Cue the Music!

Today we purchased an electronic piano!

I have to give full props to the real source of my inspiration on this – m00minmama. Reading about her musically talented gang of homeschoolers really got me thinking about bringing music into my kids’ lives and making it available for them. DH is also really into music and it was his idea to head off to the music store today and buy one (there was a sale).

I started violin at age 3 and went through a few years of Suzuki, continuing on until I was about 17. To be honest, there was a lot of pressure from my Dad to play. Personally, I never felt very comfortable with the violin. I always wanted to play piano (typical “not wanting to be different” kid stuff). But I did learn to read music and know basic music theory. I used to teach myself songs on the piano whenever I had access to one. Today I bought a book of simple tunes for adult beginners. I also bought DD a book for kids learning to play. So now what? Well, this is where I feel we really begin with unschooling (okay, okay I know learning has been going on since the day they were born, but humour me)…

I am not planning on getting lessons for either child any time soon. Frankly, there isn’t much they need to know right now that DH, myself, or the books can’t teach them. Second, there’s nothing that seems to stomp the fun right out of playing music like beginning lessons, with the homework and practices and endless drilling of scales…bleck! Instead, it’s there, in the living room, where we spend most of our time and where everybody has easy access to it. The kids are free to play it any time they want. With DS that means just pounding on the keys, but since it’s electronic he can’t really break it or put it out of tune, so he’s free to bang away. DD is also banging away but its a bit more goal-oriented. She loves the piano. Today we played together “C,D,E,C,D,E…” using the correct fingers on our right hands. We put a little sticker on Middle C so we could find it easily. It lasted only a couple of minutes before she got tired of that and went back to silly pounding. She sang along with herself in the sort of whiny “nanny, nanny, pooh-pooh” voice that only a 4 year old can perfect.

Now, here’s the interesting part. The little nagging voice in my head was annoyed. The banging was annoying, the whiny nyah-nyah was driving me a bit crazy. But I stopped myself, and changed my perspective. Because one of the things I was reminded of by reading these unschooling blogs is how unschoolers see the learning in everything around them. Suddenly, I realized that while DD was using a whiny tone, she was actually singing on-key. She was matching the pitch of her voice to each key she hit. And I also saw that banging away on it was all part of gaining a familiarity with the instrument. She was exploring it the way a child her age will. She does seem genuinely interested in it, in the music book, and she did well playing along with me those first few minutes. I am confident that if we just let her be to go at her own pace, and in her own way, that she will ask for more as she wants to learn more. As she gets older she will probably want to challenge herself a bit. And, if one day she decides she’s ready to do it more seriously then she can have lessons if that is what she wants.

I’m really proud of us today. Proud that I was able to almost immediately squelch that nagging little voice in my head and embrace the learning that was happening right there in front of me. I’m proud that we are giving the kids (and ourselves I might add) the opportunity to bring music into our lives in a new way. Hey, I learned how to play jingle bells today (with 2 hands!)

Oh, and I’ve also been inspired by all the violinists in m00minmama’s family to pick up some strings again. But this time I want to try the viola. It’s deep, rich tones appeal to me more than the violin. Then we can play duets!

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