Short term v. long term

Connie Sunday said: May 2, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I’m reading the Stars’ To Learn With Love: A Companion for Suzuki Parents. Connie Star mentions that, in Japan, it is the norm (or at least it was during the time frame to which she’s referring) that Suzuki violin students often worked through their training with the success that this program is known to foster, and then when they began to enter or prepare for high school, their training usually gracefully came to a close, having achieved what they wanted to achieve in terms of their personal development.

This is very different thinking than my own (not to suggest it is wrong, and I’m right, or the other way around). But I usually don’t think in terms of, studying music is a way of developing the person only, I generally always think more in long term, than they should play in youth symphony, and major or at least minor in college, and play at some level as an adult.

Mrs. Star does mention right away, though, that in the US things are quite different than Japan; in Japan the competition for high school and college is so intense that there is usually no time for practice except for those individuals who plan to play and teach professionally (become Suzuki teachers themselves, she says). And she also very accurately (still, to my mind) says that in the US there are more opportunities to play as an adult in medium-level orchestras, chamber music, etc.

I guess I’m stating the obvious, but it does seem there are two general perspectives: (1) the training is a “good” in itself, even if totally abandoned in the teen years; and (2) studying music can be long term training with the focus of preparing for performance as an adult.

I enjoy starting students and I enjoy working with four and five year olds, but I enjoy it more when after four or five years, they move into more advanced literature. The progess of the 4-5 year olds does not, without Suzuki methodology which involves the mother to a great deal, work out very well.

As a result, I’m stuck in between the two perspectives. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

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said: May 2, 2006
 32 posts

I have to strongly disagree with the sentiment that we should be hoping/thinking that our students should “major, or at least minor” in music. I actually almost never encourage a student to major in music unless they bring it up or I really see that this is something I think they could do and enjoy. Music is a wonderful wonderful business, don’t get me wrong, but I do not teach with the goal of creating symphony players—I want my students to become beautiful, sensitive people with a love of beauty that they can pass on to their children—I would love to see all of my students continue to play, and I do hope that they will continue their musical education throughout their lives and find venues to use their talent—but that certainly does not mean that they have to study it in college!!! I have several students who have gone on to major in pre-med, philosophy, English, ect. and I do not consider any of them lesser musicians for it—they all use their music in different ways and are carrying their joy of learning music to other disciplines.

Connie Sunday said: May 3, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I completley agree with you. I do tell students that they don’t have to major in music, but here is the key difference from many programs: more than probably 2/3 of my students are from impoverished backgrounds. Their parents really cannot make the financial sacrifices they are making unless they feel that this will have a direct bearing on their child’s chance to get into university, get some sort of scholarship, and thus, enter into the white collar profession.

It’s a wonderful thing when middle class parents bring their kids to lessons with the idea that this experience will heighten their characterological development on many levels. I totally agree with the value of doing that. But what I’m referring to is a somewhat different thing, I believe. I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

Aunt Rhody

…and I do hope that they will continue their musical education throughout their lives and find venues to use their talent—but that certainly does not mean that they have to study it in college!!!.

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said: May 3, 2006
 104 posts

It’s odd because I actually think that having a goal like winning a scholarship is the short-term goal. To me, the long-term benefit of music education is what happens to a person when he studies music WITHOUT regard to whether he chooses music as his profession.

I’m not an impoverished parent so I have no idea about the motives of such parents, but it seems to me that if you are hoping to have your child find their way out of poverty, music might not be the best investment—even a musical genius like Mozart remained impoverished and in debt.

Connie Sunday said: May 5, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

>> I’m not an impoverished parent so I have no idea about the motives of such parents, but it seems to me that if you are hoping to have your child find their way out of poverty, music might not be the best investment—even a musical genius like Mozart remained impoverished and in debt.

