Battle Hymn of Excellent Parenting or Battle Hymn For the Next Generation of Socially Sanctioned Abuse?

By now almost every parent has heard of the new book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, written by Amy Chua in which she describes her journey in what many are calling extreme parenting. The book has lead to a firestorm in the blogosphere of angry “western” parents calling Chua a dictator, Chinese Hitler even abusive for calling her daughter garbage after misbehavior, or perhaps it was forcing her daughter to play a piano piece until she got it right not letting her get up for water, food, or bathroom for hours. Experts have pointed to the deep insecurity American mothers feel and therefore the easiest thing for them to do is attack who they see as the bad mother, possibly explaining the death threats. Public comment is mixed some saying this is the type of parenting that used to be in the United States, we should return to others appalled that someone would do this to a child. Most interesting is the Chinese and Asian immigrants or second and third generation American Asians who say this is not how they raise children. Chinese in China itself or having family there are quick to say this is not how it’s done; ABC news found the same when they interview mother’s from both sides of the world.

Regardless why experts believe American parents are attacking the book, it could be because any human being worth the distinction of the term human being should be attacking a book, a philosophy, a parenting model that says it’s ok to call your children names in order to elicit better behavior, better school performance or for any reason at all. They should be attacking a parenting style that demands straight A’s above all else and engages in physical, emotional and verbal abuse to get it. Everyone should question a parent who has chosen to write a book, to jump into the spotlight, a defacto voice for her culture, ethnicity and country in such a way as to incite fear and distrust, especially someone who uses blanket, borderline idiotic generalizations saying people who believe in astrology have serious problems or drums lead to dugs. Other fallacies presented by Chua is parents are worried about children’s self esteem, worried how they will feel if they fail and therefore praise for mediocre performance. But it seems to be more parents here understand the importance of healthy self esteem and seek to foster that in their children through a variety of things not just academic success, not just getting an A, not just winning the contest, rather knowing who they are, what they like and discovering what positive virtues they value most in life.

It is the same with her arguments about American parents’ concerns with their children’s psyches implying we assume fragility, they strength; again no, we understand that A- children have a psyche something she admitted in her extended comparison Chinese, Chinese type mothers ignore, and B- we know they are developing thus cannot handle the same stress, strain, pressure as a mature, adult psyche can. That being said, we avoid doing, saying things to damage something still growing. Our goal is not to see how much it, a psyche, can take before it collapses, which is illustrated to be what she is doing “I love being able to count on Sophia. She has wells of inner strength. Even more than me, she can take anything: exclusion, excoriation, humiliation, loneliness.” Author of course failing to tell us outright she experiences these things at home administered by her own mother to make her “strong.” Readers though have no trouble drawing accurate conclusions. She also insists that nothing is fun until you are good at it; unfortunately by good she means perfect. However the goal of painting, sculpting, singing is usually not to create stellar, exact facsimiles of works or to master a particular technique instead is used as a form of self-expression to convey thought or emotion. Similar cases are found with writing, performing arts. Ironically, or perhaps not so, in such competitions points are awarded, winners decided, based on who could bring something of their own interpretation to their chosen creative medium. People often do such activities as hobbies, find them soothing, relaxing, fulfilling no matter how good they are or not.

Despite Chua’s insistence that her book is a memoir not a how to guide, many see it as such and will try to raise their kids thus; so lets break down what said style is likely to gain any child. No play dates, sleepovers denies children social skills needed later in life, because getting a job, being successful in today’s world is all about networking, connecting with people who can get you where you want to go. Oddly enough Chua’s model robs children of the friends and chances to build a personal social support, which allows many Asians to live to be centenarians. Isolation created by 3 hours of piano practice, 3 hours of homework prevents learning of practical skills as well, how to talk on a telephone, how to order food at a counter in the mall or elsewhere. Extracurricular activities are a must to get into top schools today, are the mark of well-rounded students. You’ll get no disagreement from Chua per se; her sticking point seems to be in allowing the child to choose said activity, pointing out that Asian parents assume they know what is best for the child and it is up to them to act accordingly, overriding all their preferences because they don’t know what’s good for them and do not want to work. Commentators have linked “western,” American ideas of letting children choose their extracurricular activities to permissive, lax parenting, letting them choose everything else both projecting the falsehood that parents here don’t know their child cannot possibly understand what is good for them in more complex arenas meant for adults to decide on behalf of their children.

