What Instrument Can Earn a College Scholarship?

Discovery Toys DT Blog

A couple years ago, when my youngest Savana was starting 5th grade, a community mom asked my wife what instrument Savana elected to try as part of the district’s musical introduction program.  When my wife responded “the violin”, this same mom surprised her with the retort, “Why didn’t you choose an instrument that can get you money?”  Supposedly her daughter’s band teacher advised the parents that particular instruments can help a child earn a scholarship, like a clarinet or flute.  Are you kidding me??

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this mom, and others I am sure, easily bought into this rationale for their child’s first instrument selection.

It has been common knowledge for quite a long time that some parents have steered their young children into certain sports with the hope of earning a college scholarship.  What was not so obvious to me was this same objective being applied to the arts. 

And if you feel your child is not born to be a proficient young athlete or artist, you can push your child on the academic track.  I know one parent who enrolled her daughter in SAT boot camp, in 7th & 8th grade!  Her goal is not college admission, as one would expect, but a full scholarship.  She shared with us that a near perfect score on the SAT can get you a full ride to a top university.

Music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skill. The Brain and Creativity Institute at USC, 2017

With 3 children of my own, I fully grasp the financial burden a college degree can place on a family these days and I certainly share the hope of achieving some alleviation through scholarships.  But to prioritize your young child’s activities based on what scholarships can be earned years in the future, with the pressure to achieve these goals, seems misguided to me, with the potential to handicap your child’s future.  Not to mention a potentially rich part of childhood your child may miss out on.

How do you know that your child you pushed to earn a music scholarship playing the clarinet wasn’t born to be a future Wimbledon champion?  Or your child who you groomed to earn a football scholarship at Alabama wasn’t born to be on the first mission to Mars?  Or your child who you pushed to excel in academics and earn a full ride at Harvard wasn’t born to be in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame?

The mantra I often hear, “Parents know best for their children”, does not extend to knowing who your child is truly born to be and where and how your child can find true fulfillment.