“Tiger Mother” stirs debate in classical music circles

Posted on: February 15, 2011

In Saturday’s (2/12) Houston Chronicle, Colin Eatock writes, “Amy Chua’s controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is, at first glance, about parenting, not music. Nevertheless, it’s bursting with Chua’s ideas about classical music. She makes it clear that, as far as she’s concerned, it’s hard work, demanding strict adherence to clearly defined goals and standards. … Are Tiger Moms and their methods really good for classical music? Yes and no, says Jon Kimura Parker, who’s been teaching piano at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music for 10 years. The 51-year-old concert pianist—the son of an Asian mother and a white father—grew up in a musical household in Vancouver, British Columbia, where practicing was central to life as he knew it. He recognizes something of his own childhood in Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. … ‘I’ve worked with many of the country’s top music students, and I’ve been surprised at how many did not have a Tiger Mom—but who decided, on their own, to get to work and improve themselves. It shows in the musicianship and artistry of their playing.’ … But, as Parker points out, regardless of what methods of instruction and motivation are used, there’s no getting around the ‘10,000 hours of work’ necessary to play any instrument well.”

Posted February 15, 2011