That’s true, but if I understand music history, the reason Mozart was less than successful financially was that he attempted to succeed as an independent, freelance musician and the times were not quite ripe for that. The Industrial Revolution and the development of a middle class did not develop in time for Mozart to benefit, though if only he had lived, the story would probably have been different.

Haydn worked under a patronage system and was treated like a servant most of his life, wearing servant’s livery and reporting to his Prince. Haydn was only released from this servitude in the later part of his life, when he escaped both the Prince and Mrs. Haydn to go to London, where he wrote all those gorgeous symphonies. Beethoven, on the other hand, was entirely free, was a sharp businessman, and managed his own financial affairs very successfully.

In our culture at the present time there is something called an “orchestra scholarshipâ€

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said: May 5, 2006
 122 posts

Are you talking about Texas universities? As I understand, Texas funds it’s higher education very well. But most other states don’t and scholarships are being cut left and right while tuition is being raised. The many colleges and conservatories I looked at barely had scholarships, and most of the colleges only offered scholarships to music majors. Federal financial aid is a joke now.

I agree with profcornelia and believe education is the way out of poverty. I believe strongly in educating kids in music to a high level so they excel in academics and life, but honestly I wouldn’t push a student into music to get financially ahead. Most musicians barely keep their head above water.

I couldn’t be in this profession if my only goal was to produce high level musicians. The ‘higher purpose’ of creating high level people is what keeps me going. Yes, my students play well and I want them to have the training to pursue music if they want, but that is not my ultimate goal.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Connie Sunday said: May 5, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

From the people I’ve talked to, there are still budgets with orchestra scholarships, and not just in the state of Texas.

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said: May 5, 2006
 104 posts

The problem with studying music from the earliest stages with the goal of winning a scholarship is that the education is judged a failure if the student doesn’t eventually win the scholarship. Again, I”m really just focusing on your original message—that you have parents who bring their children for music lessons and that the only way they can justify the sacrifice is if it will have a “direct bearing on their child’s chance to get into university, get some sort of scholarship, and thus, enter into the white collar profession.” I just don’t see how this can be the measurable outcome for a parent bringing you a five-year-old child!

Recently, I listened to a parent tell me that he is going to sign his child up for a lessons in a particular sport, and hope that the child excels and will eventually win a scholarship. To me, this is foolishness. It is one thing to introduce your child to music or sports, and then encourage them along the way and provide reinforcement; it is entirely a different matter to sign them up with the idea that “this is going to be their ticket to a free ride at university.”

I know that there are financially successful musicians—but if a parent’s goal is to elevate his child’s socioeconomic status, he’d be far better off to put all his efforts towards pre-selecting a lucrative career path and drilling the child in academics. It’s not what I personally would do, but if the parents are coming to you with an economic goal, I would recommend that they put their money toward math and science tutoring. Incidentally, the skilled trades are a neglected and high paying field, too. Plumbers, mechanics, electricians, these used to be the jobs for people who wouldn’t or couldn’t go to college—but these days those jobs earns $70-$100 per hour. If you aren’t playing music for the love of it, there just isn’t any point. Choose plumbing (with all due respect for plumbers!) as a career.

said: May 6, 2006
 44 posts

My 18 year old daughter is planning to major in viola performance. She has been playing violin and viola since the age of four. I estimate that in her 14 years of study, I have paid over $25,000 for lessons. She has attended a Suzuki institute and/or chamber music camp every summer for another $9000. She owns a $6,000 viola and a $2500 violin—and will need to upgrade her viola soon if she wants to play professionally. She was offered a full tuition scholarship to a private (Texas) university which she did not accept. The school that she will be attending offered her $1000/yr. I figure I would be WAY ahead if I had just invested the money I put into lessons in the stock market. She could have majored in anything she wanted and had money left over. In fact, I could have just put the above $42,500 under my mattress and paid for 4 years of a (Texas) public university. However, we do music at our house because we love music and want our kids to appreciate and love music, not have music as a career. Probably almost every major patron to the arts remembers their piano, violin, voice lessons fondly and appreciates the hard work and effort required of the professional musician. This is what an arts education is for—not a scholarship.

