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The truth is out; Amy Chua’s “Chinese moms” attack on “American moms” is actually a Wall Street Journal creation

If you are visiting America, you might get a feeling America’s moms have just been slapped in the face by their Chinese counter-parts. All this started with a recent article by Amy Chua (see my prior post A bombshell at the WSJ by Amy Chua: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”) at the Wall Street Journal.

Thanks to our reader Chops for alerting us to an article out today in the San Francisco Chronicle by Jeff Yang. It turns out, the original article was really a Wall Street Journal spin or creation, including the title. As I concluded in my prior post, Amy Chua is not that same mother portrayed in the article nor is her book. Yang writes:

Chua responded to a brief message I sent her introducing myself and asking for an interview by saying that she was glad to hear from me, as she’d been looking for a way to discuss her misgivings about the Journal article. Apparently, it had been edited without her input, and by the time she saw the version they intended to run, she was limited in what she could do to alter it.

“I was very surprised,” she says. “The Journal basically strung together the most controversial sections of the book. And I had no idea they’d put that kind of a title on it. But the worst thing was, they didn’t even hint that the book is about a journey, and that the person at beginning of the book is different from the person at the end — that I get my comeuppance and retreat from this very strict Chinese parenting model.”

While the Journal article was unquestionably good for sales and awareness of the book, which has already hit #7 on Amazon and is only headed upward, it has been painful for Chua. “I’ve gotten scary messages. Death threats. All from people who haven’t yet read the book,” she says. “And while it’s ultimately my responsibility — my strict Chinese mom told me ‘never blame other people for your problems!’ — the one-sided nature of the excerpt has really led to some major misconceptions about what the book says, and about what I really believe.”

She points out that while she uses the term “Chinese motherhood” as shorthand for her neotraditionalist style of parenting, she states early on that many people of Chinese background don’t subscribe to such methods, and many non-Chinese do. She also asserts that this is meant to be her own tragicomic story, and not a recipe for others to follow.

All the exaggerations, abusive parenting, and children becoming robots (you essentially will need to be brain-washed to believe them completely true) aside, the underlying values of sacrifice, not me first, deferred gratification, and hard work are absolutely valid. Obviously the WSJ wants to continue the theme of abuse, children robots, and exaggerations, because they know such resonate with American’s view of ‘China’ and everything ‘Chinese,’ including the moms. They expected this bombshell to go off across America, and it did. What a brilliant idea to attack all those loving American moms.

We are not talking about an all or nothing approach to those values. The degree to which the Chinese and American moms differ in those values is what we are talking about. In the prior post, a reader commented, “He said it’s obvious that Chinese mothers love their children and American mothers don’t because love means sacrifice.” In reponse, I said:

I also meant to say, sacrifice is polar opposite to “freedom” and “individualism.” So, I don’t think the conclusion is Chinese mother love their children more than their American counter parts. The key is that the Chinese mothers perhaps moderate “freedom” and “individualism” more than the American mothers do.

Some of you might have read William Hooper’s essays (some directly authored by him on this blog and others on his theoligarch.com); all these really boils down to “individualism” vs. “collectivism” at the society level doesn’t it?

If you think a bit more deeply about individualism, do you also accept this idea that it fosters materialism? Individualism and “freedom” mean unchecked self-indulgence. Consume all you want. In a society like the U.S., politicians cutting spending on any constituent generally is equal to political suicide. In fact, the U.S. grand strategy is to encourage consumption; domestically because it generates more tax revenue, in China so Chinese buy more American stuff.

I have mentioned this in the past, I asked Chomsky once what he thought is the biggest threat to mankind today. His answer was the developing countries consuming resources at the same level as the developed countries do will destroy humanity. Chomsky is perhaps the biggest American foreign policy critic in the world. I was initially a little bit surprised by his answer, because I thought his answer would be something related to war. Well, perhaps the competition for resources due to unchecked consumption is going to create more conditions for war.

We have blogged a lot too about the U.S. politicizing the Chinese currency. (See Allen’s article, “The Politicization of the Yuan“) It is extremely simple, actually. The U.S. wants China to consume more American goods. The easiest way (to the Americans) is to simply raise the value of the Yuan against the USD so American goods become much cheaper overnight.

Lets consume until there is nothing left. This is what Chomsky feared.

In the prior post, Hooper left these comments to me:

Yes we are looking at overwhelming negative reactions, but her book is a best seller and the article is the most popular ever on the Wall Street Journal. Rome was not build in a day. She is changing the underlying psychological makeup of America, she is part of the process of striping away everything they believe in. This creates a state of nervous breakdown which provokes extreme reactions and violence. The political shooting is typically symptomatic of the psychological change occurring in America. Did you think the transition from Judeo-Christian values to Eastern Philosophy would be easy? Look at Germany, now the most Chinese like nation in the West. This change from individualism to collectivism tore apart the society and created Hitler. Today America has Sarah Palin, the question is will they find the good behind collectivism quickly, or will it take death and destruction to make that change? Think the American Civil War. Ultimately it depends on how smart the Americas are. They will change, but they can do it quickly or they can resist.
A person to read about is Yukio Mishima. Now he was far from a perfect person, he was infected with individualism and hedonism himself. But he was torn between the immoral life and the Japanese idea. He saw Japan moving away from goodness, becoming a deeply materialistic place. He killed himself to send a message to Japan – reform before it it too late. Ten years later Japan blew up in an orgy of materialism. Today Japan is changing course, inspired by China.
The big theme of history today is two fold – will the West change their values system, and will China destroy itself the way the Japanese did. I am hopeful for China, but it is walking a tightrope. The vast size of China, and the lack of real philosophical direction, could take it toward materialism and individualism.

Indeed, how does China avoid going down the same path of extreme materialism and individualism?

In some ways, I am really encouraged by the amount of investments China is making towards renewable energy. Just recently, Chinese scientists announced breakthroughs in 60x efficiency in nuclear fuel technology.

Conversely to what Chomsky said, I hope the developed countries find a way to reduce consumption.

We have gone from Amy Chua’s parenting all the way to “currency manipulation” with “individualism vs. collectivism” in between. A lot of territories covered, but everything is really intertwined.

Back to Amy Chua and the Wall Street Journal, I have a final thought for this post. I think it is rather sad for the West what is happening to their media. The media is someways the national conscience. Day in and day out, they are only interested in exploiting differences and turning our complex world into caricatures and conflicts. The recent political shootings hopefully won’t be a common occurrence.

U.S. President Obama said this to the American public about it (quote below). This very message is equally applicable to the Western media when it comes to international affairs, because world peace depends on it.

“The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better,” Obama said. “If, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy. It did not. But rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.”

  1. r v
    January 13th, 2011 at 15:50 | #1

    Here is a good article, where Jeff Yang researched into the controversy.


    It turns out, WSJ’s “excerpts” of Amy’s book took only the most controversial portions, and even neglected to tell the readers that the book is an account of how Amy Chua actually changed her style of parenting because of her daughter Lulu’s resistance.

