January 25, 2006

Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit...

I discovered a new and very fun-to-read music blog: Terminal Degree.

The author is a music teacher. I discovered her thanks to this fantastic comment she left at The Phantom Professor's recently:

The unhealthy trend I see in my students is over-programming -- they try to "do it all." (I teach music privately and at a university, so my students are from age 8 to adult.) Parents will call to ask about lessons and then tell me their kids are taking soccer, ballet, karate, French lessons, and in Girl Scouts, and they now want to add music lessons to the mix. (I don't take those kids as students -- it's not fair to them to expect them to be Superkids.)

By the time they reach university, they're either burned out, OR they're so overprogrammed that they try to take 18 credits, work a part-time job, do an internship, and join three clubs, all in the same semester. Some get by on four hours of sleep.

By their junior year, they start to go a little nuts as a result.

But the irony is that by this point they are used to juggling so many things that it's hard to concentrate on just one or two priorities--because their attention spans haven't been developing all along.

I'm not really critical of my students, who don't know any better. It's their parents, who let them do so many activities when they're younger, who get my criticism. And the irony is that the parents are doing this (usually) because they want the BEST for their kids.

Luckily, some of my students' parents are resisting this trend. In one family, for example, each kid can pick one art activity (such as music) and one sport. No more. I think it's a very healthy way to live, and those kids seem to be a lot happier -- and a lot more like KIDS.

I felt that was addressed directly to my overachieving Plano, Texas strive-more crowd. In fact, the last paragraph is something my family has already done: we have severely curtailed all three kids' activities this year. No more sports this school year, and nothing extra beyond Scouting and music lessons. I know it runs counter to the "enrichment" mentality so endemic around here, but our kids seem much happier having the freedom to just paint at the kitchen table, play in the driveway, ride bikes, or read. Heck, even to watch some TV or play some video games with me. Not everything needs to be regimented and supervised.

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with the title of this blog post? To find out, go read this entertaining story of a day in the life of a music teacher. I swear that could be my second son.

Posted by JohnL at January 25, 2006 10:50 PM | TrackBack

Thanks for the link...glad you liked the post!

Posted by: termindegree at January 28, 2006 01:55 AM

That was a cute story about the little boy with gas. His private lesson teacher knew just what to do to get him back on track.

I have a friend who has three granddaughters living with her. She has them into so many things that they don't have time to breath. I really feel for those girls. When my kids were in school, I purposely didn't let them do more than two things at a time. Band at Westfield was a full time endevor anyway.

Posted by: Lucy Stern at January 28, 2006 09:31 PM

Yes, yes, yes!!

I overprogrammed myself in HS and college with no prodding from my parents. One day I was in my fourth consecutive hour of instrument practice (on three instruments, piano, horn, and classical guitar) after a full day of classes and looking forward to a long night of working graveyard in the computer lab (but only after jazz band rehearsal, concert band rehearsal, and two separate sound engineering commitments for the theater department), when I just... snapped. This goddamn Fernando Sor piece was going to kill me. I was hating music.

And then it hit me. People play music. Play.

That week I quit classical guitar lessons, scaled back my hours in the computer lab, and learned to turn up my amp to 11 again.

When my kids are old enough, you better believe they'll be getting piano lessons. But half of what they need to know is gonna come from fooling around, and I'm gonna let them.

Posted by: Johno at February 2, 2006 09:45 AM

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Posted by: xutui at February 24, 2010 12:35 PM
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