Lynn said: May 6, 2006
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
173 posts

Where did I read an article about a survey of Julliard graduates and what they were doing? Sadly, many did not go on to have economically viable careers teaching and performing music….

Music school is trade school, but the outcome is more like the state lottery than medical school, law school or the local Vo-Tech when it comes to pay-off. The very lucky few hit it big; some take home more than than they pay out—and acutally manage to recoup some of their parent’s inital investment; many many just kind of break even doing what probably in not as grand as the initial outlook; and the rest realize that it just costs too much. Look at the vast difference in what a well-tended musician receives at home and at school, where his efforts are given a lot of support, attention and reinforcement, and what he encounters when he is finally “launched”! The ones who choose to stick with it and find a way do so because they just can’t NOT do it—but it is not at all easy.

Any parent who brings their child for music lessons with pie-in-the-sky notions about the future needs a major reality check: both in terms of what the economic climate/reality is for those in the performing arts, and just how many programs there are out there doing exactly this—or exactly this only better! Far far better, I think, is rather than trying to position them for opportunities that may or may not exist by the time they arrive, identify the qualities and characteristics that the younster will need to be able to identify and go after his own opportunities, and focus on cultivating those. The results for the child will be much healthier.

said: May 8, 2006
 122 posts

This weekend I had a 13 year old, 7th grade student tell me her mother is having her take lessons so she can get a scholarship to college. She started violin in a school orchestra 4 years ago and this is her first time in private lessons-I’ve had her for about 4 months. She is currently at the beginning of Book 2 and is doing major remedial technical work.

Yes, if she really dedicates herself to practicing she may get to a high enough level to get into college as a music major. She really enjoys music, but it’s not like she’s practicing 3 hours a day because of her sheer love of it. She’s doing about 45 minutes and is doing all her assignments on a daily basis. If I compare her to my students who start at age 3 or 4 who are in Book 2 when they are 5 or 6 years old, does this kid really have a shot at winning a college scholarship? Maybe, maybe not. If I viewed this as my main reason for teaching I would consider this 13 year old a failure. But I don’t-I hope this kid, like all my others, learns to love music and take joy in the process.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Rebecca said: May 14, 2006
23 posts

All this money talk seems so cynical to me!!

ARS GRATIA ARTIS—-—-—-—-—-—- -

The idealist in me would like to say, that it makes no difference what career plans might be or not be, or what financial situations are. Music should be studied, period. If a student truly wants to quit, let them quit. If they want to stick with it, and keep learning, then keep fostering them! To me, it makes no sense to just stop because one is graduating to a new level of schooling. No one is saying you have to start styling yourself for big-time symphony and university auditions if you merely keep taking violin lessons. If Juilliard students aren’t all in the music field, I don’t see that as so bad. They are (hopefully) beauitful, educated musicians out there in the world—doing whatever they are doing infused with artistic sensibilities. Sometimes the cost of a musical education can be maddening/saddening!!! But it’s an investment in the musician. Any investment in the musician is good. It also seems to me that even the most impoverished would find music to be an uplifting and worthwhile investment—how could it not be? (Remember in Shawshank Redemption AND Life is Beautiful, when the opera got played over the loudspeakers and everyone was stunned by its beauty??)

…sigh. That’s the idealist in me speaking—you all know—and I’m aware that practicalities exist. That’s why music is definitely not the career for everybody—because some are just not cut out for the (often) piece-meal, gig-by-gig, teaching plus playing plus church job, lifestyle. I think some find music their calling, and so put up with the downside. Others cherish music their whole lives, while raking in the big bucks in real estate! I don’t see either way as right or wrong. There are as many ways for music to be a part of one’s life as there are people.

OK! THat’s enough sermonizing from me!! Sorry! :)

“Life without music would be a mistake.” -Nietsche

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