25. June 2014 · 8 comments · Categories: Ramble

It’s happened a few times now. Not only recently, but in the past as well. Students who are going off to college inform me that their parents won’t allow them to play oboe while in college.


While I understand why some parents might not encourage children to go into music, why in the world are they forbidden to play while in college? It won’t harm them. It very well could help them. After spending six or seven years with me, they suddenly get the oboe taken away? This seems so darn unfair. And unkind.

If I were a student with such a controlling parent I think I’d go to the music department at the college and see if I could sign up for band or orchestra despite being told I am not allowed. Is that horrible of me? Oh dear. I suppose so! I don’t like to encourage disobedience, and I would never tell students to do this, but once a person goes off to college I think they should be allowed to make their own decisions.

Music. Good for the soul. Good for the brain. Good for SO much.

Double sigh.


  1. Could it be that the parents can’t really afford the college tuition easily and want to sell the oboe and stop paying for lessons but don’t want to admit that? I would have kept my first oboe after high school, but I wasn’t serious about it at the time, and my parents really wanted to sell it to help pay for my college tuition. Sad but true. College was really expensive then–more so now.

  2. Not in the instances I’ve encountered, KJC. It all has to do with music only being a vehicle to get IN to college, but not being something of importance after the students have been accepted into their colleges. The parents see no value in music after it’s been used as that “key”. They also feel strongly that music isn’t necessary or valuable because, as a profession, it doesn’t make enough money. If it were only about not being able to afford it I would certainly understand.

  3. patti with an i

    Ugh. This is awful. So the message is that it’s important to look like a well-rounded person long enough to get something you want, but it’s not important to actually *be* one?

    Actually, I think this mostly comes from the prevailing attitude today that college is trade school. Parents encourage their kids to limit themselves to courses and majors which will translate easily into careers and money to pay off all those student loans. It’s rare to find anyone who still believes that university is about exploring, finding the thing that makes your mind come alive, learning how to learn, scholarship for its own sake.

    Woe, though, to the student who finds his or her scholarship revoked when the music department learns he or she won’t be playing in the orchestra after all…

  4. These parents are so short sighted too. I’d rather my child spend any extra time playing his or her instrument in the school band or orchestra then on many other detrimental extra-curricular activities common to many of us when we were in college. It’s kind of like saying that you shouldn’t waste your time jogging because that won’t get you any money. The benefits to well-being from playing an instrument are just as important as exercise for many people. Especially if they want to do it!! Well, not all parents are like this, thank goodness.

  5. Jaime Ondrusek

    Perhaps the underlying lesson here for such students (and their parents) is that students in college are ADULTS. The responsibility for what they do or don’t do there (including keeping up with the instrument they may have loved) lies solely with the students themselves. Which is an excellent lesson to be learning….

  6. SO many of my students have told me they are choosing a certain major all because of the money they will make in the career that major leads to. I do sometimes ask them if they have a passion for it. Some don’t. Money seems to trump anything else. I realize it’s wise to think of the future and being able to live, but I just hope these kids won’t turn into the sort that, when they see me doing something I love, suggest I shouldn’t get paid since I enjoy my job! (Yes, I’ve heard such a thing.)

    Ah well. I try to get them to appreciate music, and I hope they will at least listen to music if they never again participate in it after they are done with me.

  7. Oh goodness, I am just catching up with my blog reading.

    I was so thrilled when my daughter told me recently that she wants to continue to play music in college even though she isn’t planning to be a music major. Just a few days ago she told me that when she doesn’t play for a few days she doesn’t feel “right” – that practicing and playing use a different part of her brain and it relaxes her to practice or play music. (She is 15, studies karate, is doing all of Grade 10 English on line over the summer, taking private bass lessons weekly, and taking a group jazz class on Monday nights as well. Yeah, we know we are really lucky parents.)

    We are fortunate, we can afford the instruments and the lessons, and won’t need to sell the instruments to send the kids to college.

    I really want my children to be happy and productive. If they are working and enjoying life, what else is there? (Well, it is nice to be able to pay the water bill and the health insurance premiums, but they don’t have to be doctors or lawyers to do that.)

  8. Ah, I love the way you think (and write), Joan! 🙂