Sports and violin... can they really go hand in hand?

March 12, 2007 at 07:37 PM · A couple of years ago my daughter, who plays violin, went roller skating for the first time and fell and broke her wrist. It was her bow hand. She didn't practice much during the six weeks she was in a cast, but still went to youth orchestra rehearsals. Still today, she has issues with flexability of her bow hand.

Starting tomorrow they will be doing rollerskating for PE. I have purchased wrist guards and elbow guards. The PE teachers said they would supply head gear. And next they will be doing Pickleball? A girl at my children's bus stop showed me her jammed finger from playing Pickleball. I guess it has to do with paddles and balls?

Should I talk to the PE teacher about maybe not doing the skating? I would like your thoughts on what maybe to do.

Replies (101)

March 12, 2007 at 07:51 PM · I read in Strings magazine once that Josh Bell liked to play basketball. I asked him about this after one of his concerts in Seattle and he admitted that he did.

I asked him what he did about jammed fingers from playing basketball. He admitted it probably wasn't the smartest thing to play basketball, and that he did sometimes jam a finger, but he just enjoyed it too much.

March 12, 2007 at 08:14 PM · Jodi - in my opinion, that is unnecessary. I played ice hockey (and still play)and baseball in middle school and am very glad to have done it. We take risks walking out the door everyday. Let her have fun. What happens is all in God's hands :)

March 12, 2007 at 11:00 PM · I played hockey for 25 years. It was safer than walking down stairs (that's how I badly sprained an ankle).

Mo son has broken two fingers in the past 3 months on separate occasions. Slows him down a bit for a few weeks, but he keeps on fiddlin'.

March 12, 2007 at 11:21 PM · Jodi, there's such a thing as being too protective. Life's there to be lived.


March 13, 2007 at 12:15 AM · jodi, i think as a mom, you probably know your kid the best, you know, having that special sense what is appropriate for her. some kids would do the most horrific stuff and rarely get hurt and others can trip and fall on flat floor...

then there is the murphy's law,,,the more the parents worry about it, the more stress everyone feels and more chance of mishaps.

it may be a thorny issue with the pe teacher, but it all depends. some teachers may be sympathetic and others may treat it as an attitude problem,,,that you cannot pick and choose in my class,,,

in the long run, i think violinists should take up a sport or 2. i prefer swimming, jogging, tennis, golf,,,anything non contact.

good luck.

ps what kind of exotic pe class is it?:) where is basketball and soccer?

March 13, 2007 at 12:55 AM · Yeah that's just what I was about to ask Al too. I could never remember bringing my rollerblades to PE :)

March 13, 2007 at 01:00 AM · Simple as that: discuss with your child whether it wants to have the option (not the obligation) to becoming a violinist later on. Explain the additional risks involved with rollerscating and you will know very quickly how much of a genuine musician lives in your child.

Depending on the age it might also be a good idea to show your child that it needs to find out whether participating in "social activities" is in its very own interest first before joining in.

It can be valuable for the child, too, to learn that asking someone more experienced (e.g. parents) for advice before making up its mind about joining an activity is a sign of greatness, sovereignty, even healthy selfishness.

Everybody - even a little child - is independent in its decisions anyway. What makes the difference is to learn which resources, whose advice to seek before making a decision.

So why would your musical child even want to join in when rollerskating is on? Because others said so? Because it wants to be socially accepted? Crack dealers would love parents for this type of "social acceptance first" education.


March 13, 2007 at 01:37 AM · "Explain the additional risks involved with rollerscating and you will know very quickly how much of a genuine musician lives in your child."

Unless a risk-taking musician lives there.

Let her skate. Tell her not to break anything.

March 13, 2007 at 01:38 AM · PE (Physical Education)is a class in school, may be social activity to many, a place to hang, but still a class in school that you actually can get a grade in. may be at her age, to develop well rounded interests is not a bad thing, to have an attitude to be open minded can be helpful in a world that is very very unlikely to have another talent like julia fischer:)

the ideal world will be having the accidental gym teacher who is a violinist him/herself and the music teacher who is of course a violinst him/herself, AND, to top it off, the school principal who is a die hard violinist him/herself.

i never understand why schools do not a special gym class for the needy, i mean, the violinists. why can't people think of some treadmill where violinists can do etude and pace at the same time...

March 13, 2007 at 01:41 AM · Yup, and some smokers outlive non-smokers by quite some margin etc ... So why worry about smoking especially when children under your responsibility are concerned?

Someone ski, someone rollerskate, someone take drugs ... Who cares what someone does? Parents should? Come on, Jim, you can't be serious.

And before I forget, Al, the final and moral responsibility for the child is not with the school. Parents of musical childrens have to learn very fast how to manage their kids school in such situations. I would (and did in fact) discuss sports risks with school representatives, but leaving (in a friendly, polite way) no doubt that parents have the final say.


March 13, 2007 at 01:42 AM · I play hockey once a week with ex-Division 1 college players. It's no big have to have some fun in life!


March 13, 2007 at 01:46 AM · wow... must be a real party in your house, Mr. Fischer.

March 13, 2007 at 01:49 AM · And Dave, if making music is not the fun in and of your life, why would you even do it? Pieter, I have to admit, we do not do roller skate parties in my house. What am I missing then?


March 13, 2007 at 01:48 AM · If she has an important performance or audition coming up, I would definitely recommend asking the gym teacher if she can do a different activity while the rest of the class roller skates. If not, then I'd let her do it. Some of us musicians (and I speak for myself here) seem to miss out on some aspects of life because of what we do.

In February, my gym class was playing volleyball, and I'll be honest and admit that I seem to attract volleyballs whenever I'm not prepared for them. ;) I had two auditions for college at the beginning of February and, like you, was concerned about jamming my hand and/or wrist. My gym teacher was very understanding and supportive and allowed me to ride the exercise bike during that two-week period.

March 13, 2007 at 01:56 AM · FMF, I'm not a parent that I know of. But there's acceptable, necessary risk and then there's foolhardiness. That's the difference between Josh Bell playing basketball and Josh Bell smoking crack (which he doesn't do as far as I know, but nothing surprises me anymore). Or Josh Bell driving and Josh Bell flying experimental aircraft.

March 13, 2007 at 01:47 AM · FMF, i don't remember ever saying this to you: but whatever you did with julia, my hats off. there is a saying in management (peter f drucker): the ultimate test of management is performance.

i do not know enough about julia's upbringing (wish we do, a book in the making some time soon or what?), but i suspect that she is not your regular kid, or a regular kid not in your regular environment, or better, not a regular kid in not regular environment.

on one hand, it is amazing that she is doing so well because it is really really rare that a kid can go this far in the classical world. on the other hand, seeing your involvement, i am hardly surprised.

if the kid (esp my kids) are not born exceptional musically, i want to play it safe by diversifying the interests, in fact as early as possible. i am not sure if you truely understand that, or want to bother to understand that, or can understand it.

one thing for sure, julia will serve as a role model for many little ones (and bigger ones), whether they want to pursue music exclusively, or enjoy music as part of their lives. either way, we parents are grateful to parents who have labored to bring kids like julia into a very productive and meaningful livelihood.

so, once again, thank you!

