Music teachers draw the line between force-feeding their kids music


Arden Dickson

Coaching through rehearsal with the Jazz Choir, Parrish looks at what he has created. Jazz choir is one of many choirs Parrish directs and choreographs here at West. “Teaching music is still a rush every time I do it. I never count the minutes, I am never bored,” Parrish said.

Imagine being a fly on the wall and hearing the voluminous notes choir teacher Brian Parrish plays while he is teaching his children the solfege scale on his piano, mirroring how he teaches his students at school.

Parrish has a son (5) and a daughter (7). As a teacher, he knows what magic can happen in a music classroom. He wants to see that magic happen for his kids as well. 

“Every kid is different, but there’s some really cool stuff that could happen, like when you hear yourself playing, or see yourself improve. So it’s kinda like on a kid by kid basis,” Parrish said. 

Because of the positive impact music has on kids, he wants his own to experience that as well, but in a way that they will enjoy it. 

“I am navigating all these questions right now. Cause I really don’t know what the right approach is, do I teach them, do I teach them only if I want to be taught, or do I send them to a different teacher,” Parrish said. 

Orchestra teacher Ed Sandheinrich also has to navigate the world of music with his two boys, who are 15 and 12. 

“I didn’t want to force them until later because they never really showed an interest, but it is kind of neat to see them doing something like kind of what I do,” Sandheinrich said.

His older son has been playing cello since fifth grade, but he won’t be playing it his junior year.

“I just hope it stays part of their life, but I see it [music] as I want them to enjoy it and appreciate it,” Sandheinrich said. 

Both Parrish and Sandheinrich  agree that having an experience with music makes students better learners and better people. Sandheindrich student taught at before school programs before getting state certified to teach full time. 

“Music is an allegory for life, and once you get into things like dynamics and shaping it is a language that mirrors our language, so you’re learning about music but you’re really learning about yourself and others,” Parrish said.

Parrish has been teaching high school music for nine years now throughout his music-filled childhood, so he knows about the skills and knowledge music teaches kids.

You have to dive deeper, talk about meaning, and talk about compensation. Music is a language, the younger you start that language, the more proficient you might be.”

— Brian Parrish

“You have to dive deeper, talk about meaning, and talk about compensation. Music is a language, the younger you start that language, the more proficient you might be,” Parrish said.

Sandheinrichs younger son is in sixth grade and their school taught all online this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic stopping his son’s band from practicing in person, Sandheinrich’s son doesn’t know what a real music class feels like. 

“They are not in the building, and with music it’s a really tough thing to not be in that group. You can’t have that experience when you are online,” Sandheinrich said.

Sandheinrich found a band summer camp for his son to be more enriched in a group environment to get what the band would feel like in a normal school year. 

“He is kinda on the fence about it going forward, but he hasn’t experienced that ‘hey, let’s all play music together,’ thing yet. We’re kinda forcing him, but not really. It just isn’t the same as doing a real ensemble experience,” Sandheinrich said.

Parrish lives through teaching his students music, and he would be grateful to music to give that experience to anybody, especially his kids. 

“[In class] I always wish I had five more minutes in that class, it zooms by, it’s like a rush. [I hope] that my kids could have that same rush,” Parrish said. 

Both teachers agree they just want their kids to be happy and grow through music, whatever that means for them.

“Put aside the fact that it is fun, put aside the fact that it’s like therapy for some kids, put aside the fact that it expands your brain in ways and it [music] allows you to be more educated later in your life,” Parrish said.