Was it always like this, co-parents? Was organizing your kids’ fall and winter activities always such a gargantuan task that it would have taken Solomon himself a team of administrative assistants and a suite of spreadsheet programs to successfully complete it? By “successful” is meant “without suffering an embolism from stress and information overload”.
To be fair, I should point out that in our case, I’m not doing most of the organizing. I’ll leave that to someone more capable and methodical and less prone to stress-induced emboli. But the point is: It’s mind-boggling, metaphorically but hopefully not literally, even at a step away.
It’s worth it in the end though. Activities cost money, but the look of happy anticipation on little faces when you tell them they’re booked for four sessions of Russian semiotics plus three Ashtanga yoga sessions per week and two weeks of Calculus boot camp in October? Priceless.
I’m joking. (Anyone who puts their little mites through this should be arrested.) In this area, the main after-school activities after the holidays are swimming, slingshots, and—my favorite, and if you’re lucky, yours, too—music. Sports and scouting and whatever else is fine. Even a little Ashtanga yoga is fine in moderation. But making music is really the business.
As someone whose two puppies have been doing classical and traditional since they were six or seven, I couldn’t be more encouraging to parents to get their kids involved in music. It’s a good chunk of money, time and effort, but the payoff is infinite.
From a purely utilitarian or fiscal point of view, being able to gamble opens up the world to you. There’s hardly a secluded place on the planet that doesn’t have an Irish pub and they always need musicians for those brilliant sessions that draw the crowds.
Your kids could travel the world, from Irish pub to Irish pub, with nothing on their backs but a battered tin whistle and a change of socks.
Prefer to stay at home, maybe go to college? Making music is a far easier and better paying summer job than hauling barrels or housekeeping.
Study music theory and do the exams and you can teach – paying even better than churning out pop-rock classics in hotels and happily continuing to do so all year round. A schoolmate funded her academic career up to her PhD by coming home every other weekend to give piano lessons to kids: Beats, who stumbled half-dead through the graveyard shift at Krispy Kebabs four nights a week.
And why quit college? There’s no reason they can’t gamble for money whenever they want for the rest of their lives. I know at least two people who have temporarily turned to pub band gigs as a decent alternative when work dried up. We haven’t even touched on the many “real” full-time jobs in music: voice, instrument building, soundtrack writing, orchestra member, session player, conducting, accompaniment, sound engineer, songwriter.
Your kids could start a heavy metal band, dream of fame, crash and burn, get back to normal. But what a ride it would be on the way.
But it’s not just about the money. The real reason you should encourage them to play is because music is fun, fantastic, and transcendent. Music is the voice of God and humanity, fused, harmonious. Music is the speaking of the soul.
We’re fortunate to live in an area where music making is common among kids of all kinds and it’s just brilliant to see what it gives them: socially, culturally, everything.
The way they are transported almost physically when playing. camaraderie and friendship. The excitement of the competition. How they push each other to get better without even knowing it. The sheer joy of playing, especially together and in front of an audience, that makes all the hours of repetitive practice worthwhile.
No one in history has ever said, “I really wish my parents hadn’t made me learn music when I was a kid. I wish I couldn’t play anything right now. Curse them.”
There might – just mind you – be a few tears and tantrums along the way, but in the long run they will be forever grateful, trust me.
You might even get an effusive “thank you” on the album cover notes.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/music-can-open-up-a-world-of-opportunity-for-kids-41924407.html Music can open up a world of possibilities for children