Bologna, American parents know exactly what to let their children have a choice in and what not. They know their child can choose which structured, after school activity or sport they want to be in, not to be confused with choosing unsupervised hangouts filled with drugs, drinking, sex, explicit films or constantly sitting in front of a TV, instead understanding non academic activities are good ways to discover both self and hidden talents. Also blown out of the water are the assumptions of “western” and American parenting contrasted here in excepts of what Asian parents are allowed too say to their children including, hey fatty lose some weight, while contending American parents have to tiptoe around the issue never using the f- word and talking in terms of health almost triumphantly pointing out said children still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self image. She relays the story of a father who complemented his daughter calling her beautiful and competent, her saying it made her feel like garbage. However, those the author calls western parents are starting to grasp, as is the nation, the detriments of calling kids fat, pushing them to lose weight because adult children speak out on the issue about how much it hurt, how it made them want to eat more, how the emphasis on food and losing weight created a toxic environment at home, hints needing therapy. Talking in terms of health comes out of what we know about obesity effecting a person’s physical well being, a far more receptive persuasion than calling someone fat and telling them to lose weight. Illustrating neither do we tiptoe, we simply find different methods of achieving the same goal, hopefully ones that do not make the problem worse, certainly not things scientifically, expertly proven to do so.

As for the daughter who felt like garbage after her father’s complement, there is far more going on than Chua could possibly be aware of; he could have only been saying it for show, having said other negative things in private, he could have been physically abusive throughout her childhood, even sexually inappropriate. And being complemented by that type of person would make nearly anyone feel like garbage in that context; he could have been a controller only praising her when she did what he wanted, even as an adult. Leading to the next glaring misconception presented. The author saying Chinese parents can order their kids to get an A; Chinese parents can say you lazy all your classmates are ahead of you. American parents, according to her, can only ask the child do their best, simultaneously handling their own conflicting feelings about achievement trying to convince themselves they are not disappointed how their kids turned out. “Western,” American parents absolutely have standards for children’s performance; they positively demand kids do their best, whatever the grade and they know what that is by knowing their child. Unlike Asian parents in this portrayal, they adjust expectations according to each child’s strengths and weaknesses, according to their natural academic ability; A and B grades seen as good C’s mediocre and D’s and F’s unacceptable. Parents here can sometimes have difficulty accepting who their children are, the inherent talents they possess, wished they possessed different talents, liked different things, as opposed to Asian parenting presented in the book that says fit into this mold or be excommunicated, shamed, punished, hated.

No TV and no video games is nothing new in recent years for American parents, though they have been shown to increase hand eye coordination, complex thinking skills, surprisingly improving dexterity and cutting down on mistakes for surgeons, it’s being coupled with the laundry list of other things Chuas kids were never allowed to do that causes problems, supporting the belief that all of anything is bad, illogical non fact based arguments such as alluded to before, drums lead to drugs. Forging the irony of a no TV mom now handing out interview after interview, if Ms Chua was concerned about stereotypical drummers and their possible influence on her daughter it was up to her, the parent, to find positive drum influences, providing her child was interested in drums. Same holds true for the other pop culture instrument, guitar, finding positive examples. Moving away from western or pop culture instruments, there are still plenty of classical music type instruments that she could offer her child woodwinds, horns, tuba trombone, depending on her child’s interest. One headline called Chua a wimp and there seems to be truth in that exemplified by the fact that instead of finding out how to manage gadgets, TV time and high expectations she opted to eliminate all but the latter. Instead of finding creative ways to motivate her child to succeed, inspire them to work hard, instill it as an intrinsic value, she resorts to verbal abuse, insulting them, belittling them, enforcing rules and regulations akin to prison no water or bathroom breaks during 3-hour piano practice for a young elementary school child and playing psychological games to force success measured by grades, test score an mimicry or musical pieces.

Questions have also been raised about why she would write such a book, questions about her mentality and psychological stability some calling her a narcissistic personality who needs constant validation hints her work in academia, gaining approval via her students; some wondering if she wrote the book to garner attention as one of her children quit the violin and this was her way of regaining control. Looking at a related article in the Wall Street Journal describing the aforementioned piano incident, everyone gets upset, but she is so manic in shouting about her dreams for her kids and does he (her husband) think of that, that she includes asking if he has dreams for Coco, their dog. Adding that scene to one Chua herself described in a Nightline interview, in both of which, according to her, when her youngest daughter got it she said “see it’s easy.” and in the latter story about a bad math paper and making practice sheets, drilling her and now she loves math put a shadow on Chua’s credibility or understanding of the situations, creating an argument her kids have been conditioned to master a difficulty then give that response, independent of their true feelings. She seems to misunderstand that it is wholeheartedly insulting to say your 7 year old is cowardly and pathetic for any reason, never mind not yet being able to play a piano piece, which she was still practicing, still trying to get right; then to call such insults motivation, is skewed.

