Alan Marshall is an unschooling dad, a professional musician, and a university professor in the music department. We dive into his family’s journey to unschooling, his eldest’s transition to junior high, ways to approach music lessons and practice, advice for dads just starting out with unschooling, and lots more.
Quote of the Week
“Actually, I would discourage, particularly someone starting to do music and most other arts, from doing practice. I would say, ‘don’t practice.’ And really, I think the problem is formal practice. Like, ‘I’m going to sit down now, and I’m going to practice the piano for an hour because it’s my practice time.’ Because I think that just doing that is pretty doomed to be counterproductive. In my opinion, as a musician, and somebody who wants to help people who want to learn about music, that has discouraged a lot more music-making than it’s helped.” ~ Alan Marshall
Questions for Alan
Can you share with us a bit about you and your family?
How did you discover unschooling and how did your family’s choice to embrace unschooling unfold?
You’ve been unschooling for almost a decade now. What has surprised you most so far about how unschooling has unfolded in your lives?
Your eldest chose to go to junior high school a couple of years ago. How did she find the transition, and have found it challenging to weave school and your unschooling principles together?
You’re also a university professor, teaching music, and I’d love to dive into that with you. When a child expresses interest in music or an instrument, so often the first thing parents jump to is lessons. Piano lessons. Guitar lessons. Violin lessons. In your experience, is that the best first step?
When a child has expressed an interest in an instrument and parents have rented or purchased one, the conventional advice is for us to strongly encourage them to practice regularly, if not daily. Yet that can soon be met with growing resistance. What are your tips for navigating that situation?
In the bigger picture, how do you see unschooling and learning music—or any other art—weaving together?
As an unschooling dad, what piece of advice would you like to share with dads who are considering or just starting out on this journey?
Links to things mentioned in the show