March 13, 2007 at 02:10 AM · i appreciate this profound millerian line:

"I'm not a parent that I know of."

i am thinking of trying it on the next parent-teacher conference...

March 13, 2007 at 02:03 AM · Al,

thanks for your contribution here. What I have learned both as parent and teacher is: There are many, many more outstanding talents among our youngsters than we are ready to dream of.

Seems to me it's not the child's talent making the real difference, it's much more the parents' talent to be parents. I would love to think being parents is the most natural thing. Unfortunately we live in such a complicated interlinked world today that children need much more than just "parents' love".

What annoys me most that our educational systems do not have a subject "parenthood" where you can get a grade in. PE seems more important ...

Yes, and I am preparing some publication on the subject of supporting your (always!) gifted child from the first day on.


March 13, 2007 at 02:12 AM · Al - it's a guy thing. It's what we say. I know a woman who says it. She's great. She's sort of loopy, so it suits her:)

March 13, 2007 at 02:13 AM · "it's not the child's talent making the real difference, it's much more the parents' talent to be parents. I would love to think being parents is the most natural thing. Unfortunately we live in such a complicated interlinked world today that children need much more than just "parents' love".

even i understand that, horray! and agree 100%. a deep and touchy subject because all of a sudden, we have to look into the mirror and say hello...

March 13, 2007 at 02:14 AM · I have a daughter who's a serious string player and a risk-taking sports lover. I pulled her out of gymnastics after a broken arm, stopped the figure skating (because you can't serve two masters), and she had to leave the diving team because it was too time-consuming. But she loves roller-blading and capoiera and that's part of the risk-taker in her her that lets her go out on stage.

She fell pretty seriously on her roller-blades a week before her first performance on From The Top, and tried to hide her scraped-up, bleeding knees (she was 12 at the time) because she knew I'd be upset by her daredevil antics. On the show they made a joke, during her interview about how she roller-blades in our local grocery store.

You can remove some risks, but you can't wrap the world in bubble-wrap. I don't think you do your child favors by making her feel that she is fragile. A girl who blogs here just posted that she sprained her hand a week before her college auditions-- she did it by accidentally whacking a kitchen chair.

I'd say let your daughter roller-blade, but make sure she's wearing her wrist guards.

March 13, 2007 at 02:22 AM · P.S. What on earth is "Pickleball" -- sounds disgusting! There's where I'd draw the line.

March 13, 2007 at 02:24 AM · At the end not "you" should remove the risk, the child itself should remove it. And you should help the child making decisions for its own good.


March 13, 2007 at 02:31 AM · Roller-blading and skiing are hardly the same kind of risk as smoking. And a well-coordinated, physically gifted child will be a better all around person and artist for not having grown up in a bubble.

March 13, 2007 at 02:49 AM · Elisabeth, sounds like an apology to me for not succeeding in helping the child finding a more appropriate sport. There are many ways to a well-rounded person. Why take up sports even insurance companies hate? There are more ways of PE than that.

It would be an interesting discussion whether music and risk-taking belong together at all. To me music is about farest away from risk-taking I could imagine. Which does not mean one has no chance to turn music into some type of risk-taking sport, I have listened to quite a few of such performances ;-)


March 13, 2007 at 02:49 AM · FMF, I was not apologizing. Since you admittedly know little about these sports you may be unaware of the actual risks. Rollerblading, when one is coordinated and responsible, and wears wristguards, is not an especially high-risk sport for a violinist. All this talk of "helping the child" sounds like coercion to me. My daughter doesn't have time to rollerblade anymore, but I'm glad she had opportunities to develop physical skills and hope she continues to take brave and calculated risks in the future.

I disagree with your opinion about risk in performance unless you are talking about being ill-prepared for a performance, and then we are quibbling about a semantic point. Art is nothing without risk. Of course, if I remember correctly, you are the person who pontificated in an other thread that there is no use in creating new works of music or literature since we already have the classics of the past to savor and repeat.

March 13, 2007 at 03:09 AM · I just happened to be raised in the mountains. Skis were needed to reach the school or the little shop even to get some milk in winter time. I spent most of my winter days on skis and I am still able to do 10 miles or more on skis and go to a party later on. Sorry, for not explaining my background upfront here ;-)

"My daughter doesn't have time to rollerblade anymore" says who? Coercion? Believe it or not, parents can actually help a child in lots of ways.

And you didn't quote me correctly about my position on contemporary music. Which doesn't mean a lot, since your quote has nothing to do with this thread here anyway.


March 13, 2007 at 03:10 AM · just a little real-life experience here...I rollerbladed (wearing wristguards) and rough-housed quite a lot with the neighborhood kids when I was little, and I've been playing soccer whenever possible since I was six. Despite the high-risk activities, the most severe injury I have ever sustained was a jammed finger when I got a soccer ball kicked into it, and it was fine in two days.

March 13, 2007 at 03:22 AM · FMF, as she said, you're thinking of risk like being ill-prepared. Is there value in adventurousness; compositionally, or performance-wise? Is there adventurousness without risk? P.S. You sound like my dad, except with him it wasn't skis, it was bareback on a mule:)

March 13, 2007 at 03:27 AM · Nope, I am equating risk with implications. An ill-prepared surgeon kills the patience, an ill-prepared pilot kills the passengers (and hopefully him/her/self) and ill-prepared parent raises Hitler and so on. An ill-prepared musician kills just time (sometimes a dead or living composer). So what risk does a musician take?

This should really be a new thread, shouldn't it?


March 13, 2007 at 03:30 AM · Yep, you start one. It'll be a good one:)

Compared to the examples you gave, he risks relatively little, maybe he just goes down a different road. Maybe he knows what's there and it only looks like a risk to the rest of us. The best performers and performances are pretty unique, don't you think?

March 13, 2007 at 03:36 AM · "My daughter doesn't have time to rollerblade anymore" says who? Coercion? Believe it or not, parents can actually help a child in lots of ways.

I have no idea what you mean by this statement, but I resent the rhetoric that clumsily suggests that I do not believe that parents can help children.

In general, I don't think it's fair play to critique a person's argument style, but I feel you are deliberately narrowing the definition of "risk" to suit your argument. I was not at all off-topic when I implied that a taste for risk is a valuable quality in an artist. A child who thrills in physical activity (and basketball and tennis could be called risky for violinist, more so perhaps than roller-blading, the original topic) can develop into an artist who is willing to step out of the narrow confines of cultural expectations. You may not think much of Yo-Yo Ma or Joshua Bell as artists, but they took risks as young men which helped develop them as artists. I'm sorry your daughter never got to ski or roller blade. She seems to be doing quite well enough without exposure to those pleasures, but I would never take it upon myself to advise my children (I have four), my students, or any young person to insulate themselves from the world. Hothouse flowers tend not to thrive in an open environment.

March 13, 2007 at 03:34 AM · Done! This is the new thread:

Peace of Mind and Soul by Becoming a Musician

Are musicians risk-takers by nature?

From Frank-Michael Fischer

An ill-prepared surgeon kills the patience, an ill-prepared pilot kills the passengers (and hopefully him/her/self) and ill-prepared parent raises Hitler or some creepy US president and so on. An ill-prepared musician kills just time (sometimes a work by a dead or living composer). So what risks does a musician take?

