March 10th, 2008

classic cylon

forcing ones children to play an instrument

Not a good idea, according to Niniane Wang, an engineering manager at Google. In general, I don't have a problem with this; parents shouldn't force their children to do something they have no real interest in. However ...

It is difficult, especially with a young child, to determine whether or not struggling with an instrument is an indication of non-interest, or just a lack of experience, and/or expectations being set too high by the parents. Not everyone is going to be a four-year-old Mozart. OTOH, starting early in lots of things (not just music) is helpful in developing expertise. (This said by a person whose parents wouldn't have had to force him to play – they couldn't keep me off the piano if I'd had one and the opportunity to take private lessons.) It's a lot harder to develop expertise when you are an adult, simply because in most cases, you don't have the time to sit down every day and practice in depth, covering a number of areas – technique, sight-reading, improv, memorization, etc. When you're a child, you've got more time to practice, especially if your parents have set aside that time for you.
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