View Full Version : bummed out!

Nick Triesch
Jan-29-2004, 6:33pm
A little over a year ago my 11 year old girl started playing mandolin and learned 7 songs very well, very fast. I tried hard not to push her into playing. She seemed to enjoy it. But I was proud and asked her to play along with my guitar for a few friends sometimes. She could play songs like a place in the heart with ease. Then a little while back she said that she really did not like the mandolin like I did and that she wanted to stop. It was not the instruments. Mine are very easy to play. I think its because to practice, it just takes time out of her day. I just dont get it. Anyway, it's just a little sad. Thought I'd tell you. Nick http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Jan-29-2004, 6:38pm
Sorry to hear that Nick. You know though, sometimes father knows best. If my parents hadn't forced me to continue music when I was her age, I'd probably not be playing any instrument right now. If she doesn't get music education in school, then the only other place to get it is at home. When my little guy get sto the age, I plan on making learning some type of musical instrument a requirement. May not be a mandolin, but will be something. Perhaps its just that the mandolin isn't the instrument for her?

Jan-29-2004, 6:49pm
Look at it this way. If this is the worst thing that happens with you guys in the next, say 10 years, then you are a pretty lucky Dad. I encouraged our daughter to play the violin but she never warmed to the idea. Who knows, in time, your daughter may take another view of playing and get back to it.

Jan-29-2004, 6:54pm
As an educator, playing a musical instrument develops a part of the brain that nothing else does. It increases memory and retention. It is also a great stress reliever for kids and gives them something of their own that not everyone else can do. How about if she only has to play 10 minutes a day? Or three times a week? Chances are, she would play longer. Most kids are agreeable to a compromise as long as they are not pushed to do so much that they feel pressured or don't have time for their own interests. My kids are grown and I didn't insist on an instrumet, I wasn't playing anything at the time either. But, if I had it to do over, I would insist they play something, anything. Just don't make it some big deal to fight over. Just my 2 cents worth.

Jim M.
Jan-29-2004, 7:02pm
On the other hand, I know plenty of adults who were forced to play an instrument by their parents. As soon as they had the control, they stopped and they haven't gone near an instrument since. Mandating something to a pre-teen 11-yr. old is like trying to push water upstream. I'd recommend asking if there is any other instrument she might like to explore, and if not, let her know that you will be supportive if she wants to start the mandolin again, or try another instrument. Does she know Nickel Creek? Thile's cuteness seems to inspire some girls I know, and seeing Sarah Watkins fiddle has also inspired some. Anyway, good luck. If you don't push it, I'll bet she'll come around in a few years to see if she can pick with you again.

Jan-29-2004, 8:56pm
My daughter started to play violin around three years ago..
I admit I was pushing her and she did not enjoy it! A shame because I thought she was a natural. I left her alone for almost a year I'm guessing. Then she decided after seeing this young teacher that she'd like her as a teacher.
I went to pick her up at her last lesson and was invited in to have a listen. I was almost in tears it sounded so good.
She mostly just plays at her lessons so I dont get to hear too much.
I'm glad she has her music on her own terms.

Jan-29-2004, 11:35pm
I have a 4 and 2 year old girls...so no experience like that above yet. But, if your daughter is a natural - she may end up playing [something] sooner or later. A seed has been planted in fertile soil it seems to me.

Jan-29-2004, 11:52pm
I agree with Jim M. I don't have kids, but I was one once, a long time ago. I took piano lessons and I remember what it was like.
My opinion is...encourage your kids at every opportunity in whatever worthwhile endeavor they choose, but never push.

Jan-30-2004, 1:47am
Play in front of them as much as you can. Music as part of their lives will lead to the drive to become a part of it. Don't push them; have fun and let them come into it (and naturally encourage their first furtive moves in this direction). Its no surprise there are so many great fiddlers on Cape Breton Island...it comes from the kitchen party!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Bill James
Jan-30-2004, 8:34am
Here's my kids:

Daughter 9 yrs. Suzuki for two years, lost interest, learned to hate it. I got her into Bluegrass jamming which prolonged it a bit but eventually she stopped playing. She's adamant, has no more interest, and I'm done trying to get her to continue.

Son 13 yrs (who seldom sticks with anything) is doing very well on the guitar (electric). I don't say a word to him except encouragement. His teacher drives me nuts. He doesn't hang on technique and his demeanor is like "dude, let er' rip lets have some fun!" Go figure, it's working. I just wish I could back up with my daughter.

My take: If there isn't some fun in it, it ain't going to last very long.

John Flynn
Jan-30-2004, 9:14am
I tried to teach my daughter guitar when she was younger than your daughter is now. It was the practice that finally turned her off also. My two cents is don't push, but always keep it available to her. Make sure there is always a mando she can pick up and play when she wants to. She will likely come back to it.