March 13, 2007 at 03:37 AM · I don't see anything wrong with taking a risk. The theory that gauging the amount of talent or love a person has for music is based on whether or not this person likes taking a risk I think is incorrect. If anything athletics help the musician grow, violin playing is very athletic :)

March 13, 2007 at 05:33 AM · So true, so true.

March 13, 2007 at 03:39 AM · Elisabeth, how comes you know whether Julia roller skated a lot? Or whether she still loves to practice Chinese acrobatics? Please, check your assumptions before conclusions.

Not all by outer standards successful people had a stressful, joyless childhood. And not all stressed, unsuccessful adults had a wonderful youth. We should be smarter than that in our discussions.


March 13, 2007 at 03:47 AM · How comes I knows? Maybe it's a language barrier.

Maybe it's because you stated: Elisabeth, sounds like an apology to me for not succeeding in helping the child finding a more appropriate sport. There are many ways to a well-rounded person. Why take up sports even insurance companies hate? There are more ways of PE than that.

"We" should take ownership of what "we" have said, and "we" should desist in insulting the intelligence of the others on this board.

March 13, 2007 at 05:38 AM · Jerry Springer's on the phone. He wants to do a show with fighting parents of celebrities.

March 13, 2007 at 05:39 AM · i play violin and tennis... and well they do conflict with each other but they are my two passions in life... so hopefully arthritis won't be so bad when it comes... my teacher used to play baseball and he jammed one of his fingers and he says it's just part of can be safe... but accidents are always going to happen

March 13, 2007 at 05:46 AM · Greetings,

I cannot really see the conflcit between tennis and the violin. Milstein playe dit seriously as did quite a few other players. I think it is importnat to distinguish between `conflict@ and simply the possibility of injury which is applicable across the board. On the whole the more sport one does sensibly the more one is protected from injury. Applying Alexander tehcnique to what one doe sis always very helpful.

I wonder if there are locker rooms full of tennis players worrying about which stirng instrument will damage their topspin?;)



March 13, 2007 at 06:39 AM · Stephen, the demands of modern tennis are considerably different from when Milstein or Stern would have played. Watch video tapes of how amateurs played back then... they were basically just keeping the ball in play. Compare that to now where technique is more refined and there is definately more potential for injury if you are not quite diligent.

In school I played rugby and was also a defensive end, not to mention I was a pretty rough kid in general... that involved a lot of hitting and risk. I think you should let kids live. In classical music there's an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of socially awkward and totally dorky (which is not to be confused with a music nerd) people. I think exposing kids to mainstream activities instead of homeschooling them and keeping them in some neurotic forcefield is far better for them in the long run, and naturally, most kids WOULD make that decision if they were allowed. Classical music has got to change, and part of that has to be bringing the rearing of future artists out of the Victorian era. Sadly, it seems that with todays almost pedophillic fetishism for young violinists, one almost needs to have crazed helicopter parents to succeed.

Look at the giant artists in other fields... they made mistakes, got into trouble, did all types of crazy things (including doing O MY GOD--- DRUGS!!!!!!!)... nowadays, a great deal of violinists are like librarians with an instrument. Librarians are very organized people who make great reference tools... not artists.

March 13, 2007 at 06:56 AM · Greetings from Buri,

Buri responds. Thanks for the comment Pieter. But if the player was doing profesisonal tennis they wouldn`t be profesisonal violinist would they?

Puzzled but still exhilerated,



Still called Buri

March 13, 2007 at 06:52 AM · You should be really glad, that her school provides it: perfect opportunity for your kid to learn the basics of inline skating with a guide and under supervision (how to fall the safe way, watch out for oil and sand etc.). If you know the basics and you act carefully in traffic, there's hardly anything that can happen. She'll be very wary anyway after her fall.

As long as terms like Air Kedidi, Flying Fish or Mac Twist aren't mentioned, she's on the safe side. Most of the accidents happen owing to beginners mistakes and overassesment, all things your daughter will be teached to avoid in the four weeks.

March 13, 2007 at 07:16 AM · Of course Stephen, but it's about tennis as a whole. The entire game has involved so that even us plebs play to a different standard, and with more intense strokes. If you don't believe me, go to any tennis club and see how people are hitting.

March 13, 2007 at 08:18 AM · are my thoughts:

I currently play Basketball, Volleyball, and Golf for my highschool (varsity for volleyball & golf, we were state champions for volleyball, state runner-ups in basketball, and state runner-ups in Golf). I work out 3 times a week, bike 3 times a week, and go surfing whenever I can. I love sports, I love getting physical. From all of my years playing competitive sports and also recreational physical activities, I have never broken any part of my body: the most severe injury was a sprained thumb from volleyball and a sprained ankle from basketball).

Now that being said, I don't think I would ever take back any of those experiences. In my opinion, my participations in these sports not only allowed myself to develop a strong mental mind, it also allowed myself to socialize and interact with other kids my age: priceless moments of my life that helped mold the person that I am today.

There are always going to be risks doing anything physical, but in truth, I broke my left arm not by playing a sport, but my walking to the car and tripping over a skateboard. You can never predict these things, and limiting a child's access to these socializations just to take "precautions" for the child's well being is, imo, selfish.

Maybe I'm too young to understand this matter from a parent's point of view, but if i was a parent as of right now (oh god, i hope this isn't true), i would raise my child as my parents had raised me: allowing the child to take up sports or any activity they desire with proper guidance.

March 13, 2007 at 01:04 PM · Wow I didn't realize the response that I would get over this question.

I decided NOT to talk to the PE teacher and just inform my daughter about rollerskating. She is a serious violin student and is diabetic which means healing for her takes longer.

I don't "bubble wrap" my daughter as someone described in an earlier post. She does have a recital coming up which she maybe playing 2 or 3 pieces.

I do worry about injury in sports because a friend of mine (violin player) got injured playing tennis.. rods in her left arm etc that not only put her up for an entire season, but she still has issues with higher registers because of the injury.

March 13, 2007 at 01:25 PM · Pieter, for once I agree with you 100%. :)

March 13, 2007 at 01:36 PM · Hi,Well-there's skating and there's skating. At the school where I taught, they brought in skates and a DJ from a local rink and skated in the gym. Lots of supervision, but a crowd of elementary-school kids, including some who can barely walk across a room w/o tripping over their own feet. I thought they should have insisted the kids bring bike helmets, but it was only recommended. // Also, some kids are just injury-prone. I've taught a few who seemed to break something every year. One suggestion is to monitor your child's diet for bone development, in addition to what you must do for her diabetes. She should avoid soda pop except as a very occasional treat, for instance, and take dairy products. Also do exercises for bone strength. Sue

March 13, 2007 at 01:55 PM · Interesting discussion, which pivots around the question of risk. I didn't see it mentioned, but Zino Francescatti's hobby was mountain climbing. And, after reading the above postings, I must admit that I didn't realize that smoking crack or attempting to rule the civilized world were considered a sport.

March 13, 2007 at 02:20 PM · Pieter wrote, "In classical music there's an overwhelmingly disproportionate amount of socially awkward and totally dorky (which is not to be confused with a music nerd) people."

That is so true :) !

March 13, 2007 at 06:55 PM · Explain more what you mean. When two meet is the exchange something like:

"Diminished high five!"


