How to be a musician and a parent

How to be a musician and a parent


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2019

By our violin diarist, Anthea Kreston:

There she was, on stage in front of 2,000 people. Confident, smiling, communicating with her colleagues. The lights were blaring, the stage was huge – a video crew was jostling to get the right angle. She was prepared, open, and just as she had been in the concert the night before, poised and in command. She was 9 years old.

They both started playing when they were about one and a half years old. It was first during those harrowing months (I like to call it “helmet season“) when they can wobble around enough on their chubby legs, and can make a wild, desperate/happy zombie-dash from couch to table. They make their destination sometimes, but more often you just hear a crash, silence, then piercing cry. At this age, they can also start to reach things and climb up – before this stage, everything adult was at a knee-high or higher altitude, safe (in my mind) from sticky fingers and slobber. So – when I rounded the corner and saw my oldest, at age 11 months, happily scootching across the living room, dragging my violin behind her (she had managed to pull it off the table), and her obvious glee at the variety of sounds that could be had, I purchased an inexpensive, beat-up violin and just left it around for her to play with. Rarely a day has passed since that day without music.

As a musician parent, we are stuck. Of course, it’s natural that our kids play – they hear music all the time – and we can give them unlimited insider tips. Of course they become very very good. Sometimes it tears a family apart, and sometimes it brings them together. Sometimes the parents can’t figure out how to act reasonably. And sometimes the kids just aren’t into it. But, the biggest problem is when they do love it, when they are amazed by it, and when it is a healthy and fun part of the family fabric. In our family, we have 2 cellists and 2 violinists – and a family group called the “Quartissimos“, complete with a team chant – our outfits are berets and Pyjamas. It’s wonderful and it’s scary how natural and fun it is.

We know how hard it is to be musicians – how your confidence takes constant hits, how you have to balance the cultivation of individuality at the same time as taking a back seat for the collective purpose. And how you will probably be poor, and how you have to be good at business and how you will never have a normal rhythm in life. And we encourage them towards other interests – robotics, soccer. Anything, really.

This week, in China, she played as a part of a chamber group in the final concert. She loved it, she owned it. She wants to keep doing robotics, and soccer, and she really wants to have a cow – she is great with animals. I encourage and support her in all directions, but I can’t help but be proud and happy for her discovery of her own strength and passion.



  • Bruce says:

    How lovely.

  • Alexander says:

    my warmest greetings

  • Phillip Ayling says:

    Brava! How delightful. It made my day to read this.

  • Marg says:

    A delightful story. Thank you. I love seeing kids into music whether good or just plunking around (or my great nephew screeching into “his” recorder that I have given him).

  • Dick says:

    It’s so wonderful when kids get the spotlight due to merit alone.

  • Robert Groen says:

    I think you’ve probably mastered it, Anthea!