Teaching your kid music when you’re not a music person yourself.
This is part two of an ongoing saga – catch up here..
I like music. I listen to music. I even took piano lessons for a year or so as a kid. But I can see now that in the context of actually teaching a toddler music, I’m not a music person. I don’t strum a guitar at home or practice musical scales on the piano. I don’t have perfect pitch (or anything close to it). I can’t properly tune a violin (more on this one later). So here I am, embarking on a mission to learn how kids learn music, and do my best to be Nashi’s teacher.
Can’t say it’s gone well so far.
Here’s how it works with a three year old, the youngest age allowed in the program: you don’t jump straight into the violin. You work up to it. Makes sense. The Suzuki teacher forewarned us, for the sake of communicating to Nashi, not to expect to play the violin for at least a month or two. So far so good.
First we practiced learning the parts of a violin. Done – just like story time, pointing things out on a picture and Nashi nails it. He knows all the parts including the f-hole. He doesn’t yet know that his dad thinks that part is hilarious and inappropriately named.
Other homework – listen to assigned violin music. Done – nice songs and we listen in the car.
The first few lessons were more about me. I have to practice tuning a violin. Now I know, but I can’t actually hear exactly when it’s the right note. Oh well, Nashi will end up having better pitch than me. Cool! I practice singing the A-note. Nashi watches. So far so good.
Three or four lessons in, it’s time for Nashi to practice. Priority is get him to sing ten A-notes a day. That’s when it started getting challenging. He jokes around and doesn’t really try to hit the note. I try to coach him on going higher or lower without telling him he’s doing it wrong. He gets frustrated and it’s no longer fun. I don’t know whether to keep pushing or move on to something else.
We go back to the next lesson and he clearly hasn’t practiced enough. Teacher says again, do ten A-notes every day. Now I realize how difficult that is. I try harder this time (the week prior we probably only practiced three days total, and never got up to ten A-notes). We both are not having a good time. Next lesson, teacher gives me some good ideas to make it fun. Try one A-note in each room. Try having him sing it through a stuff animal. This actually works pretty well. But in the mean time, we’re assigned other things (will cover Other Things in the next update). This is quickly turning into thirty straight minutes of practice every day. With all the goofing off Nashi is doing, it would actually be over an hour every day if we got through it all. Which we can’t without it turning into a discipline session.
I’m shocked by how quickly this has escalated. The adventure continues..
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