themselves home the right way and can become frustrated and quit... Unless they have a non musician parent willing to learn with them, present at the lesson.

The good:
I have no pressure and my parents, while not encouraging a musical career, still value music as a valuable activity and support me. Many families would have left me with a beginners Chinese violin and no lessons because what's the point and it's expensive...

Also, I have been able to explore many things and make my own mind.

I've knowned non musical kids in very musical families who were considered aliens because they did not like or do music when music was almost forced on every children there... This is no better since it's no longer a pleasure! If one really likes it, one will put the hours naturally. (I beleive)

Musical families that I admire very much?
- The Mendelshons if they were in 2013 and kinder for Fanny! Same thing for the Mozarts
- Rostropovichs and Oistrakhs and I have always found it so cool that Slava's wife had a wonderful career of her own too!

Nice blog :)

From Mark Roberts
Posted on August 24, 2013 at 1:41 PM
In my family musical interest seems to happen in alternate generations.
From Rizky Ramadhan
Posted on August 24, 2013 at 6:58 PM
When I first asked my mom & dad to buy me a violin, they said: "how does violin really look like?"

no one in my family really plays music. my older sister once learned to play a keyboard toy (it had lovely piano sound for a toy.. even the black keys are functioned) when she was in elementary but then she abandoned it and then become mine later...
No one at home cares about any repertoire I had practiced. They are all sounded the same for my entire family: "a music without lyrics which you can not sing along with" lol

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on August 24, 2013 at 10:24 PM
My mother grew up during the Great Depression. Her parents couldn't afford piano lessons for both children but my mother got to take some of her sister's lesson time. When I was small, my mother would play the piano while we "interpreted" the music with actions. I always enjoyed music and was encouraged in all my musical activities. Both of our children have been surrounded with music from the time they were born. Our son took no real interest until high school, when he took up guitar, and now majors in music in college. He composes music for electric guitar in the classical vein and has very eclectic musical tastes. He's gone further in music than anyone else in our family ever has. My daughter is only 11 so I don't know how far she'll go in music, but she is serious about the trumpet. I told her that music is one of our family values. (Another is animals, which both offspring will likely pursue professionally.) I DID try to get my daughter to play Klezmer with me a few times, but she's not really interested. My son tried to get me to improvise with him, but I didn't think that was a good way to improve my violin playing, and my practice time is precious to me.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on August 25, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Like you, I also thought it looked really fun to grow up in a house where the whole family plays music together. So I've been trying to do that with my kids. It's been rewarding and overall worth it, but harder than I expected. I feel like I am always treading the fine line between letting them do what they are interested in and making them do what I am interested in.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on August 25, 2013 at 3:21 PM
I have a picture in my case with my father and I playing duets - with him on accordion.
From Dottie Case
Posted on August 27, 2013 at 5:14 PM
I've often wondered about this question. I grew up in a home where there was no music whatever, apart from the radio. My father's parents were both deaf-mutes, and my mother's family so poor that she went to work in the muck fields at age 9. The first inkling of there being anything musical in the genes was my sister and I singing Christmas songs in harmony when we were in 3rd and 4th grade, while doing the dishes. I was exposed to recorder in 4th grade, a clarinet in 5th, which I became highly accomplished at. Because we lived in a foreign country, piano didn't happen until age 16 and violin at age 36. However, my daughter grew up immersed, and has memories of my yelling at her across the house, as she practiced, "Bb!", or other corrections. :) She joined my string quartet by age 13, playing wedding gigs, and went on to be first a violin performance major, then later changed to voice. She is now in school studying opera.
From Charlie Gibbs
Posted on August 27, 2013 at 10:26 PM
That was an interesting comment about music skipping a generation. My family was not musical, but my father's parents were, as was his brother's family.

I was encouraged to play music, though. In fact, it turned into enough pressure that in my late teens I turned away from music for over 25 years. It's not that I didn't like music, but the pressure turned it into a love/hate relationship that I just couldn't keep up.

Fortunately, though, I got back into music, first with guitar in my 40s, then mandolin, and now violin and viola. I'm making up for lost time.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal
Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Classic Violin Olympus

Coltman Chamber Music Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Jargar Strings


Violin Lab



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine