Recently, a Washington Post article has been circulating titled: “How crazy are youth sports these days? Ask college athletes.” It’s a well-crafted piece about the dangers of early sports specialization in American youth as seen through NCAA athlete surveys. Problems enumerated in the article include overuse injuries, burnout, and lack of developed ancillary skills from other sports among other things. For those not familiar with the idea, sports specialization is simply when one dedicates themselves to a singular sport instead of spreading their attention across a number of different sports or disciplines.
This article got me thinking about how much attention there is on sports and yet again very little in the arts. If you’re child is specializing in an instrument at an early age, then they are at risk for the same types of issues at the children in sports. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our system for training children in music is equally as disturbing as the sports world. In the music world, we value youth as much as if not even more so than sports. If you don’t believe me, check out a few of these videos that have been circulating:
I realize that we love to see adorable things, and what’s more adorable than a 3 year old playing the drums? I think children playing music from a young age is great for many reasons. My only hope is that, for the sake of their physical and mental health, these kids are allowed to do things other than practice their instruments. They should not be paraded around like monkeys inflating the egos of their parents and teachers, all the while making the rest of the parents and teachers of the world feel supremely inadequate.