I started guitar at 12, but due to a cheap guitar, bad instructor and a low attention span, I quit. I came back to it at 20 and I have been playing ever since. I know if my parents had pushed me at 12, I would have never come back.

Jan-30-2004, 9:28am
my parents forced it on me, with guitar when I was a kid. I started playing mando around 15, but was burned out on music all together by the time I was 18. now I am 28, I didnt come "back" to music until I was probably 23 yrs. so I guess thats a five year hiatus...

I like the one poster's idea. maybe 20 minutes a day. also, do you play along with her when she practises? sometimes that can make it more fun, if practise is more musical. maybe once or twice a week , have a jam session with her. I dont know. sorry just blabbing ideas.
she may burn out, but she could back to it and have the rewards of the childhood musical education.

Jan-30-2004, 11:52am
my daughter is 5 and had her 3rd weekly violin lesson tuesday. she is very intrested in learning right now and will pick up her fiddle and practice randomly each night. i don't intend on making her deviate from that. kids do have to be pushed at times, but we as parents have to be able to know when to push and when not to. my wife was FORCED to practice piano a certain amount of time each day as a child, and to this day, will not play a note on a piano.
like others mentioned, you might want to try and let your daughter practice a small amount of time each day, even if it's only 5 or 10 minutes. and if she keeps it up all week, reward her. my daughter really likes cotton candy explosion ice cream, and if she practices each night, we go out for ice cream on fridays. my fiddle teacher told me she used pay her grandkids to practice. whatever it takes to keep them intrested. just don't force her without some reward. instruments are hard enough to learn with extreme desire, almost imposible with none.

J. Mark Lane
Jan-30-2004, 12:43pm
Wow. What a bunch of diverse responses. I have strong feelings on this question, and some experience (as we all do), so I would like to offer my thoughts.

I agree that music develops a part of the brain nothing else does to the same degree. It is important. It is worth "forcing" on a child. It should be a part of their mandatory education, imo, just like reading and writing, and it will be with my children. It is also a great gift to give a child -- an understanding sufficient to allow them to create, or at least participate in the creation of, some form of music. So I am in favor of requiring some kind of music education.

How to translate that into reality with strong-willed kids is perhaps a challenge. But I do like the idea of giving them choices. There is no reason a teenage girl would particularly want to play mandolin. It's not (at least yet, at least very much) a mainstream or pop instrument. Don't try to force a kid to play mandolin, or any other particular instrument. Give them a choice. "You don't have to play mandolin, but you have to play a musical instrument. You can decide which one, but I want a decision by next week. You may change your mind, and go to another instrument later, but only after we talk and agree on what you will do." Mandatory.

Beyond that, it is important, imo, that the child like the music s/he is playing. So it is important, at some point, that they have a choice in that regard, too. "OK, you are tired of Baroque studies on piano. Then you can play some other kinds of music. Here are some options. We have Beatles music, etc etc etc. You can decide." Then get them with a teacher that is appropriate, if the existing teacher can't/won't teach what the child wants. Be flexible, change when necessary, adapt to the child's wishes, given them some say in it. But some musical study is mandatory.

(The one exception would be for a child who, despite serious effort, has a demonstrated inability to think musically, or to play anything at all. I suppose some people do just totally lack the capacity, and for them it must be just torture. But don't give up easily.)

Anecdotal: My parents started me on piano lessons at age 4. My recollection (and theirs) is that I accepted it as part of my life for a number of years. At some point, probably when I was 8-10 or so, I started rebelling. I didn't like it when my mother called out to us in the yard that I had to stop playing football with my friends because "It's time to practice your piano." (Practiced every day at a set time.) But it made me tougher <g> (at least she didn't name me Sue). And I did it because I was forced to.

My mother always said: "Some day you will thank me for this." God bless her, I have thanked her many times by now.

One thing that meant a lot at the time was that we moved my lessons away from Classical studies (all of my annual performances had been Beethoven pieces up til then), to "pop" or "rock." We (they) found sheet music that was funky stuff, and I was able to play "rock" on the piano. Cool.

Still, at around the age of 12 or 13, I simply said "No." No more. I will not do it any more. You can't make me. So... my parents said, "OK. You don't have to play piano any more. But you have to play something."

So, I picked, and they bought me a guitar. And put me in guitar lessons. The lessons were lousy (bad teachers), but somehow I persisted, off an on, over the years. It became mostly a self-disciplined thing by the time I was in high school. But by that age, I had the basic ability to think musically, and so I was prepared to move on my own. And of course, there was the world of electric guitars. Cool.

