Behind every good violinist stands a determined mother?

February 15, 2018, 6:00 AM · Sometimes when I watch concerts I wonder if these fabulous musicians playing the violin all had a mom like me... Does every musician as a child and adolescent need a mother to direct, manage and supervise the development and the musical education? Are all mothers a little like Tiger Mom?

Replies (73)

February 15, 2018, 6:14 AM · Oh no, not at all. My mom (whom I love dearly!) would much rather have had a quieter time without all the noise I was making as a child! ;)
She was fine with me doing what I wanted to do musically, so long as it was not in her ears. Our musical tastes clashed. A lot!
February 15, 2018, 6:40 AM · Nope. My mom kept suggesting to my father to make me quit the violin.
Edited: February 15, 2018, 6:41 AM · You have forgotten all the fathers lol

But in a sense it is probably often true as starting very young takes a lot of time fro the parent too, be it a father, a mother or a grandparent or a cousin, there has to be someone supporting, otherwise it is impossible. And most great professionals have started in kindergarden. Violin is hard work too, children need someone to believe in them and also push them when they feel that they cannot do things.

But not necessarily a tiger father or mother. Tiger mother means someone wipping and forcing and that does not often if ever bring good results. What is a tiger mother anyway, it is a highly culturally bound concept too. Where does the line go from a helping and motivating and strickt if necessary - mother to a tiger mother? Can a good person be a tiger or is it just a concept that means a mean parent pushing the child too much?

Edited: February 15, 2018, 7:29 AM · From my own personal experience, my answer is no. My mom, a piano whiz but not a string player, didn't manage, direct, and supervise my musical education. I got as far as I did through self-motivation, hard work, and dedicated teachers. Of course, it undoubtedly helped that Mom -- and Dad, too -- supported my efforts and didn't work against me.

A little background: Mom strongly suspected I had musical ability and enrolled me in beginning piano lessons on a trial basis when I was 7 y/o. I didn't get far in piano, though, because the violin muse soon grabbed me. Violin lessons were my idea -- not Mom's. My parents paid for my lessons and, of course, required me to practice; but during lesson time, my teacher and I were alone together -- no one else. During practice time, I was completely alone.

BTW, my parents need not have worried whether I'd practice enough. I was a little geek -- in fact, a few times during the first years, when bedtime drew near, they had to remind me it was time to wrap up for the day.

I went on to complete a degree in performance, during which time I played a couple of seasons in the CSO's training school. Yet, at 21 y/o, I could see that the music business was something I, personally, wasn't going to like. So I decided not to go into it. Even so, looking back, I wouldn't have wanted to miss all the years of training and hard work. If I'd had a Tiger Mom or Tiger Dad -- and thank goodness I didn't -- I probably would have had little or no enjoyment in music-making. More details here:

February 15, 2018, 7:37 AM · Note that Eden asked if there was a mother behind "fabulous" violinists. Not ordinary ones. Sorry, not trying to offend the previous posters. But yes, I believe it's true.
Edited: February 15, 2018, 9:10 AM · Scott, the subject line of the post: "Behind every good [not 'fabulous'] violinist stands a determined mother?"

Re "Sometimes when I watch concerts I wonder if these fabulous musicians playing the violin all had a mom like me": No mention of whether "these fabulous musicians" are soloists of the Josh Bell or Hilary Hahn caliber -- or whether they are symphony players or chamber players or …?

"Does every [italics added] musician [no mention of 'fabulous' or 'good' or even 'ordinary'] as a child and adolescent need a mother to direct, manage and supervise the development and the musical education?" The answer is no; and three of us, as of this writing, have already said so, from our own personal experiences.

OP: Please clarify. When you say that you "wonder if [they] all had a mom like me," do you mean a mom like the one you ARE or a mom like the one you HAD?

February 15, 2018, 10:17 AM · A determined mother, IMHO, is not the same as a Tiger Mother. It can get too extreme and "fake competitive" with the latter (and note that many non-Asians are "just as Tiger" in attitudes, so I am not disparaging any particular ethnicity-just dislike what it usually entails.) As long as the parent is "good determined", it's very healthy and it will likely help the student's development. Parents should care a huge deal about their kids' progress, and give them all tools possible they may need whenever practical.

This reminds me of Mr. Rabin-his Mother's story appears to be "determination gone wrong", even if her son was quite successful. What about the person within the violinist? Both teachers and parents must be cautious to not sacrifice their students/children' lives for the sake of "success", or even (sometimes) ultimately personal agendas. You can love your child/student while not controlling every aspect of his/her life, and being supportive/caring doesn't necessarily mean you are being "too lax" (which also really is another negative extreme).

I don't know every soloist's mother, but there are successes out there both with "Tiger" and "non-Tiger" parenting styles. Strive for your child's success, but never at the cost of your His/Her Happiness, as Life is more than money, won competitions, and reknown in the end. I bet a Happy Life as a violinist is more desirable to them than achieving a strict definition of success that may make them feel miserable.

(Again, not criticizing anyone's parents, as most love their kids from their hearts, however they choose to raise their children. It is extremism what concerns me the most, and what motivated the above statements. Be a Kind Tiger, if you must be one).

Apologies if I offend anyone, and good luck to all.

Edited: February 15, 2018, 10:54 AM · This really varies. I think in the early years, parents supervise their children's education. When kids get older, parents tend to leave them on their own as they're able. At least that was the way for me.
Edited: February 15, 2018, 11:08 AM · In Russia in the communist days talented kids were often put in boarding music schools, not seeing much of their parents except holidays. I know a very accomplished pianist who went to such a school at age 6, I believe in Moscow. Her parents lived in Kazakhstan so she did miss out a lot on normal family life.
Edited: February 15, 2018, 11:07 AM · Not so, as far as I know, many great Italian violinists chose their path by their own determination, and many families have more than one kids, as a result mother or father do not have enough free time to take care of every child.

I guess that kid who started from a very early age (3 to 6) will get more influence from their parents, and secondly, this is related to culture, maybe in eastern culture as well as Russian or Jewish culture, parents devote much time to formation of kids especially in the formation of instruments. For example, when their kid go to a better conservatory in another city, one of those parents is willing to quit job in order to accompany their kid, those parents also reschedule family affair for the sake of violin study, even at the expense of other kids within same family, I’ ve seen lots of those conditions, but it is not like culture in my country.

February 15, 2018, 11:59 AM · OMG, as a father I find this post so offensive that I'm gonna be triggered for like a whole week.

Now a little more seriously, we are constantly hearing in every western country how patriarchy dominates our respective society, how little women get credit and how everything is geared to hide the women from all the media. Yet, when talking about kids it's always the mother the only one that seems care about them, fathers are just considered mere money machines.

And now full seriously, it depends. If the mother is the musician, she will probably be the one that cares more about the music career of the kid, specially because the father won't understand a lot of things, the mother will also teach the kid, spend more time with the kid, understand the kid's struggles, etc... And of course, if the father is the musician, the opposite will happen.

