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#2079826 - 05/09/13 12:43 PM The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
I have recently encountered quite a few of these parents and I was wondering what is the best way to handle them, and any thoughts on if you think there is an increase in this or not.

By "Stage Mom/Dad", I mean a parent who goes a bit beyond the parent who recognizes their child has talent and supports them in their pursuit of music by providing the best lessons and instrument possible and aiding the teacher at home with practice as the teacher requests.

The Stage Parent seems to want to be their own child's agent. They may talk as if they want what's best for the child, but their actions speak more about how it's about them (the parent), as if they are living vicariously through their child's talent. They are the child's agent and will schedule them for "gigs" without consulting with the teacher on what is best for their development, often ignoring the teacher's requests to cease such performances for a while so the student can focus on learning and preparing their music better.

Said parent will also deny or choose to ignore the child's pleas to not do these gigs, either, even as the child gets to an age where they are starting to realize what they want to do (mid-teens), or rather, that they *don't* want to do these extra performances. The parent will claim that one cannot pass up these "great" opportunities when they come along - even though the student does nto feel prepared enough to do them well, and their greatness is highly questionable.

I have been struggling with such a parent lately, and finally sat the student and mom down to discuss what we're doing to make sure we are all on the same page. Because I get one thing from the teen, another from the mom, and they are two different directions. I feel bad for the girl because she is starting to hate music and announced in this talk that she no longer wanted a career in music but wanted to go to med school instead. I think this is her way of trying to get some independence from the overbearing parent, and I'm trying to support the girl in her decisions.

Have you experienced this, and what did you do, and what was the outcome?
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#2079827 - 05/09/13 12:46 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
rocket88 Offline
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Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3191
I think this parent living vicariously thru the child thing is quite common, and known, with school sports.

There might be a lot of info in that area about coaches dealing with such parents. Just a guess.
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#2079896 - 05/09/13 03:34 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: rocket88]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: rocket88
I think this parent living vicariously thru the child thing is quite common, and known, with school sports.

There might be a lot of info in that area about coaches dealing with such parents. Just a guess.


Absolutely, rocket88. I see this frequently. Morodiene, I don't have any students or parents in the category at this time so I can't speak from experience as a teacher, but as a parent I have seen it happen in sports, theatre, and other activities with kids. In my opinion, these kids are exploited.

How did the conversation go with the student and parent when you sat down with them? Did you feel you were all able to get on the same page after the conversation?
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#2079981 - 05/09/13 06:45 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Peter K. Mose Offline
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Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Here is a prime opportunity to bond with an adolescent at the expense of her mom. I would confide in the girl, and tell her you wish her mother would stay out of the music arena of her daughter's life.

OTH, I'm not sure what is so upsetting about a student who is doing some performing. Does that really collide with your teaching? I don't think it would matter to me.

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#2080011 - 05/09/13 08:16 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Quote:
They are the child's agent and will schedule them for "gigs" without consulting with the teacher on what is best for their development, often ignoring the teacher's requests to cease such performances for a while so the student can focus on learning and preparing their music better.


Oooh, this is a problem. But it is also can be a nuanced thing.

Ignoring the teacher's request is a big red flag to me. But teachers also could show some flexibility.

The teacher has a clear interest in how the student is prepared. The student's playing, after all, reflects on that teacher. So consultation is really important. But a teacher should not, in my opinion, bar the student from public performance without a very good reason that they can articulate. A good young musician is often asked to do things in the community. I know about that one from personal experience. The teacher needs to be a helpful screen and not a rigid locked door. But most teachers I have known have been very helpful when a young student is invited to play at a public venue.

A parent scheduling things against the wishes of their child seems like a clear red flag as well. Coupled with ignoring the teacher's requests and you have a serious problem to resolve.
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#2080038 - 05/09/13 09:22 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
John v.d.Brook Offline
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Registered: 03/18/06
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Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Originally Posted By: Morodiene
I have been struggling with such a parent lately, .....

