Friday, October 5, 2007

Girls, Drums, Fathers.

Allow me to tell you about a situation about which I'd love some opinions. It's to do with my 13 year old daughter and drumming, two things I'm rather fond of.

The 13 year old, I'll call her "A", has been learning the drums for a few years now. She has a huge mother of a bucketload of natural talent, unlike her Father, before anyone else says it. She plays in a couple of bands at her all girls' school and could go quite far with her playing if she wants to.

She loves the recognition that she gets from playing in bands. At her school she's known as the drummer girl, although there are a few others who play too. Her drum teacher, a good friend of mine who taught me as well, thinks she's got genuine talent and potential.

Being her Father and a drummer means that I am probably the least objective person in the world about her ability behind the drumkit. I think most parents are wary of trying to live out their dreams through their children yet we also can't help but want our kids to realise their potential.

The problem I have?

"A" hates to practice the drums. She loathes it. She loves the back slapping when she does a gig, she loves to play with other people, she even enjoys her lessons. But, getting her to practice is painful and nearly impossible, like one of Sach's piercings.

Her ability, and I apologise if it sounds as if I'm blowing my own trumpet, which would be weird in a post by me, a drummer, about my daughter's drumming I grant you, is such that she can do a minimum of practice yet still understand and do well in her lessons, even thought the lack of practice is evident. When she has to learn something for a school concert she manages it easily. I guess being surrounded by drums and drummers helps.

But, in the context of having lessons and doing the necessary workload in her own time, she just isn't interested. I'm uneasy about this. If there's one thing I'm uncomfortable about in life, apart from farting in a small room and deciding whether to run or stay, it's seeing wasted talent.

I also don't want to force her to go for lessons if she won't put the workload in. So far there's been no strict rule in place, I haven't come down hard with a big stipulation that she has to beg before I book more lessons, but I'm also not the sort to book lessons and force her along. As a kid that's what happened to me with piano lessons and I never really feels it's appropriate to make a child do something if they're not interested.

Yet to call her not interested is not strictly correct either. She likes the lessons, she learns and improves in them but, by hardly practicing, she doesn't progress at the pace she could.

Currently I've told her that I'll book some more lessons as soon as she really wants me to do so. I might have shot myself in the arse as it were, in that we've reached a bit of a stalemate, or one of those catch 23s.

So children, parents, drummers or those who are none of them, what would you do if you were in my position?


Java Jones said...

Hey man, she’s 13 and getting lots of new and other stuff happening in her head and bod, so give her a break and let her go with the flow. Remember how late it was in your life that you really got into it?

Anonymous said...

SHOT YOUR ARSE...i guess..

yours truely

Indyana said...

RD:I think you should let her enjoy the fun of playing and performing, at this stage. It looks like A is focussed on that right now, given her age.But, surely, as she grows she will ant to polish her skills with more practice, as she herself will want to be her best.Just wait and watch for cues, such as dissatisfaction with her own performance, and use that to encourage her to get it right by doing some practicing.She'll be fine!

Confab said...

i guess at this age, she's not gonna be one to listen to stern advice bet is to leave it as it is and let her take it from there. she knows she's got talent. now she needs to manage it. u've done well by getting her this far. now unfortunately, u need to cut loose and leave it to her.

(wow...don't i sound cool)

T said...

just based on watching my sister grow up, id say the harder you push a kid, the more she'll be reluctant to commit. but when you back off, she's all over it. reverse psychology and all that.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Java - I know, but I'm trying to balance that with the fact that I wish I'd started earlier too.

Sarongtroubleshooter - your commetn leaves me puzzled but it's always good to hear from you.

Indyana - Thanks, that's wise advice.

R said...

I'm not a parent so a little blurry about the implemenation but I've been covering education a lot and'll let you in on some deep dark secrets..;-)

People tend to learn from both sides of the brain. So you have to address both left and right sides.

To address the left side:
You have to see what kind of a left brainer your daughter is.
Is she a "what" person, "why" person, "how" person, or a "what-if" person. To give you some examples; a "what person" is someone who is more concerned on what drumming is, and what sorts of drumming there are and so on. Much like a conceptual drummer, who wants to know where drumming fits in this universe. A "why person" is someone who asks why should I drum, and there by feeling secure that it's ok to drum? A "how person" is someone who is more concerned with the actual technique of how to drum. (May geeks, engineers and technicians are "how people"). The "what-if drummer" is someone who thinks what if drumming was mixed a piano, what if drumming could be used to cure cancer, etc, etc.

So find out what kind of left brain person your daughter is, by seeing how she reacts to situations and build upon that.

To address her right brain;

You have to take in all her emotional needs. As Java said she might be having a lot of stuff on her mind, so take that all into account, and try to make drumming a form of emotional expression for her. If it's possible. :-)

The right side of the brain also loves creativity. So if you can figure out a way to think out of the box of lessons, and move into a wild and maybe derranged attitude of learning, it might pick on.

The age 13 is a very critical age. It's the age where children want to be independent from their parents conciously, but uncocoiusly they yearn for their parents love and support. So you might want to give her some space, while keeping the unconditional love intact.

All these techniques can be used because I'm sure that A has both sides of her brain intact. But check whether what part of her is more sensitive and maybe, just maybe, she'll respond.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

r - thank you for that very long and thought out comment, I'll try to take your advice and put it to use.