Force can kill a child’s love of music

I can’t force my 16-year-old to do anything–not even her fear of spiders will motivate her to put away the clothes piled up on her floor–so if I suggest this as a blog topic for her AP English class, we know she’ll dodge it. But in emailing a friend about “the German Illiad,” and the friend gagging at the names, I got to thinking…..

Nibelungenlied – starring Siegfried and Kriemhild, Gunther and Brunhild

All these German names. That song Mariel couldn’t/wouldn’t perform at contest is 100% FULL of words like these! Imagine: she hasn’t learned, read or spoken any German, but in so many weeks, she’s to memorize, correctly enunciate, and sing — with great feeling — these lyrics:

Du bist die Ruh,
Der Friede mild,
Die Sehnsucht du
Und was sie stillt.

Ich weihe dir
Voll Lust und Schmerz
Zur Wohnung hier
Mein Aug und Herz.

Kehr ein bei mir,
Und schlieߥ du
Still hinter dir
Die Pforten zu.

Treib andern Schmerz
Aus dieser Brust!
Voll sei dies Herz
Von deiner Lust.

Dies Augenzelt
Von deinem Glanz
Allein erhellt,
O fll es ganz!

And the teacher insults her, demoralizes her and dismisses her for not being “dedicated” enough to come through and perform this solo. Oh, she has a memorization system, and her students historically have learned, memorized and peformed similar pieces, so Mariel may be out of excuses. But it was more than the lyrics. It was the depressing piano accompaniment and the PRESSURE to “just do it.” Mud, under pressure, can turn into fossils, rocks and gemstones, but it also takes a lot of TIME. Mariel isn’t fast as lightning that heats desert sand and turns it into glass.

As for the teacher, a blog-rant has been brewing in me all week, but I hesitate to air anyone’s dirty laundry in public. I don’t want to incriminate the teacher as some kind of diva or bully. I do want to exonerate my daughter. She deliberately made a choice to risk being thought of as a “quitter” rather than be forced, threatened or guilt-tripped into doing something that was killing her love of music.

p.s. For the record, I love that song; listened to famous German tenors and baritones on you-tube, became smitten with Peter Schreier and Dietrich Name-I-Can’t-Spell-Offhand; Mariel said *I* killed the song for her. I love Schubert, love the German language and it’s traffic jam of crazy-long compound nouns and even the gutteral “achhhhhhh” sounds. But that is a topic for another blog.

p.p.s.  l love spiders and snakes – but the fiddle-back spider likes to hide in clothing on floors, and its bite is wicked.

About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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7 Responses to Force can kill a child’s love of music

  1. Well said, Carol. I can tell you’ve given this much thought, and I do believe you arrived at all the right conclusions. 🙂


  2. Lisa O says:

    You’re so right. Force can kill just about any love for anything.


  3. Carol Kean says:

    Update: her new voice teacher says Mariel has to unlearn everything the previous one taught her. “No big arias,” either.


  4. LucyPireel says:

    Carol! I love Die Nibelungen!
    We are twins, I mean it, it’s unnerving this being the same.
    My nephew was a gifted little violinist, until my sister forced him to study 4 hours a day. (six years old at the time, the kid needed to play and be outside and goof around with his violin) After a year of that rigid regime, he gave up just when he was scouted for a youth symphonic orchestra.


    • carolkean says:

      You do sound like my twin from a parallel universe (or just a different part of planet earth), Lucy!! I’m so glad you posted at Book Junkies today, or I might never have met you. 🙂


      • LucyPireel says:

        Like wise. It’s almost eerie to find people scattered all over the globe with whom you have so much in common. Thank you Lin for making me sign up on FB!


  5. Carol Kean says:

    I hope your nephew still does something with his musical gift. My daughter found a new voice teacher, who says she now must un-learn everything we spent $2,000 and 15 months learning with the previous teacher!!! I did some research online and it seems most teachers side with the “unlearn everything” view — age 16 is “too young” to sing big arias. *sigh* Who does a mother trust, anyway?


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