Ronald Regan said, “Each generation goes further than the generation preceding because it stands on the shoulders of that generation”.
That is the hope and heart of every father. Listen to the video below of my daughter singing the Star-Spangled Banner at a USA/Canadian Ice Hockey match so that I can tell you the story behind the video and give you three keys to help your children do better than you did.
Melodie Nixon sings Star-Spangled Banner
My Dad was a very gifted violin player. He played first violin in a classical orchestra and was offered the job of being its conductor. As I am sure you would know, the best violin players play ‘first’ violin and many times such highly skilled violinists become conductors themselves.
My Dad always told me as a young boy, “I am going to give you music lessons”, but sadly he never did. Money was too tight to mention and with our constant family upheavals we just never got around to it. The good news is that he did give me a deep appreciation and love for music. For this I am deeply grateful. If I had learnt music as a young boy I am convinced that I would have been a lot better musician than I am now.
Interestingly most of my musical achievements have come from playing music, recording and touring with my own family.
When my children were still quite young, and their playing skills pretty basic, one of my close musical friends gave some advice that I am very glad I did not heed. After listening one day to our first totally-family album called ‘Straight from the Heart’, in many ways very basic musicianship he said, “Warwick, why don’t you record with some really good session musicians?”
I looked at him blankly, thinking, “Why would I want to do that?”
Sure, my nine year old son was doing very basic stuff on the saxophone, and my 11 year old son mostly played just the root note on the bass, but everything was pretty much in time, and it all worked. Why would I want to forego the joy of playing music and touring Australia with my own children for the opportunity of working with the best of the best? I must confess, at times when my musical ego got the better of me, I wanted to call up some session players to perfect the lines my children could not play, but for the most part I resisted that temptation.
I can always remember the first time our daughter sang publicly with the family band.
It was in a Newcastle Mall and we were doing a Christmas Gospel Concert for busy shoppers. People were rushing around and they weren’t stopping for anything.
Melodie had been working on a song, with her big brother Jonathan on bass’s tuition and encouragement, called ‘I know It’ by Darlene Zschech and she was eager to sing in public.
I took a gamble and gave her the nod. She sang her heart out, and I’m sure a few notes were flat but the busy shoppers suddenly stopped, formed a crowd and listened to something different. They could recognise something in that 5 year old’s voice that would ultimately put her in front of 10,000 people at the Qudos arena to sing the American National Anthem. Sometimes other people are a better judge of your children than you are.
So what ARE the three keys to helping your children do better than ourselves?
- Take the time to find out what your children really enjoy doing? What makes their heart sing? Is it sports, hobbies, academics, music. Whatever it is, when you find out, encourage them in it?
- Provide training for them in the thing that they really love.
- Be prepared for your children to do different things to you, and to do them better than you ever could. Learn to stand in their shadow and be outclassed by their success.
Find out what your children’s gifts are and do your best to encourage and support them. Then be prepared to stand in their shadow.
Yours for the Next Generation
PS: Have heard some great reports from the Heart Of Man Movie screenings. My wife and I saw it for the second time and were greatly impacted. Due to popular demand the Heart of Man is coming back on Monday 9 July to nine Cinemas in four states covering approximately 65% of Australia’s population. Check out the Movie trailer here and book your ticket to avoid disappointment here;