Need musical advice for my kid

JazzDrumGuy

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Sorry in advance for the long post. As some of you know my 11 y.o. dude has played acoustic guitar for nearly 4 years now with a youth guitar group. They've played festivals, concerts, etc. and he has sung in front of crowds of 1,000+ people. No stage fright or issues! So in 2018 he decides he wants to also learn piano. He's been taking lessons weekly and after about 6 mos, the teacher said he was the best student she has. Last year, out of the blue, he said he wanted to try the trumpet. He now is the head trumpet player in his school band. He is in both concert band and was chosen by the teacher to be the lead jazz guitar in the jazz band (booting out the "regular" guitarist).

Not to brag, but he has some serious musical skills. He hears a song and can sit down and play it on the piano. He heard Freebird a few months ago on the radio and within a few days, he was sitting down playing the melody on piano while playing the lead solo on trumpet...at the same time! He sits at the piano and plays instrumental stuff that is so out there. Now, he is going into 7th grade and wants to play percussion as he thinks it would be cool - like drums? No, like xylophone or concert bass/snare! So concert band (percussion), jazz band (guitar) and also wants to join the after school jazz combo (trumpet). This is all in addition to piano lessons (Wed.) and the guitar class with me (Sat.). What about his grades? Well, he's also a 4.0 honor roll student, on the school's basketball team, a repeat school/county spelling Bee finalist, and on the school's math team, too. He is starting to pick up golf.

He seems very determined and wants to do this on his own accord. I am lucky enough to have him and afford his whims and my wife drives him around town. But, I don't know how he is able to do this, both based on time and the skill of course. Makes me feel very inept and dumb at times (and you can't compare our musical skills)......so what do I do to encourage him with his music desires? Stick to one? Stick to all? Master one, or jack of all trades, master of none? He is smart, knows the music lingo and he is one of those people that can pick up any instrument and play it.

Any help/guidance/advise is truly appreciated......thanks for reading! BTW, the little guy starts guitar class in 2 weeks, too (and he loves drums!).....
 
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Vistalite Black

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If you took out all the sentences with "I," "Me" or "My" in them, it wouldn't be very long at all. I'm not sure how any of those are relevant to what he wants to do.

At some point, if he feels over-committed, I don't see any reason he couldn't decide to cut back on whatever he chooses to ease up on and focus on what's important to him.
 

Ickybaby

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My guidance would be to let him live his life and make his choices. They are apparently good. From what you say he has you beat in regards to musicality so why say anything?
 

dtk

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IMO-give him as much exposure as he can take...when he has to pay his own way he won't have time for it all and he'll choose what's most important....basically give him as much rope as he wants and just stand watch to make sure he doesn't hang himself. You can express to him you're worried about him being over extended...and that its not quieting if he doesn't want to do something anymore...because he likes something else (OK-I guess that is quitting but you know what I mean). It took one of my daughters a long time to find where she excels...you're both pretty lucky.
 

MntnMan62

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Ok. I will throw my two cents in as I have a 17 year old and have been nuturing his musical interests for several years now. But that is where the similarity ends. My son plays the electric bass. Jaco is his inspiration. But he's an average player at best. He's taking bass lessons and has peripheral interest in guitar and music production. And my son is about a 3.3 student, not a 4.0. What you have in your son is so much more. It sounds like your son's raw and innate ability is crazy off the charts. He excels at everything he does. The way I see it is you have nothing to do beyond facilitating his interests. He's a kid. By trying all these different instruments he's testing the waters to see what he likes best. Maybe he'll pick one and settle on it or maybe he'll just continue playing everything and be a multi-instrumentalist. It doesn't really matter. All that matters is he is the one making the decisions about what he wants to play and you guys help make that happen. Nurture those interests. Not sure where you live but I have really bonded nicely with my son by taking him into NYC fairly regularly to see some great music in the jazz clubs. I've taken him to see some of the jazz/fusion bass greats. And we have a blast doing it. Do that kind of stuff. And before you know it he'll be going off to college and he'll really be taking his own path. Your son sounds incredibly intelligent so I'm sure he'll have no problem picking that path. If he comes to you with questions or perspective, be honest and give him your feedback. He'll take that and run with it. And he'll appreciate you for the rest of his life for it. You're extremely lucky. Enjoy the ride because it doesn't last forever. It's kind of like the baby bird learning to fly. And then that fateful moment when it leaps off the nest into the air and becomes it's own bird. I know. I'm waxing philosophically. It's what I do. Great post.
 
