Thursday, May 1, 2014

Music to My Ears

We have 2 violins, 2 recorders, and a piano now.   There's always some "music" being made somewhere/sometime at our house these days.

Some years ago I made a deal with my kids that if they'd take 6 months of piano lessons with me (to learn how to practice, demonstrate dedication, and learn how to read music), I'd pay for lessons in another instrument.  Everyone did their required 6 months and then quit.  And the 6 months were painful.

I paid for various music lessons after that with varied success.

But the 6 months made me gun shy about giving my own kids music lessons again.

I LOVED my piano lessons--8 years of classical piano training.  I had seasons of needing to practice more than I did, but over all I was cooperative and dedicated and happy.

I want my kids to love music, too.

But I learn differently than a few of my kids.  I'm visual and love progressing in an orderly fashion.  I have kids that are highly aural learners.  They also want to dive in the deep end and just go.  Hence the painful 6 months we had a few years ago. 

During the whole moving process we've been largely musical instrument-free.  We're finally stocking up on choices, and they're available to the kids for many, many hours each day.  I've provided teach-yourself books and a variety of simple music.  I've sat down to play several times, and the kids swarm to the music room when I am playing.  (I love those moments more than I can say!)  But I've stayed out of the way as far as teaching the kids anything.

They're sitting down at the piano or with a recorder or violin and just listening to what the instrument can do.
They're picking out simple songs.
They're using the books to teach themselves a bit here and there.
They're pretty happy.


But E14 and M12 aren't satisfied anymore.
 
"Mom, will you teach me how to play?" asks one or the other.

"Sure," I answer, and spend 5 minutes teaching a scale or a few notes or helping them play a simple song, but I get out of the music room quickly, fearing to bring back the same frustration that lived with us night and day the last time I was their music teacher.

"Master what I've shown you, and then come to me for more," I say as I escape.

But I don't hear them practice what I've shown them . . . or perhaps I'm just not listening.

"Mom, I've learned the first line of the song.  Will you teach me the next line?"  asked M12 this week. 

"But you've never practiced it!"  I exclaimed.

"Yes I have," she replied patiently.  "I can play it."

And she can.


"I want to make the piano sing, Mom," said E14 last night.  "I want to do more than just pick out songs."

"Really?"  I asked.

"Really," she answered.

I sat with her, flipping through our hymn book for a simple song that she could start with.  I found one and briefly reviewed time signatures and note values before showing her how to hold her hands and press the keys to make the song come out. 

It's hard.

Too hard, but I know from experience that it is this way or no way for her.

And she practiced diligently even after I left.



I'm still skittish about giving my children music lessons.  But these two small experiences this week with my oldest daughters have been exceptionally joyful. 

I hope for more.

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