Last week, a friend of mine called to inquire, said that her friend’s daughter was having difficulties in her piano lessons, could she come and talk to me. After I told her okay, a certain lady did call me up, we talked about what’s happening in her daughter’s life, “My daughter had performed outstandingly in the competitions in the past, and recently, she’d met a fork in the road, couldn’t perform as well as she’d wanted to, but didn’t know how to get beyond it.” The mother said, the instructor suggested she be sent to another teacher, to get another way of educational methods, and ask me to recommend someone.
“Before I give you a recommendation, let me ask you a question”, I said, “Is your daughter interested in piano, or music?”
“She’s interested in piano, she doesn’t have the habit of listening to music.”
“Doesn’t she attend the piano performances or recitals?” “She needs to prepare for her tests, don’t have time to go.”
“Then, the answer is all too clear. If your daughter took up Chinese calligraphy, she’d used the techniques, the strokes to write, but didn’t understand the meanings of the words she’s writing, she doesn’t feel a connection to the words, do you think, she’ll be able to write wonderfully? In other words, even IF she’d been excellent in the technical front, she doesn’t understand the music she’s playing, and is unsure of what she’s trying to express in playing, and is unclear of the purpose of other people’s music-playing, how can she NOT met that fork in the road?”
Can someone just take up an instrument, but NOT learn the music, and NOT liking it? Of course, that, is your personal choice, even though, it would be a total shame—a ton of parents want their kids to take up an instrument, with the focuses other than just the techniques, for instance, to get the child to have better work ethics, to train the child to think rationally, to increase one’s own ability to feel, etc., etc., etc. But, NO matter how wonderful these added qualities are, the most directly related to playing an instrument is still learning the music and appreciating it, and, you can’t equate learning an instrument with learning music at all.
If the purpose of taking up a musical instrument is NOT to become a professional, then, you must NOT overlook the importance of music appreciation. With the child’s classes getting heavier and life getting busier, after letting practice slide for some time, the songs the child was able to play so very well when s/he was younger, may NOT sound so flowing after the child grows up and play it again, and, the child might not even want to play it again. Which means, that what the parents put in, the money, the time, the energy, they’d only gotten the child’s ability to play the instrument, wouldn’t that be costly, and such a shame too? But, the thought of musicality and appreciation, can independently exist, outside of the ability to play an instrument, and, it would be something that spans across the lifetime. And, since it’s an investment, the smart parents should make it long-term, to have the children learn to appreciate music and play a musical instrument, so, the child will carry both forth in one’s life.
And this, would be the problem of traditional Chinese parents, they want their kids to be excellent in the techniques of something, but NOT allowing the child to truly appreciate the thing that they’re FORCING on to their offspring, and that’s just the WRONG way of teaching the kids, and, IF you forced your kid to sit in front of that sheet music, that piano for TWO hours every day, what do you think you’ll get in the end? A kid who came to truly appreciate the value of her/his music abilities, or, just a kid who’s sitting for those two hours, and NO MORE, because mommy and daddy made me?