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An Unusual Method of Motivating Siblings to Practice an Instrument
I never forgot how wise parents trained their two sons to audition and to teach music as they learned how to play.
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January 6, 2018 - 11:34 pm
Member Since: December 23, 2017
Forum Posts: 1626
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I went to grade school with two brothers who were amazing on woodwind instruments.  I asked them how they became so good.

It was a matter of economics.  Their parents could only afford to pay for a single music lesson per week.  The day before the lesson, the parents would have both brothers audition what they were given to practice and the parents would cirtique their performances and decide who went to the lesson.  The son that went to the lesson would have to teach the brother the lesson and the process begun again.

Each brother practiced hard because of the competition between them.  They had no problem with performing for others since they had weekly auditions in front of the parents (and other brother).  And they had experience in teaching music (often teaching something to others is the best way to learn the material yourself).  

Obstructions makes one clever.

The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed. —William Gibson

Ferenc Simon

January 7, 2018 - 5:39 am
Member Since: September 24, 2017
Forum Posts: 252
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That's actually one of those 'kill 2 birds with 1 stone' situations, but taken to extreme levels... like... an entire flock.. haha. I really like it!

Let's just look at some of the benefits:

 - It cost them half the amount of money

 - There was constant motivation

 - The whole family was involved, which is what families nowdays lack the most: a common regular activity to bind them together.

 - Siblings had something better to do than fight all day

 - There was little chance to get 'bored' and give up on the instrument

 - Like you said, they got some experience in performing in front of others

aaand so on... I'm trying to come up with a negative here, but can't really find one, that just seems like top level parenting to me :)  


January 7, 2018 - 9:03 am
Member Since: December 23, 2017
Forum Posts: 1626
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I only negative that I could see was if one brother musically dominated the other so much that the other never got to see the instructor.  There was an age difference between the two (I grew up with the younger one) but they had to be relatively close.  I am sure that the parents secretly alternated who got to get the instructor to make sure no bad habits developed.  They were both terrific.

As I remember, they both used Selmer Paris instruments and I think they paid all or most of the cost by doing odd jobs and playing weddings (it was a different age back then).  It was a rule that one brother did not touch the other's instrument for any reason.

Obstructions makes one clever.

The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed. —William Gibson

my own little world

January 7, 2018 - 9:30 am
Member Since: July 23, 2015
Forum Posts: 1992
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That's an interesting strategy. It wouldn't work for every set of siblings, but I could see it working for some. I think my brother and I would have ended up having a good fist fight, and whoever was left standing would have gone to the lesson smiley-face-punching

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Sacramento, California

January 7, 2018 - 12:10 pm
Member Since: November 5, 2017
Forum Posts: 1295
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Wouldn't have worked in my family.

1) My younger sister got violin lessons and I didn't. The teachers my parents asked all said I was too old to ever learn to play passably when I was 13. Only one teacher was willing to take on my sister (who was 10 at the time); the others all said she was too old, and the teacher who did accept her said she was close to the upper age limit to start! (Also, she quit after two years, and I started trying to teach myself a year after that.)

2) My parents can't stand music of any kind, whether it's Mozart or Metallica. They're probably both among the 3% of the population that has musical anhedonia (total inability to enjoy music). They were willing to pay for piano and violin lessons, but insisted that my sister and I both practice only when they weren't home. They've always refused to even allow anyone to put on quiet background music in their presence.

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