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 Don't Make Simon Cowell Do Your Parents' Dirty Work 
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Post Don't Make Simon Cowell Do Your Parents' Dirty Work
Don't Make Simon Cowell Do Your Parents' Dirty Work
by: Bob Craypoe

Simon Cowell, as a judge on American Idol, has earned himself somewhat of a reputation of being cruel when telling contestants when they haven't quite measured up. People are often shocked at his brutal honesty and (perhaps) lack of tact. But, in some ways, he may just be doing the contestant a favor. One the contestant's parents should have done.

The fact is that, in our modern western society, we have reached a point at which we don't want to say anything to a child that may hurt his feelings; even when it may be more beneficial for the child to be truthful. One word that is seldom used these days when raising children is the terrible word no. Oh, little Jimmy wants an all ice cream diet. Sure he's morbidly obese and already has diabetes at the age of 12, but if I say no, his little feelings will be hurt.

So what ends up happening is that by not hurting a child's feelings, we jeopardize his health. Now the above example is extreme but I think it illustrates a point. The point being illustrated is that telling people something nice for the sake of not hurting their feelings isn't always the right thing to do. Sometimes honesty is the best approach.

Among the harsh realities of life is that, to actually get good at something, you usually have to apply yourself. That includes music. To become a good musician, it may involve some level of dedication and hard work. You may even (dare I say it?) have to practice. You may even have to crack open a book and study some music theory. I know this may seem like a radical approach but there are some people out there that think that this approach actually works.

One approach a parent can take when a child is interested in music is to give a compliment and then follow it with the criticism. A parent could say "I like that, but if you changed this, I think it would be even better." You got the criticism in of what's wrong, directed them towards where they can fix what's wrong but you also made a point of complimenting them in the process. Complimenting them in the process softens the blow of the criticism.

A child needs to know that in order to excel at anything, they need to apply themselves. Telling them that everything they are doing is flawless doesn't achieve that. This could apply to anything we attempt to teach our children, not just music.

Some may say to me "what makes you such an expert on raising children?" I say in return: "I'm not an expert on raising children." My expertise lies in teaching people about how to play guitar and how to learn music theory. I understand how important music theory is as well as how important it is to apply yourself in order to become a good musician.

In my experience of teaching guitar and music theory, I have come across a number of people who, prior to having met me, had very little understanding of how much they would need to apply themselves in order to excel as a musician. I believe that quite often it is as a result of their parents never explaining to them that applying themselves is a prerequisite to getting good at something. Sometimes the parents will do that with some things but not with music.

Music is often seen as something fun or enjoyable to do and not often seen as work. Unfortunately, if you want to do it as a profession, then you have to actually "work" at it. That means that you have to take it a bit more seriously than the average person who is just playing guitar as a hobby. That's what separates a professional from an amateur or wannabe.

So if Mom and Dad never told you what you should work on in order to improve as a musician, then you may want to do a self-assessment. If you're a singer, tape yourself. Listen to your self and try to be honest. Don't get too discouraged if you finally come to the realization that you're not as good as you thought you were. There are ways of fixing that. It's called practice. If you play guitar or some other instrument, you can do the same. Tape yourself. Be somewhat critical. Are you playing in time? Are you playing the notes clearly?

If you adequately assess yourself as a musician, apply yourself and work on your faults, you will get better. There is no doubt of that. And if you do that, then maybe someday Simon Cowell or someone like him won't have to do your parents' dirty work. Maybe Simon will tell you that your performance was great! At least with him, you know he's not just saying that to spare your feelings.

About The Author
Bob Craypoe is a musician, writer cartoonist, webmaster and entrepreneur who resides in Northern New Jersey. He is the creator of (a site that teaches the visually impaired how to play guitar), (a site covering Northern NJ) and other websites. His instrumental CD To Infinity is currently available on and his music site is His most popular website is the Doctor Psychotic Humor Site,; a site that features humor, arts and entertainment. The most popular features being jokes, online guitar lessons and classic poetry. All of his websites may be accessed from

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Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:18 pm
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