Anyway...I think the truly interesting thread this spun off is doomed from the start for a couple of different reasons. The execution was lacking.

March 13, 2007 at 08:37 PM · Dear unable toto take hint about what name to use when writing to me,

your comments on tennis are fascinating but uttelry irrelevent to this discussion sicne we ar etalknig about tennis as relaxation hobby or whatever. Have no idea why you are continually trying to explain about modern tennis to me but its almost as good as sex.



March 13, 2007 at 10:36 PM · Because, Buri... modern tennis poses more of a threat to a musician than it did before. It's pretty simple, and the title of the thread is sports and violin... if you can't grasp that, then might be time to inquire if Japan needs any more kamikazis.

March 13, 2007 at 11:00 PM · Yo Frank:

I have skated since I was 2 years old, played hockey for 25 years straight, right up through Senior A amateur play, skied, raced bicycles in UCI-sanctioned criteriums and road races, crossed oceans racing yachts, sledded down home-made luge tracks at 40 mph, raced elite inline skating (was on ESPN once) and yes I once played in my school orchestra.

What injuries do I have to show for these "dangerous" or "unsuitable" or what you'd have use believe?

None. Oh, well I did break a thumbnail once.

I never broke a wrist, a finger, an arm a shoulder or a leg. I never even sprained a wrist. I jammed a few fingers but not from sports (well, maybe once or twice from football or pick-up basketball) but mostly from walking into walls.

I cracked my kneecap and sprained my knee from crashing my bike once at age 19. But it wasn't in a race. I was riding around the corner to do some gardening for a neighbor.

I sprained my right ankle very badly walking down my father's terrace stairs. I re-sprained it 2 years later walking down my mother's driveway. As a result, I missed the Eastern Collegiate Singlehanded sailing championships which I had qualified for.

I also played traveling league soccer, was an all-star catcher, played pick-up tackle football, street-hockey and kickball. I raced cross-country and played varsity tennis. I swam competitively. I fly-fish in rapids. I windsurf, kayak and go ocean rowing. And I've raced Porches in Riesentoeter PCA.

What injuries do I have to show for all this? A few bruises and cuts. A broken nose. Sore muscles.

Statistically, I spent much more time walking, and also statistically, my alertness was an order of magnitude higher during "risky" activities.

My injury record bears witness to the statistics, that ordinary living is more dangerous.

Furthermore, learning sports at a young age and continuing them improves balance, coordination, reflexes, strength, flexibility, circulation and sexual vitality.

The question isn't why one would let a violinist play sports. Rather, why *wouldn't* one allow sports?!

March 13, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Greetings,

Pieter wrote:

>modern tennis poses more of a threat to a musician than it did before.

Wow! Thanks for the heads up.

>It's pretty simple, and the title of the thread is sports and violin... if you can't grasp that, then might be time to inquire if Japan needs any more kamikazis

Apparently you are so blindly fixated on proving you know more about tennis than anyone else you fail to see the point i made that a lot of people play tennis for pleasure, do not try and kill themselves and find it immensely beneficial to violin playing.

You avoid considering this aspect by suggesting I cant read the title or follow a thread. Seems Gennady was right about you.

March 14, 2007 at 01:15 AM · Holy smoly, I finally read this whole thread. :-D

March 13, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Here is a true story:

A violin student had an upcoming solo performance with the Houston Symphony. Her rather over-protective mother was terrified something would happen to her daughter's hands in gym class, preventing her from playing with the prestigious group. She sought out the girl's teacher's advice and they collaborated on a letter to the school requesting she be allowed to skip the volleyball rotation in Gym class. The school in a word, said: No!

Not giving up, they approached the school board to ask for their intervention, since this girl's hands were in need of special treatment. Still,the school remained firm. If she didn't play, she would fail the semester. End of discussion.

Finally, after much begging and pleading... the school agreed that if she dressed in her gym clothes and stood on the sidelines with her classmates, they would pass her with a "D". The mother was elated. Until...

Dutifully standing on the sidelines under a tree, the ball was served wide and landed in the branches. The branches over her head, in fact...

It was stuck there, so a classmate went over to the tree and shook it to free the ball. The ball fell straight down. The girl saw the ball coming... (I'll bet you see it coming too)...

She held up her hand to shield her face... and BROKE her finger when the ball hit! Performance with Houston Symphony postponed one year! ;-)

Fate is very strange, indeed.

March 14, 2007 at 01:32 AM · Stephen... I play tennis for fun, and I'm not very good. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about, because I had a discussion with a tennis pro about this, with specific reference to violinists (since Stern and a few others mentioned how much they love the game). Calm down. Frankly, I didn't take you for so fickle a person as to suddenly become buddies with Gennady after one disagreement. Whatever.

The point is, anything involves risk, including games like squash and tennis where you are making forceful motions with the arms and wrists. But, with proper technique you can avoid tennis elbow. In contact sports, the best recommendation I can make is to learn how to tackle and engage in all contact (rucks, mauls etc...) with closed fists. If you're playing O line this could be hard when you have to pass protect, so maybe avoid this position.

And finally, most of the time when people are doing something "for fun", meaning not seriously, they often do it improperly and actually increase their risk of injury by not familiarizing themselves with good technique. So, in whatever you do, make sure that you're doing your best to avoid injury by ignorance.

March 14, 2007 at 01:38 AM · I never thought I'd agree with Pieter, either, but his point about taking the time to learn a skill well enough to avoid injury is excellent. I love David Russell's story (wish it were only apocryphal, though, poor girl.)

March 14, 2007 at 01:45 AM · I wrote something stupid here and erased it.

March 14, 2007 at 01:50 AM · A year or two ago, I remember reading about a young phenom violist and basketball player (seriously gifted in both, as well as academics, if I recall) who passed up a traditional conservatory to attend Princeton to continue both. And as far as I know he is. I wonder if he was ever injured.

My 12-year-old attends a specialized music school here in NYC. A good many of these serious young musicians are enthusiastic about sports. In my own daughter's sixth grade class, among boys and girls, I know of several recreational martial artists, soccer players, swimmers, basketball players and tennis players. The school also offers in-line skating classes after school (along with chess). They have regular PE class (well, their somewhat pathetic version of it, a little yoga, a little dodgeball, some basketball). I'm trying hard to remember injuries; there aren't many at all, but they do happen from time to time. One boy, a pianist, hurt his foot playing basketball. Last year, a super talented young violinist who's an avid soccerplayer and martial artist was riding a bicycle in Central Park, purely out for fun, and someone collided with her. Broken wrist. Some lost practice time. But she's back better than ever now. That's all I remember.

March 14, 2007 at 02:16 AM · Wow... agreeing with me has become like this big sin.

I'm so proud.

March 14, 2007 at 02:55 AM · Maura, stop quoting me. ;)

March 14, 2007 at 03:03 AM · I played football for 5 years, and I was okay I guess. Never seriously hurt my hands or anything, but I did hurt other parts :(.

March 14, 2007 at 02:51 AM · I used to ride horses, but when I was fifteen I fell off and cracked a bone in my left hand. I had a cast on for three weeks. There was no permanent damage. But I quit riding forever. I was serious about playing violin at that point, and the injury really scared me. Now I just go to the track (and watch, of course).

