Practice Makes Parents Happy

Lessons for me were a misguided and misinformed experience...

In fact, I hated practicing so much, that unless the trumpet was assembled and on its stand, I simply wouldn’t bother.

It was purely through years of my parents’ persistence: taking me to lessons, waiting in the car outside, band practice, orchestral rehearsals, exams etc, that I finally achieved my Grade 8 (Merit).

Not long after, I gave up the trumpet and started playing the saxophone. I was lucky to be involved in a few ensembles which, combined with some inspiring teachers, encouraged me to seek out recordings, transcribe great solos, improvise, and find my own style and sound.

Believe it or not, it was not until I started college that I understood the practical applications of the theory that had escaped me until then.

  • Scales and arpeggios as a source for writing music
  • Major and Minor tonality as a tool to provide emotion
  • Phrasing and dynamics to create dramatic movement
  • Dissonance and resolution to create tension and release
  • Modulation to develop interest and variety
  • Melodic variation to tell a story
  • Rhythmic figures to support lyric content

I’ve learnt an immeasurable amount from various teachers and practitioners over the years, but the majority of my learning has been the guidance and the encouragement to know what and more importantly, how to listen.

Students regularly practicing, engaging and improving = Parents Happy

It goes without saying that if your child is enjoying his or her practice, then you will go to great lengths to support them any way you can, and ferrying them to orchestral rehearsals, lessons and so on wouldn’t be a problem. However, if there’s no connection with the teacher and the material being taught, then he or she is not going to want to play their instrument and the social aspect will become foggy and tiresome for all concerned.

I’m talking in relation to mainly the ‘lost’ student, the creative and sensitive child and not necessarily the more diligent, perhaps more academic student who will thrive at the challenge of grades and competitions, and who will be motivated by purely the sense of achievement.

As I write this, my daughter is 3 years, and won’t let me near her when she’s banging on the piano. Hell would indeed have to freeze over before she let me show her where middle ‘C’ was!!

That of course might never change, and those of you that have already gone through this, will be gesticulating right now how this will continue into her teens, but that’s ok. We need to lead by example, to give them the opportunity to acquire different skills, and nurture them when the time is right.

My daughter might very well become a mechanic (hopefully a Doctor), and that’s also ok, as long as she experiences in some way the beauty and pleasure that art and music can provide, and how they can stimulate other areas of her life, and inspire her to become a well rounded, loving, forgiving, empathetic, passionate and wise human being.

Then I’ll be happy...