Jack or Master?

I am a proponent of children focusing on one activity as opposed to jumping from one kind of lesson to another (last month, karate, this month, golf). I have two kids who tell me they are grateful for their expertise on violin and would not have it any other way.

But I wanted to ask other children their thoughts. This week, I quizzed 90 students. The most passionate answers came from children who have been taking lessons in something since they were three, or four, or five. They are proud to say that at age eleven, they have six, seven or even eight years of experience in dance or gymnastics or violin.  They hold their skills dear to their hearts. One sentiment kept coming up: “My (activity) is part of who I am.”

Students who have started and quit various activities gave lukewarm responses, “Yeah, it might be good. But I like that I know how several things work. I don’t know. I suppose it might feel good to be really good at something.”

I am not sure this is a one-size-fits-all practice. Perhaps some children have a bigger need for exploration and experimentation. However, I do know that perseverance and mastery require a lot of hours. Through competitions, auditions and practice, young people learn how to handle disappointment and setbacks. They open themselves to “failure” and they become resilient. They gain confidence.






2 thoughts on “Jack or Master?

  1. Caroline, I was given piano lessons beginning at age 4. I am grateful that I learned to read music, and probably created neural pathways to learning other languages. However, I loathed practicing an hour a day, was traumatized by recitals, competitions, etc. Looking back, I realize that my mother (whose family was too poor for her to take lessons) did it for love of her only daughter & to live vicariously through me. I had no particular talent, besides well-trained ear. My teacher died when I was 13. I was allowed to stop lessons. With no little relief.

    Would I do it over? Maybe. Especially if I’d been given the chance to choose my own instrument.

    So there’s my more than 2 cents worth. I’m many decades older than your eleven year olds. I’m enjoying ready your blog.

    Love, Susan

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Susan, thank you for your response. You’re so consistent with feedback and I really appreciate it! I believe that the child’s input is CRITICAL! You cannot force your child to take something on (especially to fulfill your own dreams). Josie and Ava chose violin after being exposed to several instruments. They begged me for lessons for a week. I made it clear that it was a serious undertaking. They agreed to take it seriously – at the ages of five and six.


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