Every top musician I bet will say their mothers are fabulous, as well as their fathers. But current top musician didn't need a supervisor of any of the parents, but from the teacher. That's the figure that supervises the young star, unless the parents are musicians as well. I guess young stars just need what every body needs as a child, love and attention from the parents.

February 15, 2018, 12:08 PM · I am citing the teacher of the pianist Kissin. "When he moved to conservatorium school to Moscow at age of 6, Euheniy practiced only 15-20 min a day, the rest of the day he was just playing piano". Vengerov's mom told very much the same about her son. And the biggest challenge for her was to make him practice assignments. And one Italian student told me once, that he felt lucky when he was small because the parents did not have any musical education and could not figure out that he was playing random stuff instead of real homework. Now he regrets it. Now he understood that he would be way better if he spent his time on proper things.

And to teach small children to do assignments is not an easy task. The soon they get it the faster they progress. And only determined parents behind can help it happens. It is not enough to say "I think you can", it is about to build a habit to work hard and focus, especially on the things you do not like (scales, arpeggios etc - all the boring stuff).

It happens to any hobby - even during football classes children work on technique etc, and yes they like to play but they do not like practicing. And it is ok. And it is what they have to learn in their life to be anyone.

Working a lot with children in week-end school I have noticed that the more creative and talented child is, the harder it takes to explain why it is important to do the practicing part.
So I do believe, that behind every really famous child is determined adult (mom, dad, grandfather, teacher etc). Who tough enough to build a habbit of working hard. And the more talented child, the more determined adult should be.

Juds are the majority of the best violinists (you can not argue on this) and believe me, they all did/do have determined parents and teachers. It is in the culture to teach a child to work hard from very earlier ages. And it does not matter what the subject is about.

February 15, 2018, 12:14 PM · "OMG, as a father I find this post so offensive that I'm gonna be triggered for like a whole week."

I can only say from my teaching experience that my best students had maternal support. It may depend on the geographic area and culture. I've seen far fewer fathers driving their kids to lessons, taking notes, etc.
99% it has been the moms. Often the moms have been divorced and raising the student themselves. But still the case with married moms. And some of the best students have been homeschooled, and the moms are the ones to handle the driving to various activities. It's all the more true because most violin students have been girls, and dads tend to put effort into things like batting practice or other sports things, especially when the student has male siblings.

So if you're triggered, you're triggered. That's been my teaching experience. And kids without parental support in the early years tend to founder. Yes those Russian kids described may have gone to boarding school, but they didn't lose parental support--that support was just transferred to another non-parental authority that pushed them.

"...many great Italian violinists chose their path by their own determination..."

Yes, this may explain the relative lack of great Italian violinists. There have been some great Italian musicians, but not as many as one would expect from the cradle of classical music.

February 15, 2018, 1:40 PM · "All," "Every," "Always," "Without Exception," are all words that should be avoided, particularly when speaking of violin.

Every time we box ourselves in with dictums or adages, it doesn't turn out well. At some point, our rule will be broken, and we will realize that everyone's different and needs different things.

With all of that said, it's VERY helpful to have maternal support, and I have to agree with everything Scott said. I was home-schooled by my mom and if I wasn't, it's very likely my musicality would never have been nurtured.

I also think moms, in general, have a sensitivity that fathers don't have, and sensitivity is highly necessary for making great music. While it may start as emotional sensitivity, it evolves into sensitivity towards all senses in the long run. In fact, my most sensitive students have usually been my best (musically).

However, fathers also play an important role in the development of a child, so in a perfect world, a budding musician would have the support that both parents can provide towards them.

Long story short, if we're going to create a dictum, it should be "more support will yield a more successful child"

February 15, 2018, 2:26 PM · Hi Scott, in Italy the minimum age required for entering public conservatory for starting from scratch is nine, with low and reasonable fee for example 300-400 euros per year almost every family can afford, for families of lower income and multiple kids who entering the same conservatory, discount will be given. Generally, when kids get nine, it is their own determination that makes them to choose the instrument or career they love, not the wishes of their parents. In Italy conservatories offer course once a week, kids normally go to elementary school and liceo, playing an instrument is a part of life, not a destination.

The relative lack of contemporary Italian violinists is a result of aging population and extremely low birth rate, there are fewer new births in modern Italy than before, as a result the population of violin learners drop dramatically even the portion is fixed, also in Italy as well as other continental European countries there is a decline in classical music, Italian parents even those excellent professional virtuosi would not like to urge their kids to learn violin or other instruments since a very early age.

Edited: February 15, 2018, 2:58 PM · Eden, et al.,

No. While a determined parent may get a child over some of the hurdles the fact is that if the child doesn't like or want to play the instrument they will eventually abandon it and usually learn to hate it in the process.

I often get parents who want me to teach their child come to me. I offer lessons to the parent and they always decline but think it is important that they learn to play music/violin. If/when a child asks me for lessons and really wants to play then I'll teach them.

My personal experience was that my parents would not support my desire to learn the violin as a child. They did not have the resources.

As to forcing children to do anything: I never thought much about baseball and had no interest in the sport. Then my father signed me up with the local Fire Company Little League team. I managed to protest at practices and games enough that the coaches threw me off the team (exactly what I wanted). To this day I can say that the forcing contributed to my absolute hatred of baseball. My father and I never forgave each other over the "baseball incident."

February 15, 2018, 3:31 PM · No, absolutely not true.

A dear friend of mine is now a touring soloist and recitialist and major competition laureat. His mom was the sweetest woman I know. Nurturing, for sure; tiger mom, definitely not.

And what about all the dedicated fathers out there. This post is rather sexist.

February 15, 2018, 3:48 PM · For Heifetz, he was pushed by his dad. I think that in at least a lot of cases, a very highly involved parent is necessary, many of which will be of the stage-parenting variety. I think that is also the surest way to get your kid to flame out.
February 15, 2018, 4:02 PM · George, there are "required" and "sufficient".
To have a desire to do something is required, but without disciplin and hard working no results will be achieved. As well as teaching a child to do homework is required, but not sufficient without his/her will and ability.

Every big success is physical ability to do+ desire to do+ determined adult behind (parents or teacher).

Upper someone argued on their own life and examples, but I am sorry to say this, I googled nothing besides posts with your names, sorry. And we were talking about soloists at the concerts, where people pay for the tickets.

I do not play myself, for me everyone who manages violin is a wizzard. ))) So you still can be a wizzard and play violin at the fantastic level, but people outside your friends club do not know about it. Most proably, because your parents/teachers were not supportive, did not provided guidence, and were not determined.
Vanessa May has very determined mom, as an example. And yes, it costs them the normal relationships, anyway the mother brought her to success. The question about if it was worth to do in this way is open, but out of the current scope of discusdion.
Vengerov had a tough teacher, a supportive mom, and a father with network (on top of his own will to become a violinist, his physical ability to control bow and violin from very first lessons at age 3, his imagination to bring music to a story, and perfect pitch).
Heifetz had father as a first teacher, who was really determined, Jasha did not have any choice than to become a violinist- it was the only one option for the family.

