Kids and music...Woohoo

This is a bit of a parent rant/vent so feel free not to read- I understand.
Soooo, my son is now nearly 13 (in a month).
He is going to a private school with a good performing arts program as well as good academics.
When he was in grade 3 they started doing instruments. We had him starting on piano but he never really liked it.
With the school program I steered him towards viola as everyone and their canoe plays violin (and a scholarship is more likely).
Fast forward a bit and he turns out to be very talented musically, he gets a scholarship with the addition of saxophone.
He gets A+ on music exams with viola but Cs on Sax. He also gets solo sax spots in school performances and is able to make up his own solos rather than need to be given one.
Trouble is he says he never really liked viola (despite crazy talent). Two Set Violin did traumatise him with their viol jokes at one point.
Now he has given up viola, wants to play guitar next year and has added tenor sax to alto.
The school has agreed to this and have supplied him with a tenor which he will double on.
Trouble is now he is so obsessed with guitar he is not keeping up his Sax chops over the holidays and it is becoming an issue (trying not to fight but hard not to). He is using my guitar and I have one for him for Xmas I am using as a carrot.
Why is this a problem?
He is like me, he has a lot of natural abilities in regard to picking up skills but this means that it is easy to sail through the easy stages and ignore fundamentals til it gets too late and becomes a problem later.
I recognise I am living my musical life through him a bit as my parents never gave me this much musical opportunity.
Like I said this is a rant.
What would I like to see?
I would like to see him develop both instruments, I would like to see him listen to a lot of different music and learn (I regard listening to music as a form of practise also as it develops the ears and vocab).
Like I said he is crazy talented and putting in the work will only improve this, he is also 13 and if I push I will destroy it.
Thanks for persisting if you got this far.


Theory is boring to most people especially young kids, fortunately we are at the age of nerds when they are ready they’d geeked it out. Our job is simply keep it interesting for them.

The 2 things I want my kids to do besides good grades are golf and bass but I can’t really force feeding them so I have to soft sell the idea. Needless to say if any or all choose to play bass they already have collection of choices.


Agree with all that, I’m not even putting any theory to him, but I do say that he will need scales etc eventually.

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As my dear old mother is fond of saying (she had four boys (poor her!)

Children will come to you for two things in life. Money and advice. And they always take the money.

I don’t have children but I was a child. I never wanted to listen to my father. Now finally at 52 I can say ‘Yeah he was right about some stuff’

Kids are jerks, because they have all this potential but they don’t have the maturity to understand it yet.

Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world - and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children.


I can barely deal with managing my own life, much less being responsible for another one.


I hear ya man.


I mainly don’t want to repeat my father’s mistakes with me- trying hard not to become him, sometimes I fail.


My daughter is a natural singer she’s learning all kinds of techniques I’m surprised. I remember teaching her some vibrato technique and that’s it, she can sing and she’s not shy, lol. She learn a few songs, well more like phrases but never really got further. One of these days I’ll sit down and learn the songs she likes and play along.


You’re in a tough spot, @Gloucestre, being a parent is like being a teacher and a friend. What you have here is a question of choices and boundaries. Try telling your son stuff like “I say this as a…” either “parent” or “friend.”

I usually struggle with being too permissive/avoidant as a teacher. When I started, this led to big surprises when I enforced rules after all. So, my recommendation is to set up clear demands from the start, and only ever gradually escalate things.

Compare the following:

  1. Mr. Antonio is nice all term and then hits you with a D+ in the exam. You hate him, this is all his fault. He could’ve, should’ve …

2*. Mr. Antonio tells you to study, shows you where you sucked in a test, and made you study so the grade feels like a hard earned achievement, not a disappointment.

The Christmas gift as a carrot might not be a great idea if there are no clear steps before it. Set a few milestones (clear objectives to be delivered at a specific date) that your son has to achieve and support the journey. Otherwise, he’s going to “get on by” on his talent and just wait it out until Christmas. And if Christmas rolls around and you say “no guitar for you”, you should follow it up with “you can get it later, just keep at it” or whatever.

