Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

by Amy Chua

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Student Question

How does Chua feel about Richard's belief that there are "no rules in music"?

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In the United States, many parents see music as an extracurricular activity that their children participate in because they already enjoy music, to encourage them to enjoy it, or to make them "well rounded." The flexibility and freedom of Richard's approach seem very far from what Amy Chua, a Chinese American woman, advocated for her daughters. Discipline, cultivation of “taste,” and excelling in every endeavor were three things that Chua promoted through the study of music.

Chua shows conflicted emotions about music appreciation, which she seems to identify primarily with classical music, especially as produced by playing violin and piano. She calls Western-style classical music “the opposite of decline, the opposite of laziness, vulgarity, and spoiledness.” She even gets involved in the girl’s lessons to the extent of writing detailed worksheets for them to follow strictly, expecting them to play each measure precisely and perfectly—deeming this the essence of “musicality.” Rules were a crucial element, and enjoyment for its own sake seemed very far from her mind.

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