In sports, in arts, in sciense, everywhere, there is a teacher/parent who drives the student's progress.

The moms just can push not harder, but further.just because they have an ability to manage children using different approaches and changing them depending on situation. Fathers usually are not so flexible and brake the child's will more offten, and at earlier stages (the baseball story above is a very clear example).

Edited: February 15, 2018, 6:54 PM · Scott, this is about moms that do this: "direct, manage and supervise the development and the musical education". Driving the kid to the lesson or "taking notes" (I don't know what that even means) has nothing to do with that.

If you've seen a lot more moms driving their kids to your lessons it's because it's normally the man that works in a conventional job and the mom that stays at home driving kids to school and out of school activities such instrument lessons. Same with other activities such as football, soccer, basketball... but then, it's normally the father that goes to the matches and games of the kid in the weekends. Guess what, weekends are free time for dads, most of them at least. That's what I've seen the most. In my case it was my father that drove me to these kind of activities because it fit very well in his schedule.

But the question of this topic is clearly NO, you don't "need a mom" to check your progress. That's simply absurd, a mom could only do that properly if she is a musician. Otherwise she won't know how well you play, if your progress is OK according to the hours you spend, if you practice enough hours... only a mom that's a musician can do this.
So yeah, the answer is no, it depends on the profession of your parents. The musician parent will be the one that will supervise you. You can swap in your question "mom" by "father", and nothing changes. It simply depends on what your parents are. What you surely need is love and encouragement from both of your parents, but I'm sure many would say there have been many cases of successful musicians without the support of their parents, or their parents didn't care that much about music and simply let the kids do what they loved.

Finally, yeah, we could act like media feminists here and go full victimism, calling out this post of extreme sexism.

Edited: February 15, 2018, 9:05 PM · Some extremely talented individuals don't practise that much or practise in a different way.
It is said that Glen Gould mostly practised by playing Bach and other works in a meticulous fashion.
The Russian school was / is very methodical and would teach you always to know what position you are in but Janine Jansen who was taught by Philippe Hirschhorn - among others - doesn't know what position she is in when way up the fingerboard. That is according to Julian Rachlin who was rather amazed at that and he knows her well.

This very talented young lady had a very broad musical education with a lot of improvisation and composing thrown in:
I read an interview with her father who did not like today`s technical focus in music teaching but followed the much broader Italian music teaching style of the 18th century.
I firmly believe that improvisation should be a part of a good musical upbringing. Look at the wonderful jazz musicians, many of whom cannot even read notes - but can they play!

Edited: February 16, 2018, 12:45 AM · Oh this gender thing is so so culturaly binded. In my country most of the mothers work too and there is no division of mothers being the sensitive ones and fathers being the tough ones. If I think about us and the families that are close to us, it is about 50% of the fathers the sensitive ones and 50% of the mothers, it is not a genetical thing , it is totally culturally bound. I am quite sure that to the usa gender standard half of the finnish women would be considered nongender or agender, whatever you call that being in between the genders.

In my family I do the musical things with our daughter but my huspand really couldnt, he is not musical at all and quite clumsy. Many times he would have taken my place when I have been sick, but he cannot, I dont trust the violin to his hands and he doesnt either lol.

When I grew up, no one forced me to practise piano, so I didnt pracitise almost at all until the age of 13 when I got a teacher who pushed me. But then it was too late in a sense, I did exams young, but one needs to practise when age 7-12 to be able to do the technical stuff really well. Sure, I excelled in interpretation, but for pyrotechnics you need hours of practise done when younger. I dont believe for a moment that if someone starts an instrument later, there is any chance of getting the technical parts that good, adult learners just want to believe so fiercely, because the alternative is psychologically too harsh.

And I dont believe for a moment that talented kids practise enough without someone guiding and pushing them. Sure, there might be one or two exceptions, but not enough to fill the concert halls. And 20 minutes a day is clearly not enough to excell. You need at least an hour and 2 hours and above in teens.

My girl wanted to start playing the violin at the age of 2 and plays her own short pieces without me compelling her to do, but when it comes to the boring stuff of learning with a fixed regimen, it is not normal for a kid to just want to practise every day for an hour without encouragement (positive encouragement I must add, to differ from compelling encourament). Normal kids are like that, then there are abnormal kids with asperger syndrome and autism spectrum disorders, who may be fixed with the violin for hours without encouragement, but that is abnormality, which needs to be discouraged to make the child develop emotionally and socially.

Edited: February 16, 2018, 4:46 AM · a bit off topic but reacting to what Hendrik wrote about Janine Jansen, once you are beyond fifth position or so, I don't think most violinists are actively aware of what position they are in? all that matters is awareness of the intervals you are going to pla,y which determine your finger placement or how far you are going to be shifting. a number of years back there has been a thread on this "do you know which position you are in?" by Elise Stanley (I wonder what has happened to her, she was such an enthusiast)
February 16, 2018, 4:20 AM · 100% agree with Maria.
February 16, 2018, 4:46 AM · I think it is amazing what Tim writes, that in what I assume are still rather large social circles in the USA, one of the parents (Tim specifies these are typically the moms) doesn't need a job and the families can get along financially on just one salary. In Europe this only happens for the really top social circles where people are highly successful business owners or have high management positions with accordingly high salaries. So in a sense people in the USA are better off than in Europe?
Edited: February 16, 2018, 5:07 AM · In the usa those that are better off are much more better off than those that are better off in europe, particularly in the northern europe. But those that have little have less than those that have little here.

It depends from where one is looking from. In more equal societies women work outside home, it is a must really, there is no question about it, but then you have good daycare system to make that possible. Plus health care, plus schools...

February 16, 2018, 5:29 AM · @Jean Dubisson:
The average income or median income in US is much higher than that of many European countries, the disposable income of many US states can be compared with Switzerland and Scandinavia (after tax), which rank top in terms of GDP per capita in the world, and some regions have higher living standards for example Silicon Valley area which ranks richest area in the world. But US has shortage in terms of violin study: private course and tuition of conservatory are astoundingly expensive.

European countries especially those “Western” developed countries emphasize more on welfare and equality, people pay more tax, with lower income though, there are numerous public conservatories in my country, subsidized by the government, open to citizens so that they pay little annually could enjoy not only private instrument courses but also solfeggio and piano courses. In US it is likely that only middle class parents would like to advise their kids pick up an instrument or become professional student, not the ordinary family or blue collars, but it must be mentioned that even ordinary families in US are far richer than many median European families especially those in Eastern part of Europe. If one went back to Albania in the early 80s would be very surprised to find that many kids at that time can be compared with Tedi Papavrami, because in that days playing violin was prevailing among preschool kids, I believe in Communist Romamia and USSR things would be the same.

Edited: February 16, 2018, 5:51 AM · I'm a violin dad and my wife is a cello mom. We're both chemistry professors. Division of labor is the basis of civilization.

Several of my colleagues have stay-at-home spouses. That is how they decided to "divide labor" and that's their choice.