Scrutinizing said article also shortly mentioning the much hated time she called her child garbage, lends credence to her writing her memoir for attention as she stated she was ostracized at the dinner party (where this took place) when she told other guests what she had done, one leaving in tears, while the host tried to rehabilitate her with others. So why go on to write this? Another example, when her husband tried to pull her aside, during the piano practice gone wrong, telling her that her youngest child was not her oldest in addition to the rant on dreams for their kids, she martyrs herself saying she’s perfectly happy being hated (i.e. for doing the hard things) while he is loved because he makes them pancakes and takes them to Yankees’ games. Similar psychological conclusions have been made about her daughter’s avid defense of their mother one describing a time she ripped up her Mother’s day card and threw it back at them the daughter saying “it wasn’t my best I knew it, and I was busted.” Again the goal of a Mother’s day card is to communicate love not to be perfect, not to turn it into a competition between one child and the other; Chua admits to difficulty with the creative so how exactly could she judge the child’s best; not to mention with the devaluing of art at home, her child had little practice at such things.

Some bring up Stockholm syndrome, identifying with your abuser, traits likewise seen in children abused in other ways, victims of domestic violence; others accusing her of being an abuser using her culture as justification. Obviously instances are exaggerated of course, as is prone to happen in arguments and times of extreme emotion, but getting glimpses of an entire picture, indicates 2 things Chua wants sympathy for effort put into her extreme methods, and she does believe her way, what she calls the Chinese way, is superior; stating in the book she wanted to raise her children contrary to western standards. Much hay had been made as to the cut and paste job done by the Wall Street Journal; however it doesn’t change the fact she called her child garbage or the fact that a young child should not have been at a dinner party for adults in the first place. It doesn’t change what she said to her child to “motivate” her to play a ridiculously difficult piano piece correctly, nor does it change the shredded Mother’s day card or that all of it was in the book. Considering what she is willing to admit to, God only knows what else went on in that home. Now it seems Chua is engaging in interviews back tracking, explaining the harshness of stories given, giving even more validity to abuser using, seeking justification opinions.

Agree or disagree with how the author raised her kids, we have seen in America tiger models don’t work, and not because they haven’t been tried. Outcomes though are far less glorious; children may complete the riggers set by their parents until 18, get into a great college and flunk out because they are inundated with new and exiting things they don’t know how to manage; some become addicted to cellphones, blackberries, videogames, TV, and these could be called the lucky ones. What’s not talked about, in either culture, are the failures of the tiger-parenting model, ones who have nervous breakdowns, commit suicide, suffer depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm. Chua claims that there are a host of psychological disorders in the west that do not exist in Asia but she is sure American kids are not happier; the extended excerpt goes into things Asian parents are allowed to say to their kids pages above. More likely these disorders are hidden in Asia or attributed to laziness, stupidity, weakness possibly explaining both the cause of high suicide rates in Asia and of Asian college students in the US raised under said model. US children raised this way exhibit these symptoms, disorders, need to be perfect, need for control are the roots of anorexia, become even more destructive by turning to drugs, promiscuity spiraling far from the successful life their parents pushed them to; fringe cases have lead the children to kill the parents in order to get out of a hopeless situation. Just as if they had grown in a house with drugs or weren’t give proper boundaries, were neglected, ignored, hit or molested; benefits to person and society, zero.

Amy Chua’s detractors say there is no defense she is an abuser; what is most compelling against parenting this way is the number of survivor stories of people wounded, scarred, victimized by this type of “parenting,” who hated it, who did not succeed in life more because of it that its opposite, speaking out, commenting on blogs, telling their stories. We have fought in this country, in the United States of America to have mental, emotional, psychological and verbal abuse recognized, to alert individuals it can be just as damaging as physical or sexual abuse, perhaps more so due to its lack of recognition; people voicing their experiences across the globe, now proves that. Make no mistake this is abuse, and those who think child services should take her still underage child away are 100% right. Forcing a 7 year old to play piano until they got it right minus food, water or toilet breaks is physical abuse period; forcing them to do 3-hour practices daily without those basics is prolonged physical abuse period. Calling your child names, berating them, belittling them and insulting them is verbal, emotional abuse period. Making statements saying they are working themselves in frenzy because they secretly think they can’t do a daunting task and to stop being cowardly and pathetic is mental, psychological manipulation and abuse period, multiplied even further when your talking about the same 7 year old. To call this parenting, acceptable or a positive model to emulate is irreprehensible, to profit from it is a crime against decency if not humanity.

It doesn;t matter how many math whizzes, musical prodigies, business moguls it creates, because the cost is too high; the cost is mentally, emotionally unstable people engineered by design under the guise of success. Chua purports Americans wonder how Asians do it, what it’s like in such families; now we know and many don’t want it. The fear among mothers is not so much about their own inadequacies but fear this is what it takes to succeed, fear this will catch on, it will become the impossible standard for kids. Sadly it glaringly proves you can be well fed, clothed, have toys and wonderful experiences, be well to do, be an achiever, minus bruises, minus sexual trauma, all the while still being abused. And it should never be socially sanctioned for money, success.