    Another thumbs down for Western Media, which sensationalize and reinforces stereotypes, and miss the whole point of stories.

    Amy was writing about her own transformation as a parent, and the Chinese perspectives of core beliefs for parenting.

    Yet, WSJ made into a “how to” manual of Chinese parenting guideline.


  2. TonyP4
    January 14th, 2011 at 07:23 | #2

    WJS used to be one of the most respected media. Not any more.

    In addition to their accomplishments, Amy and her family look great. It could be due to dedication, hard working, discipline and healthy life style. We just cannot argue with success but learn from it.

    Her parenting represents the upper class of Asian immigrants. You cannot call your children garbage if they’re really garbage. However, if you think they can improve (some can but most cannot), it is for the own good. I hope my parents were like Amy.

    The suicide rate is low among Asians. However, if you look at the college age group, it is very high for Asians. This is the dark side of strict parenting.

  3. January 14th, 2011 at 10:26 | #3


    Btw, I read elsewhere once the suicide rate among 18-24 age group being high for Asians and also saw a stat from someone saying the opposite it lower than White Americans. I’ll post here if I find something.

    But if you have data, that’ll be interesting to see.

  4. nic
    January 14th, 2011 at 13:48 | #4

    Now that’s an interesting story … proves the old saying ‘Trust is Good, Control is Better’. Until this I had a higher opinion of the WSJ — should’ve been aware of its ownership structure.

    I have some small nits to pick with some details in your article which I don’t agree with, but what bothers me most are some thoughts about Hooper’s comments cited in the text. In particular, I disagree quite a bit with his evaluation of Germany. I am quite certain that Hitler had nothing to do with a transition of Germany from Judeo-Christian values to Eastern Philosophy. Hitler’s movement profited from a toxic mixture of nationalism (deeply hurt by the Versailles treaty), economic crisis and political instability — but I don’t see *any* development of Germany towards Eastern Philosophy in the first half of the 20th century. The Hitler propaganda had some distorted aspects of EP (individual sacrifice for the nation, etc.), but even these did not ‘create’ Hitler — rather the other way round: Hitler’s propaganda established these distorted concepts in the public mind. Many of Hitler’s propaganda items and ideas were invented and constructed for the purpose of achieving his aim of power, control and victory. He did not have an underlying principal philosophy to follow, but rather he invented philosophical-sounding propaganda to achieve his aims.

    I don’t agree that Chua’s book would ‘change the underlying psychological makeup of America’. I think it would rather reinforce that makeup (through defiance) — if it has any real (statistically measurable) influence at all. Don’t forget that 99% of Americans will never read the WSJ. The possible danger in the current political environment or the US comes from the fact that they might develop a deeply hurt nationalism, a deep and long economic crisis and increasing political instability — but not from skewed book excerpts in an elite newspaper. The fact that China (together with the Jews, or the immigrants, or …) is made a culprit for this development by a lot of loud-mouths does of course not make things easier.

  5. Charles Liu
    January 15th, 2011 at 09:46 | #5

    Chua and her husband also gave an interview to NPR about the book, and fact WSJ’s article was exerpt of the book:


    “Mr. JED RUBENFELD: You know, to me, maybe I’m wrong, but I always thought the way we were raising our kids was more of a traditional American way. You know, the values of hard work and perseverance and being taught that you can overcome obstacles and respect”

  6. Charles Liu
    January 15th, 2011 at 09:49 | #6

    You know, why do we keep seeing this common theme of overtly negative sensationaliam by our media when it comes to all things CHina and Chinese?

  7. January 15th, 2011 at 10:51 | #7


    Thoughtful comments.

    I actually think you and Hooper draw the same conclusions. Your last paragraph I agree with completely too.

    Regarding Germany’s transition, not sure what Hooper would say, but my take was exactly what you said, “a toxic mixture of nationalism (deeply hurt by the Versailles treaty), economic crisis and political instability.”

    Do you see these same conditions emerging for the U.S.? There is no treaty of Versailles, but Americans generally believe others are cheating and gaming the system at the expense of a generous America. I fear a deeply hurt America.

    When Germany re-emerged following WW2, it went for a relatively much more “collective” society than it was before.

  8. January 15th, 2011 at 17:31 | #8

    The funny thing is now that more people have read Amy Chua’s book and hearing her talk about it, they realize the WSJ article is not quite what her book is about.

    Will the New York Times kill over if it tells some truth? Instead, it writes today:

    “Retreat of the ‘Tiger Mother’”


    It is not a retreat! It is that the WSJ spin is not quite what it is!

  9. nic
    January 16th, 2011 at 05:12 | #9

    @YinYang, comment #7

    I am not living in the US; I am only occasionally following the media there and international reports about some developments. In other words, I am definitely not an expert.

    From what I understand, I do not think that the situation in the US is now as extreme (even half as extreme) as the historical reports from Germany in the 1920s/1930s indicate. But I see a certain danger, that the political fights currently going on the the US could change that. One of the core problems seems to be, that some of the media are more interested in fast profits and/or furthering a particular political agenda, than fulfilling the task handed to them as “fourth power” in a democratic society. (cf. the OP)

    This leads me to a general thought concerning your OP: I think the problem of many western societies is not freedom and individuality, but freedom and individuality without responsibility. Many important developments in society, science, art, etc. were the result of individuals ‘going their way’ — maybe even against the majority of society — and achieving something that positively changed society.
    I believe that societies need this kind of individuality to progress and to thrive in the long term. But I agree with you, that many people today only think about their rights and freedoms, and nothing else.

    I still do not think that Germany after the Hitler regime was more “collective” than Germany before the Hitler regime.
    (In contrast to the US, I *have* been living and working in Germany for some years.)

    The following is a summary of things I am reading up from different historical sources; I try to add some references to Wikipedia:
    The (very rudimentary, in the beginning) social security system was introduced in the 19th century by the emperor’s government, to take the steam out of the socialists’ kettle. It was slightly strengthened between WWI and the start of the Hitler regime.
    A substantial increase in social security was not introduced before 1957, more than 20 years after WWII. During these 20 years, the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan), the technological revolution(s), the needs and requirements of a whole society recovering from a decade of war and destruction led to an enormous economic development (“Wirtschaftswunder”), maybe (in a very superficial way) comparable to developments in China over the last decades. This “economic miracle” made it possible to extend the pension system substantially in 1957. Subsequently, health and care insurances were extended, etc.
    But even this postwar development was not unique to Germany. Britain for example had a somewhat similar development, but due to economic difficulties they had to significantly reduce it (Thatcher era). The Scandinavian nations are often reported to have even more extended social security than central European nations.