When I was growing up I was expected to practice because my parents were doing their part to pay for and drive me to my lessons. I was alone in the room with the teacher from the beginning and I practiced alone. Might explain why I didn't advance very fast.

February 16, 2018, 7:49 AM · Another cello viola and piano dad here who didn't have active parental involvement and wish I had. Ironically, "tiger mom" from Asia really doesn't get too involved, music is dad's hobby.

My kids love classical music and love to play. So many other accomplished kids we meet ironically do not. So many things outside of the lessons that I contribute have an impact on this.

When they're late teens and more fully developed I'll play less of a role. In the meanwhile I really believe the best results come from a strong partnership between teacher parent and student.

Edited: February 16, 2018, 8:21 AM · Jean, what are you talking about?

What in heavens makes you think you need 2 salaries to survive in Europe. I'm probably one of the less rich among my friends, and we're all middle class regular people. I'm not poor, but I'm not rich at all. My father worked in a regular job, yeah, not a $1000 per month job, but definitely not a $4000 job. We've never had expensive vacations, we've never had expensive cars, or houses, or anything remotely rich. We simply adapted to what we had, and we could totally survive without any kind of struggle. Also, if I've ever wanted something I had to work to get it or buy it. Most of my friends, even those that I knew their fathers made less than mine, got for Christmas the Play Station 2, 3, the Wii, etc... they asked for it and they had it. Mine never bought me something more expensive than $80 "just like that". I didn't care neither. I did get the Play Station 3 after saving money for almost 3 years, 2 years later than my friends.

I've been in 2 different countries in Europe and as long as I remember most of the parents that went to school to talk to teachers, pick up the kids, etc... were moms, so they probably didn't worked in a regular job, but at home. By the way, not always 2 working fathers is the best and cheapest solution. A mother or father that stays in home buys food, makes launch, take kids to everywhere, etc... if both parents work it can totally happen that, besides paying someone to do the house, cook, iron, pick up the kids, etc... also paying the food of the school that is way more expensive than you buying it and cooking it at home... you need someone in the afternoon as well to take care of your kids, to help them doing the home work, etc... that costs a lot of money, and also the relationship between parents and sons is colder than one of the parents always being there.

Also, the amount of money you make each month means absolutely nothing if you don't take into consideration the prices of basic things, houses, cars... I read the other day a new about how cheap was the gasoline in one country compared to the other countries around it (in Europe it was). May be 5-10% cheaper. So it wanted the population to think that they should be grateful. Well, what that new didn't say is that the salaries of that country were 15-20% lower than the countries around.

In other words, if you want to compare 2 different countries (or even areas inside one country) you need to know how much can you do with the money, that's what really tells you how good or bad is a country compared to another. If in USA people make $1200 per month and in France they make € equal to $1000 per month, one could think USA wins. But may be what in France costs $400.000, in USA costs $500.000, so in the end they would be quite even.

February 16, 2018, 9:21 AM · "And what about all the dedicated fathers out there. This post is rather sexist."

It's not sexist. It just reflects experience. If most of my good students were taken to lessons and pushed by dads, I would have said so.

February 16, 2018, 9:24 AM · Tim, you have xperience of 2 countries, it doesnt count as Europe ;)

But this discussion is now taking a large sidetour.

In my country schooling is totally free, books are free up to college. School food is free. Daycare is heavily subsidized and cost at max price 280 euros per month and many many get it totally free. Buses and trams are subsidized. Health care is almost completely free for kids and very cheap for adults, same goes for dentists, libraries are free, cculture is heavily subsidized, conservatory costs about 350 euros in total with theory and orchestras and everything. The society is based on both parents working with daycare starting when the kids are 2 or 3 years old normally. Men stay also at home and some of the maternity leave is only for the use of dads. Families in need get good housing for free if necessary and schools have extra tutoring for kids with difficulties. And there is even free childcare help for families with special needs if they dont have the money to buy the services.

Average wage is about 3000 euros per monts and from that goes about 1000 euros to taxes.

We pay taxes yes, but I pay taxes gladly to be able to live in a society that tries to offer similar possibilities fro every child. But for all this to happen the society need women to work most of their lives and not stay at home. When women work they also get more say on where the money goes and thus more equal society. And when there is more equal society it is also more secure, I think we were the safest country in the world in some score last year, se less problems when people share things and more problems when people are left more on their own devices.

February 16, 2018, 10:46 AM · I think Paul Deck hit the nail on the head.
February 16, 2018, 11:08 AM ·

From everything I've read about the average success stories, it's more about community than one other person.
For example, if there was a hockey player that practice 2-4 hrs everyday in his back yard for years. Would he become successful? No. He needs the team, he needs the coaches, he needs other kids on his street to play street hockey with, he needs the after school programs, he needs the community, etc...

For musicians this team is also require, and the stronger the community the better chance of success.

February 16, 2018, 11:22 AM · Charles, you are so right.

There is a true story here, that 3 girls lived in the same street (2 families), parents were musicians. They all went to the same conservatory and had the same teacher, they played together after school and practise. And guess what, all became professional violinists. Now would they all 3 have become violinist had they lived ina different place and with a different teacher? Probably not all of them. If any.

February 16, 2018, 11:56 AM · Charles: It takes a village! HRC was right after all. Who knew?

Maria: The society you describe is what many of us hope we can bring about in the U.S. But I'm not holding my breath. It's so sad. We could easily afford it.

February 16, 2018, 4:23 PM · I see quite a few dads taking their kids to lessons with my current teacher, so I suspect some of this regional, although I agree that it's mostly mothers (regardless of whether either parent has musical training).

I do not agree that parents should wait for the child to be interested in order to put them in lessons. My mother put me in violin lessons before I had ever seen or heard a violin -- indeed, before I ever heard any significant classical music. I didn't like practicing, but my mother made me stick with it -- I did like playing and performing, but practicing always remained a giant chore. (I got piano lessons later, hated it, and after a few years, my parents let me quit, which was the correct decision even if I had to basically do remedial piano lessons in college in order to pass the piano proficiency requirement for my music minor.)

I've actually never turned into someone who loves practicing. I can really enjoy a practice session when I get into the right flow, but most of the time it does feel like a chore. One of the reasons that I try to perform on a frequent basis is it forces me to practice.

Edited: February 16, 2018, 8:05 PM · I would personally say "Behind every good violinist stands dedicated parents". Patience, money, time and dedication is a parent's (father and mother) prerequisite. Yes the kid has to put in the effort, but without parental backing and total dedication it is a very steep slope.

In some cases it is an investment. Many past prodigies were "encouraged" by their parents and eventually became the primary source of survival income. Not so much anymore, though I sometime wonder what motivate so many Chinese parents to push their kids in this choice of career.

Edited: February 16, 2018, 11:20 PM · “...though I sometime wonder what motivate so many Chinese parents to push their kids in this choice of career.”

The love of music is certainly within the realm of possibilities. As Flaubert would say (about art): “of all lies, it is the least untrue.”