Many of my students play sports: soccer, basketball, tennis, football, track, softball, baseball, volleyball, riding, and, more soccer. The real issue seems to be how much time sports take up, rather then potential injury. One boy I teach is on his JV football team. He does bare-knuckle push-ups on concrete, to no ill effect, yet once he fell out of a tree, and was bed-ridden for two weeks!

There is a real, and expensive, professionalized focus on children's sports around this part of the country. From what I have heard, from the parents, it is around the age of eleven that the child is expected to practice the sport year-round, and have the particular sport be the sole focus of the child's life. This is really noticeable in baseball and football. Especially football. The parents complain that it is nearly impossible for a child to play a sport just for "fun", even if they are not so gifted or talented. That is sad.

I also see parallels in music training and sports training. A child is expected to focus on one thing, and do the private lessons, summer camps, year round teams/orchestras etc. I certainly don't expect my students to play violin with only a professional track in mind. It is fine to learn an instrument just for the sheer joy of it. But evidently, there is a problem with joy in children's sports.

Has anyone else come across this?

March 14, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Kid sports never were any fun. It's basically running til you throw up.

March 14, 2007 at 11:55 AM · Anne, yes, absolutely. Around age 11 a child is expected to specialize in a sport-- and the practices and meets or whatnot make it difficult to be a generalist and almost impossible to be a serious musician. I have an athletically gifted child who had to quit her various sports for this reason -- it's no longer possible to be a dilettante (in the old-fashioned sense of the word.) I know there are kids who are on a swim team, a lacrosse team, and playing in high chairs at district orchestras while holding down 8 AP courses, but generally these are resume-buffers, not conservatory-bound musicians.

This holds true of kids who aren't professional-track musicians as well. My oldest daughter, who played violin and viola, had to curtail figure skating at 12 because she was expected to enter a time-consuming competition track which would preclude her ability to develop other skills or do anything else, really. Adults are allowed to be amateurs (and I mean that in the best sense of the word) but our competition-minded society doeesn't allow this of kids.

I do read bio blurbs of high-profile music kids that seem to stress who they love this or that sport, but sometimes it seems like a ploy to stress that he or she is "normal", since or society seems to think it's okay for a kid to spend 4 hours a day on soccer but not on violin.

And I do also realize there are regional differences. Geography and lifestyle don't allow my kids to go outside and participate in pick-up beach volleyball games or the equivalent. There is no casual sports life around here-- even riding a bike is a project since the roads are so dangerous (on the subject of bicycles around here I would sound a bit like FMF.)

March 14, 2007 at 01:02 PM · i say, DO YOUR OWN THING.

people go nuts with violin practice; you don't have to.

poeple go nuts with sports; you don't have to.

find the path for yourself and your kids. it is really not that difficult if you pay attention, AND if you believe in yourself.

in the long run, it is much more interesting to pursue your way and come up wrong than pursue others' ways and come up right according to others.

still, i will not put my kids in situation where stat speaking there is a high chance they will need shoulder and knee surgeries in youth. broken bones will heal and always heal stronger, but soft tissue injuries such as cartilage, tendons, ligatments? say goodbye to a painfree life. there are way too many other ways to build body and mind and courage.

want a good sport to learn?


March 16, 2007 at 01:37 PM · For an unexpected turn on a musical career due to an injury, there was an article in the New Yorker magazine 4-5 years ago. A piano prodigy, who had appeared on the radio, incredible concerts, debuts, etc., broke her hand while skiing one year. She was 18 or 19 at that time. For the first time in her life she can remember, she couldn't/didn't practice. She felt so greatly relieved for not having to practice that she quit and became a topselling Steinway piano sales person. Life still has some surprises.


March 16, 2007 at 01:40 PM · Ihnsouk, I completely agree. Whenever I feel something detrimental has happened, I always tell myself that it's happened for a reason. Every time something negative happens to me, it always eventually turns around into something very positive, and I end up all the better for it. It's just a matter of waiting.

If you take all the precautions and are extra careful, and still get injured, then there's a reason.

I'm going to pick horseback riding up again (I'm a performance major), despite the fact that in a fall, your wrist is the first thing you break, and it's very difficult to wear the wrist guards like in skating (you need some flexibility), because I miss is so dearly, and it gives me some time away from music to keep me from burning out, and really makes me happy. On the plus side, it will help strengthen my fingers and wrists: the motions of brushing the horse, carrying water buckets/mucking out, saddling, then the motions of the actual technique of riding while I'm on the horse involves lots of finger and wrist motions (in fact some of the stretches I do to keep my hands in shape are very similar to motions in riding).

It's a massive risk, but it'll make me that much happier (sorry for the slight tangent).

March 16, 2007 at 02:10 PM · Just to add my two cents here:

I'm a violinist studying with the goal of becoming professional.

Last weekend I went skiing with friends and in the course of one day we must have jumped off at least 5 cliffs and skied through countless very tight and very steep tree-infested couloires.

The point that I'm trying to make is that even though there's a risk involved, I would rather feel alive and free than stay at home fantasizing about what it would have been like. I find those experiences, the natural rushes that you get from putting yourself in tight situations, to be very beneficial to me as a person and as a musician.

In the end I'm sure you'll do the right thing :).

March 16, 2007 at 02:37 PM · Roller skating scares me a bit -- maybe because I can't do it.

But basketball is great. In regard to my daughter's wrist tendonitis, she was prescribed dribbling -- among other exercises -- to strengthen the muscles whose weakness were contributing to the problem. Her physical therapist, who specializes in musician injuries, is a big proponent of basketball.

March 16, 2007 at 03:41 PM · "My oldest daughter, who played violin and viola, had to curtail figure skating at 12 because she was expected to enter a time-consuming competition track"

How do they stop you from figure skating? They won't let you in the rink unless you compete?

"I do read bio blurbs of high-profile music kids that seem to stress who they love this or that sport, but sometimes it seems like a ploy to stress that he or she is "normal", since or society seems to think it's okay for a kid to spend 4 hours a day on soccer but not on violin. "

I don't think society at large regards time on an instrument as more poorly spent than time playing soccer. As for normality and wanting to appear (or be?) normal, I have about six hours of questions for a former high-profile music kid if I ever meet one and they feel like talking.

"Anne, yes, absolutely. Around age 11 a child is expected to specialize in a sport"

This is so foreign to me I can't even imagine it or how it works. It must be a regional thing. I can't imagine a neigborhood without pickup basketball games either. I don't know if girls were ever into that though. A little bit, if the boys hadn't taken over :) I can imagine a neighborhood association saying you can't put a basketball goal up. I can imagine them saying you can't do anything at all, and people being fine with it unless it's a biological necessity. There are major problems and I don't think they have solutions. I'm glad I had a bit of a first-hand glimpse of "the good old days" a long time ago. It seems like remembering a vacation to an exotic foreign country.

March 16, 2007 at 05:23 PM · And then there are those of us who are just klutzes - when I was in 5th grade (and gawky and awkward and a little too tall), I fell walking to school and completely broke both bones in my right arm. My "advice" is that if something will happen, it will happen regardless, so let your daughter do the things she enjoys (or that the gym class requires).

March 16, 2007 at 05:47 PM · I think it would depend on the sport. When my son played football, his teacher would (half) joke "you didn't volunteer to be the goalkeeper did you?" But he did fracture his little finger when the ball hit it hard once.

