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ARCHIVE: Music is Like Life

Originally published 2/2/19


Music is like life– you are constantly making choices. Students choose their level of interest in music with the time they devote to practice. That may require their giving up other activities in order to prioritize music. We cannot force them to make that decision, only inform them as to the likely outcomes (getting a higher chair, making region or All-state, or getting a good music scholarship). Parents can exert some control, but only until their child is old enough to say “no,” which is why many students drop music at some point. I tell my high school students they need to practice two to two and a half hours each day– middle schoolers one and a half to two hours a day– if they want to become excellent violists. This is a goal or average only since school and family time requirements change each week and their actual practice time will likely be less. We can set musical goals. As a measure, I ask students to memorize pieces or play increasingly difficult scales, etudes, and solos. If a student sounds under prepared, I will close the book and ask them to play their piece from memory. It rarely needs to be done again. As teachers, we also make choices. The challenge is in being supportive without compromising our artistic standards. In today’s world, seeking excellence is an act of courage.

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