Projects > Critting the Thematic Apperception Test

Card 1
Card 1
Test Card and Text on Paper

This is a drawing of a boy who looks to be about six or seven years old. He is wearing a simple white shirt and is resting his head on his hands while looking down at a violin. This image is a reinterpretation of a photograph of a famous concert violinist, Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999), at age six, a year before his concert debut. He was the child of Eastern European Jewish parents and went on to have an illustrious career. The original photograph shows Menuhin looking up hopefully. The pose in this drawing is very different and the sadness on the boy’s face leads me to believe that some sort of conflict exists between the boy and the violin. I would guess that boy is pressured by his parents not only to pose for this picture, but also to play the violin.

In this image, the violin is a symbol of a certain kind of cultural capital. The boy’s parents likely want him to play the violin so that he can gain access that capital through classical music. The mastery of a musical instrument is in many ways considered more advantageous than other ways the boy could be spending his time, either in sports, or in otherwise undirected play. Violin lessons are a service that is accessible to both the middle and upper classes, and acquiring musical skill may be especially important to the middle class as means of upward (cultural) mobility. This image shows locates the child at the unhappy center of his parents’ social striving.