However, I have stopped them from doing "pelota mano": Basque sport where you hit a wound leather ball against a wall with your bare fist; guaranteed to swell up your hand and fingers like sausages every time! Loads of fun for kids, though.

Conservatory will write a letter to schools here for music students, if you ask. Not everyone does as they get to incredibly boring written tasks instead, so it depends on how serious they are about their playing.

Most times gym teachers will agree to be reasonable about the demands and the position they play in. Doesn't seem to have been much of an issue either way.

I rely on my children to judge the danger, and they are usually good about it. Sports they do regularly are swimming and skiing in winter (the latter with helmets).

March 17, 2007 at 01:00 AM · How do they stop you from figure skating? They won't let you in the rink unless you compete?

The figure skating world is as rule-bound and stratified as the classical music word. (You can't jumps, spins, and programs in a rink filled with recreation skaters, so the answer to your question, in short is, "yes".

March 17, 2007 at 01:42 AM · Practice conditions are only available for those who've signed up to compete. Interesting it doesn't occur to them somebody would do it for fun... Gotta think somewhere, somehow though. Organize figure skating for non-competers nite maybe.

March 17, 2007 at 03:13 AM · Oh please, this thread confirms every non-musician's stereotype of the nose picking, weakling, nerdy violinst. Of COURSE children should play sports, even slightly "dangerous" ones. But, when arguing about risk vs. reward, it is helpful to have some stats to work with. Here is a website with relevant statistics on sports injuries in children. It's from Cornell University's Weill Medical College pediatrics website.

For most kids at most times, I think the risk is worth the great rewards of confidence, social skills, strenth, balance, poise, accuracy, good health etc. that one gets from playing a sport. That in mind, I'd stay away from skydiving or skateboards because it seems to be hard to control the risk in the former, and hard (especially in teenage boys) not to be an idiot in the latter.

Cheers (especially to my dear Euro-leftist friend Frank-Michael Fischer, who couldn't even decide on a first name so he had to hyphenate two of them!) from beautiful Washington, DC. I know it ain't Berlin, but we do our best.

March 17, 2007 at 04:44 AM · Howard, your class insecurities are showing. Zip up, dude.

Seriously, though, what'd you say to someone like Larry (a student of mine whom Howard knows) who is progressing fabulously well but has just jammed his left index finger for a third time, playing PE basketball? Other than "play soccer, kid"?

March 17, 2007 at 05:40 AM · Tell him he'll never get into the NBA that way?

March 17, 2007 at 05:12 AM · I would tell Larry to learn some basketball skills... anyway he's too short to play.

As for the other comment, I'm just tired of euro-snotty comments about our government. Ditto about educators. FMF shows a profound lack of respect for the educators who were attempting to educate his weany kid(s) and his usual euro-disrespect for our current government.

March 17, 2007 at 06:37 AM · Ok, one of my weany kids performed with the National Symphony at Kennedy Center just yesterday.

And as long as your current government stays yours only I would't dare to comment. Unfortunately it tries to become and act as the world government without being elected by world population. Now people like you want us strangers to shut up even when being bullied into one mess after another?


March 17, 2007 at 08:11 AM · FMF, Howard and I just had a fascinating - and VEHEMENT - argument about this whole thread and other implicated threads. I'll refrain from comment unless he decides he's ok with publishing our VERY divergent opinions on the matter. But I did want to return to something Bilbo said, way higher in the thread. His post can be reduced to the following: "I have done all these risky activities and even played in a school orchestra, too. And I did not get hurt."

Bilbo, your first mistake is the equating of casual involvement (e.g. school orchs) with professional involvement (e.g. Julia Fischer) or even the aspiration towards professional involvement, which your post suggests you never had. A casual musician isn't risking much when undertaking a risky activity. A professional is risking a livelihood and, when engaging in risk-taking at a later age, in the throwing away of all the years spent ACQUIRING the skill in the first place. If Michael Jordan were to have taken up alligator wrestling in 1996, the risk wouldn't only have been the end of his career due to a missing limb. It'd be the premature end of a career planned for and worked for since puberty. It'd be the end of a LIFE. Now, when you talk about something like the violin, where the skill's honing begins in very early childhood, a moment's stupidity with avoidable risks can, very realistically, have repercussions not only forwards in time (the end of a career) but also backwards, invalidating years of training for a moment of idiocy.

Now, as to the second point: your never having been hurt. You, Bilbo, got lucky. Plain and simple. There are plenty of people I know who smoked four packs a day and died of nonrelated causes. I still quit smoking. Know why? Stats. Odds. Probabilities. And it's not the inevitability of getting hurt that should lead prospective violinists to be careful with their hands. It's the PROBABILITY. Your beating the odds doesn't invalidate their existence.

Odds are pretty important, in fact. You'd not buy a house on the certainty that you're about to win the lottery because SOMEONE's gotta get lucky, right? Nor would you want to enter a lottery where every tenth or one-hundredth or even one-thosandth person is killed, right? Especially when those NOT killed have precious little to show for their participation besides hazy and unfounded notions of "well-roundedness".

If only in America we had a similar horror of our children's cultural and global lack of "well-roundedness" as we do about our children being deprived of the right to be pummelled with dodgeballs, I think we'd be well on our way to actually having graduating classes able to find the USA on a map or of knowing who Michaelangelo was. Or actually knowing why a Shakespeare sonnet might still have something to teach them that "Roses are red, violets are blue" can't.

March 17, 2007 at 09:37 AM · Could be Bilbo never had aspirations toward professional involvement because he did have aspirations toward work that wouldn't make him risk raising a family without things like medical insurance. What would stats, odds, probabilities say about that? Pick a risk and go with it, maybe?

How much control do we really have, anyway? You may be careful not to sprain a finger, and spend half your time in an airplane. Isn't that ironic? Is this coming down now to imagined safety as a commodity and who owns more of it? That would certainly suck. I guess that's the risk we're taking though.

And even if Josh Bell did break his finger playing basketball, what would happen? Nothing much. He'd take a year off, that's all. And if anyone can't afford to take a year off, they're dealing with another kind of risk. And I can't recall any basketball players sitting out with broken fingers, anyway. The discussion is getting kind of unreal.

March 17, 2007 at 02:42 PM · FMF wrote, "Unfortunately it tries to become and act as the world government without being elected by world population."

I don't know how this argument on sports relating to music turned into a 'political' argument. By the way, when has the US election ever been determined by a world population? : )

I completely agree with Emil. If you are talented and have a potential career at the violin, then yes skiing is risky. On the other hand I have to say, doing athletics, can contribute to music-making and artistry, since violin playing as I said earlier, I think is very athletic. I have a friend, that played in the NY Phil for a few years. He is a black belt in some martial arts form (I forget which one), and I remember he broke his left hand pinky a few years before he won the job. These things happen, if you're young it is easier to make a full recovery.

March 17, 2007 at 02:27 PM · Emil is correct except that he is mislead too. And those Cornell stats are totally useless. They don't even begin to get at the probabilities. For example, they say that "62% of sports-related injuries occurr during practice" or "32000 children ages 5-14 were treated in emergency rooms for skatboard injuries". Nowhere is there a "there were X man-hours on the skateboard, and y many participants," etc.