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About Natasha Sapp

Proclaiming an edgy voice of reason to America,while bringing back the common sense to social issues.

Comments

  1. André M. Smith on March 19, 2012 at 7:43 am said:

    Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.
    ______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  2. André M. Smith on March 19, 2012 at 7:45 am said:

    I believe some useful purpose will be served by offering here, what the lawyers might like to call, but will seldom welcome, a healthy second opinion; a collective opinion that will demonstrate in abbreviated form the absolute folly of any attempt to teach music to children in the manner advocated by Amy Chua and her supporters.

    These titles, with a few accompanying comments, should be read only as an introduction to a vast, interesting subject. There is one observation one can make about them all, and many more on this same subject, if needed to prove the point: Their attempt at an inherent humane understanding. I shall let the individual writers speak for themselves. To wit:

    C. C. Liu [fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong]: A Critical History of New Music in China, Columbia University Press, 2010.
    By the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese culture had fallen into a stasis, and intellectuals began to go abroad for new ideas. What emerged was an exciting musical genre that C. C. Liu terms “new music. With no direct ties to traditional Chinese music, “new music” reflects the compositional techniques and musical idioms of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European styles. Liu traces the genesis and development of “new music” throughout the twentieth century, deftly examining the social and political forces that shaped “new music” and its uses by political activists and the government. http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-962-996-360-6/a-critical-history-of-new-music-in-china
    ___________________

    Brahmstedt’s China travels bring recognition: TTU [Tennessee Technical University] trumpet professor “Outstanding foreigner.” http://www.tntech.edu/pressreleases/brahmstedts-china-travels-bring-recognition-ttu-trumpet-professor-qoutstanding-foreignerq/
    ___________________

    Music Education in China: A look at primary school music education in China reveals numerous recent developments in general music, band and string programs, and private lessons. Music Educators Journal May 1997 83:28-52, doi:10.2307/3399021. Full Text (PDF)
    ___________________

    Howard Brahmstedt and Patricia Brahmstedt: Music education in China. Music Educators Journal 83(6):28-30, 52. May 1997.
    ___________________

    Joseph Kahn and Daniel J. Wakin: Classical music looks toward China with hope. The New York Time, 3 April 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/arts/music/03class1.htm?pagewanted=all
    ___________________

    Ho Wai-Ching: A comparative study of music education in Shanghai and Taipei: Westernization and nationalization. A Journal of Comparative and International Education 34:2, 2004.
    ___________________

    Yuri Ishii and Mari Shiobara: Teachers’ role in the transition and transmission of culture. Journal of Education for Teaching 34(4):245-9, November 2008.
    There are some common trends, which indicate that certain values are now shared among music education policies of many Asian countries. These are an emphasis on the purpose of education as the development of children’s total human quality rather than mere transmission of skills and knowledge by rote learning, the encouragement of a learner-centered approach, the introduction of authentic assessment, the integration of existing subjects, and the assertion of cultural specificity.
    ___________________

    Chee-Hoo Lim: An historical perspective on the Chinese Americans in American music education. Research in Music Education May 2009 vol. 27 no. 2 27-37.
    ___________________

    Howard Brahmstedt: Trumpet playing in China. P. 29. International Trumpet Guild Journal, February 1993.
    ___________________

    Richard Curt Kraus: Pianos and politics in China. Middle-class ambitions and the struggle over Western music. Oxford University Press. New York, 1989.
    ___________________

    From Shanghai Conservatory to Temple University
    Yiyue Zhang holds both Bachelors and Masters in Music Education from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Music Education at Temple University. Ms. Zhang is from a family of music. She first learned Chinese classic dance from her father at the age of 3. She then started to learn accordion at the age of 5 and piano at the age of 6. During the close to 20 years of piano training and education, she has also been learning saxophone, cello, vocal music and percussion instrument of Chinese ethnic nationalities. In addition to piano solo, Ms. Zhang has rich experiences as a piano accompanist for vocal and chorus performances. When she served as the accompanist for the female choir of Shanghai Conservatory in 2006, they participated in the Fourth World Chorus Competition and won the gold medal for female choir, silver medal for contemporary music and another silver medal for theological music. Before came the United States, Ms. Zhang taught general music at Shanghai Hongqiao Middle School and Shanghai North Fujian Rd. Primary School as her internship in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, she taught piano and music class in Shanghai Tong-de-meng Kindergarten while held Chinese Teacher Qualification Certificate. Ms. Zhang is currently the piano accompanist of Chinese Musical Voices located at Cherry Hill, NJ as well as the assistant conductor of Guanghua Chorus located at Blue Bell, PA. While holding Early Childhood Music Master Certification (Level 1) from The Gordon Institute for Music Learning, she is also actively engaged in the educational and cultural activities with the networks of local Chinese schools in the Philadelphia area. http://www.temple.edu/boyer/music/programs/musiced/MusicEducationGraduateAssistants.htm
    ___________________

