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.