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zildjian@consol

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sound like he needs to challenge himself because he gets board once he thinks he's got the better of it.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Thanks for the feedback - the I/me was only for context - I'm no Mozart, concert pianist, pro musician, etc., and I had no musical guidance growing up.

No doubt he can blow me away musically so I feel inept giving him advice.
But he's my kid and he is asking for advise, though. That's why I was hoping others out maybe had similar stories.

Maybe I should talk with his music teacher?
 

Old Dog

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Man, what a great story! And don't apologize for your child's abilities! I'm impressed as heck. I wish my family had been more musical. MUCH more so than just listening to music on the radio, etc. I don't think my parents EVER saw me play music. And I was in it ALL the way thru Jr/High school. I digress.

Let him choose as much of his path as he can. I don't have kids. So I may not give the BEST perspective. But I believe we have to find it on our own. You may "guide" him towards a couple. Knowing piano is already a HUGE benefit. Get him looking and producing his own music.

AND get him on the golf course!!!!!!
 

JDA

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Maybe get away from music if it's an obsession and branch into what every 11 yo boy does; camp, start fires erm learn to make a fire, wash cars, learn to use a knife and a hammer a screwdriver, Go-Karts...ya know . Baseball...Build a treehouse..small game hunting ; )...boating rafting whatever. Life skills: cooking, doing laundry, raking the yard. Climbing trees.
 

TheElectricCompany

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As some of you know my 11 y.o. dude has played acoustic guitar for nearly 4 years now with a youth guitar group.

I am a strong believer in encouraging music for many reasons. I don't care what instrument, just play. My 11 y.o.'s group has played festivals, concerts, etc. and he has sung in front of crowds of 1,000+ people. No stage fright or issues! When the 11 y.o. was 5, I bought a set of First Act drums for his birthday to "force" drums onto him - he played for about a week and that was about it.

So in 2018 he decides he wants to also learn piano. He's been taking lessons weekly and after about 6 mos, the teacher said he was the best student she has. Last year, out of the blue, he said he wanted to try the trumpet. He now is the head trumpet player in his school band. He is in both concert band and was chosen by the teacher to be the lead jazz guitar in the jazz band (booting out the "regular" guitarist).

Not to brag, but he has some serious musical skills. He hears a song and can sit down and play it on the piano. He heard Freebird a few months ago on the radio and within a few days, he was sitting down playing the melody on piano while playing the lead solo on trumpet...at the same time! He sits at the piano and plays instrumental stuff that is so out there, I don't know where he gets it. Now, he is going into 7th grade and wants to play percussion as he thinks it would be cool - like drums? No, like xylophone or concert bass/snare! So concert band (percussion), jazz band (guitar) and also wants to join the after school jazz combo (trumpet). This is all in addition to piano lessons (Wed.) and the guitar class with me (Sat.).

What about his grades? Well, he's also a 4.0 honor roll student, on the school's basketball team, a repeat school/county spelling Bee finalist, and on the school's math team, too. He is starting to pick up golf.

He seems very determined and wants to do this on his own accord.
I took Vistalite's suggestion and removed all of the I, Me, Mine sentences. When you read it that way it sounds like your kid's got a firm grasp on what he wants to do: play music when and how he wants. He's lucky to have some talent to go along with that, because plenty of people don't. If he's come this far trust already, he'll know when it's time to hang up one instrument or another, if ever, and what to focus on instead.
 

thin shell

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Mommy, When I grow up I want to be a musician. Honey, you can't do both.
 

Johnny D

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@JazzDrumGuy I applaud you for taking such an earnest interest in your son's future.

My son, now 32, and my daughter 30, grew up exposed to music, the music industry, and were attending local shows, drum clinics, you name it, from the age of 2. It was completely normal for them to meet drummers and see the inner workings of bands and musicians on weekends with me.

