A parent in my studio recently lent me “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, otherwise known as That Tiger Mother book. I have been hearing about the book for a while now, and since some of the parents were reading it, I wanted to be in the know! (Funny aside: A ten year-old student recently showed up to her lesson decidedly more prepared than usual. When I expressed my pleasure, she sighed, rolled her eyes and said, “my mom is reading that Tiger Mother book”.)
If this is the first time you are hearing of this book, the subtitle pretty much says it all:
“ This is a story about a mother, two daughters, and two dogs. This was supposed to be a story of how Chinese parents are better at raising kids than Western ones. But instead, it’s about a bitter clash of cultures, a fleeting taste of glory, and how I was humbled by a thirteen-year-old.”
Yes. So. Let me try to avoid wading into any sort of controversy…
I very much enjoyed the book, just for the entertainment value alone. Amy Chua’s writing is very humorous and she manages to strike a tone that is a bit self-deprecating and yet sincere.
I think this book should be required reading for piano teachers. I do not say this because I believe it is a totally accurate representation of parenting in a particular culture or because I have a fixed opinion of whether Chua was right or wrong in the approach she took with raising her daughters (to give a sense of scale: the pianist makes her Carnegie Hall debut as an eighth-grader, the violinist is the concert master of her youth orchestra and studies with a teacher from the Julliard Prep, having narrowly missed acceptance into that program). The value of the book for me was in the questions that it raised in my mind:
- How do I interact with different styles of parenting?
- What is my role as a teacher in the context of the parent-child relationship?
- Do I have clear communication with parents about the musical goals they have for their children?