Want to trade? I have the opposite situation, the student wants to perform, the parent is ambivalent.
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#2080057 - 05/09/13 10:30 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Morodiene Online   content
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Well, the problem is the student has confided in me that she doesn't like these. She sings at restaurants, doesn't get paid, and it's not under very good conditions. Also, the girl was interested in singing opera, not in singing classical crossover music that she has to sing for these "gigs". She doesn't get paid for most of them, but someone does profit. The mother often will tell me what new songs she needs to learn for these things. None of these things are the biggest problem if the student wants to do it.

What is the problem is that she hates it. She came to me with serious vocal issues from previous teachers, and I have repeatedly asked the mother to hold off on having her perform because she needed to focus on re-doing her technique. It's very hard to redo technique when you're constantly singing the old way because you are scheduled to perform. As far as I can tell nothing has stopped, and I've only been working with her for 9 months.

I have in the past let the girl know that I will do what I can to help. I see her losing interest in music and may quit altogether if the mother doesn't back off. I'm hoping that our conversation went well, but I know the mother was very angry. I left it at asking the student to take a week to think about what she wants, and we will listen to what she has to say. I did this so that the daughter could be taken more seriously. I know she has told her mom this before, but maybe she'll listen.

By the way, the girl loves her lessons and is making great progress, but there is still a lot of work to do. Again, if she wanted to perform at these places I wouldn't be putting up much of a stink about it. Even though the mom pays for the lessons, I consider the daughter my client first and foremost.
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#2080061 - 05/09/13 10:40 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Piano*Dad Offline
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I know the "getting paid" part of it isn't your main issue, but it bothers me when young people are continually exploited. And of course part of the problem here is that the interested party seems to be the mother instead of the daughter. Gigs in restaurants are part of a profit making venture. The performer should be treated professionally. My kids have done gigs like that, but they have all been paid in cash, meals and tips. And performing has always been their choice.
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#2080109 - 05/10/13 01:37 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Whizbang Offline
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#2080116 - 05/10/13 01:53 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Morodiene

It's very hard to redo technique when you're constantly singing the old way because you are scheduled to perform. As far as I can tell nothing has stopped, and I've only been working with her for 9 months.



Have you told the mother this in as many words?

The contract I have with my own teacher, which is legally binding, is I'm not allowed to perform without her permission. I thought that was interesting, and I could immediately see the point.

Ultimately, they can easily change teachers. If the daughter is being forced to perform against her wishes, would you say this is a child protection issue?
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#2080119 - 05/10/13 01:57 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
AZNpiano Offline
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Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5590
Loc: Orange County, CA
Is this Stage Parent thing similar to Tiger Parent in certain Asian cultures?
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#2080128 - 05/10/13 02:48 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
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Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
Morodiene, if I was the teenager's friend, I'd advise her to rebel... it's probably not a very good piece of advice but that was what I did. My family didn't want me to get into music, particularly my father - he wanted me to get into med school. I never listened to him and I ended up going to music school. I don't regret that decision...

Did you talk to the girl to talk to her mother, and to have a frank discussion on what she thinks and how she feels about the situation?
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#2080198 - 05/10/13 07:44 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Morodiene Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
Morodiene, if I was the teenager's friend, I'd advise her to rebel... it's probably not a very good piece of advice but that was what I did. My family didn't want me to get into music, particularly my father - he wanted me to get into med school. I never listened to him and I ended up going to music school. I don't regret that decision...

Did you talk to the girl to talk to her mother, and to have a frank discussion on what she thinks and how she feels about the situation?


Of course I did, this is why I had that conversation with both of them to allow her to speak freely to her mom about what she wants, and I was there as the go-between. I have spoken to the mother very clearly about not wanting her to perform, we had this conversation 2 times already. The last time she agreed bu nothing changed.