    Also, in terms of “philosophy” of the German society, I would guess that the general society after Hitler was much closer to the situation before Hitler, than to the situation today. One of the pivotal points in the changes of the society were the students’ movements in the 60s, which contributed a lot to stripping the society of the disciplinism and authoritarianism it had inherited from pre-Hitler times. Germany’s society today is quite open and liberal in many ways, and was very different after WWII.

    Thinking about Germany today, you might consider it more ‘collectivist’ than e.g. the US. But it is not collectivism in the sense that everybody has their place and their duties in a certain group (or in society altogether). It is, in a way, a system of individual rights and entitlements without responsibilities: Every person in the country is entitled to a certain amount of money, their own place and personal privacy, warm food, clothes, etc. But this is usually not connected to any substantial responsibilities. I might misunderstand the little I know about Confucian societies, but from my intuition, ‘collectivism’ in terms of ‘Eastern Philosophy’ (and that is what Hooper claimed, and what I dispute) is not to be found in Germany in a substantial way.

  10. r v
    January 16th, 2011 at 17:23 | #10


    I do think you over think “collectivism” in “Eastern philosophy”.

    A core tenant of Confucian philosophy is the setting of the tone of the “collective” to motivate the individual privately. Far less about sharing of resources or setting rigid socioeconomic “places” for the individual.

    Afterall, Confucius was the 1st renown educator in China to attempt to spread education as a method of giving opportunities to lower economic classes. Confucius himself was from a rather low social status family, and rose to some position of authority in his life time, and managed to see some of his own students rise into positions of authority.

  11. It’s not always about China
    January 16th, 2011 at 20:09 | #11

    It sounds like you’re suffering from Middle Kingdom syndrome (one of a couple major complaints I have about this blog). The world does not revolve around China nearly as much as some Chinese people seem to think it does.

    You wrote: “Obviously the WSJ wants to continue the theme of abuse, children robots, and exaggerations, because they know such resonate with American’s view of ‘China’ and everything ‘Chinese,’ including the moms.”

    Wrong. The WSJ doesn’t care about China that much, and neither does the average American. It’s not about China. The average American goes weeks, if not longer, without even thinking about China, and when they do it’s probably about food. The WSJ created a shocking article because they knew it would cause controversy and boat loads of free publicity. It’s about selling her book, not smearing Chinese culture. They couldn’t care less about Chinese culture or how Chinese culture is or isn’t perceived by Americans. They’re just making money.

    The “China” aspect of this whole thing is totally unnecessary to the controversy; they could create this controversy without “China” being involved at all. Parenting discussions always raise emotions in America, even among white Americans — just look at any popular parenting blog, moms can be really mean and sensitive. If you post some article, esp. by a non-American, that (a) is shockingly controversial in the extreme (by advocating what many/most consider abuse!), and (b) criticizes people’s parenting methods (never mind some deeply held cultural values as well!), you are guaranteed to get a firestorm. And that author, for all her backpedaling, is cashing in big-time.

    If this perpetuates stereotypes and negative feelings toward Chinese people and culture, the blame lies first with the author, and only secondly with the WSJ. But both were shameless in this whole affair.

  12. January 16th, 2011 at 20:30 | #12


    We frankly don’t care if there is intent to trash everything ‘China’ and ‘Chinese.’ As long as we see WSJ behave that way, we are going to call them out.

    The average American goes weeks, if not longer, without even thinking about China, and when they do it’s probably about food.

    And when it rains, you want people to believe it shines. Haven’t you heard of “currency manipulation”, “lead toys”, “human rights abuse”, etc.. Where have you been? Everything in the WSJ about ‘China’ or the ‘Chinese” is one of these ridiculous themes.

    I agree with you Americans doesn’t care about China that much.

    However, what little they do, they are fed with so much junk.

    And that author, for all her backpedaling, is cashing in big-time.

    Have you read her book? Why do you think it’s backpedaling when in fact this very post is about WSJ massively spinning her book?

    If this perpetuates stereotypes and negative feelings toward Chinese people and culture, the blame lies first with the author, and only secondly with the WSJ. But both were shameless in this whole affair.

    If your bottom line is to stop the silly perpetuating of stereotypes, then I certainly agree with you. It is important to distinguish who is there day in and day out perpetuating the stereotypes.

  13. January 16th, 2011 at 20:45 | #13

    Why is making money shameful? Making money per se is not shameful. It is only the lieing, the spinning, the disregard for others perpetrated in the making of money – i.e. WSJ – that is shameful…

  14. January 20th, 2011 at 13:14 | #14

    1) Amy Chua wrote every word in that article.

    2) Amy Chua has never distanced herself from it despite having had ample opportunity to do so.

    If the WSJ piece was shameful and sensationalist, I could blame the editors and publicity people who put it together from excepts of Chua’s book, but to do so without assigning any blame to the person who wrote every word of it and whose name it is printed under is more than a bit mendacious.

    I did read the article because of the controversy, but will not buy the book. My impression of it is that it is a very American piece, written by an American born in America and whose parents came from the Philippines some time ago. It bears little resemblance to the upbringing of the majority of people I knew in mainland China, whose parents may at times have been strict, but who lacked the seeming relentlessness described by Chua.

    On the subject of relentlessness, it seems that the bone of ‘western media bias’ is something that some around here love to gnaw on.

  15. January 20th, 2011 at 13:53 | #15


    Did you bother reading this post and the interview of Amy Chua at the San Francisco Chronicle?

    1) – retarded claim. I guess we live on different planets.

    2) – retarded claim. She was in fact on NPR this morning talking about the book. She said the same thing about how the WSJ article mis-characterized her book as she did at the San Francisco Chronicle piece. Of course she spent majority of the time talking about the book itself. She’d be foolish to dwell on WSJ that whole time she was being interviewed by NPR.

    It bears little resemblance to the upbringing of the majority of people I knew in mainland China, whose parents may at times have been strict, but who lacked the seeming relentlessness described by Chua.

    I agree with your generalization on Chinese parents. BUT, now you are still “blaming” Amy Chua for the WSJ article.

    Why is that?

  16. January 20th, 2011 at 14:07 | #16

    @YinYang – Because she wrote every word in it. Because publicists working for her publisher put together the article from her own words. Because she did not stop it being published under her name. My question is why you think she is not to blame but the WSJ is.

  17. January 20th, 2011 at 14:11 | #17


    Let’s start with the WSJ article. Who wrote the title?

  18. wwww1234
    January 20th, 2011 at 19:43 | #18


    never heard of cultural DNA??

  19. January 20th, 2011 at 21:48 | #19

    @YinYang – Who writes every title? Was the article taken entirely from her own book? Yes. Did she therefore write every word in it? The answer is yes.

    @wwww1234 – Usually I hear this term in the mouths of racists peddling crack-pot theories.

  20. wwww1234
    January 20th, 2011 at 23:15 | #20

    @wwww1234 – Usually I hear this term in the mouths of racists peddling crack-pot theories.

    no one can prevent you from understanding the world but yourself, and you are.