Edited: February 17, 2018, 12:16 AM · “...though I sometime wonder what motivate so many Chinese parents to push their kids in this choice of career.”

Wow! I don’t usually post but I can’t stay quiet.

As a Chinese parent of a violin student, I guess I can try to speak for my “people” by using sweeping generalizations. “Chinese parents” are motivated by the beauty of classical music. We are moved and inspired by the discipline and hard work it requires to achieve excellence in violin (or any worthwhile endeavor). We think that learning the violin builds character and the skills our children acquire in the process of learning the violin will transfer to everything else they do in their grown up lives. Most Chinese parents do not have the intention of “pushing” their children into careers of professional musicians, yet our culture values perseverance and achieving the best we can, so we “push” our kids to play the violin to the best of their ability and hold them to a high standard. I guess if these are all characteristics specific to the Chinese people, then we should actually be proud. However, many other Asian (and non-Asian) cultures share similar values. I also think that these are probably the same reasons why violin parents of ANY ethnic background “push” their kids.

Edited: February 17, 2018, 2:23 AM · Chinese parents usually have the intention of imposing what they have had not realized when they were young onto their siblings, it is a typical Eastern culture, which can be also seen in Korea and Japan, as a result there are many Eastern Asian kids playing violin. Today in China as well as overseas Chinese communities one can easily find that this sort of phenomenon is not rare, as far as I know, many mainland Chinese migrants in North America are from rural or remote area when they were young had no chance to get in touch with classical music, when they settled in another country and once got a reasonable income they’d like their kids fulfill their desires.

Chinese parents know less about other instruments, for example woodwind or brass or harp, often it is the parents not the kids that choose what to learn, they consider violin and piano to be the most complicated and superior one, and influence their kids to pick up what is thought to be the most tough instruments, because there are misunderstandings. In both China and North America, learning an instrument costs much, but it has advantage in terms of admission to top tier universities.

In China learning an instrument costs much, an ordinary course will cost average family one twentieth salary in first or second tier cities, if a family is indeed poor enough for example from rural area or urban blue collars, parents will never consider about their kids’ learning any instrument, they would think about how their kids become excellent at mathematics and physics and pay bill for extracurricular advanced courses in order to be enrolled in a better secondary school and hence enrolled by so-called 211 or 985 even PKU. I must mention that Chinese migrants from different background have completely different value about instrument learning, in Prato, Siena, Firenze and other area of Toscana, as well as Lombardia and Roma there are large Chinese communities, those migrants were from southern coastal provinces and their kids were born in Italy, but those parents are mainly of merchant background, they are rich but not interested in music, while North America Chinese migrants are mainly of intellectual background, they share different value in terms of children pedagogy. Italy has strong classical music culture, but this is not an embodiment of Chinese migrants here.

Many European countries have severe problem of extremely low birth rate, there are more old ages and fewer young people, there are fewer new births per year, which is the fatal cause of decline of classical music, modern parents in my country do not like to push their kids or choose one instrument for their kids, kids who grow up in musician parents sometimes easily get uninterested when seeing their parents practice everyday (it is a true case near me), some conservatories even faced with the problem of lack of students, while in North America and Eastern Asia due to prosperity of economy and high immigrant rate as well as a slightly higher or moderate birth rate, a new wave of prosperity of classical music is being witnessed.

Edited: February 17, 2018, 9:30 AM · I suggest watching the ending to this masterclass. Zanders has a small talk with the mother.

Skip to 11:40

February 17, 2018, 10:01 AM · Thank you Liyun for providing your (Chinese/Asian) perspective. My comment wasn’t meant to be derogatory, on the contrary, sorry if it came across that way. It was a simple observation that Asians (mostly Chinese as they form a vast majority of asian in origin population in Canada’s West Coast) can easily make up 30% of the elite student body, whereas only present as a small fraction of the general population. The degree of dedication and hard work seen from both from the pupils and parents is admirable and unquestionable, however arguably in visible contrast (proportionally) to that of the general North American population, hence my wondering. A music career, in general, ain’t exactly an easy path to prosperity relative to the effort and investment needed for success.

That said, Kunghei fatchoy to you and your family.

February 17, 2018, 11:36 AM · OMG. I am talking about the mom from the video. If that a determined mother - then I take all my previous words back. I think it is too extreme. Mom can think whatever she thinks, but to say it loudly to her child? in front of all friends and teachers and for recording? I think she is sick.
February 17, 2018, 11:47 AM · I think Asians in the US tend to see a high level of accomplishment in violin, cello, or piano as an important component of getting into a top-notch college. Children aren't expected to necessarily enjoy the process, nor are they expected to continue playing once they start college.
Edited: February 17, 2018, 1:17 PM · Mr Zanders (in the video) was completely out of line. He had no business telling people how to raise children. One can say a lot about the “Asian” way of raising children, but there is no empirical evidence that Asian children turn out to be LESS well than “other” children.

Mr Zanders was carrying the “white man’s burden” a little too far!

February 17, 2018, 1:42 PM · And I partly agree with David. In my culture is not Ok to give such kind of comments to parents. However, to say to your child that he/she is not beautiful (even if it would be the truth) in front of other people is not OK in western cultures. It is like to go to a Muslim country and do not respect their traditions. And that mom should be totally not integrated into society and totally not appreciating the culture she lives in.

I can argue, that Zanders in this particular case has the excuse to comment to the mom. The girl in this particular video definitely lacks the expression of positive emotions during the performance. Of cause, she was stressed - for her it was like an exam. She could not smile not because she does not do it in her daily life, but because she was very focused on to do not a mistake. And she very worried about it, because her mom worried. And that was the message to the mom. If the girl would be a bit more relaxed, she could do better, more fluent, etc. That was the reason, Zanders started to talk. But the mom's answers, I think chocked him down. Asking his questions, he awaited nothing but "yes, she is pretty, she is smart, she is good". And then, he told what he told on emotions.

February 17, 2018, 1:47 PM · I disagree, David. I actually teach a child whose situation was similar to this one and I had to have a similar talk (although in a less dramatized fashion, and in private). The child is much better off and produces much more beautiful music now. With that said, I disagree that he should force a smile onto the girl's face, or inply that a visible smile indicates genuine happiness, but I do think he went directly to the root of the girl's problem, which is that her knowing that her mom is watching and waiting for every mistake causes extreme stiffness and an overall lack of musicality in the daughter.

But yeah, the way he went about it was a bit over the top and a bit unrealistic.

Edited: February 17, 2018, 8:47 PM · Smiling in public is also something very dependent on cultural tradition. A friend of mine from Shanghai told me that over there if you smile at a stranger in the street you either have a mental condition or are trying to get something from her or him. Maybe it's the same in New York, but here in Alberta it's ok to smile a little at strangers and talk to strangers on the bus etc.
But then there are the people from the Philippines; they smile lots.

I felt my toes curl the way Zander talked to the mom. On the other hand I think as in all masterclasses you are not just teaching the child but also all the other families. This is such an important lesson he may have felt the collateral damage - shaming someone - was worth it. I don't know.

