Monday, October 17, 2011

Music Education

My mother had a goal for each of her ten children to learn to play the piano and one other instrument--preferably a string instrument, for she was rather snobby about instruments and viewed band instruments as what one plays when the school doesn't have an orchestra. She was a bit like a Chinese tiger mother when it came to music, but at least she never threatened to burn our toys if we didn't play a piano piece correctly. As part of a sibling package deal, she got free violin lessons for me from a Suzuki teacher when I was in kindergarten, so music has been a part of my life for over thirty years now.

Because my life has been greatly enriched by music, I want my children to have the same chance to learn to love making music and develop appreciation for the effort involved in creating an excellent music performance. (I'd also like them to reserve standing ovations for truly excellent performances instead of every bloomin' performance they ever attend, but I'd be fighting a losing battle on that....)

Recently I have been worrying that my efforts to bring music into my children's lives have been insufficient. (Shocker! A homeschooling mother wondering if she's doing enough!) My shortcoming: I have yet to sign my children up (ages 1, 4, and 7) for any formal music lessons. I don't want to force dd7 to practice just yet; I have too many negative memories of my mom yelling at us to get us to practice. However, I will not pay for music lessons until dd7 is capable of practicing regularly and diligently mostly on her own. But time is passing, and her brain needs to get wired for music before she is too much older.

Dd7 has had some music instruction through her part-time institutional schooling. I started teaching her to play the piano last year, but progress was slow and she had little enthusiasm. Later I labeled notes on the piano and gave her cards with "mystery songs" to figure out; that was intriguing for a couple of days. I think I am having greater success now with a different instrument. Recently I rediscovered a recorder instruction book in the bookcase, and now dd7 is learning to play the recorder. I'm pleased to see how she is finally putting together what she's learned about melodies, note length, and music notation from various sources--I hope her interest in the recorder continues beyond mastering "Hot Cross Buns"!

I am hesitantly optimistic that we will make it through the entire recorder book. When we have done that, I will tackle piano lessons for her again. It should be much more fun for us both now that she is becoming better at reading music. Who knows? Maybe it will finally be worth signing her up with a professional teacher....And then what string instrument to start her on? (Actually, she can choose any instrument except the drums.)

1 comment:

  1. Your mother must of been an astonishing woman, what with 10 children and each tackling two instruments! I enjoyed reading your thoughts about lessons, too. They reflect many of mine. Each of mine started around 7 or 8 and learned/is learning 2 instruments. Alas, I only have 6 children.

    Admiration, Hope and Love,

    Music can change the world because it can change people. -Bono