  21. guest2
    January 21st, 2011 at 00:17 | #21

    Point is the WSJ title made it out to be Chinese moms superior to American moms, but that’s not what the book is about. Also, WSJ took what Chua wrote out of context and concocted it into extreme stereotyping of Chinese parenting. Again, not what the book is about.

    Chua also said when she learned how the article was going to be while on its way to print, she was told too late to make alterations.

    For some Westerners, it is not their inability to understand English; rather it is willful ignorance as www1234 rightly points out. Liu Xiaobo needs to be locked up with these type of Westerners in some isolated place with little food, then he will truly understand what he is doing.

  22. TonyP4
    January 26th, 2011 at 07:36 | #22
  23. nic
    January 27th, 2011 at 02:38 | #23

    Since we were talking about Germany and China recently …

    The German weekly “Die ZEIT”, a “rather liberal, center–left” newspaper with wide circulation among educated people, has written a report about the book and the discussion, see

    Some excerpts (my translation):

    Out of all the competitive nervosity [in the China–The West education competition debate] a misunderstanding emerged: The reader expects a grey justification of drill and prepares for a conflict of cultures. Instead, this report from the ivy-league rich provides a window into an integration fairytale that pundits would dream of: An immigrant mother, professor at an elite university, stands up agains cultural and civilisatory decay!

    America, however, is nervous […], and very much so. The illusion that anybody, who makes an effort, has a real chance [in the pursuit of happiness, wealth, etc.] is gone.

    In the author’s disinterest in the development of her country lies the most provoking scandal of this book: The only thing worth talking about is the own child.

    I think the author of the review has a point (if his observations about the book are correct). Either the book is intended only as a personal memoir — then it might be an interesting story, but not more than an anecdote. Or, the book wants to contribute to a discussion — then it should be expected to go beyond the personal situation and maybe consider questions like, where does the degeneration of ‘western education’ come from, and where can the different cultures and civilisations learn from each others. This actually is a question, where I think a highly educated mother, who knows both cultures, should be able to contribute significantly.

  24. January 27th, 2011 at 12:07 | #24


    Some times to tackle tough issues is to satire it. Thanks for that link.

    The book is a personal memoir, and that’s according to the book, Amy Chua herself, and book reviews. WSJ made the “news” when they spin it to a thing of Chinese moms disdaining for American moms.

  25. June 10th, 2011 at 10:23 | #25

    I thought that Amy Chua’s parenting style is reminiscent of a Race to Nowhere extremes where children are on a treadmill trying to live up to their parents’ expectations but never discovering their own identity.


  26. raventhorn2000
    June 10th, 2011 at 11:19 | #26

    I had friends in US who spent over 7 years in college trying to discover their own identities, only to end up going back to the paths that their parents originally suggested to them.

    That, my friend, is the real Race to Nowhere.

    I, on the other hand, did follow the path my parents suggested to me, and I did well. And later on, I discovered some thing else I wanted to do, and I paid for my own law school and switched career (but still used my engineering school learning).

    I am extremely grateful to my parents for my head start in career. I had a job and was independent at age of 22, and I had a good career as an engineer.

    I never regretted my parents’ choice for my career path for 1 second.

    *If a child is rare enough to have found his/her own identity at age of 17, and planned out methodically his/her career path, then he/she should be allow to follow the path.

    But most children at that age have no clue about their identity, and parents (especially nowadays) simply can’t afford to let their kids squander $100,000 in college tuitions plus living expenses while “trying to find their identity”.

    (My other friends’ solution: Go join the military and find your identity.)

    Amy Chua’s methods may be harsh, but it is in itself a parent’s push for the Child to “find his/her identity”.

    She pushes her children to try hard at different things, and learn the value of “sticking to tasks”.

    A child cannot find identity, unless identity is pushed by harsh realities, ie. will you stick with your “identity” if the going gets tough.

    Finding identity is not some poetic journey of the subconscious, it is a journey through the trials of life experiences.

    And Amy Chua is precisely teaching the harshness of that journey to her children as early as possible, (instead of having them learn on their own late in life).

  27. André M. Smith
    March 23rd, 2012 at 22:42 | #27

    Why is the art of music required to endure the ill-informed antics of such inartistic imbeciles as Amy Chua? Her lust for fame as an old-fashioned stage mother of either a famous violinist (yet another mechanical Sarah Chang?) or a famous pianist (yet another mechanical Lang Lang?) shines through what she perceives as devotion to the cultivation of the cultural sensitivities of her two unfortunate daughters.

    Daughter Lulu at age 7 is unable to play compound rhythms from Jacques Ibert with both hands coordinated? Leonard Bernstein couldn’t conduct this at age 50! And he isn’t the only musician of achievement with this-or-that shortcoming. We all have our closets with doors that are not always fully opened.

    And why all this Chinese obsession unthinkingly dumped on violin and piano? What do the parents with such insistence know of violin and piano repertoire? Further, what do they know of the great body of literature for flute? For French horn? For organ? For trumpet? Usually, nothing!

    For pressure-driven (not professionally-driven!) parents like Amy Chua their children, with few exceptions, will remain little more than mechanical sidebars to the core of classical music as it’s practiced by musicians with a humanistic foundation.

    Professor Chua better be socking away a hefty psychoreserve fund in preparation for the care and feeding of her two little lambs once it becomes clear to them both just how empty and ill-defined with pseudo-thorough grounding their emphasis has been on so-called achievement.

    Read more about this widespread, continuing problem in Forbidden Childhood (N.Y., 1957) by Ruth Slenczynska.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  28. André M. Smith
    March 23rd, 2012 at 22:43 | #28

    I believe some useful purpose will be served by offering here, what the lawyers might like to call, but will seldom welcome, a healthy second opinion; a collective opinion that will demonstrate in abbreviated form the absolute folly of any attempt to teach music to children in the manner advocated by Amy Chua and her supporters.

    These titles, with a few accompanying comments, should be read only as an introduction to a vast, interesting subject. There is one observation one can make about them all, and many more on this same subject, if needed to prove the point: Their attempt at an inherent humane understanding. I shall let the individual writers speak for themselves. To wit:

    C. C. Liu [fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies, The University of Hong Kong]: A Critical History of New Music in China, Columbia University Press, 2010.
    By the end of the nineteenth century, Chinese culture had fallen into a stasis, and intellectuals began to go abroad for new ideas. What emerged was an exciting musical genre that C. C. Liu terms “new music. With no direct ties to traditional Chinese music, “new music” reflects the compositional techniques and musical idioms of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European styles. Liu traces the genesis and development of “new music” throughout the twentieth century, deftly examining the social and political forces that shaped “new music” and its uses by political activists and the government. http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-962-996-360-6/a-critical-history-of-new-music-in-china

    Brahmstedt’s China travels bring recognition: TTU [Tennessee Technical University] trumpet professor “Outstanding foreigner.” http://www.tntech.edu/pressreleases/brahmstedts-china-travels-bring-recognition-ttu-trumpet-professor-qoutstanding-foreignerq/

    Music Education in China: A look at primary school music education in China reveals numerous recent developments in general music, band and string programs, and private lessons. Music Educators Journal May 1997 83:28-52, doi:10.2307/3399021. Full Text (PDF)

    Howard Brahmstedt and Patricia Brahmstedt: Music education in China. Music Educators Journal 83(6):28-30, 52. May 1997.