Edited: February 17, 2018, 5:07 PM · There is a thin invisible line between parent's genuine support for a child and a parent living out unfulfilled dreams through her child. Children will do just anything to win parent's approval / love, and some parents misuse this for their own neurotic needs. Parent is in a position of power, and this power has to be handled carefully. Movies like "Shine" are not fiction - such parents do exist and music education is not the only field of parent's projection. I am sure that every violin teacher on this site can confirm that they met at least one of those parents during a long teaching career.

I would say that behind every good violinist is a determined and good violin teacher.

February 17, 2018, 7:23 PM · Rocky, you should meet some of our hockey dads!

David: "white man's burden..." hahahahahaha
Zander is Jewish

February 17, 2018, 7:42 PM ·

"Is your child beautiful?" Mom, "No." Me "WTH"........I didn't say hell.

Dwelling on the negatives .....children need that...

February 17, 2018, 8:03 PM · "I would say that behind every good violinist is a determined and good violin teacher"

Exactly, that's what I've been saying all the time from the beginning. Although, if one of your parents or both are musicians, they will play a role in the kid's road to greatness.

Edited: February 18, 2018, 1:44 AM · Back to the different cultural things. In my country it is not expected that people smile so much, especially in public. Some people smile and laugh a lot but generally people are quiet and reserved in public. We dont look in the eyes of unknown people so much and dont talk to people that we do not know. Most people would never touch other people they are not really really friendly with if they can avoid it. The way the teacher touches the girl, would make people here very unconfortable. There are exceptions of course, like I talk and smile a lot, but we ae exceptions. In truth people are really sensitive and do a lot for others. Look at our society as I discribed it earlier. So what one sees is not one one gets here if viewed from a culture of other more talkative and smiling people.

Also it is not consedered good manners to give praise to our children in public. We do, but not that often and it would be a very difficult question generally to be asked in public, ”Is your girl beautiful? ” Probably most would answer very awkardly that ”yes, she is pretty” but not say she is beautiful. Praise is only reserved to people that very really are over than the most in some aspect.

Here generally people only give praise publicly when something is really and objectively really good. And even then it usually comes with diminitutive fore words. The point is that if everyone gives praise all the time it isnt really realiable and then one cannot know when one really IS good. Encouragement is done in different words that are not so much praise.

At home we do give praise, I do it alot, but I praise those points that are actually good and I praise the effort.

So the teacher in that video is actually putting one culture on top of another. The mother sounds horrible in that video but I wouldnt judge her based on that as I do not know how she is at home because she is from another culture. Sure when people move to another culturey, they have to change and accept new terms, but it is not possible always.

So these things really are culturally bound and it is harsh to judge one culture from another one.

February 18, 2018, 6:38 AM · A number of people apparently view this as success, reading between the lines gave me chills. Article/blog linked in the first post at
February 18, 2018, 7:20 AM · Once one breaks the plastic cover of cultural stereotypes, one discovers that not only are most things not the way they come across from outside but even the things that more or less may be true to the perception from outside have concrete reasons, economic, social and personal, that have less to to do with preconceived outside ideas on that person's culture or cultural identity. Within as an immigrant in another country or within one's own.

I was thinking of disagreeing with David Zhang's point, but then I asked myself : would he, Zander, have felt as free to pose this question to , for instance, a strict German mother/couple (you know with all the preconceived ideas about being emotionally repressive, non expressive etc)? I suspect it would have been far less likely.

Edited: February 18, 2018, 9:01 AM · Lydia wrote, "I think Asians in the US tend to see a high level of accomplishment in violin, cello, or piano as an important component of getting into a top-notch college."

Okay, I can see that as a reasonable hypothesis. But is there any truth to it? Say my daughter plays a solid Kabalevsky and a solid Mozart 3, and some solo Bach movements, but not (yet) Bruch. How much boost does that give her when applying to strong engineering programs? Has anyone asked admissions officers at such places how they weigh musical achievement? And how they measure it? I mean, anyone can say they're at the "Bruch Level" but we all know how much that can vary.

All that practice time has to be weighed carefully against athletics and other "extracurriculars." Personally I'm glad my daughter did a sport instead of spending an extra two hours a day on the violin. It's much better for her health both physically and mentally. These days teenagers' resumes include the number of hours they've spent on each extracurricular service activity.

Edited: February 18, 2018, 11:36 AM · I read Stans bloglinks and yes, I think it is very much too much. First of all I dont like homeschooling at all (remember Menuhin), kids need schooling with other kids. You drain the child if you dont let her grow in a normal school environment.

But violin practise needs hours and hours of work. Now when people asked us, why start violin so early, I said that violin needs so so much work and if the child wants it to begin with, its better to start early as then you dont have to practise mad hours when at school and still you have the route open to professionalism if the child wants it. If one starts later, like 8 or 9 years, one has so much catching up to do that it may take too much from the childs youth. It is true that many earlystarters dont really advance so fast but some do.

But I think it not likely that my girl will be a professional. More likely she will be a vet or something else, Also being a soloist is a horrible job, teaching and orchestra playing are normal jobs here, they pay the average wage of close to 3000 euros. The point of instrument studies is to develop the brains so that everything else comes easier and also it teaches a child perseverance.

I must add that early childhood music education starting from age 6 months to age 4 is very common here, most of my friends kids have been to lessons at least for a try, it is considered very healthy for a childs development. The other thing that is considered very healthy here is baby swimming. But these are not expensive classes, it is considered caring that the child has a hobby from early on. But still people here value free playtime and kids get that alot and playing outside often by themselves from quite young, which is possible here as ours is a safe society.

Edited: February 18, 2018, 11:06 AM · Maria wrote, "First of all I dont like homeschooling at all (remember Menuhin), kids need schooling with other kids."

I'll admit to being somewhat skeptical of homeschooling myself, but like everything else (including public school!), it can be done well or not so well. I know home-school families where the kids have lots of social activities, often through church but also scouting, shared educational activities, play-dates with other home-school kids (these people are often well networked), sports clubs, swim lessons, and the like. Some of them come out well-adjusted and some don't. But one must remember that the same is true of public-school kids. If you look at the teenagers in the US who have committed these horrifying mass-murders, I bet most of them went through public school. Yes, of course they are outliers. But so are the brilliant, hyper-talented, do-it-all overachievers. If we're going to evaluate populations according to the exceptions, then you have to look at both ends.

My approach to music lessons, as a parent, is that it's part of my child's education. Like learning table manners, writing thank-you letters for gifts received, etc. If I don't pound my fists on the table because my daughter's SAT score wasn't the highest in her school, why would I rant and rave if she's not CM of her orchestra? She enjoys orchestra and she earns high marks from the director as a leader (she is principal 2nd). I'm very proud of that. She is not remotely close to conservatory admission and has no desire to do that. There are two other (significantly superior) violinists in her orchestra who are clearly trying for conservatory admission and that's between them and their parents.

