Parenting & Homeschooling: Music and Discipline

I have been silently observing my eldest son’s progress with the keyboards the past few days. He only knows one song, he just had his first lesson with his dad last Monday, after all. But he’s been turning on that keyboard several times during the past two days and had been practicing the chords without prodding and singing along with it.

I try not to make a big deal of it, at least not within his hearing. He’s turning 12 on Monday and no longer appreciates being fawned upon like a little boy.

Pablo has always shown interest in the instrument, but for the past two years, we had him learn the guitar, albeit, with very minimal success.

In my opinion, guitar is a harder instrument to learn. I used to play the piano back in high school and I’d like to think I did well back then. I tried learning the guitar, but I’ve not gone too far from the D-A-G-A progression, haha!

Pablo did slightly better than me, but he wasn’t all that interested. In fact, in the middle of last school year, he asked to discontinue the lessons.

I said no. Instead, I struck a deal with him that if he sticks to the guitar until the end of the school year, and gives it his best, he can move to learning the keyboards the following school year and never has to touch the guitar again. He agreed. Lucky for him, his dad became too busy to teach him regularly!

Easy on the outside, discipline on the inside

Once upon a time, my husband and I were struggling musicians who lugged around our instruments, taking public transport to our gigs and taking hits from people who understood little about the industry. One particular evening stands out in my memory.

We were on our way home and decided to take a jeep to our subdivision. We had our instruments with us – a guitar and a keyboard synthesizer. A really big one. I had on make-up and we were dressed for the gig we came from. Across us sat a group of young professionals in their mid-20’s, around the same age as us. One of them who probably drank a little more than he could handle, started insulting us.

To make the long story short, he was insinuating that our lives were easier because we were only musicians. He said that if he looked good, he’d just be a musician and just be cute to earn  money. He was so loud, everybody in the jeep could hear him.

To be fair to his companions, they seemed embarrassed by him,though they didn’t really do much to stop him. It was a short ride so we just ignored his rants and alighted at our stop.

Anyway, that’s how music and performing looks on the outside. To someone who doesn’t really know what it’s like, it looks fun and easy to do. It can be fun, yes, but it’s not always easy. I can’t begin to tell you what we’ve gone through in those years trying to stay afloat.

Discipline and commitment are integral to being a musician. As my husband says, music is a special skill. It takes years of discipline, hard work, commitment and passion to develop the skills and be outstanding at it.

Just like his dad

Pablo is an over-thinker (like me). Because his dad is primarily a guitarist, he must have felt obligated to follow in his footsteps. Jay was a damn good guitarist and had gained respect among his fellow musicians during our time. Among all our children, Pablo was the only one who witnessed those years. He must have thought he’s expected to be just like his father so when we asked him what instrument he wanted to learn, he asked for a guitar.

I’ve known this for a while but I still made him stick to the guitar for a period of time because, for one,  the music circuit is a tough industry, it doesn’t cater well to whiners. I don’t know for sure if the performing genes will play a big part in their future, maybe yes, maybe no. But if they do, I  think that it’s best to equip them while they’re young.

I understand how Pablo felt about following in his dad’s footsteps, and in a way, it’s noble, but he’s going to lead his own family someday. He needs to learn how to be his own man. To make wise, bold, and strong decisions. He can’t be making decisions based on external pressure and what he assumes to be expectations of him.

By making him stick to the guitar, Pablo learned what it’s like to get stuck in situations you don’t want to be in when you make wrong decisions. What do you do when you’re at it? Do you whine? Do you quit? Or do you rise above it?

I know Pablo decided on the guitar because he wanted to please us. I hope the experience had taught him to also be truthful about how he feels from the very beginning. He needs to know what he’s been created capable of. He needs to know his strengths and know when to stick to them whatever the odds are.

