Book Review by Anita Lock, The US Review of Books, August 2016

US Review of Books

Kids in Musicianland: 5 Reasons to Stick With It
by Karyn Rashoff
Barking Dog Books
Reviewed by Anita Lock, The US Review of Books (August 2016)

“…people who are willing to work the hardest in music tend to be the people who are willing to work the hardest in school, too.”

“More choices and distractions exist in a young person’s life today than ever before.” Rashoff’s apt statement is the driving force behind her motivating read, which zeroes in on middle and high school students. Its purpose is “to inspire teens to focus on the music in them, to develop and pass on their skills, and to realize the satisfaction of it all for the rest of their lives.” Constructing her narrative around five explicit reasons “to keep music in [teen’s] lives,” Rashoff’s tenets include meeting new people, being a part of a team, being a part of history, traveling opportunities, and keeping life balanced with music. Rashoff backs up the precepts with over twenty stimulating stories from a host of seasoned individuals in the music arena, as well as her own sagacious observations.

Rashoff’s newest book offers discouraged students and supportive parents a well-rounded musical perspective. A balanced mix of stories and practical advice, the award-winning author (Parents in Highschooland) groups this helpful collection according to her five aforementioned precepts. Her broad-spectrum approach covers professionals from each of the four musical groups (strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion) and beyond. Not limiting the musical experience purely to the development of instrumental training, Rashoff includes the counsel of art directors, classical music radio hosts, a film composer, plus her personal knowledge as a school counselor and her involvement in choruses over the years. Although there are gentle reminders of the importance of practice sprinkled throughout her text, much of the information puts stress on simply having fun. She reminds kids that discouragement “is a natural part of the learning process.” Closing with a suggested reading list for further research, Kids in Musicianland is a powerful tool, useful for both home and school.

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