Updated: Sep 21
Every musician is probably asked at least once if they have a tiger mom. That is a fair question, knowing how difficult the life path of classical music is to be maneuvered and requiring discipline and consistency from a very young age.
I’ve seen many tiger moms from friends and colleagues who strictly manage and coach daily practice schedules, manage competition calendars, research the best teachers and methods, take notes of every detail of lessons, and do everything possible you can imagine to ensure the musical path for their children. To me who has never had a direct experience of having one it sounds quite nice to have someone to manage all those things for me. And I have seen that it does help to some degree, especially at the initial stage.
My mom was never one of the tiger kind. She was quite the opposite. She let me do whatever I wished. From choosing teachers to daily practice, everything was my responsibility. She would have been totally okay for me to choose a totally different life path and assured me that it was okay as long as I loved it. I remember watching my mom fully immersing herself in her career as a businesswoman when I grew up. I always thought that navigating my life was my choice, thus my responsibility for the consequence of the choice even since I was 4 years old. I realized later how much this strengthened me as a pianist and a person.
Without having to develop the skill to keep motivating and encouraging oneself it is much easier for musicians to stop when they reach a certain point; after doctorate degree in music, winning a big competition, getting into or graduating from a good university, or any major life changes. Getting into a reputable university or winning a big competition in teenage or the 20s seems a much easier goal especially mentally than keeping up with it when there is no one to guide or push you when you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and later.
I thought that tiger moms give that intense guidance 24/7 365. Though in the big picture it doesn’t matter whether it is a tiger, giraffe, monkey, or sheep.
All moms are perfectly and beautifully there for each one of us in a unique way. I only wish that there were a universal magical rule that every mom couldn’t age nor leave children behind on this earth.
3 poems that celebrate every mom
My mother was
my first country,
The first place I
—Nayyirah Waheed, “lands” from Salt
i struggle so deeply
how someone can
pour their entire soul
blood and energy
—Rupi Kaur, “I Will Have to Wait Until I’m a Mother” from Milk and Honey
Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep; —
Rock me to sleep, mother, — rock me to sleep!
-Elizabeth Akers Allen, “Rock Me to Sleep,”
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We are celebrating every mom in the world this week. Share the story of your mom.