Why the musical family is (sometimes) a myth

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The Jackson family (Jermaine not pictured) in a promo shot for their short-lived TV show in the 1970’s. Front, from left: Janet, Randy, La Toya, Rebbie. Back, from left: Jackie, Michael, Tito, Marlon.

The Jacksons.

The Marleys.

J.S. Bach and his sons.

Mattie Moss Clark and the Clark Sisters.

John and Robbie Coltrane.

Frank Sinatra and Frank Sinatra, Jr.

Given these famous examples of musical families, it’s easy to think that the children of professional musicians normally follow in their parents’ footsteps. After all, they are constantly exposed to a world full of music. Maybe they hear their parents practicing around the house. They may spend many hours hanging out around rehearsals and recording studios. Perhaps they see their parents on stages and church platforms every week.

So we assume the desire to become a musician, like mom or dad, should happen naturally. After all, we’ve all seen a musician’s son jump on the drum set, or a singer’s daughter grab the microphone, and thought, “They were just born with it.”

Not necessarily. While some families famously produce new generations of musicians, not every child of a musician is destined to become one. It’s a mistake to buy into the myth that musically inclined parents always pass their talents on to their children.

It’s true that many musicians would love to establish a legacy of music in their families. It’s a noble and natural desire. However, every child has a unique set of skills and strengths, and while some musical talents may be hereditary, it’s not an indicator that the next generation should choose music as a career.

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In fact, if music is given too high a priority within the family, children can grow to resent the pressures of the artistic lifestyle.

So what should you do if you’re a musician and a parent?

There’s no need to keep your children insulated from your musical world. It’s natural to involve them as you pursue your dreams as an artist..

But don’t just be a musical family. Be a family.

Prioritize family game nights, vacations, and dinners around the table. Make sure that you spend as much time as possible with your children away from the familiar scenes of stages, church platforms, and rehearsal rooms. This will keep your children from viewing music as their only source of identity.

 Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Amplified) – Proverbs 22:6 

It’s a wonderful thing if, when your children come of age, they choose to join you in the journey of professional music.

But even if they don’t, you’ll have the greater joy of knowing you gave them the blessing of a balanced childhood.

Love should always be the primary soundtrack of a family.

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