I don't think it's a child protection issue, nor would I want to go there. This is just something that I think the daughter will have to learn to stand up for herself, and I hope that she will be able to continue lessons and it doesn't degrade to the point where she doesn't want to sing at all anymore as a means of "rebelling". She's already quit piano as a result of her mom pushing her.

AZN: I think they are the same.
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#2080212 - 05/10/13 08:25 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Nannerl Mozart Offline
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Registered: 07/19/08
Posts: 732
Loc: Australia, Melbourne
How did she manage to quit piano? Maybe the fact that she was able to quit piano means she'll be able to quit singing?
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#2080220 - 05/10/13 08:47 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Nannerl Mozart]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Nannerl Mozart
How did she manage to quit piano? Maybe the fact that she was able to quit piano means she'll be able to quit singing?


I had recommended it because she wasn't practicing and it was clear she didn't want to do it. I spoke with the mom and suggested instead that she have voice lessons twice a week so that she could improve faster. I talked to the mom after consulting with the student first and making sure this was the right thing for her. She really didn't seem to have interest in piano itself, it was more she was taking it because her mom felt that would help her singing. Her mom is right, of course, but if someone doesn't love piano, they won't put the work into it, and she wasn't.

I'd hate for her to quit singing altogether. She's very talented and could have an operatic career if she so chose (or any other singing career, for that matter). She really enjoys singing opera, though, I can tell, and so I don't want her to quit that, but to quit the non-opera stuff that she obviously doesn't like.
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#2080232 - 05/10/13 09:30 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Morodiene


I don't think it's a child protection issue, nor would I want to go there. This is just something that I think the daughter will have to learn to stand up for herself,


Yes indeed. There's a limit to what you can do as a go between. It's all very well for you to find out what each party wants, but you can't single-handedly change anyone's mind.
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#2080236 - 05/10/13 09:49 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Peter K. Mose Offline
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Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1382
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Morodiene, we studio music teachers often witness family tensions and dramas beyond our mandate. All you can do is remain loyal to this girl. If she quits voice, tell her you hope she keeps singing, and that your door is always open.

P.S. Urge her to select a college at least 500 miles from home.

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#2080244 - 05/10/13 09:59 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Barb860 Offline
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Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
Morodiene, we studio music teachers often witness family tensions and dramas beyond our mandate. All you can do is remain loyal to this girl. If she quits voice, tell her you hope she keeps singing, and that your door is always open.

P.S. Urge her to select a college at least 500 miles from home.


and hope her parents don't move there....
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#2080256 - 05/10/13 10:15 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...music teachers often witness family tensions and dramas beyond our mandate..."

I was afraid, Peter, that the good advice of your first post was going to go right over the heads of those who asked for it... and I am afraid that your second post will meet the same fate, and for the same reason. I enjoyed it a lot, though.

People do not ask for advice, as a rule, because they want advice. They ask so you can tell them what they want to hear. And, "Stay out of it," is not what they want to hear.
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#2080273 - 05/10/13 10:49 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
keystring Offline
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A teacher is (hopefully) a professional who has expertise with which that professional guides and forms the student. The student, in turn, is in a trusting relationship to that teacher. If something is being forced on the student by an outside person (parent in this case), which will harm the student musically, then I don't think the teacher should "stay out of it". Children aren't toys. The teacher may not have a role in the parent-child relationship, but she definitely has a role as the child's musical guide. There is the fact that the child has a life of her own, and a future of her own that extends into adulthood for decades to come.

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#2080408 - 05/10/13 04:00 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
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Loc: San Jose, CA
I don't deny that it's tempting, keystring, and any teacher with a heart is going to want to help. But Morodene has done what she can, short of going to Child Protective Services; that is what Peter meant by "...beyond our mandate."

