Are parents the unsung heroes of the music world?

GregJohnson April 24, 2012 1
Are parents the unsung heroes of the music world?

Proctor & Gamble’s latest Olympic themed ad is sweeping across the internet. Its heart-tugging narrative charts a dedicated group of mothers supporting their children from beginner to gold medal winning athelete.

Check out the advert below:

Whilst the Olympic angle is as current, fresh and as obvious as anything else right now (what with the upcoming London 2012 games this summer) the video got the musicroom blog team wondering.

“The hardest job, is the best job. Thanks mum.”

Do musicians owe a similar debt of gratitude to their family and relatives?

Parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents are the unsung heroes of the music industry, often playing the roles of manager, agent, roadie, chief financier and lead cheerleader all at once, as required.

From marshalling after school practises to exhaustively attending every gig, no matter what the turn-out or venue, many musicians wouldn’t be where they are today without the sacrifices and effort of their parents and family.

Music can be an expensive hobby at any age but pocket money doesn’t cover the price of a first saxophone or digital piano – that early instrument will usually be paid for, or at least heavily subsidised, by an encouraging family member rather than the learner themselves.

Initiatives such as the government’s Wide Opportunies scheme and Take It Away music are on hand to help parents and children access music and purchase instruments, but often sacrifices are made by family members to cover the cost of facilitating and nurturing musical passion and talent.

Tutors and lessons add up too of course, as does the price of fuel when turning the family car into a makeshift tour bus – all the amps, gear and drum kit heroically crammed into the drummer’s dad’s hatchback, ready for the sardine-tin journey to soundcheck.

Their support is what makes playing, learning and performing possible for so many musicians.

Is it time we shone a light on the people who help to make it all possible?

What do you think? Who helped you on your road to musicianship?

  • Emma

    Unsung heroes indeed. My father worked overtime as a young PC during the Scargill riots in the 80s and used the money to buy me my first piano, a second-hand upright which is to this day my most treasured possession. And where there’s a will there’s a way with buying instruments – I waitressed to pay off a £10 per week scheme to buy my first saxophone as a teenager.

    My mother was amazing, despite being a busy teacher she ferried me to and from piano lessons (saxophone and clarinet lessons were held during school hours) and jazz band rehearsals, while simultaneously supporting my sister on an unhelpfully different schedule as she consecutively trialled trombone, violin, and piano lessons before settling on the drums for the longest period of time, with lessons at 8pm on a Monday evening and a drum kit taking up most of mum’s precious dining room. Our lessons were never resented, even though neither of us became professional musicians.

    And there’s the critical point – that ending up a professional and/or famous musician should never be the single goal of the student (or parent), but rather the process of learning/improving, and all the other skills that bundle quietly along with learning an instrument (literacy, teamwork, listening, etc), and of course simply enjoying playing and making music should be the fundamental rewards, and I am grateful to my parents for giving me those opportunities in abundance.