All the talk about bandwagons has me stressing about ds10 returning to school on Thursday. We will nearly immediately be faced with the decision to join band/orchestra. I know that there are MANY violin players on this board, and among gifted kids, but there seems to be a real dearth of (what I would call) recreational players.
Here's whence my angst comes -
dd21 (back when we couldn't believe anyone had lessons before joining school orchestra, or even paid for a private teacher ) started violin in 5th grade. By 7th, we and her teachers knew she was incredibly gifted. She had caught up with all the kids who started at age 5 and surpassed most. We were told we needed to "commit" if we wanted her to go pro - better violin, better private teacher, etc. She ended up leaving violin for art in HS because the competition was too much. Dd19 played cello - and although she enjoyed it, she was always a better singer/actor and moved in that direction in HS as well - she didn't want to commit to orchestra unless she could be at the top. Ds12 - well, we thought he was too uncoordinated to ever play, but we tried out bass almost on a whim and he LOVES it and is pretty successful. I could definitely see him being the only one to go on and play in college. There's almost no competition at this age with the bass and he plays for the love of it. It's become our new favorite instrument - it just seems so fun and relaxed. I love what it does for him!
Ds10 is probably more likely to talented (in spite of the bells failure, lol!). He has great rhythm, great timing, good fine motor skills.... But - of course, he wants to play violin. Now that I'm more observant, I realize that most violin players here have played for years by now. I'm sure ds12 would never have been recommended for violin (kids are required to go to a number of intro classes for band/orchestra and then receive a few recommendations from which to choose. However, being that we know the orchestra teacher at MS, who runs this, well, I'm sure she'd let ds choose whatever he wanted). And ds is pretty laid-back - he'd rather be outside than inside practicing. He's on a baseball and soccer team this fall, and will have at least somewhat more homework since he's taking math at the middle school. I see him being gifted at it -possibly- but I don't see him practicing like ds12. I also know that we need to save for our retirement and for dss' college (we hope both girls' educations will be paid off by the time dd19 graduates in May, but we have two more coming up) and we can't afford to go crazy. I am SO reluctant to get on the "rat race" of being a violin parent. And, even though ds is laid back, he's used to being the best. I envision a huge wake up call when he realizes he's middle-of-the-road or even further behind, depending on what percentage of violin players have already studied.
Ds12 took a jazz camp this summer with the MS band teacher and we only half-jokingly told her that we were encouraging ds10 to play some obscure band instrument that we could buy off Craigslist, and for which there was always demand... Am I being unfair? Do I tell him no to violin and save us what I perceive as a future headache and money-sink, or do I let him pursue it? I just don't know if I have the energy for this and dh is both frugal and would much more quickly see the value in an engineering class than a music class. Sigh ;(
p.s. I hope I haven't offended all you violin players/parents out there. I LOVE(D) listening to dd21, dd19 and ds12 play. I value what music brought to their lives (even though dd21 eventually dropped it, she always thought it was a wonderful experience).. and the middle school teacher is AMAZING - talented, kind and smart as a whip (undergrad and grad degrees from Northwestern). Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky.