"Get off my note!" "Pitch wanderer!" "You're out of tune!" "Can't you keep the beat?" How many families do you know where these are the very worst put downs and arguments that could be had? Well, I grew up in a family of singers/musicians where any of these accusations would start loud fussin' and feudin'. My mother, bless her heart, actually enjoyed our vocal exercising and often just called it another way of vocalizing. (Actually, she would step in and insist that we sing our arguments. Try that sometime, you parents out there!) She must have been a success at her aim of raising musicians. All six of us ended up rather accomplished -- and very musically opinionated.
For example, we have sung together as a siblings sextet, or variations of quintets, quartets, duets and trios. The combinations kept changing according to who was home at the time, or Mom's whims. A favorite pass-time has always been complaining about the part-writing of the piece we happened to be singing. Everybody had an opinion! Often, we just had to "fix it" so we could stand to sing it. (Well, we usually all wanted to have our own notes!) We have been known to have energetic discussions about which parts are most important and should be highlighted. More often, the discussions were about faulty voice leading or the blatant disregard of conventional part-writing rules. Thankfully, when we get together to sing anymore, we have a performance deadline, so we don't waste too much time in resolving our differences of opinion.
But on that subject of part-writing, I think that growing up in the family that I did really helped me understand the point of view of the various voices in a choral setting. My low alto sister always insists that the Altos get some "money notes" when I write a new piece (notes good and low, preferably in the bass clef) and "please don't leave us stuck forever on one note!." Two of my brothers, tenor and baritone, always insist that the inner voices get some interesting harmony parts and even melody sometimes. And the bass would prefer to never have to hit notes above the bass staff, okay, maybe just a few, but never above middle C! My other sister, the "mugwump" (she can sing anything), always wants a challenge and usually many unique notes. So when I write, I generally keep their requirements in mind. If I can please them, I just may be able to please others as well.
So after years and years of singing, writing, rehearsing, conducting, accompanying, and learning all the parts, I thank my family for the intense part-writing opinions and ear training they provided for me. That, and all of the vocalizing in unusual ways, too! (Oh, and be sure to stay off my note!)