The Music Parents' Survival Guide: A Parent-to-Parent Conversation


This book of parent-to-parent advice aims to encourage, support, and bolster the morale of one of music's most important back-up sections: music parents. Within these pages, more than 150 veteran music parents contribute their experiences, reflections, warnings, and helpful suggestions for how to walk the music-parenting tightrope: how to be supportive but not overbearing, and how to encourage excellence without becoming bogged down in frustration. Among those offering advice are the parents of several top ...

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The Music Parents' Survival Guide: A Parent-to-Parent Conversation

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This book of parent-to-parent advice aims to encourage, support, and bolster the morale of one of music's most important back-up sections: music parents. Within these pages, more than 150 veteran music parents contribute their experiences, reflections, warnings, and helpful suggestions for how to walk the music-parenting tightrope: how to be supportive but not overbearing, and how to encourage excellence without becoming bogged down in frustration. Among those offering advice are the parents of several top musicians, including the mother of violinist Joshua Bell, the father of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the parents of cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and those of violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. The book also features advice from music educators and more than forty professional musicians, including Paula Robison, Sarah Chang, Anthony McGill, Jennifer Koh, Jonathan Biss, Toyin Spellman-Diaz, Marin Alsop, Christian McBride, Miguel Zenón, Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelli O'Hara, as well as Joshua Bell, Alisa Weilerstein, Wynton Marsalis, Anne Akiko Meyers, and others. The topics they discuss span a wide range of issues faced by the parents of both instrumentalists and singers, from how to get started and encourage effective practice habits, to how to weather the rough spots, cope with the cost of music training, deal with college and career concerns, and help young musicians discover the role that music can play in their lives. The parents who speak here reach a unanimous and overwhelming conclusion that music parenting is well worth the effort, and the experiences that come with it - from sitting in on early lessons and watching their kids perform onstage to tagging along at music conventions as their youngsters try out instruments at exhibitors' booths - enrich family life with a unique joy in music.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Almost everything a parent needs to know about the challenges and rewards of children's music lessons.Nathan (Round and Round Together, 2012, etc.) offers the flip side of her 2008 book, The Young Musician's Survival Guide, and looks at parents' experiences with their children's music study, including its delights, dilemmas, expenses and intangibles. Inspired by her own experience but primarily drawing from interviews with other parents, she offers 12 chapters, each carefully labeled so that harried readers can turn directly to the most pertinent information. Every parent who pays for music instruction, ferries children to lessons, provides instruments and listens to his or her kid practicing exercises asks similar questions: Which instrument? Is there life after lessons? Can they make a living at it? Parents of now-famous musicians reveal in interviews that there's no one right way to begin, or even know to begin, a child's musical career. Shirley Bell, the mother of world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell, discovered her son's talent when the 2-year-old created his own musical instrument from rubber bands and drawer knobs, but she says that she "never anticipated that it would be a career." Other parents share effective, sometimes indirect ways to encourage practicing in two useful sections. One chapter is devoted to finding a teacher and offers wise tips: Attend kids' concerts and check nearby colleges, local orchestras and summer programs. The interviewees' consensus is, unsurprisingly, that it's all worth it, even if children don't turn into professional musicians; it gives them a lifelong source of delight and, as parent Theresa Chong affirms, it can forge "a close connection…through our shared passion for music." There's also a handy bibliography for further research, a source list and an index.A concise, positive, practical and highly recommended source of advice and solace for anyone guiding a young musician's life.
From the Publisher
"An important read for every family engaged in music studies: a delightful collection of ideas and moving accounts from loving, dedicated parents." —Aaron P. Dworkin, Founder and President, The Sphinx Organization

"I'm thrilled that Amy Nathan has provided such an encyclopedic guide. Now I can refer the parents who ask me about starting their kids in music to this thoughtful, balanced conversation among so many parents who have been there." —Theodore Wiprud, Vice President of Education, the Sue B. Mercy Chair, New York Philharmonic

"[A]n engaging read and will be of benefit to current and future music parents... a great source of information for teachers." — The Instrumentalist

"...shares the experiences, reflections, warnings, and helpful suggestions of more than 150 verteran music parents." — Radcliffe Magazine

". . . any music parent will find stories and advice that will resonate with them in this book. The sidebars and stories from professional musicians were particularly delightful . . . could also be considered essential reading for any music teacher. . . So whether you are a music parent (struggling or otherwise) or an educator who has found oneself counseling a frustrated music parent, this book is worthy of a place on your bookshelf!" —American Music Teacher

