25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

I am re-posting this from Andy Zweibel‘s blog.  I found this amusing, and yet, at the same time, all too true!

This was an article referenced in a letter to the editor of the November 2008 issue of The Instrumentalist magazine. The article originally appeared in a 1951 issue of The Instrumentalist. I thought it was funny, so I’ll repost it here. No author is credited, so credit to The Instrumentalist as a whole, I suppose…

25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

  1. Buy him the cheapest instrument possible so he can look forward to earning a better one.
  2. Always point out all his shortcomings; never praise. There’s no sense in spoiling him.
  3. Always call him for practice when the ball game is going best; call in a loud demanding voice so his friends will feel sorry for him.
  4. Insist he practice at a certain time each day without exception. Lay down the law. “Either you practice when I say, or you quit!”
  5. Insist he practice the most uninteresting music the longest. You can’t learn to play an instrument by playing tunes.
  6. Don’t invite other children over to play instruments with your child. They make too much noise, kill too much time, have too much fun, and track in too much dirt.
  7. be sure to mention at the dinner table how little your child has practiced each day.
  8. Never help him with his practicing. There is never time.
  9. Add another hour of practice when he misbehaves.
  10. Call loudly from the kitchen or basement every time he makes a mistake. Make jokes such as “Was that a sick cat I heard?” and “If you can’t do better than that, you should give up.”
  11. Stop him if he practices anything for fun other than his lesson. Music is serious.
  12. Threaten periodically to stop his lessons unless: (a) he practices much more, (b) he plays better than another student, (c) he takes better care of his instrument, (d) he gets beter grades, (e) he makes his bed each morning, (f) he treats his parents with more respect.
  13. Insist on perfection in everything connected with his music; 100% or its no good. He’ll appreciate this when he grows up.
  14. Don’t let him play for his friends or anybody else until he can really play the instrument well. After two or three years he’ll be able to surprise them.
  15. Catch him off guard the first time you want him to play for someone and ask him in front of everybody to play something. If he refuses, insis that he play; if he still refuses, announce that he’s through with music. By all means don’t help him select and work up a number to play for company.
  16. Rest your nerves after a hard day’s work by telling him not to practice where you can hear him. “Take that thing down to the basement. Don’t I deserve a little peace and quiet?”
  17. Insist that he take private lessons from the strictest, driest teacher in town.
  18. Be sure to point out his shortcomings often, especially in front of the teacher or fellow students. It will make a better impression then.
  19. Don’t take him to a concert until he’s old enough, and don’t take him unless he can play well enough to appreciate it.
  20. Insist he can’t take band or orchestra unless his grades improve in academic subjects. Band is just play.
  21. Insist that he take a foreign language in high school instead of band or orchestra.
  22. Don’t pay attention to his music making; you don’t care whether he practices.
  23. Use music as a wedge for getting other things done. Threaten to cut off his lessons if he doesn’t wash the dishes every night.
  24. Don’t buy him a good instrument until he plays extremely well. No sense in wasting money.
  25. With some parents, the real secret is to nag effectively and regularly. Others manage to ruin their child’s music-making by disregarding it almost completely.

It is not necessary to apply all 25. Usually one or two will do the job.

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6 thoughts on “25 Proven Methods for Ruining Your Child’s Music Education

  1. Great list – I had a laugh at some – but it’s a serious matter. I do discuss this with my students parents. I think most are well meaning but don’t realise the harm they are doing by their actions.

  2. These can be applied to music TEACHERS as well – it’s not always the parents who are to blame for this kind of ‘pressure’ and ignorance.

    It’s the age old question – ‘how much should he practice?? 30 minutes a day, right??’. Here at DSM we often reply, ‘Why do you want him to practice?’ or ‘Where did that number come from?’ This usually disarms an overbearing parent pretty quickly.

    If we (music teachers) do our jobs well, our students will feel great about themselves regardless of their level of performance or amount of practice. They will also make music as often as they can and we can’t ask for more than that!

  3. Doug,

    Great post! When I read through it, I was reminded of a parent that was guilty of more than half of the items. Very sad, but also very real.

    Amy

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