I received several questions from parents about their children and a career in music. Now, I don’t have children but I realize I’ve actually had thousands of children as students over the years, of all ages from 3 to 103.
I’ve seen parent and child push and pull for the upper hand. Parents want to guide but may not know the cool songs, or the cool venues and of course children think they already know it all. There is a delicate balance and I have a few suggestions that may help parents and their up-and-coming offspring.
Who’s driving this bus?
Make sure this is actually your child’s dream and not yours. I once asked 10-year-old Taylor Ware (America’s Got Talent) what she wanted for Christmas. Her response? “ A tour bus.” Guess who was in this driver’s seat? It’s easy to tell which singers are training because of their own desires or simply because mom or dad have dreams of seeing their child’s name up in lights.
Watch your dollars.
One parent spent $70,000 on a useless demo for a 12-year-old singer who was not ready for a full-blown career. Don’t spend a fortune trying to make little Sally a star. Expensive demos, professional photographs, a manager will not make her a star. Spend your money wisely. Invest in good training including: theatrical, dance, instruments and, “of course” a good vocal coach that can help them become the best entertainers they can be. Then let nature take its course.
Remember, moderation in all things.
Make sure they get a good childhood experience. There is no need to push a 12-year-old into a lifetime of performing. They have the rest of their lives to do that. Encourage them to hang with friends, attend concerts, sporting events, movies and school activities. Make sure they make memories. Think, “Michael Jackson.”
Home School or Public/Private School?
Where your child gets their primary education is up to you, be it public school, private school or home school. I bring this up because many gifted students become the targets of bullies. Children can be jealous of those they perceive to have more “going on” than they do. Young singers, especially those who perform in public, risk unwanted attention from their peers. Be prepared to home school your rising superstar if necessary.
Who makes the decisions?
Let your child make age-appropriate decisions. Let the singer decide when they are ready to perform and where and which songs. Guidance is necessary, but so is freedom. You can always keep veto power if necessary. Allow them to learn to make some their own decisions and it will prepare them make better good decisions in the future. Pick your battles.
Be honest with your would-be star. Don’t tell Tommy he “nailed it” if he didn’t. First tell him what he did right, and then communicate how to correct what he’s doing wrong. It’s important to help a young singer move forward, but their voice may go through many changes and it’s hard to tell at a young age who will be a successful performer and who will not.
Singers must pay their dues. It means singing in public without expecting to be reimbursed, which takes up your time, but builds up your entertainment abilities and fan base. American Idol’s Bo Bice once told me he was too busy playing in churches, clubs and bars to actually watch American Idol. Most of all, don’t push (although a little nudging never hurts)! But, let them build their career at their own pace.
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