Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Twinkle, Twinle, Little Fingers

When I was younger, my mom started me taking piano lessons. She did it simply because she took piano when she was younger -- hey, she even played organ in her church for awhile! -- and when I was in fifth or sixth grade, she started me with lessons.

The nice thing was that she could read music, so she could help me with practicing. I actually stuck with it for three years before switching to the flute for one year. I liked piano as long as it was easy for me. (This goes back to the wanting school to be challenging to Mister Man -- I never learned how to have to try and fail before succeeding until I was in college.) Once I had to practice a song for more than a day to get it perfect, my interest quickly waned.

And flute was fine, except that cleaning out the spit totally grossed me out, so that lasted just the one year. Plus, I'm double jointed in my fingers, and I had a really hard time with my pinky finger getting caught up double jointed and being unable to use it when I needed to. I know, I have my own personal issues.

Since I was that age, more and more research studies have come out about the benefits of music and kids. They help with math and science and spatial reasoning. Plus, it's great for fine motor.

All of this is appealing to me, as my husband never had any music lessons of any sort, and it's interesting to see the differences where I see music when I see notes and he just sees things on a page. I want my wee ones to be able to read music as adults.

The daycare we use for Mister Man and Little Miss offers piano lessons for kids once they turn four. This fall, we signed Mister Man up as a trial to see how he'd do. He enjoyed the lessons and liked to show us what he learned. No, we didn't buy a piano btw, we have a keyboard that actually was mine from junior high.

The downfall was that the lessons were at 3:30 on Wednesdays. That meant that he'd gone to preschool in the morning, then he'd gone to daycare where he'd eaten lunch, rested for a half hour and then played for awhile before piano. It was hard, but he enjoyed them.

Then, a piano teacher moved in across the street! She teaches out of her home, and she teaches kids as young as four. Plus, she had openings. Once the spring session at daycare ended, we switched to the lady across the street. She's sweet as pie and just loves Mister Man.

We aren't as good at practicing as we maybe should be. Ok, really as we should be. But we try to do some practicing. At least once a week. Actually, when I'm in charge, we practice at least something once a day. Usually he enjoys practicing, as I allow him to choose what song to practice.

Right now, he's stuck on a song called "Halloween" which is pretty basic -- three notes up and down a few times, with a half note thrown in and a repeat just for fun. I think it's his favorite because of the name, personally.
Right after I took these pictures, he played some more piano and then announced that he'd just played "Halloween" without looking. The book was closed. He tells me that he plays the song now without looking at the book. He won't let me check the book, and I keep forgetting to look at the notes before he sits down to see if he's really memorized it or not. I wouldn't put it past him though.
The only downfall is that I can see much of me in him. He only wants to play the songs he already knows. He wants to play that same song over and over again (although when I ran upstairs tonight to see what Little Miss was up to, he came up a moment after telling me he just played "Halloween" again and another song, too.
Sometimes I debate pulling him out of piano for a couple more years, but I don't want him to feel like he's failing. Plus, how do I tell my neighbor and not make her feel like it's because of her? And he does enjoy it frequently. On his terms.... I do definitely want him to learn to play at some point!


Karen July 16, 2008 at 10:04 PM  

Our kids are frustrating. Becky has incredible talent on the drums but won't commit herself because it's "work." Ditto Josh on the guitar.

MaBunny July 17, 2008 at 10:06 AM  

Oh how good for mister man. I did that with Nicole this past year and she quickly got out of it once the songs became harder.
I didn't get to take piano lessons like a normal child when I was younger. I got to take organ lessons. Yup, instead of learning Fur Elise on the piano, I was banging out the Beer Barrel Polka. Yippee for me, lol.

Michelle July 17, 2008 at 10:55 PM  

Karen - Hmmm. And I was hoping this was just a "he's too young for it" thing. There has to be a secret to developing the passion, right? Somewhere?

MaBunny - Apparently the dreaded hard song syndrome is widespread. But so cool to take the organ lessons! I've heard it's much harder. Although Beer Barrel Polka? Really?

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