Both of my children expressed an interest in music at young ages. My son started playing drums at around 3 or 4 (self taught other than me showing him a few of the basics) and my daughter played violin at age 7 (second grade), and later played clarinet in school band. I didn't push it, it happened naturally, but I certainly nurtured it. And in my son's case, as a budding young drummer, meeting guys like Carter Beauford, Dennis Chambers, Tre Cool, Adrian Young, Abe Cunningham, and lots more, was a huge inspiration for him.

But in the back of my mind I worried that all this exposure might lead him to want to pursue being a professional drummer, and with what I knew about the realities of the business, and the likelihood of him (or anyone) making a good living as a drummer, it didn't sit well. In fact, one night driving home from a Dave Matthews show when he was probably 12 or 13, I said something like, "You know, Carter is one out of million drummers that's made it. There are thousands of great drummers out there that never reach the level of success that Carter has reached. It's a very hard business to make a living at."

At the same time, he'd always had a curiosity about how things worked and loved to take stuff apart and tinker as a kid and teenager. And I remember when he was about 16, we had started talking about college and the future and we were driving home after seeing the Who and him and Zak Starkey hitting it off like old pals, and we had another one of those talks and he said, "Dad, I don't want to go to college for music. I want to design stuff like cars, or robots, or engines." I was so relieved! He ended up becoming a Mechanical Engineer and at 32, he's doing fantastic. I couldn't be more proud of him. He still plays drums and also plays guitar and bass and has recently started playing piano. Both of his children (my grandkids) age 4 1/2 and 1 1/2 play drums. My daughter loves music, but didn't continue playing an instrument after high school.

I guess what I'm saying is let him have fun with it, but as he gets older, say around 16, I think you should have a candid conversation about the realities of making a living a professional musician. I hope that doesn't sound preachy. As someone who worked in the music industry for my entire adult life, and saw where it was when I started in the early 80s, to where it was when I left in 2013, and where it's come to now, it's not a path I'd choose, or advise my child to choose. To have fun, yes. But make a living, no.

Thanks for listening and good luck. And I hope this doesn't offend any pros out there. I'm referring to making this choice today, or 10 years from now, vs. 30-40 years ago when you actually could earn a good living as a pro musician.
 
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bigbonzo

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Thanks for the feedback - the I/me was only for context - I'm no Mozart, concert pianist, pro musician, etc., and I had no musical guidance growing up.

No doubt he can blow me away musically so I feel inept giving him advice.
But he's my kid and he is asking for advise, though. That's why I was hoping others out maybe had similar stories.

Maybe I should talk with his music teacher?
Where does he get his musical skills from? Mom? Aunt? Granpa?
 

JazzDrumGuy

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John, I appreciate the advice. I dont think the issue is him wanting to be a pro musician...at least not yet. I've taken him to various shows and he's met a few pros (Todd Rundren, Jesse Cook). But, he actually says he wants to be a doctor "like the one that fixed me." He's broken his foot playing soccer and his clavicle playing basketball, so he wants to be an orthopedist (thankfully, he didn't need surgery for either!).

I know it's ridiculously early for an 11 y.o. to know what career he wants, but I guess the level of intellect he displays at times even thinking about things like that makes me feel inadequate (right word?). He volunteers weekly, too, and still has time for video games with his little bro, and also reads a ton. He loves to camp and fish, but I can't get him out to the garage to mess with tools or build things. He'd rather be building Legos, reading or composing music using Apple software. Brainy, and definitely not like how I was at that age.

I guess my issues are, as problaby most parents would have: 1) He's much smarter and ambitous than I was at that age so keeping up with and stimulating his hobbies and activities, 2) worry about him spreading himself too thin with so many interests, and really, the purpose of the post, 3) what musical advise to give him even if he is going to remain an amateur player.

I can play guitar, bass and drums, and could sit in with a band on any of them and pull it off. I don't know if I wish I would have stuck to one and focused, taken lessons, etc., and mastered it, or just be half-@$$ like I am.