    Joseph Kahn and Daniel J. Wakin: Classical music looks toward China with hope. The New York Time, 3 April 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/arts/music/03class1.htm?pagewanted=all

    Ho Wai-Ching: A comparative study of music education in Shanghai and Taipei: Westernization and nationalization. A Journal of Comparative and International Education 34:2, 2004.

    Yuri Ishii and Mari Shiobara: Teachers’ role in the transition and transmission of culture. Journal of Education for Teaching 34(4):245-9, November 2008.
    There are some common trends, which indicate that certain values are now shared among music education policies of many Asian countries. These are an emphasis on the purpose of education as the development of children’s total human quality rather than mere transmission of skills and knowledge by rote learning, the encouragement of a learner-centered approach, the introduction of authentic assessment, the integration of existing subjects, and the assertion of cultural specificity.

    Chee-Hoo Lim: An historical perspective on the Chinese Americans in American music education. Research in Music Education May 2009 vol. 27 no. 2 27-37.

    Howard Brahmstedt: Trumpet playing in China. P. 29. International Trumpet Guild Journal, February 1993.

    Richard Curt Kraus: Pianos and politics in China. Middle-class ambitions and the struggle over Western music. Oxford University Press. New York, 1989.

    From Shanghai Conservatory to Temple University
    Yiyue Zhang holds both Bachelors and Masters in Music Education from Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China. Currently, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in Music Education at Temple University. Ms. Zhang is from a family of music. She first learned Chinese classic dance from her father at the age of 3. She then started to learn accordion at the age of 5 and piano at the age of 6. During the close to 20 years of piano training and education, she has also been learning saxophone, cello, vocal music and percussion instrument of Chinese ethnic nationalities. In addition to piano solo, Ms. Zhang has rich experiences as a piano accompanist for vocal and chorus performances. When she served as the accompanist for the female choir of Shanghai Conservatory in 2006, they participated in the Fourth World Chorus Competition and won the gold medal for female choir, silver medal for contemporary music and another silver medal for theological music. Before came the United States, Ms. Zhang taught general music at Shanghai Hongqiao Middle School and Shanghai North Fujian Rd. Primary School as her internship in 2006. From 2006 to 2008, she taught piano and music class in Shanghai Tong-de-meng Kindergarten while held Chinese Teacher Qualification Certificate. Ms. Zhang is currently the piano accompanist of Chinese Musical Voices located at Cherry Hill, NJ as well as the assistant conductor of Guanghua Chorus located at Blue Bell, PA. While holding Early Childhood Music Master Certification (Level 1) from The Gordon Institute for Music Learning, she is also actively engaged in the educational and cultural activities with the networks of local Chinese schools in the Philadelphia area. http://www.temple.edu/boyer/music/programs/musiced/MusicEducationGraduateAssistants.htm

    Li Ying-ling: Essential study on the function of children’s music education.
    Music education is beneficial in the comprehensive development of children’s healthy personality, helpful to enlighten the children’s creative thinking, helpful to educate the regulation senses of children, helpful to develop the children’s language and good emotion. It has certain social effect and realistic meaning for the growth of children. Every teacher should pay attention to the functional character of children music education, consciously meet the demands for music education of the children nowadays, strengthen the socialization function of music education, promote socialization proceeding of children. Music Department of Kunming University. Journal of Kunming University 2:2009.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  29. André M. Smith
    March 23rd, 2012 at 22:47 | #29

    Amy Chua has never lived in China. Her understanding of its culture, that is, the culture as it’s truly lived by the indigenous people in their dailyness, then must be that of the tourist. Here perhaps is one view of a China she may or may not have seen.

    http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_5057209_1.html [Each of the four pictures can be enlarged for clearer viewings.] In what likely is Nanning, the capitol of Guang Xi region, the boy was caught stealing money to pursue his addiction in Internet gaming. (This is a common problem in China, especially among adolescent boys. http://playnoevil.com/serendipity/index.php?/archives/1076-China-continues-focus-on-Internet-Addiction-Reading-the-Tea-Leaves.html) As punishment his father has publicly stripped off the boy’s clothes, lathered him with some unstated brown caking (which I shall discretely hope is mere mud), bound his hands behind his back, and then pulled him on his back and buttocks by one foot for disgrace through a very-public area of the city.

    On contemporary corporal punishment in China:

    A third of them [child respondents] said corporal punishment negatively affected their personalities, causing them to become introverted and depressed.

    Legal experts cited by the paper said China should ban corporal punishment in its marriage laws to protect children from physical and psychological harm and to protect the rights of minors.

    They blamed the common occurrence of corporal punishment in China on the traditional belief that children were a part of their parents, not individuals. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-12/07/content_397964.htm

    The routine beatings allegedly given to child gymnasts in China are no different to the corporal punishment that was once part of daily life in English public schools, according to the head of the Olympic movement.

    Mr Rogge said he believed that if physical punishment is being used to train young athletes in China, then it is likely to be confined to sports such as gymnastics and swimming, where the age of competitors is much younger than in the other Olympic sports. What is not known is how widespread the practice is. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/1504716/Chinas-abuse-of-its-athletes-is-no-different-to-Britains-public-schools-says-Olympics-chief.html

    “It was a pretty disturbing experience. I was really shocked by some of what was going on. I know it is gymnastics and that sport has to start its athletes young, but I have to say I was really shocked. I think it’s a brutal programme. They said this is what they needed to do to make them hard.

    “I do think those kids are being abused. The relationship between coach and child and parent and child is very different here. But I think it goes beyond the pale. It goes beyond what is normal behaviour. It was really chilling.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2368416/Olympics-Pinsent-upset-at-Chinese-abuse.html

    Anyone who thinks the Chinese are a race of genteel pacifists who, collectively, design their lives to awaken every morning wiser than they went to bed the night before is a candidate for some serious awakening of his own. As a whole person Amy Chua is a type; she is not an aberration.

    Now, for one question I have not seen asked anywhere. . . Does Professor Chua play a music instrument? If so, let’s hear some of it. If not, from what sources has she gathered her standards about music technique and style and how they might be taught to a very young child who has shown no particular affinity for any instrument? Can she play any music from what she has demanded from either of her two daughters? Can she play simultaneously triptlets in the left hand and duolets in the right? Can she perform, even modestly, http://www.alfred.com/samplepages/00-16734_01~02.pdf, the composition she has demanded her post-toddler daughter play with assurance?

