The gal who wrote it had a child who wouldn’t stop banging on the piano. Robin Schader drove 50-some miles to the nearest academic town for her daughter’s advanced music lessons. She called it The Drive. Sound familiar?
Eventually, Schader opened a not-for-profit student musician’s house in the academic town to house her kid and others like her nearer to the conservatory. Schader also became involved in researching these driven kids and their parents.
Here’s what Schader writes about the parents who sent their children to stay at Music House:
Broadly speaking, we learned that the majority of these parents regarded music lessons as a benefit to their child’s development in multiple ways: enhancing academic learning and discipline while building awareness of the rewards of practice, as well as enriching aesthetic appreciation. Few indicated their investment was made with expectations of a career in music.
The combined experience of working with Music House parents and the subsequent research with [researcher] David Dai demonstrated that there are things parents can do and things parents clearly can’t do. They can’t make professional musicians of their children, nor make them love music, but they can help them gain several valuable life skills through music training.
Schader writes about a later study she did with Professor Sally Reis of the University of Connecticut’s Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Schader and Reis interviewed nearly 400 female former Olympians about their training and experiences.
Schader specifically researched the role the Olympians’ believed their parents played in their athletic success. Here’s what she found:
Interestingly, although the elite athletes acknowledged several external factors as contributors to their success (including the various roles played by parents), ultimately these elite athletes perceived the primary factors to be in their own hands. In their views, perseverance, practice, and personal characteristics were paramount.
When I first read those sentences I thought: Really? All that drive time and gas money and still Mom and Dad aren’t that big of a deal?
Then I thought: Wait. That’s a good thing.
This means that those successful kids, those musicians and athletes, aren’t doing it for Mom and Dad: they’re doing it for themselves. They’re in control and they’re reaping the enormous benefits that come with success: self-esteem, discipline, goal-setting, and independence.
I’m really glad that most Moms and Dads willingly drive their kids ridiculous distances to far-off places at all hours of the day and night. When they get to the rink, the conservatory, or wherever, these parents move to the back seat and let their talented kids drive the rest of the way – wherever they’re headed.
Schader, R. (2009) Parents, Kids, and Pianos. Teachers College Record, http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15476, Date Accessed: 2/23/2009 11:35:25 AM