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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Strings Attached

1. Did you ever study a musical instrument? What was the experience like?

2. What role does music play in your daily life?

3. Who were important teachers for you? What made them valuable?

4. What do you think about Mr. K.’s teaching methods? Can harshness be excused by passion?

5. Throughout his life Mr. K strongly emphasized the importance of discipline. Why was it so important to him? What are possible dangers to such discipline?

6. Where to you exhibit discipline in your life? Where did you learn this?

7. What part of general education should music instruction play? Why?

8. What were your thoughts and feeling about Mr. K. early in the story? In what ways, if any, does this change as you learn about his traumatic past?

9. Thinking about Melanie, what are the benefits and risks of rigorous training for very young children? Does the presence of aptitude or even genius alter what seems appropriate?

10. How are the two narrative voices, those of Joanne and Melanie, different? What does each bring to the storytelling?

11. What effects result from having two narrators telling of similar subjects from different points of view?

12. Discuss Joanne’s statement to Mr. K. about why she wouldn’t pursue music professionally: “I love music. That’s why I could never do it for a living.” (198)

13. Listen to “Meditation” from Thais by Massenet. This was Mr. K.’s favorite piece of music, one he had Melanie play at her mother’s funeral, her sister’s memorial, and for him when in the hospital. What does the piece suggest or reveal about him?

Strings Attached
by Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky

  • Publication Date: September 16, 2014
  • Genres: Education, Music
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 0316408891
  • ISBN-13: 9780316408899