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Published on November 7th, 2012 | by vopro


Band “Psycho” Therapist Article 3

Last night, while out catching the BF play to a packed house, I overheard a mom ask the guitarist of the group for advice on how to inspire her 15 year old son to “do something” with his musical abilities. She was kneeling at the feet of the grizzled veteran of rock guitar saying, “He just sits in his room and plays
the guitar. I would like to see him do something more.”

Ah, yes, the age old problem of motivating our kids to practice and collaborate and thereby gain proficiency with their instrument. It is so hard to understand how he can be so lazy or isolative. The child asked for this instrument and wanted to learn how to play it. Now it sits in the corner of the closet. Or worse, he plays well and seems to enjoy it, but won’t get organized and learn to play with others no matter how much you encourage him.

You have tried reverse psychology: “I don’t care if you ever play that thing again. In fact, I want you to quit. It drives me crazy, listening to you play those scales over and over!”

You have tried setting an example: “Look at me! I can play too! What does a “C” chord look like again? Wow, I haven’t played in a long time, but then my parents didn’t care enough about me to encourage
me the way I encourage you.”

You have tried guilt: “I paid big bucks so that you could become a rock star, or at least, a respectable musician. The least you can do is show your gratitude and play the d*%n thing.”

You have tried doing the coordinating yourself: “Billy, this is George and he plays the tuba, maybe you should get out your trumpet and play together. I know, I will build a stage and you guys can put on a concert for the neighborhood!”

You have tried therapy: “I just don’t understand why he won’t play for us. Doesn’t he love us?” Parents, weep no more for I have discovered an answer. Thanks to the sage wisdom of the guitarist who was prevailed upon for the ultimate truth, there is but one solution.

Butt out!

Seriously, if the kid is gonna play he will find a way through the maze of insecurity, experimentation, and exploration all on his own. If he wants to play with others it will happen when he is ready. Making music is a very personal experience. No one wants to suck in front of others. We all judge ourselves against each other and it can be scary to bare your soul by sharing your music. It can be daunting to learn to play or sing.

I watched my own child come home from 4th grade with a trombone so excited he could barely contain himself. He went through some stages that I think may be natural for most people. First, he was immediately disappointed when he could not magically play like a pro. Then he got comfortable with it and was excited to play, but not necessarily practice. In his early teens he left the trombone behind and started to noodle on the guitar and bass. These were awkward years though, and he kept his music in
a more private space as he became more self conscious. In high school, much to my joy, he blossomed and started collaborating and creating with others in the garage and at school. He continues, in his twenties, to search for his niche, but all in all he has the musically rich life of his own choosing. Not every genre he engages is my favorite, but he enjoys it.

Some of the ways that I managed my own opinions regarding his journey mostly involved controlling my investment, both monetarily and emotionally. I reminded myself daily that his journey was not about me, and I didn’t buy him the most expensive or best equipment (no matter how much he begged). I also prepared myself to accept that he may not be interested in playing or performing. Some people are
great listeners, content to be entertained.

So when it comes to your child’s magical journey through music please follow my father’s advice: “Let him have his own head.” Trust that your child will find his own way. Control only what you can, and that is your own response.

That’s all I have for now.

The Band – Psycho Therapist

Band etiquette Rule #2: If you are not playing with or for others it is called practice.

About the Author

A dynamic performer for radio and TV, commercials, industrial audio, technical and training narration, with over 30 years experience in commercial production, radio broadcasting, management, and sales. VoPro Radio is a “Local Talent Showcase” for musicians, artists and supporters. We provide a source of information and entertainment benefiting the Twin Cities music and arts community.

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