And I hope that we have also taught him to be faithful in little things (Luke 16:10). I watched Pablo faithfully strum his guitar despite his obvious lack of progress. His playing wasn’t exemplar, but it’s the character we’re looking at

Music and Arts is such a powerful platform for training. Pablo still has a long way to go but the potential is there. I’m glad he’s enjoying his new instrument.

But there’s still a lot more to learn in terms of technical skills and so much more to develop in terms of attitude and character.
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“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” Galatians 1:10.

“Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” Matthew 5:37.

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14 Comments

  1. I don’t have a gift in music so even there are free summer classes in our church before at nakikiclass ako, wala ko maintindihan, hehehe! I know someone, he can really play a lot of instruments and yun na rin naging job niya. He just started playing sa church and nakita ko yung pagod nila sa practice so I disagree talaga dun sa guy na nakasabay niyo sa jeep.

  2. You and you’re husband are both musicians nga pala so now you’re kids are following your footsteps din. Honestly, I would want one of my kids to learn how to play the piano. I imagine myself sitting in a rocking chair kasi when I grow old, as in lola-kind-of-old, and one of them would be playing instrumental musics for me. But one thing I realized after reading your post, no one in our family is a musician nga pala. Haha! My sister and I tried learning the guitar before pero sobrang nahirapan kami. Hindi biro ang maging musician ah. Whoever insulted you guys doon sa jeep na nasakyan nyo clearly doesn’t know how to play or haven’t even tried playing an instrument siguro. And baka may pinagdadaanan sa buhay kaya ganun na lang ka-lasing. Lol! I tried flute before when I was around 7 or 8. Haha! Nakatugtog ako ng ilang kanta, pero I lost interest on it din.

  3. I have nothing but respect for musicians. I wasn’t “coordinated” enough hehe to have learned how to play instruments. I tried the guitar when I was in college, di ko talaga kaya haha! But I understand your concerns about Pablo; I’m glad he’s learning a lot about life out of learning the instrument!

  4. I am the complete opposite. I find guitar easier to learn vs the keyboard! lol. My mother was teaching me how to read the notes when I was young but I was too lazy and just wanted to learn the chords. But because I was still lazy, I only know how to play the keyboard in the key of C. haha. I’m not an expert in playing the guitar but I can play and for me, it’s the instrument I can play better above all.

    1. ah my comparison is piano vs guitar because with piano, if you can read notes, you can play. with guitar, i can’t seem to remember where to put my hands.

  5. I have always wanted to attend a musical lesson when I was young, but my parents have different priorities back then. It’s good to know parents like you who encouraged their kids. Way to go Pablo, I am excited about his progress!

  6. I’ve had many attempts to play an instrument, but alas, I’m just not creative in that way I guess, I’m a frustrated musician for sure 😛

    We have a piano and although my kids want to learn how to play it, their academic schedule just won’t allow it, and I don’t want to overwhelm them because I’d still love for them to be able to be enjoy being a kid.

    Good job to your baby boy! He’s 12, but I’m sure like me, you’ll always see your boy as your baby! 😛

  7. My grandmother made me learn how to play the piano when I was eight. Not really my instrument of choice, but I enjoyed the experience nonetheless.

  8. My firstborn and second son both play the piano. After a few months, my second son tried guitars and he seems to enjoy the instrument as well. I remember when my firstborn was awarded high honors one recognition day, former senator Nikki Coseteng whispered to us that music makes a person concentrate more on his students. He is more disciplined as music teaches him how to. I somehow agree. Looking at my son review for his exams, i could see the same concentration and dedication he puts when he plays the piano.

  9. When I was around 7, I was enrolled by my mom to a piano lessons, and hindi naman ako nag tagal. Hihi. Nahirapan ako, maybe because hindi ako ganon ka interested that time. How I wish nag pursigido ako, maybe by now ako na mismo nagtuturo sa lil kiddo ko. 🙁

  10. “The music circuit is a tough industry. It doesn’t cater well to whiners.”

    This cut deep. *moseys on back to her piano*

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