Now, at the age of 48, I have gone years at a time without touching an instrument, only to come back to it again and again. Music is the greatest gift anyone ever gave me (thanks, Mom). It has gotten me through many tough times. It has given me dreams, a creative outlet, something to believe in. Even if I never do anything but play in my living room and torture my wife, I am very very grateful that I was "forced" to study music at an early age.

There's a great book out there, I have a copy somewhere, called "How to Raise a Musical Child." Quite good. My own daughter Clare, now 22 months, already is highly musical. She has a uke, which is "Clare's 'tar." And she loves the sound of the mandolin. And she has her own "pano" (an 88 key Yamaha), which she "plays" all the time, and a bunch of other "instruments." Music will always be part of her life and education, no matter whether she likes it or not <g>.


Jan-30-2004, 12:44pm
There's always the backdoor route: forbid her to play the mandolin. No more mandolin for you deary, I'm putting it up here on the shelf in the closet, and whatever you do, don't touch it!

Neil Gladd
Jan-30-2004, 12:56pm
Neither of my parents was ever musical, but they offered my brother,sister and I a chance to study an instrument if we wanted to. My sister played the flute, and though she doesn't play any more, she met her husband in the college orchestra. I started on the trumpet and did the Herb Alpert thing for a while, but then my father brought home an old mandolin that had been in the family for decades, and the rest is history.

They never forced us to play, and I think if they had, it might have turned us against it. They offered the choice, though, and we all took the opportunity. I once had a too-young student that clearly did not want to be playing the mandolin, and it was an effort to even make him pick it up at his lesson. I finally told his mother (who had enrolled him in non-stop activities), that I thought he should stop, and didn't want to take any more of her money.

Jan-30-2004, 1:11pm
My daughter is 9. When she was 7 we offered her music lessons if she wanted them. She chose violin and we found a classical teacher who liked fiddle tunes as well. Her teacher asked for 30 minutes practice a day, 6 days a week. Since it's her teachers request, I think it removed a bit of pressure from us as her parents. We reward her every couple months with a concert, a CD or special trip. It's worked pretty good but we've had the occasional struggle. We try hard to never push it. The most important thing: She knows I love her dearly whether she plays music or not.

I go to a weekly jam and sometimes take her. It's always up to her - I usually just let her know I'm going and she often asks to go. Am I sad when she doesn't ask? Sometimes. Do I let her see that? Never. Folks at the jam are all wonderfully encouraging. Sometimes she just plays by herself in the back, sometimes she's out in front on the stage. She usually has a great time and gets a bit of attention. I owe so many thanks to the other players - some are really special and generous with their time.

Don't be sad at all about your daughter. Keep some instruments around that she can get to if she wants. Let her come and go around music as she pleases. She'll come around it when she's ready and if it's her desire. If I had enough money, I'd have a big house full of instruments and art supplies and leave them out all the time. Our job as fathers is to love our kids and raise them in the best way we can. I'm sure your situation will turn out great someday.

Jan-30-2004, 3:37pm
my children are all involved in music. 'started the oldest in suzuki but it didn't last after about 2 years she got tired of it. I'm not so sure about that method anyway(at least if the parents don't play). the middle child followed as well and stayed with it w/o as much success. I determined somewhere along the way that I wasn't raising a band here. Ane that my music wasn't necessarily theirs. I'll live my own music. They are now in band and for now that's fine. I think they'll come back to it and if they don't that's fine too. I've told em that when I die to sell that Gibson mandolin and not harbor it as some trophy to "grampa" was a wanabe. That why it is always amazing to see a family band with the kids all playing. It must be a rare thing. Kids are talented, undeveloped, independent, dependent, etc. We only want the best for them. You can lead a horse to water...

Jan-30-2004, 6:01pm
My daughters are 10 and 8, we have mandolins, violin, ukes, guitars, kazoos, harmonicas, recorders, bongos, tin whistles, just avaliable for them if they want to try them, they will try for a little while but they have not jumped in with any great excitment yet. But there can be a bright side if you look for it, just this morning I passed by the bathroom where they were getting ready for school and they were standing there singing "Amazing Grace" together, life is good.

Nick Triesch
Jan-31-2004, 1:09pm
Thanks all, Nick

Jan-31-2004, 6:24pm
I used to take piano lessons at the age of seven, I've been regreting quiting ever since. Don't let her give it up or she'll regret it...

Feb-01-2004, 2:13am
My family always has had a ton of instruments sitting around the house. I'd go along and try out instruments as I liked without any pressure at all from my parents. I really started getting into music in middle school when I joined the band, and a year or two after that I started on the banjo (I know, I know). Well, that didn't last long! Then one day my dad pulled out a little Gibson F4 that we hadn't been able to touch before for obvious reasons. The thing was flawless! I started out with a beginning mando book and haven't looked back. Having an awesome instrument really helped me out with the learning process.