    Li Ying-ling: Essential study on the function of children’s music education.
    Music education is beneficial in the comprehensive development of children’s healthy personality, helpful to enlighten the children’s creative thinking, helpful to educate the regulation senses of children, helpful to develop the children’s language and good emotion. It has certain social effect and realistic meaning for the growth of children. Every teacher should pay attention to the functional character of children music education, consciously meet the demands for music education of the children nowadays, strengthen the socialization function of music education, promote socialization proceeding of children. Music Department of Kunming University. Journal of Kunming University 2:2009.
    ___________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

    # 19 January 2012 at 7:46 pm
    Andre M. Smith said:
    Professor Chua is a woefully ill-informed parent, one ignorant of just what is happening in some parts of education in America. Fully confident in her presumed success as a writer with an editorial staff at Penguin shadow boxing for her and unapologetically wearing her signature plastic smile for public appearances, the Lawyer Chua is trying to persuade and convince; on both counts controversially, but with enough negative reactions to cause her subsequently to attempt a dilution of the intensity in her initial self-congratulatory tirade by latterly asserting that her writing is merely one person’s experiences of some trying times in motherhood. To gain working points among the Old-Boy network, the prime lubricant of Yale, Professor Chua initially claimed that she is a Tiger Mom as Chinese maternal type; Fierce! When that showpiece veneer didn’t sit well with mothers who are the real thing, i.e., mothers from China, this faux cat altered the validity of her claim to violence by stating that she is a Tiger Mom because she was born in 1962, a Year of the Tiger. That a tenured Professor of Yale can – must? – openly justify her self-classification with superstitious underpinning should provide anyone what is needed to draw a conclusion about the level of intellect afoot in Yale Law School. Professor? Indeed!

    Any of Chua’s public statements of the purposes of her work evolve to fit the tenor of the evolving criticisms directed at it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/10/amy-chua-tiger-mom-book-one-year-later_n_1197066.html It has passed, in her own words, from (1) practical handbook for parenting to (2) tongue-in-cheek (whatever that’s supposed to mean), to (3) memoir, (4) satire, (5) parody, (6) “a coming of age book for parents” (7) “the book is about a journey”; and who knows what else as she makes the rounds of the book circuit trying to snare yet more unsuspecting purchasers into her net. That she can, without blushing, class a single work with such a range causes me to wonder what kind of grade she got at Harvard for her command of the English language. She’s Trollope (the author), Pope (the author), The Wicked Witch in Hansel und Gretel and Gullible’s Travels all penned together into one oversized Pamper. Anyone who can’t read the monetary cynicism driving the kaleidoscope of this whole Tiger Mom scam and its spurious, unproven claimed insights into parenting, with variant latter-day reflections by the author herself, deserves to have paid full retail price for this book.

    “What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why-asian-americans-like-me-are-in-therapy/
    Stamp collecting, fishing, lazing about on a summer day, science club, Brownie Scouting, baseball, birthday parties, church annual picnic, kite flying, visiting relatives, kissing, jumping rope, student council, insect classification . . . Away with this woman! “Fun” must be one of the more overused, misunderstood words in the American lexicon. Chinese parent = The Model Minority? In China?

    “I’m happy to be the one hated.” http://bettymingliu.com/2011/01/parents-like-amy-chua-are-the-reason-why-asian-americans-like-me-are-in-therapy/

    “If I could push a magic button and choose either happiness or success for my children, I’d choose happiness in a second. http://amychua.com/

    That’s it perfectly stated in Tigerese: Either / Or; not both. Amy Chua is a chameleonic con artist. PT. Barnum certainly was right, one “. . . born every minute!”
    ______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  3. André M. Smith on March 19, 2012 at 7:47 am said:

    Some words penned in response to the thoughts of a student writing elsewhere . . .

    I would not normally lock horns and try to best a junior in high school; I’m hoping you do not read my words here as such, for they are meant for you only as a provocation to further thought to your ideas well-presented.

    You’ve written that you “used to get frustrated when I had to practice violin and I really didn’t want to . . .” Do I read correctly that you no longer “get frustrated?” If so, that’s a remarkable advancement. As a musician myself I want to ask you, Why do you practice violin and not another instrument of your choosing less frustrating, for examples, flute, harpsichord, tuba, or tabla. There is a vast – and I do mean vast! – repertoire for each of those, and many other, instruments that could challenge you unendingly for the remainder of your life. Instead of spending hours at your chosen instrument (whichever it may be) in the drudgery of isolated practice, why not spend more of your time in practice with music ensembles of various kinds. This can yield a discipline and advancement of a uniquely different kind. If you are studying formally with a violin teacher I’m quite sure he will confirm the well-founded idea that, as a performer, playing an instrument is one kind of challenge but playing an instrument WITH PEOPLE is significantly more so. A musician in isolation is a musician limited. And herein lays one, only one, of the transparent contradictions of the way Professor Chua has taught her two daughters to approach their instruments; opportunistically solely for unartistic purposes.

