Slow hand can only get so slow before it stops

People always ask me if my son is musical. I tell them no. It’s not exactly true.

Music is a huge part of my life. I don’t think there has ever been a time where I wasn’t playing an instrument or singing, even if it was only in the car. It’s natural to assume that a child raised in a musical environment would have some level of affinity for it.

My son is musical, but has no interest in music whatsoever.

I’ve tried to pique his interest. He liked the drums when he was little, and he liked to play with my electronic keyboard.  Correction, he liked to bang on my electronic keyboard and have it make animal noises and percussion sounds. My husband and I got him musical toys and a guitar and a small electric drums. He’d play with them from time to time, but it never took hold of him like it did for me.

He took guitar as an elective in middle school and really liked it. He wanted to take lessons, and asked for an electric guitar. We asked him to pay for part of it so that he had skin in the game. He started off working hard, and I was surprised by how easily he picked it up. He memorized music almost instantly, something I still struggle with, and his fingers were quick and agile.

However, it didn’t last. His loss of interest happened little by little. I tried not to get overbearing about it. I know forcing the issue does no good. I did ask that he practice a little every day. I worked with his  teacher to keep him playing while he got over the hurdle of adjusting to high school. It didn’t work. It got to the point where he was only playing during his lesson time and even that was half-hearted. I gave him an ultimatum. Either he was in, or he was out. He chose out.

He knew I was disappointed, but I was disappointed for him, not with him. I can’t choose his passions. He’ll have to find his own. If he’s busy being miserable pursuing one of my choosing, he may never find it.

I do wonder if I’d pushed harder, whether he’d have gotten over the “I suck” hurdle enough to enjoy it. It’s a difficult cycle to break. As the Tiger Mom says, nothing is fun until you’re good at it, and it takes time and effort to be good at something. I do wonder, however, if parental pressure can kill the latent love that isn’t ready to come to the forefront.

To succeed at something you have to want it. To have a goal in mind. I don’t think my son could envision himself playing. It’s not a compelling daydream for him, so as much as I daydream of hearing him in an orchestra, or playing with a small ensemble, it’s not going to happen.

I hope he finds something he loves besides sleeping and videogames. I have to think it just hasn’t shown itself to him yet. In the meantime, I’ll appreciate who he is, and that he’s generous enough to provide ample writing fodder.  If he decided to pursue cooking, however, that would be just fine by me. He has his own apron, so we’re ready.

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by DaveonFlicker ©2010 Creative Commons

5 comments on “Slow hand can only get so slow before it stops

  1. Áine Warren says:

    This is something I wonder about a lot with raising children, but I think you’re right – forcing it is not the way to go. Sometimes I think you need to find your own way into it. His training will stand to him, and he may come back to it later. I played music all my life up until a few years ago, and these days I sit down at a piano maybe once a month, and although I am (was) primarily a violinst I haven’t touched it in over a year. But I think I may come back to it – and if nothing else, it helped to shape me creatively, and as a person.

    • Jeannine Bergers Everett says:

      I came back to the violin after a long haitus. It was like rediscovering a lost piece of self. I really hope that he finds something like that — a passion that becomes an essential part of your being.

  2. Veronica Roth says:

    That was the way with Jonathan. Very similar…with sax. At 18 he discovered Judo and now he’s got a black belt and is a sensei. Something will take hold of your son’s heart and suck him in eventually. Just hope it’s not horses (Chloe)…those are expensive! 🙂

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