Musicians: Were your parents supportive of your career choice?

I realize not all that many of you are actually making a living doing music (wooHOO if you are!). I’m just interested in hearing how your parents were with it. Did they support your music education? Buy you instruments? Encourage you emotionally? Or did you get the ol’ “God damn kids and their racket!” speech?

My son is still in college (he’s majoring in composition) and he intends to make a living in music, but I can answer the question up to now.

Yes, we encouraged him. We bought his first instruments (well, some we rented for him). We let him practice. We endured days and nights and weekends of wrong notes, of the same passage being played endlessly until he got it right. We took him to band practices and rehearsals. When he needed us to, we even hauled him and his instruments and helped him set up and break down.

We did it because he loves music, because he has a passion for it, and because he works harder at it on his own than we could ever nag him to do it. As a parent, I want to see that kind of passion from my children, and I’m going to encourage it.

We’re under no illusions. As soon as he finishes college he’ll probably be back in our basement, unable to pay his student loans, and working an endless series of minimum wage jobs. But if he decides to give up, it will be because he took his best shot at it and couldn’t make it, not because we tried to steer him into something he didn’t want to do.

By the way, our daughter wants to be a novelist. The basement will be crowded for a long time.

While I do not make my living off of my music, I do use it right now as my sole means of income. I play shows as often as possible, and all that money is used for my savings, but I use my musical ability to give lessons out of my home in evenings and on weekends. I’m an education student in my junior year, and since I was 16 I’ve kept at least one student at most any time. Of course, for some people, it was wierd (when I was 16, I taught a 24 year old boy how to play guitar. he was embarassed when it came to telling people that some kid was teaching him)

My father has always supported me in my decision to support myself, but he taught me well. I know that he is confident I will finish school and work in a regular work environment until my music takes me somewhere. I also think he is so supportive because he had the same big dreams in high school and college, but traded them for a family and later gave up completely on playing guitar.

My mother has always known what I wanted to do, and always been against it. No matter what the situation was, she tells me I could do better. I know she was upset when I dropped out of the business program at my first school (which I was garunteed a job upon graduation with) to move to a smaller school and get an education degree, but she also seems upset that while I might hold down a boring job during the week, I don’t let go of the dream of playing.

Recently, my soon-to-be-father-in-law has become very, very supportive of my music. He helped me out by getting me a few jobs playing in the last couple months, and he has also (in a good way) pushed me into recording more. Maybe it’s because he also wants to be involved (he plays harmonica for me a good bit when I have been recording) but it’s very nice.


Very very supportive. Then again, at primary school, my dad was the teacher in charge of music, so the support was hardly unexpected. They paid for instruments (although the cost of my violin actually came out of an inheritance, but I suspect it was a disproportionate amount). Paid for lessons when it became necessary (free lessons at school for many years). Paid god knows how much for all sorts of other stuff.

If any of us had passions in other fields, they got the same support. (Indeed, did get, and still get.) A large part of this comes from our mother, who left home & country at 18 because otherwise she would have had no opportunity to do anything interesting, challenging or rewarding. In various ways, we all picked up an ethos which comes from that attitude. And we’ve all ended up in utterly different careers.

It was very odd:

They paid for lessons.
They bought instruments.
They came to concerts.
Constantly begged me not to practice while they were home.
Only really liked paying out cash when I was doing the “rock band” thing with my cousins.
Ultimately wondered what I would pick to do as a profession.

I’m still wondering myself.

So, the answer is, a qualified, yes. And no. And Yes. AND NO.

Oh, forgot to add - they’ve always explicitly said that they would always find a way to support us in whatever academic route we chose, to whatever stage. Implicit in this was the recognition of music, drama and law (the three fields we ended up in) as of equal worth.

My parents not only didn’t support it, they tried to knock me down every chance they got. Despite the fact that I played my guitar often from the time I got home from school into the late hours of night, they would usually find subtle ways to let me know I wasn’t good and to “stop with this music business already”.

When I was preparing for college my father said in no uncertain terms that he “will not allow me to study music in school”.

I got a BA in psych, worked for 2 years, and then went back to school fulltime to get my BA in music (there’s a thread somewhere on here which I posted in response to my mom trying to talk me out of it). I received a full scholarship and numerous awards while there, but that did little to change their opinion.

I wish I could say I’m beyond the point where it matters, but I can’t. I’m almost 31 and still trying to figure out how to get back on track.

Good on ya!