My kids are wavering in their desire to continue playing traditional music.  These days it seems that there are just too many distractions around and too much access to the pop culture/x factor world of entertainment that seems to take over the air waves.  Its a balancing act between encouraging and pushing. Is this a common problem and are there any solutions?

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Although I feel very fortunate taht my kids are following right along the path of Traditional Irish Music, I have also felt some of the distractions as well. I have felt and believe that kind nurturing, like maybe practicing along with them and being a friend sometimes helps. Quite the opposite of, Get Your Practice In Now!  LOL...  I can only speak from experience and I always allow them to make some choices when considering practice or playtime. I allow them a few days off once in a while and then encourage them by saying that those are their vacations or breaks and I apply myself when asked to those outside activities as well. I have also been able to prep them by speaking directly and candidly about the meaning of tradition, the role of the music, the sharing of music, and the belief in having a connection to a cultural identity. Of course, deep thoughts for some kids depending on their tolerance of cultural tutoring. In the end, I make it a point to get the kids around to meet and see other sessions, to view performances, and to try to share in the musical adventures. I try not to push to perfection but rather to a point of acceptance for the role they will have in sharing the music they wish to play. In the end, I guess whatever the involvement, as long as it is doing/sharing the activity with your kids and not through them, it will all work out in the end!  Just my take on this...

I am speaking as a non-parent and non-musician if I may, and while I too waver about many things with all of the daily mass media distractions, pop culture, along with the varied genres of music, what I find most pleasurable is “live performance”. In particular, live performance within the Irish Traditional Music (ITM) community makes a direct connection with family, heritage, cultural identity while crossing borders, oceans, and continents. There is something aesthetic with a pleasurable attraction to hearing the music live during a session or concert.

What I find most pleasurable is hearing the younger generation of ITM musicians from the earliest of ages learning, developing talent and perfecting their style. I enjoy talking with young musicians about how they connect with the traditional music and about their experiences and travels. I have met young ITM musicians who have traveled farther than my wildest dreams as a youngster. I recently had the pleasure of meeting the current under-eighteen All-Ireland Fiddle Champion Sarah Buteux from Rockland County, NY USA. A very talented fiddle player and highly spirited young lady, Sarah exemplifies the next generation of traditional musicians. Listening to Sarah play fiddle with her sister Lindsay (concertina) along with father Chris Buteux (guitar) accompanied by a well-rounded session crew made for a most memorable moment. The night was a sheer delight for everyone present. I can only imagine how lovely the encouragement and pushing must be within the Buteux home.

Yes Tony, in the end it is a balancing act between encouraging and pushing playing traditional music, however, if the experience is fun and leads to communities of people coming together and sharing pleasurable moments, I think the pushing will end up being pushing people out the door in the wee hours of the morning because the youngsters have to go to school. In the end, youngsters have to make choices for themselves, hopefully knowing some are good while others are poor. ITM exposure and practice with solid encouragement and minimal pushing will eventually play out as it may. A parent knowing when to encourage and how to stop pushing is the real learning experience. Have fun!

Been there, done that - I think all you can do is to provide the opportunities, give them your example and let them make their own choices long term. Our older children, now young adults, played trad for a while but now more guitar in one case and piano in the other.

You're right about all the distractions, there's little enough space to be bored these days and children have often have access to the many gadgets that define modern media and communications.

I think all you do is make a bit of space for the music (trad or whatever) and look out for peer groups where they can share the experience.

We all rebelled to some extent against our parents and family, so it's possible that the trad can be a casualty of this. But in the longterm, many people seem to often drift back towards their family and their interests. In the case of trad, that might mean a hiatus of several years, with an interest then rekindled later in adult life. At which stage, childhood experience of the music will be invaluable.

its not easy, but very rewarding

Loved the video bill MacCauley  put up.

As many have said, there just seems to be too many distractions these days, especially with the electronic age of computers and such.  As a teacher of music I allow my students to explore all genres of music.  Some will undoubtedly fall to the waste side. 

As a teen once (way, way back) I got away for awhile from the "traditional" music and went straight for the music of the day.  As I reached my mid 20's - early 30's I was soon back to my old stomping grounds.  As much as parents and grandparents would have their young ones follow in their footsteps, we have to let them go.  Generally I have found over the years they do come back, and with even a stronger appreciation of what we taught them when they were younger.  Every generation goes with the flow of the time, but eventually come back.

As others have indicated, there are a number of factors that can distract the focused attention of young ITM players from practice of the music. Kids today are literally bombarded with a plethora of options as to how they choose to utilize their time. There can also be a number of limiting factors that xome into play, focus on academics and sports immediately coming to mind.

Bernard and others have posted on the importance of making the ITM experience "fun" for
younger participants and that a balanced approach of encouragement or positive
reinforcement being much more effective over "pushing" kids toward practice /

participation. I fully concur that making the experience "fun" and positively rewarding

on a personal level for each young player, is the most practical and effective approach

to maintaining their interests.

Having pondered the original question specific to how one might assist in maintaining kids interest in ITM, I thought about the music itself as a multi-dimensional artform and how it means many different things to each of us on a personal level. As an exapmle, for me, ITM is a way of maintaining a connection to my Irish ancestry and honoring those relatives from within that culture who have had very meaningful influences on my life. Conversely, I think that as individuals, each player can bring their own personal experiences and influences to the music, immediately coming to mind was the act of "giving back" to the artform of ITM and the community that aupports it and each of us who choose to participate in the playing / singing of traditional music.

Expanding on the thoughts last mentioned, I considered how most of us are brought together in a common bond by our love of ITM and how kids when given the oportunity to help and or create ositive change within their own networks, rally to that challenge. I gave further thought that ITM might be a great vehicle for suxh opportunities and a way to reinforce the foxus of younger players for the artform.

I recently contacted poster Bob Glennan who regularly works with some tremendous young players, and made a suggestion to him on how he might present them with the opportunity to bring their own individual dynamic to ITM, by using it as a medium to effect positive change in the lives of others around them. I believe that each of them will in turn derive additional rewards above and beyond playing the music just for the simple act of playing itself. Going forward, I have proposed a project that Bob can involve his talented young players in, one that will demonstrate the power each of them has as individuals, directly as a result of their abilities in playing ITM. I believe the "reward" factor for eaxh of them will be a meaningful tool for each of them in maintaining their focus on ITM going forward. I will highlight this in the near future as this project comes to fruition,


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