All I can do is encourage him and support him of course. But should he know how to play 10 instruments, or just stick to one? I guess time will tell.
Again, thanks all......
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Bonzo, his mom and her family have no musical ability. I play guitar, bass & drums (poorly!) but I love music tremedously and try to teach both boys about all kinds. My one sister has no musical abilities but the other sister is a semi pro soprano and has performed in chorale groups in Europe, the US, multiple times at Carnegie Hall, etc. My mom's dad played mandolin and sang, and I have a cousin on my mom's side who is a musical genius (eg: playing full blown classical songs on piano at age 5!). My dad supposedly played trumpet as a kid but I've never heard or seen him play anything, other than yell at me for drumming in the house when I was young. I won't take credit for anything....
 

MntnMan62

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@JazzDrumGuy I applaud you for taking such an earnest interest in your son's future.

My son, now 32, and my daughter 30, grew up exposed to music, the music industry, and were attending local shows, drum clinics, you name it, from the age of 2. It was completely normal for them to meet drummers and see the inner workings of bands and musicians on weekends with me.

Both of my children expressed an interest in music at young ages. My son started playing drums at around 3 or 4 (self taught other than me showing him a few of the basics) and my daughter played violin at age 7 (second grade), and later played clarinet in school band. I didn't push it, it happened naturally, but I certainly nurtured it. And in my son's case, as a budding young drummer, meeting guys like Carter Beauford, Dennis Chambers, Tre Cool, Adrian Young, Abe Cunningham, and lots more, was a huge inspiration for him.

But in the back of my mind I worried that all this exposure might lead him to want to pursue being a professional drummer, and with what I knew about the realities of the business, and the likelihood of him (or anyone) making a good living as a drummer, it didn't sit well. In fact, one night driving home from a Dave Matthews show when he was probably 12 or 13, I said something like, "You know, Carter is one out of million drummers that's made it. There are thousands of great drummers out there that never reach the level of success that Carter has reached. It's a very hard business to make a living at."

At the same time, he'd always had a curiosity about how things worked and loved to take stuff apart and tinker as a kid and teenager. And I remember when he was about 16, we had started talking about college and the future and we were driving home after seeing the Who and him and Zak Starkey hitting it off like old pals, and we had another one of those talks and he said, "Dad, I don't want to go to college for music. I want to design stuff like cars, or robots, or engines." I was so relieved! He ended up becoming a Mechanical Engineer and at 32, he's doing fantastic. I couldn't be more proud of him. He still plays drums and also plays guitar and bass and has recently started playing piano. Both of his children (my grandkids) age 4 1/2 and 1 1/2 play drums. My daughter loves music, but didn't continue playing an instrument after high school.

I guess what I'm saying is let him have fun with it, but as he gets older, say around 16, I think you should have a candid conversation about the realities of making a living a professional musician. I hope that doesn't sound preachy. As someone who worked in the music industry for my entire adult life, and saw where it was when I started in the early 80s, to where it was when I left in 2013, and where it's come to now, it's not a path I'd choose, or advise my child to choose. To have fun, yes. But make a living, no.

Thanks for listening and good luck. And I hope this doesn't offend any pros out there. I'm referring to making this choice today, or 10 years from now, vs. 30-40 years ago when you actually could earn a good living as a pro musician.
You hit the nail on the head. I too have exposed my son to all things music. He's taken to the electric bass and counts Jaco as his main inspiration. He's no Jaco and in fact is quite average at best at his instrument. And as you said, my fears were realized one day when he announced that his career ambitions involved his wanting to be a music producer. I then had a sit down with him and explained the facts of life that everybody and their mother wants to be a music producer of some sort or another. I also said that in order to be a good music producer you have to first be a musician so you can understand how music is played, how it is written and can speak the language of the artists you aniticpate working with. He didn't necessarily believe me. My wife has a childhood friend who earns his living as a sound engineer for the local opera company. We met him at the theater one day where he gave us a tour. Afterwards we sat down and my wife told him what our son was thinking about. And wouldn't you know it, without any prior discussion, the first thing he says is "If you want to be a music producer you have to study music and be a musician." That confirmation of what I already told him seemed to hit home. His career ambitions have gone another direction. He's still into music but seems to now have a realistic understanding of what music can and cannot provide.
 

Stickclick

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I once saw some boys, they looked about 14 years old, gigging as a band at a shopping mall. They were surrounded by about 50 girls about 10 to 15 years old. The ladies seemed to like the boys a lot.

Get ready.
 

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