    There can be no doubt that Professor Chua likes violence, so long as it’s not directed at her, the core definition of a bully. She has said recently that there are parts of the world in which some of her parenting techniques might be considered child abuse. I do wish she could be persuaded to name (1) which some of those parts of the world are, (2) just which parenting techniques she is referring to, and (3) why she believes those same techinques should not be defined as child abuse in her home state of Connecticut.

    How did such a reprehensible woman obtain a position so high up on the feeding chain with so little prior experience in law education?

    HUSBAND, faculty of Yale Law School since 1990 : Jed Rubenfeld
    WIFE, faculty of Yale Law School since 2001 : Amy Chua

    As the lawyers may put it, Let the evidence speak for itself. The Tiger Mom has made it on her own claws.

    One last question: Who prevents Professor Chua from sitting on a toilet or eating a meal when, at any given moment, she is vexed beyond her capacity to complete an academic assignment or any other professional obligation within the proper time allocated for its completion?

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  30. André M. Smith
    March 23rd, 2012 at 22:49 | #30

    I divide my year annually between New York and Shanghai. One of my common visitations in the latter city is to the area in and around The Shanghai Conservatory of Music. About four years back the school built a large new building on Fenyang Lu. Along the street side is a lower level with a string of music stores stocked with new instruments. In four of those stores I counted, literally, one trumpet, one horn, one trombone, no tuba, two flutes, one clarinet, one oboe, no bassoon, a handful of strings (but no string bass), and two-hundred pianos! The single trombone (my instrument) looked and felt like it had been made in an industrial arts school as a class project. I asked one of the clerks how many trombone students were then enrolled in the Conservatory. “Five,” he replied. I told him it would be impossible for any serious student of that instrument to plan advancement playing such useless metal and asked what brand of instruments are taught upstairs. All the trombones were imported by the school, only as needed, from Yamaha in Japan. But, why the sea of pianos?

    Most parents do not want their children spending, i.e., wasting, their time on any instrument for which a student can not enter a contest and win prizes. Prizes mean medals and certificates, which Mommy and Daddy can display as their own achievements by extension. It is the major conservatories in China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, and Wuhan) which are responsible for continuing to nurture this false status, while, visually at least, giving the external impression that China is a major cultural locus of Western classical music. Anyone who has heard the wind sections of a major symphony orchestra in China will hear just how major the cultural locus is in China for those instruments. Naïve morons; school and parent alike!

    For the serious student having neither interest nor ability to become a graduate of Harvard Medical School, this phony sequence of contest successes may lead to Juilliard in New York or Curtis in Philadelphia. “If a clown like Lang Lang can make it, then so can my little angel. Who is, of course, the most adept keyboard wizard to blossom since Lawrence Welk or Rachmaninoff.” Stage mothers: Away with them!

    All of this clap-trap nonsense has no relationship whatsoever to two very important issues: music or Asian American. It is, with the rarest of exceptions, largely Oriental in the homeland. Atavistic immigrants from those eastern cultures or those descended directly therefrom – like the ever-psychobashing Kommandant Amy Chua – have some untested, sentimental notion that music opens doors and ensures careers in whatever direction the unmusical music student chooses; which the student is free to choose, so long as it isn’t music. (Try to figure out that one. “You are free to study physics or mathematics, so long as you don’t attempt to make a career of them.”)

    For the past forty years during my own studies in medicine and music in New York I have been wedded to and worked closely with and around nurses, physicians, surgeons, and medical technicians active in all the standard disciplines. Those persons have come from all modern regions of the world. And, yes, some of my coworkers have come from the beloved Harvard Medical School. But, I can write with authority, the number of those professional persons who have had any direct contact at any times in their lives with piano or violin is insignificantly small.

    No one has ever wasted time typing me as a wimp. Nevertheless, with an Amy Chua of my own only thinly masking a contempt while ostensibly trying to encourage me before the age of ten by classing me as “garbage, “lazy,” “useless,” and a host of other niceties (a savage, a juvenile delinquent, boring, common, low, completely ordinary, a barbarian) all the while forbidding me to sit on a toilet until I can play triplets in one hand against duolets in the other mechanistically en duo with a metronome might have (likely would have) set me up both for advanced training to climb The Texas Tower and chronic constipation.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  31. André M. Smith
    March 23rd, 2012 at 22:51 | #31

    For all my focus on this subject I think the following text, written from the trenches on the other side of The Pacific, should be required reading everywhere else; perhaps even over there.


    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

    Chinese Mom: American ‘Tiger Mother’ clueless about real Chinese parenting
    The “Chinese” parenting style advocated by Asian-American author Amy Chua is no longer popular among Chinese mothers
    By Helen He 20 January, 2011

    As a post-1980s mother, I, like many other young moms in China, often seek parenting advice from various channels and never miss reading the latest popular books on parenting.

    Recently, a book titled “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” written by Yale university professor Amy Chua on the parenting experience of a Chinese mother, stirred up a controversy in the West after an excerpt from the book was printed in the Wall Street Journal.

    I’m a born-and-bred Shanghainese mother, not that proficient in English, so I wasn’t able to read Amy Chua’s entire work. But I did have friends translate a book excerpt printed in the Wall Street Journal for me.

    The author claims that mothers, by being strict and narrowminded and focusing only on results, are able to nurture child geniuses.

    This is clearly a utilitarian take on parenting and I was deeply astounded that Chua lauds this as a forte of Chinese mothers.

    I only want to say: Please don’t demonize Chinese mothers.

    Amy Chua’s claims are misleading because Chinese-American women cannot be said to represent mothers in mainland China, and thus are unable to objectively elaborate on the parenting attitudes and experiences of Chinese mothers.

    Amy Chua does not speak for all of us
    Environment has a big influence over a person’s values, and the role of a mother is not something that every woman takes to immediately.

    The Chinese parenting method Chua champions has no claims to authenticity.Every mother gradually devises her own parenting method, which is often shaped by her own experience growing up, as well as the environment around her.

    According to reports, Amy Chua is a Filipino of Chinese descent.

    Her parents emigrated to America and underwent an intense struggle to set their roots in a foreign land, which inevitably led them to adopt a more utilitarian outlook in raising their children: “We struggled to get you this new citizenship status, the best way to repay us as our children is to succeed in life.”

    Amy Chua brings up Confucius in her article to explain why Chinese parents feel that their children are indebted to them for life. But, she probably doesn’t know that there is another fundamental saying in the Confucian school of thought that “ethics matter more than results, harmony more than competition.”

    Simply put, one should not be overly aggressive in trying to outdo others nor adopt a mindset that every investment should get due returns.

    Confucius also believed that education should be something tailored according to an individual’s talents and capabilities, rather than a force-fed regime.

    In other words, the parenting that Amy Chua received while growing up already deviates from Chinese traditions, and despite her attempts to follow in the footsteps of her parents, the Chinese parenting method she champions has no claims to authenticity.

