"Almost everything a parent needs to know about the challenges and rewards of children’s music lessons...A concise, positive, practical and highly recommended source of advice and solace for anyone guiding a young musician’s life."
— KIRKUS Reviews

"Nathan drew on the experiences of 265 parents and educators for this book of advice, emotional support, and important reminders of why the pursuit of music is worth the sacrifice."
—Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer/​

"Where can the dedicated, but slightly frantic, music parent turn for advice? Enter Amy Nathan, a writer and music parent who wants to help. Her book includes interviews with parents of well-known musicians and educators. The 12 chapters cover everything from getting started to preparing for a musical future beyond high school. Harried parents will find plenty of insight here."
— STRINGS magazine, July 2015

“. . . any music parent will find stories and advice that will resonate with them in this book. The sidebars and stories from professional musicians were particularly delightful . . . could also be considered essential reading for any music teacher. . . So whether you are a music parent (struggling or otherwise) or an educator who has found oneself counseling a frustrated music parent, this book is worthy of a place on your bookshelf!”
— American Music Teacher Magazine

“I'm thrilled that Amy Nathan has provided such an encyclopedic guide. Now I can refer parents who ask about starting their kids in music to this thoughtful, balanced conversation among so many parents who have been there.”
— Theodore Wiprud, Vice President of Education, New York Philharmonic

“An important read for every family engaged in music studies: a delightful collection of ideas and moving accounts from loving, dedicated parents.”
— Aaron P. Dworkin, President, The Sphinx Organization

Amy Nathan, author of two earlier books on music, is a music mom herself, with two musical sons: composer/trumpeter Eric Nathan ( and his saxophone-playing political scientist brother.

To contact author:

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This book of parent-to-parent advice aims to encourage, support, and bolster the morale of one of music's most important back-up sections: music parents. Within the pages of this new book from Oxford University Press, more than 150 veteran music parents from around the country contribute their experiences, reflections, warnings, and helpful suggestions for how to walk the music-parenting tightrope: how to be supportive but not overbearing, and how to encourage excellence without becoming bogged down in fruitless battles of will.

Among those offering advice are the parents of several top musicians, including the mother of violinist Joshua Bell, the father of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, the parents of cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and those of violinist Anne Akiko Meyers.

The book also features advice from dozens of music educators and more than forty professional musicians, including Paula Robison, Sarah Chang, Anthony McGill, Jennifer Koh, Jonathan Biss, Toyin Spellman-Diaz, Marin Alsop, Christian McBride, Miguel Zenón, Stephanie Blythe, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelli O'Hara, as well as Joshua Bell, Alisa Weilerstein, Wynton Marsalis, Anne Akiko Meyers, Erika Nickrenz, Richard Stoltzman, and more.

A parent-to-parent talk about the book at the DC Youth Orchestra featuring orchestra alumna Toyin Spellman-Diaz (R) and Kenneth Whitley, the orchestra's assistant artistic director. Author Amy Nathan (C) has also been holding parent-to-parent discussions this year at other music programs.

Amy Nathan gave the keynote address at CIM's Preparatory Division graduation in May 2015, at the invitation of Dean Sandra Shapiro (whose is featured in THE MUSIC PARENTS' SURVIVAL GUIDE). Nathan and Dean Shapiro (L) are shown here at a parent-to-parent workshop that weekend in Severance Hall with parents of young musicians in the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra.


Almost everything a parent needs to know about the challenges and rewards of children’s music lessons.

