Running Ragged

Dear Mr. Dad: I’m getting a little worried that we’re putting too much pressure on my son to get involved in extracurricular activities. He plays soccer, is active in his Boy Scout troop, and does karate. Now there’s talk about art classes during the week, too. I know that extracurricular activities are good, but how much is too much?

A: Yep, you’re right: extracurricular activities are great for your son. They show him that there is life outside of academics, and they can teach some very valuable life lessons. Boy Scouts and soccer can help your son learn to interact better with others and what teamwork is all about. Karate is great, too. In the right dojo, he’ll learn about respect and the importance of hard work and patience (martial arts should be a meritocracy). Karate is also be great for conditioning and can even boost self-esteem.
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Do Pipers Actually Get Paid?

Dear Mr. Dad: Help! Our son is a high school junior, but instead of planning for college, he says he wants to make a career out of playing drums in a band! He’s a talented musician, and he and his buddies play gigs at community events, but he can’t understand that he won’t make a living out of it. How do we persuade him to give college a chance?

A: There are really two issues here: First, can your son succeed as a musician? Second, should he skip going to college? Keep in mind that, at 16, he’s quite literally trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up and his desire to forgo college and play in a band may be just a flash in the pan.

Who says he won’t make a living playing music? Some people, either through hard work, sheer luck (or a combination of both), actually do make it, and some colleges do offer music scholarships. But in general, you’re right: most musicians—or artists in general—don’t. Far more creative people are unemployed or working as waiters or scooping gelato than those who are making a good living at it.
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