Doing a few idiotic little performances to please her mother, this century's Mme Mozart, is not going to kill the child; if she prefers medical school, fine. She can minor in music--- many doctors do. A career in performance is no plate of tea cakes. Besides, doctors find out pretty fast about cures that are worse than the disease, and I would imagine that rupturing the parent/child bond just before the child is sent off to college would be a fair example of "bad disease/worse cure; send the bill to keystring."

If the parent botches the childrearing duties, it is better if they find no one else too handy to accuse. Besides, she might know what she's doing.

The child will do what it wants to in the end, so don't worry. They always do. She will remember Morodene's lessons, and her advice--- if only to torment her mother with, at a later time.
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#2080424 - 05/10/13 04:35 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Jeff Clef]
keystring Offline
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Registered: 12/11/07
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Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
I don't deny that it's tempting, keystring, and any teacher with a heart is going to want to help.

I was talking about the part that is a teacher's responsibility, namely advice and feedback about the musical part. Not about an idealistic intervention in family affairs. As teachers we must strike a balance. And "within our mandate" as you say.

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#2080454 - 05/10/13 05:54 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
BrainCramp Offline
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Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 270
Loc: USA
Morodiene, does Mom have any knowledge or appreciation of opera? I wonder if she thinks she's just giving her daughter practice performing, and that the type of music and venue is 6 of one, a half dozen of another.

Or, she may be playing the odds, thinking her daughter has a better chance at being an American Idol type of professional singer.

The talent to be a professional opera singer is quite rare. It seems like a personally satisfying career for those who make it.

In any case, it sounds like she doesn't truly understand that spending time singing one kind of music is hurting her daughter's ability to sing/progress with the other.

I'm an opera lover (not a piano teacher) and I've often heard how important it is for opera singers to be singing the right kind of music for their voices at particular points in their lives. But I'm not sure Mom would know that unless she's an aficionado.

Perhaps if the topic weren't centered on her daughter, e.g. if she read/watched some interviews with opera singers as they discussed their careers, she'd understand what you're saying.

Certainly nearly every interview in Opera World magazine (Met Opera Guild) seems to touch on voice development and repertoire.

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#2080495 - 05/10/13 08:00 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Jeff Clef]
Morodiene Online   content
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
"...music teachers often witness family tensions and dramas beyond our mandate..."

I was afraid, Peter, that the good advice of your first post was going to go right over the heads of those who asked for it... and I am afraid that your second post will meet the same fate, and for the same reason. I enjoyed it a lot, though.

People do not ask for advice, as a rule, because they want advice. They ask so you can tell them what they want to hear. And, "Stay out of it," is not what they want to hear.
Actually, it didn't go over my head. He also said to stay loyal to the girl, and that is what I'm doing. I've said my peace, I've done what I can, but I will back her up in whatever decision she will make.
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#2080500 - 05/10/13 08:09 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: BrainCramp]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: BrainCramp
Morodiene, does Mom have any knowledge or appreciation of opera? I wonder if she thinks she's just giving her daughter practice performing, and that the type of music and venue is 6 of one, a half dozen of another.
She knows nothing about opera or singing in general (or any musical endeavor). I have given the mother advice on when it's good to perform and when it's best to learn. Usually, a student will go through a period of learning with a goal of a performance, then perform, then go back to more learning with a performance as a goal, etc. Whenever I have students that wer performing a lot, either in high school musicals or what have you, their progress in lessons comes to a screeching halt. There's only so much room in that box, and once it's full there's no more learning. I explained all of this to her.

Quote:
Or, she may be playing the odds, thinking her daughter has a better chance at being an American Idol type of professional singer.
It could be, but the girl doesn't like the music her mom if having her sing, and it's beginning to show in her performances.

Quote:
The talent to be a professional opera singer is quite rare. It seems like a personally satisfying career for those who make it.
This girl is very talented, and if she so desires she could have a go at it. I have told her and her mom this, but I know just how difficult this career choice is, so I don't ever try to "force" it on anyone. smile

Quote:
In any case, it sounds like she doesn't truly understand that spending time singing one kind of music is hurting her daughter's ability to sing/progress with the other.