Nathan (Round and Round Together, 2012, etc.) offers the flip side of her 2008 book, The Young Musician’s Survival Guide, and looks at parents’ experiences with their children’s music study, including its delights, dilemmas, expenses and intangibles. Inspired by her own experience, but primarily drawing from interviews with other parents, she offers 12 chapters, each carefully labeled so that harried readers can turn directly to the most pertinent information. Every parent who pays for music instruction, ferries children to lessons, provides instruments and listens to his or her kid practicing exercises asks similar questions: Which instrument? Is there life after lessons? Can they make a living at it? Parents of now-famous musicians reveal in interviews that there’s no one right way to begin, or even know to begin, a child’s musical career. Shirley Bell, the mother of world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell, discovered her son’s talent when the 2-year-old created his own musical instrument from rubber bands and drawer knobs, but she says that she “never anticipated that it would be a career.” Other parents share effective, sometimes indirect, ways to encourage practicing, in two useful sections. One chapter is devoted to finding a teacher, and offers wise tips: Attend kids’ concerts, and check nearby colleges, local orchestras, and summer programs. The interviewees’ consensus is, unsurprisingly, that it’s all worth it, even if children don’t turn into professional musicians; it gives them a lifelong source of delight and, as parent Theresa Chong affirms, it can forge “a close connection…through our shared passion for music.” There’s also a handy bibliography for further research, a source list and an index.

A concise, positive, practical and highly recommended source of advice and solace for anyone guiding a young musician’s life.

More than 40 professional musicians are featured in THE MUSIC PARENTS’ SURVIVAL GUIDE, sharing stories from their own childhood musical experiences and offering practical and helpful suggestions for parents. Below is a list of who they are — with their websites — so you can learn more about them and also check out their calendars and try to catch some of their upcoming performances.


Marin Alsop—
Adrian Anantawan—
Emanuel Ax—
Joshua Bell—
Jonathan Biss—
Sarah Chang— http:/​/​
Gloria Cheng—
Stephanie Blythe— http:/​/​​artists/​stephanie-blythe
Lawrence Brownlee—
Caleb Burhans— http:/​/​​wordpress/​
Lauren Chipman—
David Grossman—
Robert Vijay Gupta—​philpedia/​robert-vijay-gupta
Mark Inouye—
Shachar Israel—​about/​israel-shachar.aspx
Ali Jackson— http:/​/​
Alice Jones— http:/​/​
Jamie Jordan—
Jennifer Koh—
Payton MacDonald—
Ellis Marsalis—
Wynton Marsalis— http:/​/​
Christian McBride—
Anthony McGill—
Cheryl Melfi— http:/​/​
Ranaan Meyer—
Anne Akiko Meyers—
Dana Myers— http:/​/​​bios/​first-violins/​dana-edson-myers.aspx
Erika Nickrenz—
Kelli O’Hara—
Jeff Raab—
Paula Robison—
Jennifer Roig-Francolí— http:/​/​​
Brent Samuel—​philpedia/​brent-samuel
Adam Sankowski—
Wes Sparkes— http:/​/​​
Toyin Spellman-Diaz—
Richard Stoltzman—
Adrienne Taylor— http:/​/​​staff.htm#Adrienne
Isabel Trautwein—​about/​trautwein-isabel.aspx
Liang Wang— http:/​/​​about-us/​ArtistDetail?artistname=liang-wang
Alisa Weilerstein—
Donald and Vivian Weilerstein—
William Wellborn—
Larry Williams—​preparatory/​faculty/​williams.html
Randy Wong— http:/​/​​bar
Miguel Zenón—

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Here are the schools and organizations that helped in locating the more than 150 experienced "music parents" who served on the book's advice panel. In several cases, music educators from some of these schools or programs served on the advice panel as well:

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids, Baltimore, MD
Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Boston, MA
Children’s Orchestra Society, Manhasset, NY
College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
DC Youth Orchestra Program, Washington, D.C.
Community Music and Dance Academy of the University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas City, MO
Eastman’s Community Music School, Rochester, NY
Face the Music, New York, NY
From the Top, Boston, MA
Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York, NY (through its Middle School Jazz Academy and its Essentially Ellington programs)
JCC Thurnauer School of Music, Tenafly, NJ
Lindbergh High School, St. Louis, MO
Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA
Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) and (HOLA /​ Harmony Project), Los Angeles
Peabody Preparatory, Baltimore, MD
People’s Music School, Chicago, IL
Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland, OR
Pre-College Division, Manhattan School of Music, New York, NY
San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division, San Francisco, CA
School of Rock, Montclair, NJ
School of Rock, Omaha, NE
Special Music School, New York, NY
St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, St. Louis, MO
The Sphinx Organization, Detroit, MI.