Pushy parents send pupils off the scale

15th December 2006 at 00:00
Mozart's father started it all. Leopold paraded his prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus around Europe, demanding that he perform before dignitaries.

According to music teachers, the pushy parent remains a formidable influence. The worst are those who live their own virtuoso dreams through their children.

Writing in Music Teacher this month, Ruth Bonetti reports that parents often sit in on lessons, punctuating them with comments, advice and hisses.

Occasionally, their body language gets positively pugilistic.

Then there are those who find it difficult to accept that their precious performer is not actually a budding Beethoven.

Ms Bonetti said those who "ring every other Sunday afternoon as we settle for a nap, to fret about whether dutiful son or daughter is making progress, or would be better discontinuing lessons".

But, for some teachers, parental enthusiasm is mere wishful thinking. Faced with questions about his lack of practice, one student responded: "Mum makes me practise in the backyard, and it's been raining all week."

Others are sent even further afield. One pupil reported: "I have to play my trumpet away from our house near the highway and truck drivers honk their horns."

But parents who insist on al-fresco practice provide children with early experience of the critical audience. One pupil said: "I have to practise in a cow field, and a cow went off its brain and chased me."

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