    A fundamental flaw in the approach to music of Amy Chua – an amusical hack with no known talent for an art of any kind! – is that she has decided it’s perfectly acceptable to pervert one of the greater of the fine arts for use in ulterior purposes. In the example of the Chua family, so-so slogging through masterpieces of music was used to impress others when applying for admission to university. (Would Professor Chua dare to advocate this openly with religion, physics, good grammar, or issues of national interest?) The whole idea that her elder daughter, Sophia, played a debut recital in Carnegie Hall is an early example of the pervasive blight of résumé bloat on which social climbers like Amy Chua have advanced themselves; a blight to which the Chua daughters were introduced early by two parents who know well how to tweak the system to gain unearned personal advantage.

    Carnegie Hall, http://www.carnegiehall.org/history/, includes three auditoria in its building: Stern Auditorium http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/, Zankel Hall http://www.gotickets.com/venues/ny/zankel_hall_at_carnegie_hall.php, and Weill Recital Hall http://www.carnegiehall.org/Information/Weill-Recital-Hall/. It was in Weill that Sophia performed as only one among a cattle-call string of young pianists that day. Do you doubt what I write here? Compare the architectural design,
    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AB160_chau_i_G_20110107132345.jpg, behind Sophia with that of the architectural design at the rear of the stage in http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/. Having been a performer, myself, in both Stern and Weill over many years you have my assurance that Sophia performed her piece in Weill. Debut recital in Carnegie Hall! Indeed!

    You have written about your parents that they are “less extreme than Chua I’ll admit, but a lot of her memoir is satire and exaggeration.” Don’t be deceived by quick-change artist Professor Chua. She has spent more than one year trying to convince readers of her text that she is some kind of nouveau belles-lettrist who did no more than exercise a writer’s license to engage her readers. In truth she meant what she wrote until her hypocritical posturing as an authentic Chinese mother — born in Illinois to a Filipino father, neither speaks Chinese nor writes Chinese script — came back to haunt her with a ferocity that caused this self-styled Tiger Mother to recoil into improvised doublespeak. Amy Chua is a complete fake!

    All young musicians should be given only two music instrument choices to pursue in life, Violin or Piano. All else is useless waste. Any adult giving such advice is one woefully ill-informed. As a bass trombonist, my instrument has been my first class ticket from person-to-person, school-to-school, city-to-city, studio-to-studio, and stage-to-stage. With the kinds of preparations the Chua daughters were given will they ever perform, as I have, with Richard Tucker, Birgit Nilsson, Roberta Peters, Herbert von Karajan, Leopold Stokowski, and the two-thirds of The New York Philharmonic who were my schoolmates for five years in Juilliard? Forget it!

    Mercifully, I was never besieged with a Tiger Mother or Tiger Anything to motivate me. Yes, I too sometimes was bored with scales and chords. Yes, sometimes my imagined future seemed an unattainable fantasy. Yes, I did sometimes fall flat on my face in public performance (as did my teachers before me and also their teachers before them). Life went on and continues to do so.

    You’ve written that “At this point (as a Junior in high school) about 35% of the pressure to do well comes from my parents and the other 65% is complete self-motivation.” From the subtlety of your writing I suspect you’re cutting yourself short with that 65%. You appear to be much more highly motivated than your objective perspective about yourself can show you at this early time.

    The violin? I advise you to seriously reëvaluate what you believe is your relationship to any instrument of your choice; if, indeed, the violin has been your choice and not that of someone else. If the violin has been your choice, stay with it through all the coming stormy weather of doubt and seeming incompetence. If it is not, drop it in preference to another more to your liking and its fitness for your physicality. (If it’s the tuba, tell your parents that someone other than I recommended it!)

    Good Luck!

    Cordially,
    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  4. André M. Smith on March 27, 2012 at 8:15 am said:

    I divide my year annually between New York and Shanghai. One of my common visitations in the latter city is to the area in and around The Shanghai Conservatory of Music. About four years back the school built a large new building on Fenyang Lu. Along the street side is a lower level with a string of music stores stocked with new instruments. In four of those stores I counted, literally, one trumpet, one horn, one trombone, no tuba, two flutes, one clarinet, one oboe, no bassoon, a handful of strings (but no string bass), and two-hundred pianos! The single trombone (my instrument) looked and felt like it had been made in an industrial arts school as a class project. I asked one of the clerks how many trombone students were
    then enrolled in the Conservatory. “Five,” he replied. I told him it would be impossible for any serious student of that instrument to plan advancement playing such useless metal and asked what brand of instruments are taught upstairs. All the trombones were imported by the school, only as needed, from Yamaha in Japan. But, why the sea of pianos?