Emil is correct about the level of concern for "professional" vs "amateur" except that children really aren't pro yet.

But as far as "lucky" goes, Emil is mislead. In fact, I am rather typical. To be seriously injured is unlucky. Even in war, the total mortality rate is exceedingly low. For instance the U.S. lost about 250,000 in WWII. Many millions were there, for a period of years. Leutenants had a higher mortality rate than corporals and majors, and merchant mariners were more likely to die htan Navy men, but overall your chances of dieing weren't that great.

The same reality applies to all my "dangerous" activities. Very few die or are seriously injured in ocean racing. Everyone gets bruises. Most hockey players get a few minor sprains or pulls, very few get broken bones or torn ligaments. That is reality.

Judging whether an activity is dangerous requires knowledge of the activity. Accurate risk assessment is impossible for the outsider. One's ability to accurately assess risk and to be able to estimate new risks comes from experience. If a person does not participate, one does not learn risk assessment skills. So it is a moving target, with the "safe" putting themselves at greatest risk. This may sound self-serving, but it is true nonetheless. Having taught sports I can tell you that the ones who are most often injured are the ones who have no experience.

March 17, 2007 at 02:42 PM · Are you a Rangers fan Bill?

March 17, 2007 at 09:01 PM · Bilbo,

You're absolutely right- the Cornell website doesn't address risk at all, just gives numbers of kids between 5-14 who had this or that sort of accident. Still, I thought it was interesting to see actual numbers of injuries. My opinion about skydiving and skateboarding did not come from reading the Cornell website, but from other stuff I've read about those two sports. I was very interested in skydiving for awhile and even looked into it a bit until it became clear that even seasoned skydivers have serious accidents in alarming numbers... As for skateboards, well, they just LOOK like a bad idea, don't you think? But you're right that a good cost/benefit analysis requires more than you can find on the website I gave...



March 17, 2007 at 11:02 PM · My brother used to make a living jumping out of airplanes, and had one very hair-raising episode, which he came out of intact. Now he has a desk job.

A friend of a friend's mother had a long-phobia of heights and decided to go to a skydiving camp to break through it. Instead, her chute didn't open, nor did the back-up, and she and her instructor (jumping as one) augered in.

I love skateboarding and did a lot of it, and no, never had any injuries worth mentioning. However, when the skate park opened when I was 12, I never could get myself past the freestyle bowl and the kidney bowl left me with butterflies in the stomach.

Everything is relative--even skateboarding :-)

What would be kool is a music video of Vanessa Mae playing while skateboarding down Lombard Street.

March 18, 2007 at 12:26 AM · I skydived several times, all solo, to prove to myself I could do it, and to see what it was like. I think the instructor said skiing is statistically more dangerous. While we were suited up and waiting on the plane, somebody lit up and the instructor told him to put it out, saying "Smoking will kill you." Actually he didn't want his gear scortched. Or say critical parts weakened, thereby...

On my first jump, one guy in the plane, also a beginner, had had an accident a few jumps ago and he and the instructor were kidding about it a little. There is a barometric device that tries to open the chute at a certain point if it isn't already open. His had failed inside the plane, the chute had come out of the pack, and caught the wind and dragged him out of the plane. The chute caught on the tail of the plane. The plane manuevered around some and flipped him loose. As far as they were concerned, it was no big deal! The instructor was an older guy, who'd been a paratrooper in Vietnam. He seemed like a pretty unflappable figure.

At the same DZ, there was a small monument to a very experienced jumper who had been borrowing someone else's chute, and the opening device was in a different place than he was used to. He could not find it. One thing the instructor insisted we do is make eye contact with the thing that opens the chute when it's time to pull it. He believed the guy the monument was for had been pulling on an attachment strap that had nothing to do with opening the chute.

The landing is so much fun. It's like being in a plane, with the horizon tilting and all, without a plane. I tell people I've ridden in small planes a few times but never landed in one.

I probably wouldn't try skiing, partly because it doesn't sound like a lot of fun to me, and I'd never go free climbing on rocks.

March 18, 2007 at 05:55 AM · FMF,

Sorry, of course you've produced a wonderful and talented daughter- she really is a fantastic violinist! My daughter is five months old, so I have all that work ahead of me…

My point was that you seemed to be saying that it's irresponsible for the parents of musicians to allow their children to choose to play "dangerous" sports and that kids should be led away from such bad decisions. It seemed to me that you were also implying that the schools were being stupidly inflexible (and so you had to set them straight) in having the expectation that children should participate in sports or PE class. Your tone, I think, implied that PE is just some stupid and unimportant class.

Ok, I agree that students who already have major performing careers in high school should probably be let out of PE. However, people in your daughter's situation are in the EXTREME minority and the schools, after all, are set up to educate millions of kids who (unfortunately) don't have your daughter’s issue, who DO want PE, and who actually enjoy playing sports. Principals and administrators of these schools understand the importance of physical fitness and sports in the social and physical development of children, and that's probably why the folks you spoke with (the "school representatives" as you put it) were so stubborn about letting your daughter out of gym. I’m also guessing that they didn’t appreciate being told that PE is a dumb class, that it’s your decision as the parent and that they don’t know squat. I imagine that they probably get sick of being told they don’t know what they’re doing by legions of pushy parents!

As for the US “bullying” anybody, last I checked there were no German soldiers in Iraq. So you should take heart that we were unable to bully the Germans. No French soldiers either, probably because they’re busy quelling ethnic riots in their cities thanks to years of abusing their immigrant arab population… Seriously though, the (seems to me) holier-than-thou tone which Europeans as well as our home grown liberals use to deride us is interesting. If you Europeans would simply say, “War in Iraq doesn’t further our interests.”, I would have no argument at all with you. But instead, it’s always presented as a moral argument (the better to mobilize a naïve and pliant youth I suppose). It seems to me that the French and Germans DIDN’T go to Iraq because of their own realpolitik(realpolitkal??) considerations and interests, and it seems naïve in the extreme to think that ethical considerations or ideology had anything to do with those decisions.

Regards from Washington, DC, where I might have actually gone to hear your daughter had I realized she was playing the other night!


March 18, 2007 at 06:47 AM · FMF just thinks we're the Klingons.

March 18, 2007 at 08:56 AM · Howard, now we are talking. Parents can go two ways: Either they take the position of being ultimately responsible for the child's education and the school is there to help them in this task. Or parents take the position schools are ultimately responsible for the child's education and the parents are there to help. Both ways are possible and acceptable, I prefer the first for a couple of reasons. Main reason being: generally one gets much more out of individual (one-to-one) lessons in shorter time (giving the child more time for other activities including leasure) than from classroom lessons where the slowest sets the pace. Naturally there are "subjects" where one-to-one lessons just don't make sense, like learning to play in an orchestra or soccer team. So there you need "classroom" education. As a rule education in a group is inferior to one-to-one lessons in a lot of subjects. E.g. you wouldn't like to fly knowing your pilot didn't get a proper amount of one-to-one lessons how to fly this aircraft.

The reason why we send our kids to classroom education is therefore mainly a commercial one, really. Most of us just cannot afford one-to-one lessons for our children. At the end we might still need additional funds anyway when private tutors need to be paid because classroom teaching doesn't work with our children. This proves my point, doesn't it?