"A concise, positive, practical and highly recommended source of advice and solace for anyone guiding a young musician's life." —Kirkus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199837120
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/12/2014
  • Pages: 282
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Nathan is an award-winning author whose previous books include The Young Musician's Survival Guide, Meet the Musicians, Yankee Doodle Gals, and Round and Round Together. A Harvard graduate with master's degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Columbia's Teachers College, she is the mother of two musical sons: one a composer, the other a saxophone-playing political scientist.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Parent-to-Parent-The Conversation Begins
Team of Advisors
Profile of the Advice Panel
A Different Kind of Advice Book

Chapter 2: Music Parenting-the Why's and Worth of It
"Opened Up a Vast New World"
Strengthening Ties to Family and Friends
Building Life Skills
Music's Impact on the Brain and Learning
Good for All?
Shifting Goals

Chapter 3: Starting a Child's Musical Journey
Picking Up on the Clues
Kids Make the Call
The "Just Because" Approach
The Age Story
Age Guidelines for Starting Instruments
Music-and-Movement Classes
Suzuki Instruction
El Sistema Programs
Music-Friendly Households
More Than Music

Chapter 4: Helping Kids Choose an Instrument
Picking and Switching
The "Petting Zoo" Approach
Piano Power
The Singing Advantage
Sibling Issues
Other Issues to Keep in Mind
Instrument Shopping
Finding Financial Help
High-End Loaners
Shopping Tips
Bold Choices

Chapter 5: Finding Teachers
The All-Important First Teacher
Having a Private Teacher-or Not
The Independent Teacher Option
The Music School Route
Meet and Greet
Teacher Switching
Listen Up
Switching Etiquette
Sitting In On Lessons-or Not
Injury Watch
Special Needs-Special Planning
Cost Concerns
More Teacher-Search Strategies

Chapter 6: On Singing
The Anatomy of the Voice Lesson Debate
Late-Start Advocates
Early-Start Advocates
The Middle View
Common Ground
The Choral Advantage
The Instrument Advantage
Finding Voice Teachers
Warning Signs of Vocal Stress
Switching Up
Cross-Genre Singing
Delivering a Song
Different Timelines

Chapter 7: Dealing with Time Issues in Practicing
Many Routes to Regular Practice
First Step: Understanding Why
Getting to Regular
Let Kids Take Responsibility
How Long to Practice
Using Rewards-or Not
The Ten-Minute Plan
Finessing the Schedule
Positive Peer Pressure
Ensemble Volunteering
Summer Programs as Practice Boosters
Growing Into It
A Gift

Chapter 8: Fine-Tuning the Parent's Practice Role
It's Not Easy Being a Highwire Artist
"An Outside Pair of Eyes"
A Fun Start
More Ways to Liven It Up
Play Around
The No-Nonsense Approach
What to Say-or Not-as a Practice Coach
Targeted Comments
Different Kids-Different Strategies
Practice-Not Just a Run-Through
An Assist from Technology
Going Solo
Listening Counts
Role Models
Being There

Chapter 9: Managing the Ups and Downs
"They'll Thank You"
Strike a Deal
Give Them a Break
Change the Music
Quadruple Play
Help with Plateau-ing
Make It Social
Go to Concerts
Sports Issues
Lessen Perfectionism
Performance Jitters
Curve Balls
Letting Go

Chapter 10: Getting Serious
A Different Stage of Learning
The Pre-college Option
Performing Arts Schools
Summer Networking
Stepping Up the Effort
Academic Choices
Home- and Cyber-Schooling
Keeping Future Options Open
To Lighten Up on Academics-or Not
Cutting Back on Extras-or Not
About Competitions
The Upsides of Competitions
The Downsides
Competition Coping
Wide-Ranging Exploration
Composition Experience
Going Pro-or Not
Tips for Going Pro
Sibling Strain

Chapter 11: College and Career Concerns
First, the Worries
The Teaching Anchor
Planning for "Plan B"
A Rundown of the Choices
Researching the Options
Choosing a Conservatory
Choosing a University-based Conservatory
Choosing the College Route
The Dual Degree Option
Hit the Road-or Not
Financial Aid
Audition Advice
Creating Opportunities
Beyond Performing
College Wrap-up

Chapter 12: Moving On
Seeds Sown
New Roles
End Notes
About the Advice Panel
Author's Note
Acknowledgments and Credits

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