    This strict parenting style, if blindly — or even vengefully — repeated among successive generations, will only be a prolonged tragedy.

    The parenting styles of post-1980s mothers
    The bulk of parents in China today comprise children born in the 1970s and 1980s. I will raise two examples to illustrate how Amy Chua’s perception of Chinese parenting methods differs from current practices in modern China.

    Kaixin001, China’s Facebook that’s popular among the post-1980s generation in China, recently held two online polls.

    One was titled “If you had a girl, what would you teach her?” while the other was “What would you do if you discovered your teenage son was in love?” Each had a total of 97,470 and 28,915 respondents, respectively.

    a.. More on CNNGo: Another ‘Tiger Mother’ rebuttal from across the ocean
    In the first poll, piano and karate came out on top with 55 percent and 54 percent of the total votes. In third place was the response “How to deal with men,” which shows that young parents are also concerned about their child’s interpersonal skills and EQ.

    In the second poll, there were more than 15 different response options, but only 366 netizens (less than one percent of respondents) chose the most extreme option of sharply reprimanding the child.

    The reason why books such as “Fu Lei’s Letters Home” and “Education of Love,” as well as more recent titles such as “A Good Mother Is Better than a Good Teacher” and “An Average Student at Home,” are so well-received among Chinese parents is because they reflect a parenting mindset premised on mutual respect and communication between parent and child — an attitude that’s fast becoming the norm in China.

    The parenting method that Amy Chua encourages, one of forcing a child to discover his talents through disciplined and repeated practice, is contrary to the upbringing that many young Chinese mothers have received.

    The parent-child relationship depicted in “Growing Pains,” an American television series popular in China in the 1980s, is something that is finding favor with many mothers of my generation.

    When I was in university, the way the Seaver family openly communicated with each other was something I could identify with.

    This strict parenting style, if blindly — or even vengefully — repeated among successive generations, will only produce a prolonged tragedy.Along with the opening up of China, my parents’ generation had also opened up to other methods of parenting. They no longer held on to a “spare the rod and spoil the child” mindset, but instead saw their children as equals and hoped to build friendships with them.

    Nurturing healthy individuals rather than child prodigies who have no fun
    The desire for one’s child to be a straight-A student or a musical genius seems simple and naive to most Chinese mothers.

    A survey of 1,285 mothers of children up to six years old conducted by Babytree, China’s largest parenting website, found that health, happiness, self-confidence and kindness were the four most important traits that mothers hoped their children would have.

    About 77 percent of mothers did not expect their children to have particular talents and 65 percent of mothers said they would encourage children to pursue their hobbies, even if it was not an interest shared by the mother.

    The most important wish among mothers was for their children to have a happy, stress-free life.

    The point I wish to emphasize is this: a child is a gift, but the right to control him is not a given.

    The child that we nurture may subtly be influenced by our thoughts and values while under our care, but this does not mean that we should forcefully deprive them the independence to discover and grasp other opportunities that the world offers.

    Taiwanese author Lung Ying-tai wrote in her book “Seeing Off” that the role of a parent is merely to stand by one’s child and watch his back as he gradually ventures afar.

    This very appropriately describes the mindset of many young parents in China today.

    To raise a child is to give him the freedom to build a life of his own, rather than to force him to become a replica of your own successes or as compensation to make up for your regrets. As such, the right to decide what is good or bad for a child is not entirely up to the parents — the child should have a say, too.

    If life really is a race, instead of encouraging your child to tirelessly try to outdo others and come in first, why not let him run at an enjoyable pace so he can admire the sights along the way?

    I dare say that most Chinese mothers, especially those belonging to the post-1980s generation, do silently but lovingly encouraging their children to make the most of life in exactly this manner — a mindset contrary to that advocated by Amy Chua.

    Article translated by Debbie Yong. See the original Chinese version here.


  32. André M. Smith
    March 23rd, 2012 at 22:54 | #32

    Some words penned in response to the thoughts of a student writing elsewhere . . .

    I would not normally lock horns and try to best a junior in high school; I’m hoping you do not read my words here as such, for they are meant for you only as a provocation to further thought to your ideas well-presented.

    You’ve written that you “used to get frustrated when I had to practice violin and I really didn’t want to . . .” Do I read correctly that you no longer “get frustrated?” If so, that’s a remarkable advancement. As a musician myself I want to ask you, Why do you practice violin and not another instrument of your choosing less frustrating, for examples, flute, harpsichord, tuba, or tabla. There is a vast – and I do mean vast! – repertoire for each of those, and many other, instruments that could challenge you unendingly for the remainder of your life. Instead of spending hours at your chosen instrument (whichever it may be) in the drudgery of isolated practice, why not spend more of your time in practice with music ensembles of various kinds. This can yield a discipline and advancement of a uniquely different kind. If you are studying formally with a violin teacher I’m quite sure he will confirm the well-founded idea that, as a performer, playing an instrument is one kind of challenge but playing an instrument WITH PEOPLE is significantly more so. A musician in isolation is a musician limited. And herein lays one, only one, of the transparent contradictions of the way Professor Chua has taught her two daughters to approach their instruments; opportunistically solely for unartistic purposes.

    A fundamental flaw in the approach to music of Amy Chua – an amusical hack with no known talent for an art of any kind! – is that she has decided it’s perfectly acceptable to pervert one of the greater of the fine arts for use in ulterior purposes. In the example of the Chua family, so-so slogging through masterpieces of music was used to impress others when applying for admission to university. (Would Professor Chua dare to advocate this openly with religion, physics, good grammar, or issues of national interest?) The whole idea that her elder daughter, Sophia, played a debut recital in Carnegie Hall is an early example of the pervasive blight of résumé bloat on which social climbers like Amy Chua have advanced themselves; a blight to which the Chua daughters were introduced early by two parents who know well how to tweak the system to gain unearned personal advantage.

    Carnegie Hall, http://www.carnegiehall.org/history/, includes three auditoria in its building: Stern Auditorium http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/, Zankel Hall http://www.gotickets.com/venues/ny/zankel_hall_at_carnegie_hall.php, and Weill Recital Hall http://www.carnegiehall.org/Information/Weill-Recital-Hall/. It was in Weill that Sophia performed as only one among a cattle-call string of young pianists that day. Do you doubt what I write here? Compare the architectural design,
    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AB160_chau_i_G_20110107132345.jpg, behind Sophia with that of the architectural design at the rear of the stage in http://www.carnegiehall.org/information/stern-auditorium-perelman-stage/. Having been a performer, myself, in both Stern and Weill over many years you have my assurance that Sophia performed her piece in Weill. Debut recital in Carnegie Hall! Indeed!