Some parents require several hours of faith-related activities of their children (Sunday school, catechism, multiple services per week, youth-group activities, etc.), and you don't see people questioning that. When it is questioned, the parents will insist that this commitment is vital to their kids turning out to be good people, and that whether their kids are enjoying it really doesn't matter.

February 18, 2018, 11:30 AM · Yep, in the past the Jewish mom, today the Asian tiger Mom.

By the way, my wife spent (and still is spending) a huge amount of energy in our children's education.

February 18, 2018, 11:52 AM · For college admission, being a CM of youth orchestra or a school orchestra seems to count for something but it could be more about being exceptionally good students who get along with faculty and peers than having the title.

Edited: February 18, 2018, 12:22 PM · Lydia wrote, "I think Asians in the US tend to see a high level of accomplishment in violin, cello, or piano as an important component of getting into a top-notch college."

I think you will have an edge if you play like Yo-yo Ma or at least Nancy Zhou ( from Mary Ellen’ s city). Playing at “the Bruch level” is not going to help if you are Asian.

February 18, 2018, 12:24 PM · That linked article is interesting. First of all, the kid isn't going to Juilliard undergraduate. He's been accepted into the Pre-College program -- an achievement, but nowhere near the bar that has to be cleared to be accepted into the BM program.

Second, the summer-camp cello teacher mentioned in the longer blog post, taught in my childhood Suzuki program. If I recall correctly, a late beginner without a music-related degree (or level of technical proficiency that would be associated as such), and no professional training beyond Suzuki -- but still very successful professionally. A good example of how some musicians can achieve career stability teaching primarily beginners.

February 18, 2018, 12:28 PM · Principal positions that require leadership from the student are valued, like other leadership positions, when students apply to college.

One of the things that some elite colleges look for is a student's energy level and dedication -- their ability to juggle many demands in their life and push through them at a very high level, and to deal with the resulting stress. Winning meaningful competitions, in combination with a maximally demanding academic workload and lots of other time-heavy extracurriculars, is a useful way to demonstrate this. (It's also a brutal way to live if you're not really high-energy and hard-working by nature, unfortunately.)

February 19, 2018, 12:01 AM · Whooa, Now I read the comments on her page. Cannot figure our why people are congratulating her for. I mean, if you need psychological help to tha child at the age of around 10 because of playing the violin, then one needs to reassess the point of playing the violin. The child has no normal childhood and people seem to think that is ok?? And if Julliard is a paid college, not a scholarship, I just dont see the point.

By the way, the reason why I really dont like the idea of homeschooling is that in school children should meet and mingle with kids from different backrounds, it broadens one view of life a lot and makes children more tolerate as adults. Dont have to be best buddies, but see and know that it is very different to grow with less resources, When homeschooling, they mingle with selected kids from their own backround and thus live in a bubble, which really is not constructive for a society. Dont like the idea of all christian or islamic schools either for the same reason.

But I do understand that is the problem of schooling system in total, in many countries, where the schools are divided to rich and poor areas.

Edited: February 19, 2018, 5:15 AM · ~ To All ... Having had the great blessings of both parents being rare pedigreed musicians, yet with their pedigree they also possessed the rarer qualities of great insight and great experience as professional performer's and Teacher's without the 'gestalt' Act which is seen through by genuine talent's having true artistic discernment ...

Several contributor's mentioned my legendary 'second' violin mentor, Jascha Heifetz, being "driven by his father" (Ruvin) ~ knowing some about this as my father's father, was an Usher at Mr. Heifetz's wedding to famed Hollywood Actress, Florence Vidor (leaving her Producer husband, King Vidor), to marry Jascha Heifetz in San Francisco, and much later on, w/ Mr. Heifetz's second marriage to Mrs. Heifetz, 'II', when the 7 of us (Jascha Heifetz's original pupil's in his First International USC Violin Master Class) were studying, I heard much about Heifetz from my Grandfather & Father, both respected violinists & Grandfather, the teacher of Grisha Gulaboff, a prodigy rival of Yehudi Menuhin, who had coaching with Grandfather also. There was never any suggestion of 'Poppa Heifetz' driving his possessed of genius son, little 'Jascha', for as a bird sings because it has a Song, so did young Jascha Heifetz play the violin because he could not refrain from playing the instrument as his role in life was to lift the World of Music to indescribable height's whether his father was teaching him or not!! If any 1 person 'pushed' JH, it was his own inner quest to "Reach Up" & Leopold Auer, who, bedazzled by Heifetz at 7 or 8, knew what he had & began spreading word to very great conductor's in Continental Europe and to Fritz Kreisler!! This is not to say that a Mother isn't central to cultivating her gifted child & as an astute contributor wrote, Mother's from specific places & culture's are guided by forebearer's to sacrifice whatever they deem necessary to aide & ensure the gifted son or daughter has the Best Teacher to not only teach but 'promote' X, Y or Z ... Having known Michael Rabin, it hurts me to read about his Mother which isn't even known about by his intimate friends/ colleagues - one of whom, his longtime pianist/accompanist, (& my pianist), Mitchell Andrews of NYC, once cried out, "Michael Rabin didn't suffer all the horrid conditions circulated by gossiping tongues who never knew him, but fell on slippery freshly waxed wooden floors in his Manhattan home on the day they were polished in a tragic accident." Mitchell Andrews knew and performed w/ a Great Violinist not, (to quote one of the contributor's) a 'he was successful' description of Michael Rabin ~ So it is, vis a vie 'tiger' Mother's (What is this!?) being most deeply frustrated near-concert-level-almost's, who fulfill their dreams thru' their gifted children, which in the cases of Heifetz isn't reality - nor to my knowledge, Michael Rabin's, either ...

All said, there Are Mother's who parade a gifted young child around publicly
without giving a hoot or second thought about the Person inside innocent children. This is SERIOUS and something both my parents fought against throughout their musical teaching lives. Imagine having a Mother who was Arnold Schoenberg's chosen Alternate Pianist to Leonard Stein, for all of
Schoenberg's Advanced UCLA Classes, performing, impromptu, his atonal
Orchestral/Chamber Orchestral Scores on the Piano, near flawlessly, who could even at the drop of a hat, transpose Schoenberg's most complicated music into any key signature perfectly "because I just hear the notes in my head!" -- the modest answer my Mother, Betty, gave throughout her life, & even to Professor Schoenberg, who once asked her how she could do it?!!