    Most parents do not want their children spending, i.e., wasting, their time on any instrument for which a student can not enter a contest and win prizes. Prizes mean medals and certificates, which Mommy and Daddy can display as their own achievements by extension. It is the major conservatories in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, and Wuhan) which are responsible for continuing to nurture this false status, while, visually at least, giving the external impression that China is a major cultural locus of Western classical music. Anyone who has heard the wind sections of a major symphony orchestra in China will hear just how major the cultural locus is in China for those instruments. Naïve morons; school and parent alike!

    For the serious student having neither interest nor ability to become a graduate of Harvard Medical School, this phony sequence of contest successes may lead to Juilliard in New York or Curtis in Philadelphia. “If a clown like Lang Lang can make it, then so can my little angel. Who is, of course, the most adept keyboard wizard to blossom since Lawrence Welk or Rachmaninoff.” Stage mothers: Away with them!

    All of this clap-trap nonsense has no relationship whatsoever to two very important issues: music or Asian American. It is, with the rarest of exceptions, largely Oriental in the homeland. Atavistic immigrants from those eastern cultures or those descended directly therefrom – like the ever-psychobashing Kommandant Amy Chua – have some untested, sentimental notion that music opens doors and ensures careers in whatever direction the unmusical music student chooses; which the student is free to choose, so long as it isn’t music. (Try to figure out that one. “You are free to study physics or mathematics, so long as you don’t attempt to make a career of them.”)

    For the past forty years during my own studies in medicine and music in New York I have been wedded to and worked closely with and around nurses, physicians, surgeons, and medical technicians active in all the standard disciplines. Those persons have come from all modern regions of the world. And, yes, some of my coworkers have come from the beloved Harvard Medical School. But, I can write with authority, the number of those professional persons who have had any direct contact at any times in their lives with piano or violin is insignificantly small.

    No one has ever wasted time typing me as a wimp. Nevertheless, with an Amy Chua of my own only thinly masking a contempt while ostensibly trying to encourage me before the age of ten by classing me as “garbage, “lazy,” “useless,” and a host of other niceties (a savage, a juvenile delinquent, boring, common, low, completely ordinary, a barbarian) all the while forbidding me to sit on a toilet until I can play triplets in one hand against duolets in the other mechanistically en duo with a metronome might have (likely would have) set me up both for advanced training to climb The Texas Tower and chronic constipation.
    ___________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  5. André M. Smith on April 3, 2012 at 9:09 am said:

    An integral amalgam of defining examples of narcissism that Professor Chua has instilled in her two daughters is self-advancement with sexual provocation. Her public signature posture is one of excessive toothiness, for a university professor exceedingly vulgar displays of long legs, and breast projections that might have won her Blue Ribbons as “Best in Show” as a candidate in any Sweater Queen contest during the 1940s or ‘50s. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/sweater-queen-contest She never misses an opportunity to increase the image of her breast size by folding her arms under them; in one oft-reproduced photograph she actually appears to be elevating the left one nudged up by a folded arm. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Amychua4.png

    The elder Chua daughter, Sophia, has learned her lesson well. http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2011/01/18/entertainment/photos_stories/sophia_chua–300×450.jpg and http://www.facebook.com/amytigermother?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=230907580253565&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater,

    Birds of a feather . . . A coop of nesting trophy wives!
    _______________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  6. André M. Smith on April 7, 2012 at 9:22 am said:

    There is a recurring theme without solid core that continues to recycle on the question of Amy Chua and her style as a mother. J.G. (unfortunately anonymous, as are most of the endorsements of Professor Chua) has written

    I think it’s easy to take cheap shots at Chua, but it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others.

    It might seem amusing to mock her (her “cushy job” and “hottie husband”), but harder to actually consider the points being made in a non-defensive way, without trying to paint yourself as the “cool mom” who prefers three martini playdates?
    p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) would paint her parents as laissez-faire and herself as moderately motivated.
    Posted by: J.G. | January 18, 2011 at 02:31 PM http://thecareerist.typepad.com/thecareerist/2011/01/chinese-moms.html

    I, for one, have no interest whatsoever in her “cushy job” and “hottie husband.” Nor do I have any objection to her having become a millionaire from the sales of her book and that she will be well on her way to becoming a multimillionare once the planned translations of it into thirteen of the world’s languages have been completed. My uncompromising objections to Professor Chua are two-fold: her abuses of young children pursued to further her own narcissistic urgencies and her deep commitment of abuse of the art of music – of which she seemingly has no knowledge whatsoever – for reasons having nothing to do with that art. My shots at her are far from what J.G. calls “cheap shots.” They do in fact go to the heart of the problems with her that remain my chief concerns.

