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The Boys, Music, and the Violin

Like every other parent, especially Asians (I am not a bigot because I am, after all, also Asian, so let me just be slightly jaded here), I signed my boys up for piano classes for years and years and years. I ferried them in and out of classes, pressured them to practice, paid the price for the expensive classes, and nothing came out of it. 

Maybe it's me, maybe it's them, who knows? 

I bought a piano (which I also loved and signed up for classes for) and I diligently tried to help them see the beauty of music. To no avail. 

Later, Son 2 told me he had an interest in playing the guitar. Like a lightning bolt, we trudged through one music store to another, seeking out the right guitar. Bear in mind, I may know a thing or two about the piano, I know absolutely zilch about the guitar. 

I had to take the word of the salesmen for what they were. So, we ended up with two guitars in the house...and no one playing them, gathering dust and absolutely unloved. 

I signed Son 2 for guitar classes but, again, he picked up zero number of things throughout almost a year of attending the classes. 

By that time, I've given up hope. I came to a concrete conclusion.

The decision was to not commit to a single thing until they can show me persistent interest. I conveyed my disappointment and their fleeting interest in the instruments they said they wanted to learn up (well, they did NOT specifically say they wanted to play the piano. That was is on me) multiple times, playing the guilt game to the tee. 

All of a sudden, without prompt, they said they liked the sound of the violin or cello, chiming in that it would be a cool instrument to play. I was befuddled.

One day, out of the blue, Son 1 said he liked the sound of strings and pointed out that it would be 'interesting' to pick up the violin. 

Nope. You're not doing this to me again, I said to him and Son 2 who seemed to agree that the violin was cool. I thought, "Yeah, cool for how long?"

I must have taken them on quite a guilt trip because they never mentioned signing up for a class again. But sometimes, I would hear them listening to songs featuring the violin. At times, we walk past music stores and they would glance at the violin. I am highly perceptive that way and read the room pretty OK. 

After about two years or so of this, on their birthdays, I gave it a shot. I said I would buy them a violin if it was affordable and sign them up for classes if they were still interested

They said they were almost instantly and there you have it...violin in the house. 

When I tell family members that my boys take violin classes, they would be left gaping. Violin? Boys? Why? What happened to piano? Guitar?

Precisely. But why not?

So far, without fail and without pressure, they've been practicing their violin every single day, diligently following the rules set by their instructor. If I touched the violin, they would hover over me like a hawk and asking me not to do such-and-such to the violin because it is a very delicate instrument

So, I guess it all kind of worked out. Now, I have two boys who are clearly determined to master the violin against all odds. Life and parenting can be funny that way.

My advice to all parents out there is this: if you're going to sign your kids up for music lessons, make sure they are interested in it. The moment they lose interest in it, let them go. There's no point in pushing the issue because music and the instrument that you play deserve to be loved the same way we love the music it produces. 

I understand this because I have a musical background. If one pushed me to sing or play the piano when I had absolutely no interest in it, it would only backfire. Even if they decide later on in life that they might be interested in a particular instrument, the remnants of the past might overshadow the renewed interest.

Don't make kids hate music or the instruments they're not ready to play or enjoy. When they do, they will. 

That's just my take. 

Over and out,


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