Now someone might argue: where should the child learn social behaviour? Answer: First in the family, hopefully, and then in classroom type education in subjects where team work is being tought. For that purpose, much less hours per week than usually given should be sufficient.

A second reason for me, why I prefer the first way: I do not want to give my responsibility away to people overworked and underpaid which I actually neither supervise nor train (for what reason ever). And there is never a choice for me whether to make a teacher or my child happy (I have worked in many positions as a teacher, love! this work, and know that it is a great honor for me that some parents let me educate their child. And that I am getting my money for providing a service parents need for their children, because they cannot afford another type and quality of this service than mine).

Therefore I think PE is important as part of the total picture. PE has to fit into the total picture, however, and as a parent I have to manage my way to make it a suitable part. Now we could talk how to manage, but at another place, I think.

Briefly about "bullying". Bullying does not imply success. And especially Germans are really fed up with by all standards illegal wars based on faked evidence, especially when creating a civil war mess, multiplying the candidates for terrorism by a hundred, future terrorists creating damage in other places than in US, too. Second World War was by all standards illegal, the evidence faked by the Germans and the suffering was immense. Whenever a powerful nation enters another country by military force, one should be on alert, what's going on. Increasing instability in some world region is no US matter, it effects everyone at the end. In that sense this current president messes around with people and countries who never elected him and probably never would. All this I say after a total of 15 or so years helping US companies to grow in their home and world markets, helping in marketing and PR matters. I am not at all anti-US.

Education strategy and the "bullying" issue are somehow connected, I feel. At the end when people like the Hitlers come to power, clearly parents and education have failed. Otherwise we would need to believe in Force of God instead of our own responsibility.


March 18, 2007 at 10:22 AM · a wall street friend of mine puts it this way: it is a place where people who ride subways to work are paid to give financial advice to those who ride in the back of rolls. what is there to argue with fmf really? that bw has not been a total moron when it comes to the us foreign policy if there is one? that julia fischer would be better off if somehow she has taken on some risky sports along the way?

get real.

March 18, 2007 at 11:35 AM · I resent Howards's characterization of FMF's view of the current US government as "euro-disrespect." There are millions of American citizens who share that same disrespect for our current government.

Ack... more euro-elitism.

March 18, 2007 at 12:52 PM · I don't know if one can say parents and educaters failed because they produced one Hitler out of many millions. The society was going through a turmoil and I am sure the social pressure had a role in it. The society often puts a great responsibility on education for everything that goes wrong. Consider the meager prestige the society grants parents and teachers.

I totally disagree that we send kids school to save money on individual instructions. Great deal has been learned about child development that requires expertise that ordinary parents do not have. One example I saw in my daughter's school was implementing responsibility and competition that I know I could never have done on my own. Until the end of first grade, everyone gets 100% on whatever work they were doing. That gets thrown out gradually starting in the second grade. Starting around the 5th grade, the school requires that kids be fully responsible for their school work. School contacts parents only for major concerns allowing an opportunity for kids to negotiate a solution with teachers on their own. This subtly introdues kids to a world outside of home and parents. I know I can't provide that at home. I have enough trouble coming up with age appropriate chores around house. Once I congratulated myself to assign watering flower pots to my daughter for a job in summer. A few days later, it rained and continued off and on. Throughout the entire summer, there was no need to water.

In my daughter's school, there is a kid. Ordinary kid, certainly not a problem child. She goofs off once in a while. Her mom claims that's because they have too much homework and bangs on the principal's door every other month. Some of us think they don't have enough homework. I am sure there are perfect parents. But most of us are overprotective and good schools can provide room for kids to grow away from parents.

After 3 injuries as Emil mentioned, I think it's reasonable to step in. But just for the possibility of injury? Do you think it helps to give kids the impression that they are so precious or so different? Isn't life for living first, then hope to get famous too for an icing?


March 18, 2007 at 01:21 PM · They produced millions electing, supporting, hailing and not even trying to prevent Hitler and the like. This is the failure. I wasn't really referring to the parents of all these Hitlers.

Certainly, Ihnsouk, there are parents of a kind where the school is much better place for their kids to grow than their own family. I would hate to think that's the rule in our society. And even if it's the rule no parent is really forced to become one of this kind, too. Anyway, schools have always been used for depositing kids, so parents can do whatever they think is more important, whether making money or having adult fun, you name it. Still, such situation isn't necessarily the best for the kids. And they are for sure the weakest part of the equation when it goes into compromising between interests.

On the other hand, is there another way preventing drugs, cigarettes etc. than teaching the child it's so precious that it should not (read: has no right) destroy itself? The safest way to get a child into accepting social pressure is to make it clear, it's not precious, it's just like the other ones who fool around and get lost in mountains of problems.


March 18, 2007 at 02:03 PM · Ah, the million that hailed. That's a good point. But in the end, wasn't it the economic uncertainty that brought all this? i have to admit that when I have a tough time, I also wish someone to take charge of my life.

I meant that they needed both school and home. If parents truly fail their kids, schools can rarely help unfortunately.


March 18, 2007 at 01:37 PM · Yes, precious in the sense to respect and care for oneself. But shouldn't be precious in the sense to be different, or can't even touch a ball. That could foster insecurity. Is fame worth it? Not in my book.


March 18, 2007 at 01:53 PM · People ARE different, will always be, even in terms of their value to their family, neighbours, society, you name it. The earlier a child understands that and learns it will grow into a responsibility for its own value to others the easier and happier the child will most likely be. It is not about fame, it's about having the options to do what one likes and wants and be accepted and welcomed by people of value, NOT by everybody, NOT by a drug dealer. It's about happiness and options and odds. It's about recognizing the different value (not financial) of different people in different situations. It's about growing up, actually.

About economic situation impact: How poor do people need to get so sending innocent into the gas cheers them up? It's never the society (an abstractum) bringing out the worst in humans, it are always humans who do it and humans who accept it. Humans that have to be brought up to do it and to accept it. If there is prevention of such catastrophy at all, then it can only be how you bring up your next generation, how parents and teachers and everyone in contact with children approach it.


March 18, 2007 at 02:35 PM · Regarding disasters like Hitler, a friend of mine once said that it was a matter of "low immunity" in the body politic. There are Hitlers walking around everywhere, but in a "healthy" country, a well informed, prosperous and well educated middle class won't tolerate a Hitler (or a Pat Robertson, for example)for long. In pre ww2 Germany, there were many factors that led to Hitler's rise and among those factors probably was screwed up education or educational priorities and a devastated middle class.

FMF, I agree with you- Parents have the ultimate responsibility for their kids, and so have to sometimes (often?) say no to the schools. But there has to be some understanding and respect for what the folks there are trying to accomplish and what they can and can't do for you. No doubt that they are a group under seige from three directions; the government who wants them to educate all kids, no matter how indolent or irresponsible they are or their parents; middle class parents, who reasonably don't understand why their kid has to follow stupid rules that doomed kids without parents need; and the poor themselves who are experiencing day-to-day the fall of civilization in their neighborhoods... I disagree that classroom instruction is always a compromise since we have the counter examples of university seminars, well taught history classes (for example) or even reading and foreign language classes in elementary and middle school in which the synergy of the class is an important part of the experience.

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