    J.G. and most of his fellow travelers in their tepid defenses of Professor Chua continue to focus on her inherited emphasis of the sorry state of public education in The United States. What else is new?

    As with most of the ringing endorsements of Amy Chua, those from J.G. are clearly from a mind not wholly engaged. He has written ” it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others. In his tangled syntax I’m quite sure he means – at least I’m hoping he means – it’s hard to argue that the average American child does not need more discipline, more direction or more respect for others.

    J.G. has written further, “p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) . . . “ Again, but this time TWO thoughts from nowhere! What has Williams College to do with Amy Chua (Harvard, A.B. ’84)? And since when has Williams even been on the “fantasy” palate “of Chinese parents everywhere?”

    Professor Chua usually receives the quality of defense she deserves.
    ______________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  7. Natasha Sapp on April 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm said:

    “As with most of the ringing endorsements of Amy Chua, those from J.G. are clearly from a mind not wholly engaged. He has written ” it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others. In his tangled syntax I’m quite sure he means – at least I’m hoping he means – it’s hard to argue that the average American child does not need more discipline, more direction or more respect for others.

    J.G. has written further, “p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) . . . “ Again, but this time TWO thoughts from nowhere! What has Williams College to do with Amy Chua (Harvard, A.B. ’84)? And since when has Williams even been on the “fantasy” palate “of Chinese parents everywhere?”

    No the problem with Chua is how she achieves that discipline, direction and respect for others, the cost to her children in term of creativity, personality, self worth, future sanity. Additionally here Chua goes out marketing a book on how to abuse your kids in a socially sanctioned way, where yes they will have the best grades, the best cultivated intelligence, best educational opportunities, supposedly, but also a high suicide rate, no friends, little family, in other words, a lonely miserable life.

    As for college, whether you are talking about Chua’s education or her daughters’; honestly who cares, because there are thousands if not millions of well educated Americans who went to school, did the work, learned what they were supposed to and can’t get a job. Chua herself is a professor of something, forgive me if I don’t care what, it speaks to this concept of if you can’t do- teach
    Natasha Sapp recently posted..Justice or Just a Mob Mentality As Bad as The Bullying Kids Themselves? A Bullying in America Reality CheckMy Profile

    • André M. Smith on April 9, 2012 at 10:05 pm said:

      I agree fully with the content of the first paragraph in the Comment by Natasha Sapp. The second, however, is problematic. To wit . . .

      “As for college, whether you are talking about Chua’s education or her daughters’; honestly who cares, because there are thousands if not millions of well educated Americans who went to school, did the work, learned what they were supposed to and can’t get a job. Chua herself is a professor of something, forgive me if I don’t care what, it speaks to this concept of if you can’t do- teach.”

      I, for one, care. From every comment I have read about the manner in which she worked her way through the university education maze she so-called achieved by two mechanisms: dodging academic bullets by the pursuit of soft subjects (thereby helping to ensure a higher GPA) and by coat-tailing onto a husband who was well-placed in the Ivy Old Boy network.

      That you don’t care just what it is Professor Chua teaches is more a comment on your unfortunate passivity than on her status as an employee. That you remark that she “is a professor of something, forgive me if I don’t care what” equates to nothing more than your appreciation that she is not home watching daytime television or hanging around the local state unemployment office scanning the bulletin boards. Would you be as indifferent if the subject at hand was the qualification of a public school teacher?

      André M. Smith

  8. André M. Smith on April 9, 2012 at 10:07 pm said:

    I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Pride

    1) Tiger Sophia, you may have checked Asian which does have a “tax,” however you also got big bonus points for being a legacy many times over. The upshot is that you had help getting in unlike these Asian Americans below who live at the poverty line and don’t have Ivy League parents with deep pockets.

    2) By checking Asian when, actually, you are of mixed race, you have taken a spot away from those who don’t have the benefit of applying to a less competitive race slot. Thanks to you, someone who[se] life could be completely changed did not get a spot. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29

    Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, the daughter of a mother of mixed Asian ethnicity of no known religious involvement and a secular — whatever that means — American Jewish father ostensibly has been raised as a Jewess in an atheistic family positing itself as . . . ? When she applied for admission to Harvard she descended into a pride of Asianness to avail herself of an ethnic quota advantage.

    This duplicitous young woman is, indeed, her mother’s daughter! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=230907266920263&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater
    __________________________

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  9. Natasha Sapp on April 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm said:

    And you bring up another excellent point about Chua, her “success” and how she got it.

    To clarify, my point about not caring what she taught was not passivity not apathy; it simply didn’t matter along side her horrible parenting.

    Not to mention instead of pursuing a career in her field, making her living doing whatever it is she studied, instead she’s teaching others how to do so.
    Natasha Sapp recently posted..Bullying Reality Check Part 2 Getting to the Heart of the ProblemMy Profile

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