Having a parent that played really kept me going too. My dad has always backed me up with his guitar and taught me what he could about music, and nowadays we still pick together. There's nothing better or more encouraging than that!

Good luck with your daughter, and she'll probably come around if you just leave her to it.

Michael Lewis
Feb-01-2004, 3:51am
Take your kids to concerts and festivals where they will see other young folks making music and having fun. They need to be inspired and have the fun part of music to look forward to. If you can make it fun for them they will respond to it eagerly. Our California Bluegrass Association has a performance spot allotted for the "Kids on Bluegrass" during our big festival at Grass Valley. Frank Solivan gathers the kids from the camps and runs them through a few practice sessions and then they get on stage to the delight of everyone. This really gets the attention of the other kids that didn't participate, then they want to do it too.

Feb-15-2004, 10:56pm
I started encouraging my daughter from about the age of 2 (she's 17 now), playing around the house and taking her to concerts and our band's gigs - at least one if not two things per week. She started playing violin, and kept it up for years until a bad teacher (at the recitals I noticed none of the students really seemed to be having fun) and a poor school music program caused her to lose interest in playing - but not in music.
She has always had access to any instrument in the house. She has started playing guitar, but won't play around me - she says I intimidate her because I play so much. She sounds good when I hear her in her room late at night, but I look forward to the time when she will play and sing with me. I'm learning a bit about patience.

Feb-16-2004, 12:14pm
My 14 year old boy plays drums and my 11 year old daughter the fiddle. Niether of them like to practice. I was told bluntly that lessons are a very expensive way to get them to practice. LOL!

I decided that I am going to make them practice at least 3 or 4 days a week. If after a year they don't start to do it on their own I'll re-evaluate the gig.

I am now 42 and my parents never made me play. I gave up the cello after a year or so. I'm disappointed that they didn't make me contiunue with it in a schooling sort of way. Now that I've tried to learn the mandolin and fiddle at age 40, I really regret not sticking with it.

In the worst case scenario you can look at it as an additional class your kids have to take. They may or may not appreciated it later in life, but at least they will have laid the ground work for when they have the choice after high school.

Every good player I know can attribute some or most of their love for their playing to a parent that forced them to stick with it when going out and playing in the street would have been more fun.

Just my $0.02


Feb-16-2004, 6:00pm
only my second post here but a subject close to my heart so here goes:
like j. mark lane (above poster) i began piano lessons at age 4 - grew to hate it but had to practice my 30 minutes before being 'let out' to play...discovered the beatles and got a guitar...parents then concerned that i practiced too much and used the guitar as a threat - get good grades or we take away the guitar.....got in the school band as a drummer...eventually got 3 degrees in music and taught h.s. band for 25years while playing clubs at night...currently teach music theory at a community college and play w/country rock group 'natchez trace'...only discovered mandolin last year and having a ball w/it....now for my opinion:
whether or not she is going to play mandolin should be her choice - whether or not she is going to play (study) music should not.....it's a proven fact that music students average higher scores on the act and sat tests, college acceptance rates are higher for music students, certain areas of the brain are developed by the study of music....
given a choice would she take math? english? - this too (music) should be a requirement of being educated....
play mando, play in the school band, sing in the school choir, take piano lessons but do something w/music - required!....i could go on and on but i'm sure you get my point by now
my 2 cents

Feb-16-2004, 8:45pm
I feel like I have a fairly relevant angle on this conversation, as I'm a 19 year old kid who recently picked up the mando of his own accord. When I was younger I started on the trumpet (pretty sure I wasn't forced, but for some reason I had to choose band or orchestra so I picked trumpet), and honestly, as cool an instrument as the trumpet can be, I never enjoyed it. The structure of the school band combined with practicing something that had no tangible benefit to me made it seem boring and pointless. Contrast this to now, when I bought myself a mando with my own cash and signed myself up for lessons at my school to learn how to play it because I wanted to play it.

While I didn't enjoy trumpet, I am thankful that I went through it because it forced me to learn at least the basics of music. If nothing else, I can read music and that's all you need to start. There have been a few times lately, however, where I've said "wow, I wish my parents had forced me to play guitar or another instrument that would be useful" since I aside from musical knowledge, I didn't take anything from the trumpet that could help in what I now want to do, which is jam and play Irish music with friends. Unfortunately, I didn't know what my real interested would turn out to be when I was 13, but I am still thankful I had any experience with music as a kid, because it's making learning the mando alot easier.

My advice is pretty close to what many others have said: she may or may not always enjoy it, but if you're careful to make sure she doesn't burn out, she'll thank you for it down the road. She may not stick with it, but if she ever gets hit with a true desire to play like I did, she'll have already built a solid foundation to expand on. Parents usually do know what's best, but kids will deny it until they can realize it for themselves. Good luck!