A musician of 'savant' musical gifts, my Mom, abhorred 'backstage' Mom's
who 'used' their gifted child/children to support dreams/fantasies of fame, & in so doing, as a contributor writes, harming the person inside in a serious
way for, possibly life ~ This is horrid & ignorance becomes more dangerous
in this Era of the Internet ... Taking a child to fine concerts & gifting them w/ an instrument they are itching to play & learn how to play well, is the love of health from a genuine loving parent ... I'm forever upset when a pupil's not really informed parents ask me to arrange a London debut recital for X, Y or D!! This happened once & the Mother of the daughter with an insanely
high priced teacher, eager to make her (teacher's reputation) known, hadn't a care in the world for my p.t. Violin pupil w/ a voice that was in the earlier process of being groomed ... I spoke firmly yet empathetically with the Mom of my violin pupil, saying, "Your daughter is barely 15, yet her voice teacher wishes her to sing at Wigmore Hall, the equivalent of Carnegie Recital Hall in NYC, where critic's enjoy shredding anyone not ready to perform on such
a heralded stage! You would be well advised to have her perform, if it must be in London, at a lovely private venue with many music lover friends coming along with Goodwill, and far away from the London critic's!" A Mom
actually listened intently (she was a psychiatrist) & said, "We will follow you
and would like to engage you to present our daughter where you think best in London!" Not being a concert promoter, one was uneasy, but I couldn't bare the thought of what a few cruel London critic's, at that time, might do, so I agreed to take on this project. It turned out most lovingly as I hand - wrote 200 Letters to colleagues w/ great discernment & kindness, most of whom responded they would attend, & in retrospect, probably due to a wine
reception before a waiter catered French Chef cooked Dinner After the Voice Recital!!! My p.t. Violin pupil didn't suffer the ravages of a London critique in the Times of London or Daily Telegraph!! Mission accomplished
as Ms. D can say she has given a voice Recital in London's Mayfair, but on
Charles Street, Not Wigmore Street!! Of course, all wished her well, yet an
experienced colleague (or more!) of mine rang the following day to give an
opinion & say Thank you for the lavish Dinner & Happy atmosphere! I was
yet again most grateful to have lived in London for 7 & 1/2 years, to guide a young person's parent's in a healthy & safe way ~

Going on far too long, let us say that 'Too Soon' is usually "TOO SOON" in technicolour!!!

Wishing everyone the best on whatever segment of your journey you're on at this time, thank you for the opportunity to express some ideas born from
(By now) much experience!!

Yours musically from afar ~

Elisabeth Matesky *

* Profiled Int'l musical career, Elisabeth Matesky
* YouTube Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Class, USC - Khachaturian, JH-7,
Elisabeth Matesky *Russian film, Library of Congress Master Performers

February 19, 2018, 6:58 AM · You are so beautiful in that video ))))
February 19, 2018, 3:56 PM · Just to echo Maria Lammi's comments earlier about cultural differences in praising one's children in public. Modesty is one of the highest virtues in Chinese culture. Praising oneself and one's own children is categorized as being "arrogant" and "boasting", and is considered to be poor form and reflects the lack of manners and class. An analogy for American culture is that people don't like to admit in public that they make a lot of money and are rich (with the exception of perhaps our current president). Despite having spent almost 20 years in North America, I still have a hard time admitting in public without embarrassment that I'm smart (even though I went to elite schools and have an MD) or that my daughter does well in school (even though she's one of the best students in her class). It doesn't mean that I don't believe both things to be true. So I don't fault the mother in the video for not admitting that her daughter is beautiful and plays the violin well. It is likely coming more from modesty than actual shame. I have no doubt that she is in fact very proud of her daughter.

The other comment that I want to make is that the "backstage mother" who is only invested in her children's success to make herself feel better is perhaps misunderstood and being judged unfairly. I think most parents, even stage parents, come from a place of love and good intentions. Unfortunately raising children is difficult. Raising children to achieve their potential and become happy/kind/successful humans is even more difficult. How many of us have not occasionally lost our way on this journey? Parents, after all, like teachers, are just flawed humans ourselves. And frankly, so are our children, who are just as lazy and undisciplined as the best of us. We should all give each other a break and celebrate the achievements that come from hard work and dedication. Most of us are just doing the best we can.

Edited: February 19, 2018, 5:08 PM · Liyun wrote, "Modesty is one of the highest virtues in Chinese culture." That is an interesting statement. I have interacted with hundreds of grad students from America and around the world. Perhaps what you say about personal wealth, family accomplishments, etc., is true, but my long-term observation is that Chinese grad students aren't any more (or less) modest about their professional accomplishments than those from other places. I don't know why they should be.

In our violin group, the Asian parents (Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese) smile and hug their children and say "good job" after their performances just as much as everyone else. I don't really see much of a cultural difference, but maybe I'm not as sensitive to these kinds of things as some others.

Edited: February 20, 2018, 12:01 AM · Asia/China is just as diverse as Europe and people from different traditions may be as different as Italians from Scandinavians.

In my tradition, it is vain or worse to attach, in public, any merit to a young girl’s physical appearance.

February 19, 2018, 5:59 PM · Paul, you made a very good observation and I appreciate it. I too have not minimized my own accomplishments in front of my superiors in a professional setting because confidence is more valued in western culture. Plus being a woman and an ethnic minority further requires that I speak up in excess confidence in order to be heard, but that’s a different story. I still would be more reluctant to publicly praise my children. Saying a good job to the child is different from telling a violin teacher in a master class that the child plays well. In any case, my intention is to highlight the fact that not everyone will view that exchange in the video the same way. To me, the mother’s response did not raise a red flag and did not alone signal psychological trauma on the part of the child. I saw a woman who was nervous and embarrassed in public.

Lastly, commenting on the girl’s physical appearance was odd in this exchange. Would he have used the same line if the student was a boy? Does he think praising a girl’s beauty is the ultimate vote of confidence from a mother? I understand he meant well but his intentions could’ve been better served if he tried a different approach.

February 19, 2018, 6:16 PM · My answer is no -- you don't even need parents who encourage you to play music. Both of mine were very much anti-music; they both have musical anhedonia and seem to consider all music equally noise, whether it's Mozart of Metallica. I was the one who convinced them to pay for piano lessons by saying it would be good for college applications. But neither of my parents ever heard me perform on stage, and if anything they wanted me to refrain from practicing when they were home. Once I was in college, my parents pressured me to quit music until I lied and told them I had. Instead, I was starting viola, which is now my primary instrument.

So, no, not at all necessary if the musician is highly motivated.

February 25, 2018, 1:34 AM · This is important theme for me now. I am a father of 18 months old beautiful and great baby girl :)

And I am a musician, not studied classical way. I have a high school degree with jazzrock guitar and sound engineering. After years I fulfilled my dreams for playing violin like adult beginner (another story). So I am playing violin too. Before I played guitar of course :) (for 24 years now), bass guitar and piano.

My daughter is musical baby, I can see it, she is dancing when I play a few tones, at the age of half a year, she was dancing on every melody. Now she is singing songs which she heard just for a few times and she is not speaking much now :). And she is "playing" on guitar with me, and she is also forcing me to play :D

I would like to let her be a violinist, very good violinist :) but I don't want to force to make her unhappy.

My wife was playing violin, from the age 8 - 9 not high level but she was playing in string quartet (bartok songs etc), her family is not so musical, it was "just hobby for daughter", her brother was doing sports. And she had a bad teacher absolutely stupid, she absolutely disgust playing for her. At the level she stops playing. She quit definitively, I see her playing a few times a year, sometimes with me :).

It is fragile line between hate and love...

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