    You have written about your parents that they are “less extreme than Chua I’ll admit, but a lot of her memoir is satire and exaggeration.” Don’t be deceived by quick-change artist Professor Chua. She has spent more than one year trying to convince readers of her text that she is some kind of nouveau belles-lettrist who did no more than exercise a writer’s license to engage her readers. In truth she meant what she wrote until her hypocritical posturing as an authentic Chinese mother — born in Illinois to a Filipino father, neither speaks Chinese nor writes Chinese script — came back to haunt her with a ferocity that caused this self-styled Tiger Mother to recoil into improvised doublespeak. Amy Chua is a complete fake!

    All young musicians should be given only two music instrument choices to pursue in life, Violin or Piano. All else is useless waste. Any adult giving such advice is one woefully ill-informed. As a bass trombonist, my instrument has been my first class ticket from person-to-person, school-to-school, city-to-city, studio-to-studio, and stage-to-stage. With the kinds of preparations the Chua daughters were given will they ever perform, as I have, with Richard Tucker, Birgit Nilsson, Roberta Peters, Herbert von Karajan, Leopold Stokowski, and the two-thirds of The New York Philharmonic who were my schoolmates for five years in Juilliard? Forget it!

    Mercifully, I was never besieged with a Tiger Mother or Tiger Anything to motivate me. Yes, I too sometimes was bored with scales and chords. Yes, sometimes my imagined future seemed an unattainable fantasy. Yes, I did sometimes fall flat on my face in public performance (as did my teachers before me and also their teachers before them). Life went on and continues to do so.

    You’ve written that “At this point (as a Junior in high school) about 35% of the pressure to do well comes from my parents and the other 65% is complete self-motivation.” From the subtlety of your writing I suspect you’re cutting yourself short with that 65%. You appear to be much more highly motivated than your objective perspective about yourself can show you at this early time.

    The violin? I advise you to seriously reëvaluate what you believe is your relationship to any instrument of your choice; if, indeed, the violin has been your choice and not that of someone else. If the violin has been your choice, stay with it through all the coming stormy weather of doubt and seeming incompetence. If it is not, drop it in preference to another more to your liking and its fitness for your physicality. (If it’s the tuba, tell your parents that someone other than I recommended it!)

    Good Luck!

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  33. André M. Smith
    April 1st, 2012 at 22:10 | #33

    An integral amalgam of defining examples of narcissism that Professor Chua has instilled in her two daughters is self-advancement with sexual provocation. Her public signature posture is one of excessive toothiness, for a university professor exceedingly vulgar displays of long legs, and breast projections that might have won her Blue Ribbons as “Best in Show” as a candidate in any Sweater Queen contest during the 1950s. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/sweater-queen-contest She never misses an opportunity to increase the image of her breast size by folding her arms under them; in one oft-reproduced photograph she actually appears to be elevating the left one nudged up by a folded arm. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Amychua4.png

    The elder Chua daughter, Sophia, has learned her lesson well. http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2011/01/18/entertainment/photos_stories/sophia_chua–300×450.jpg and http://www.facebook.com/amytigermother?sk=photos#!/photo.php?fbid=230907580253565&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater,

    Birds of a feather . . . A coop of nesting trophy wives!
    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  34. André M. Smith
    April 6th, 2012 at 21:41 | #34

    There is a recurring theme without solid core that continues to recycle on the question of Amy Chua and her style as a mother. J.G. (unfortunately anonymous, as are most of the endorsements of Professor Chua) has written

    I think it’s easy to take cheap shots at Chua, but it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others.

    It might seem amusing to mock her (her “cushy job” and “hottie husband”), but harder to actually consider the points being made in a non-defensive way, without trying to paint yourself as the “cool mom” who prefers three martini playdates?

    p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) would paint her parents as laissez-faire and herself as moderately motivated.
    Posted by: J.G. | January 18, 2011 at 02:31 PM http://thecareerist.typepad.com/thecareerist/2011/01/chinese-moms.html

    I, for one, have no interest whatsoever in her “cushy job” and “hottie husband.” Nor do I have any objection to her having become a millionaire from the sales of her book and that she will be well on her way to becoming a multimillionare once the planned translations of it into thirteen of the world’s languages have been completed. My uncompromising objections to Professor Chua are two-fold: her abuses of young children pursued to further her own narcissistic urgencies and her deep commitment of abuse of the art of music – of which she seemingly has no knowledge whatsoever – for reasons having nothing to do with that art. My shots at her are far from what J.G. calls “cheap shots.” They do in fact go to the heart of the problems with her that remain my chief concerns.

    J.G. and most of his fellow travelers in their tepid defenses of Professor Chua continue to focus on her inherited emphasis of the sorry state of public education in The United States. What else is new?

    As with most of the ringing endorsements of Amy Chua, those from J.G. are clearly from a mind not wholly engaged. He has written ” it’s hard to argue that the average American child needs less discipline, less direction or less respect for others. In his tangled syntax I’m quite sure he means – at least I’m hoping he means – it’s hard to argue that the average American child does not need more discipline, more direction or more respect for others.

    J.G. has written further, “p.s. It seems ironic that an Asian-American female who went to Williams (fulfilling a fantasy of Chinese parents everywhere) . . . “ Again, but this time TWO thoughts from nowhere! What has Williams College to do with Amy Chua (Harvard, A.B. ’84)? And since when has Williams even been on the “fantasy” palate “of Chinese parents everywhere?”

    Professor Chua usually receives the quality of defense she deserves.

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

  35. April 7th, 2012 at 07:58 | #35

    That’s quite a collection of opinions, Andre. To recap, are opinions #29, #33 and #34 your own? Because they don’t seem to be attributed to anyone else, unlike #31, which is attributed to Helen He.

  36. André M. Smith
    April 9th, 2012 at 12:52 | #36

    I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to acknowledge the good work of others, and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Pride

    1) Tiger Sophia, you may have checked Asian which does have a “tax,” however you also got big bonus points for being a legacy many times over. The upshot is that you had help getting in unlike these Asian Americans below who live at the poverty line and don’t have Ivy League parents with deep pockets.

    2) By checking Asian when, actually, you are of mixed race, you have taken a spot away from those who don’t have the benefit of applying to a less competitive race slot. Thanks to you, someone who[se] life could be completely changed did not get a spot. http://jadeluckclub.com/true-picture-asian-americans/

    For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29

    Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, the daughter of a mother of mixed Asian ethnicity of no known religious involvement and a secular — whatever that means — American Jewish father has, ostensibly been raised as a Jewess in an atheistic family positing itself as . . . ? When she applied for admission to Harvard she descended into a pride of Asianness to avail herself of an ethnic quota advantage.

    This duplicitous young woman is, indeed, her mother’s daughter! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=230907266920263&set=o.134679449938486&type=1&theater

    André M. Smith, Bach Mus, Mas Sci (Juilliard)
    Diploma (Lenox Hill Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy)
    Postgraduate studies in Human and Comparative Anatomy (Columbia University)
    Formerly Bass Trombonist
    The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York,
    Leopold Stokowski’s American Symphony Orchestra (Carnegie Hall),
    The Juilliard Orchestra, Aspen Festival Orchestra, etc.

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