I'm an opera lover (not a piano teacher) and I've often heard how important it is for opera singers to be singing the right kind of music for their voices at particular points in their lives. But I'm not sure Mom would know that unless she's an aficionado.

Perhaps if the topic weren't centered on her daughter, e.g. if she read/watched some interviews with opera singers as they discussed their careers, she'd understand what you're saying.

Certainly nearly every interview in Opera World magazine (Met Opera Guild) seems to touch on voice development and repertoire.
Opera is not the vision the mother has for her, so she doesn't really encourage that. Or rather, she wants her to do crossover singing (ala Sarah Brightman), and when I first met her she called that opera singing. But it's a very different thing. I think the mom knows that now, but she seems to want her daughter to do the crossover. If she wanted her to do opera, one would think she'd be following my advice on how to get her there.

It's just a tough situation, but hopefully we'll have an idea next week on what direction to take. I'm hoping the girl will be able to say what she really wants, but chances are the mom will take over. At some point the girl will have to establish her own identity, as we have all had to do at some point in our lives.
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#2080507 - 05/10/13 08:31 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
How old is this student?
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#2080523 - 05/10/13 09:19 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Barb860]
Morodiene Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12215
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Originally Posted By: Barb860
How old is this student?
14
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#2080526 - 05/10/13 09:23 PM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Piano*Dad Offline
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Registered: 04/12/05
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Quote:
She knows nothing about opera or singing in general (or any musical endeavor)


The stage mom with no music background! I wonder. Is this better or worse to deal with than one that DOES have a significant background.
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#2080728 - 05/11/13 10:23 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
Jeff Clef Offline
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Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4441
Loc: San Jose, CA
"...She knows nothing about opera or singing in general (or any musical endeavor). I have given the mother advice on when it's good to perform and when it's best to learn... performing a lot, either in high school musicals or what have you, their progress in lessons comes to a screeching halt. There's only so much room in that box, and once it's full there's no more learning. I explained all of this to her..."

"Actually, it didn't go over my head..."


Well, I did not mean to be insulting. I wonder if an evening at a regional opera performance might open the mother's eyes any. How unusual, for a daughter to rebel by wanting to be a diva.

I wonder if Mom has gotten a wire crossed, and believes her daughter wishes to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, rather than in grand opera. In either case, a good music education and proper early voice training...

Has the child an opera mentor (other than yourself), someone in the field who might talk to the parent about career expectations, and the rarity of true talent? If so, gang up on her. Maybe the mother is a glamour-hog.

But is it not telling that the girl reports not really enjoying public performance? It is a rare case, after all, when a novice steps onto the stage, the first time out, in a starring role. And, would experience in a high school musical really be so terrible, as preparation for a life which involves not only singing, but acting?
_________________________
Clef


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#2080748 - 05/11/13 10:56 AM Re: The "Stage Mom/Dad" phenomenon [Re: Morodiene]
BrainCramp Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/12
Posts: 270
Loc: USA
I remember how self-conscious I was at 14. It was a terrible age. And certainly not an age to decide my future.

I don't want to offend any restaurant singers here, but I've always fantasized that if I could do anything I wanted in life, I'd be an opera singer.

But I think I'd find singing in a restaurant mortifying. A Marlene Dietrich style routine would be wonderful.

But it wouldn't be that, would it? It would be singing popular tunes while people eat and talk and pretty much ignore me. Ugh.

Mom may think there's big money in crossover. But that's only if you've got a big recording contract. (As her daughter is finding out, there's no money in restaurant work.) The world doesn't need many Sarah Brightmans, does it?

I like Clef's idea of exposing Mom to opera. Maybe give her a DVD of one of the fun, "beginner's" operas, like Barber of Seville, or the Met's English version of the Magic Flute.

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