Why Your Kid Should NOT Join Orchestra (3/9/04)
The benefit of joining a school musical ensemble of ANY kind (be it strings, vocals, winds, heavy metal, etc. etc.) is that it builds teamwork, trust, motor skills, a sense of rhythm and intonation, and an excuse to dress up your kid in black-and-white outfits he would never otherwise be caught dead in.
Here's my personal advice, from a very misbegotten childhood: do NOT let your child learn classical music (i.e. become an orchestra geek)
If your little Mozart learns how to play violin by his/herself, that's perfectly fine, but if your child gives you the chance to put in your own two cents for what path to start out on, put your foot down.
The wonderful thing about a band is that it's LOUD. Even a truly awful first-year school band can sound acceptable when it is playing at FFFFF.
On the other hand, a first-year string ensemble sounds exactly like it sounds (no pun intended). If you have a choice to go see your kid play his first concert on strings or to go outside and listen to alley cats howl, pick up alley cats.
The instrument I was chosen to play was called a viola, a contraption made of some steel strings and wood that, in the hands of my music teacher (the most patient man I've ever met, especially given that he had to teach me), sounded like an angel playing its harp.
In my hands, the angel was going through an extended session medieval torture device.
Three years, countless hours of practice, and zero iotas of uncovered hidden talent later, I still couldn't play the thing worth a dime.
I listened mournfully to the kids who had started band the year I had started orchestra, cool cats who could play tunes I recognized while I struggled with something written before the earth was created.
It was hell.
So take this to heart: DON'T let your kid join Orchestra. Just say NO!
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