This weekend is Father’s Day so to honor fathers everywhere I will be talking about fathers that had a positive musical influence on their children. Today, I’ll introduce you to two musicians and the influence and impact their fathers had on them.
Hiao-Tsiun Ma—the father of Yo-Yo Ma.
Hiao-Tsiun Ma was a violinist and professor of music at Nanjing National Central University. And he is an impressive example of support and encouragement to his famous son, cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Yo-Yo Ma began playing the cello at age four, and six months later he was playing Bach suites. His father taught him, however, he was careful not to put too much pressure on his young son. In fact, he insisted that young Ma practice only 30 minutes a day, learning only two measures of music, but playing them technically perfect.
By following this system, he had memorized three Bach suites at the young age of seven. When Ma was fourteen, it was obvious to people in the music business in New York that he was virtuoso material, but his father wanted his son to be “normal.” Therefore, Ma did not enter competitions, and he rarely gave concerts. He said, “My father wanted us to be educated, good people first, and musicians second.”
Hiao-Tsiun Ma was a strong support and example to his talented son. Unlike some fathers of virtuosos (i.e. Mozart’s father), Hiao-Tsiun knew when to encourage, when to support, and had a clear understanding of what was most important for his son—educated, good people first, and musicians second. Clearly, this technique worked because he raised a good son, an educated son, AND a virtuoso.
Ellis Marsalis Jr., the father of Wynton Marsalis
The second example is Ellis Marsalis Jr.,–father of Wynton Marsalis—the famous jazz/classical musician. He was raised in a musical home, and his father, Ellis Marsalis Jr. was also an accomplished musician and music professor. The elder Marsalis was a jazz musician, played the piano and came from a long line of talented musicians.
When young Marsalis was six years old, he started to play the trumpet. His father did not force him to practice, but rather encouraged his young son and made lessons available to him. As a result, young Marsalis enjoyed and loved learning the trumpet and his father supported and helped him every step of the way.
Like Hiao-Tsiun Ma, Ellis Marsalis Jr. was a supportive and encouraging father—the result—an amazingly talented and accomplished son!
So Bravo to Hiao-Tsiun Ma and Ellis Marsalis Jr.–and congratulations on the roles they both played in inspiring their sons musically!
CD Suggestion: If you want to introduce your children to an enchanting story that incorporates music check out: “Listen to the Storyteller.” It is a trio of musical tales from around the world. The first, “The Fiddler and the Dancin’ Witch” is composed and narrated by Wynton Marsalis with Joshua Bell on the violin. It has all the trappings of a fairytale and is about a young boy named Simeon who loves music and loves listening to his father play a magic fiddle. But, this magic fiddle calls out a witch and then strange things begin to happen…you must get the CD to find out the interesting end of this enchanting tale!
It has all the trappings of a fairytale and is about a young boy named Simeon who loves music and loves listening to his father play a magic fiddle. But, this magic fiddle calls out a witch and then strange things begin to happen…you must get the CD to find out the interesting end of this enchanting tale!
This is a fun CD to play for your children at night when they are going to bed or in the car. For more information on today’s blog, check out my book, Good Music Brighter Children