Happy parenting - be strong!

*Of course, no. 2 is my wishful ideal, some students never learn or study and are still mad at me. Boundaries and fair play lead to great relationships.

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He knows he is getting the guitar, I have asked him to do some lessons online and some courses I have-which he is doing and he will get it.
I also want him to do his sax practice tho- he says he has nothing set to practice.
I have given him one of my Jazz fake books- in Bb and also a Beatles song book to look at.

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When I first became a parent to a pair of twin boys back in the early ‘70’s, I remember looking at one and thinking to myself,… “This one’s gonna grow up and become a Pope…!!” I then looked at the other one and thought to myself,… “This one’s gonna grow up and be President of the United States…!!”

By the time they were teenagers in High School, I remembered looking at the two of them and thinking to myself,…. “As long as they both graduate and don’t end up bums…!!!…”

By the time they were both in their twenties, I remember praying to God and saying,…. “Please, just keep ‘em outta prison…!!”

“Expectations”,…… Hmmm….


Agreed, with everything you wrote. Dad’s gone, but the mug I ordered my mom for Christmas. (Etsy: $8.99). (Yes, I remembered to put my name Barney).


I hear you 100%.
As a private music teacher of all ages and then as a jazz band teacher in high school, and as someone who was good at bass in elemetary and high school and studied bass and majored in it in college…

The dude needs a band. He needs to find some people that have nothing to do with parents or Academia and have everything to do with hanging out, playing music, getting gigs and playing music for fun.
He’s following his skills and his ears and his heart to instruments which is ideal.
Hopefully he’ll find a band.

The idea of music as a vehicle for scholarships or for a profession is path for only the most dedicated or the most foolhardy.
He doesn’t sound like either of those things right now, but it sounds like he loves to play.

If music is his and not the school’s or yours, it will be a different animal. He’ll have things to practice and work on because it is for him and his music and his band.
Putting that band together or finding those friends is something he’ll have to do.
But that would be the best thing, I think.


that’s right :skull:

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Way I see it, your kid is interested in music, so you’re a winner. Viola doesn’t attract girls. Guitar, that’s cool. Cool is very important as a teenager. Support him, it’s more important that he’s playing something. He’s a teenager, count your victories.

And help him find a band so he can play his post new age emo hip hop. Or whatever he’s into.

But kids will be kids. When my sisters daughters were teenagers, she once asked me to have a daughter so that there would be a little girl who would listen to her because her daughters didn’t.

And checkout Unlucky Morpheus, melodic speed metal with violin.


Always good advice. Castlevania Metal!


I can’t talk for others, but I rather let my kid decide what he wants to do. You can guide and advice, but there is no point in letting him do something he doesn’t want to do. In my experience forcing someone always has the opposite effect.

IMO there is way too much parental pressure on children these days.


I do agree, we didn’t get in into music just for a scholarship as that only covers lessons.
He is a naturally talented an musical kid (I say kid but he is as tall as me now).
His mum is Asian and I come from a musical family so there is that .
He is also in a number of school ensembles and gets the chance to solo.
With guitar, his best friend plays bass so I guess they just need to find a drummer


This is best case scenario!
I played bass, my friend played guitar, and before we got together one day I was hanging out playing basketball with my neighbor/best friend.
I told him he should learn drums.
He did.
We were a band for like 10 years, and still all best friends.


My wife’s boys were talented. She had them take piano lessons. They hated the piano. Youngest picked up guitar and was very good, but he sure resented being forced to take piano. I think piano is good to know for theory and stuff but if the kid doesn’t want to learn it then forcing them is only going to make them resent it. I had a buddy who’s kid raced motocross from the time he was about 4. He was turning 16 and about to turn Pro and had a promising career when he decided he was tired of being forced to do this all the time, so he quit just before going full time Pro. You can give them the opportunity but you can’t force them to take it.