Sunday, November 05, 2006

Music lessons have begun

On Thursday evening I finally got around to calling up a piano teacher whose number I got from my sister-in-law over a year ago! Yesterday morning Dante had his very first official piano lesson. I was so excited. On Friday I went into town and bought the two books she asked me to get - I showed one to my work colleague and he exclaimed that it was the same book that he used as a kid (John Thompson's "Teaching Little Fingers to Play" first published 1936. The second book is Leila Fletcher's "Music Lessons Have Begun", first published 1947. I guess the piano hasn't really changed in all this time either).

We hurried over to her house, which is quite conveniently located in a neighbouring suburb. Dante was so excited, jumping up and down and ready to go. When we actually got inside, he calmed down a bit (perhaps too much?) - I guess a five and a half year old can only concentrate on one thing for a certain amount of time... was half an hour too much to ask? I was a little upset that he couldn't sit still and straight for the entire time, but the teacher was much more experienced with giving lessons to kids his age and was extremely patient and skilled in getting him to do things. He was eager to try what she showed him, and a little impatient to get on to the next activity - and frustrated that he had to keep repeating everything.

After the lesson the next pupil arrived and immediately sat down at the piano and started playing scales. Dante's ears popped up, and I told him that he'd be able to play like her one day, with practice. He certainly liked the sound of that.

At first I was a little disappointed by the whole thing. Not that the teacher wasn't good, or anything like that. I think that perhaps I'd played up the scene in my head and was amazed that Dante acted like a five year old boy (like he knows any better!!)... d'oh! I think I also just had a really bad day yesterday. I woke up on the wrong side of bed and things just went downhill from there until Dan forced me to have a nap after lunch. Thinking back to it today, Dante did terrifically well. He tried everything the teacher asked him to do. He was ABLE to do everything she asked him to do. He listened, most of the time. He remembered what she said. And most importantly, he came away happy and looking forward to his next lesson.

And so, the piano lesson journey begins... I know that it is going to be a terribly difficult one, especially knowing how difficult it was getting me to practice when I was a kid! But now that I'm all growed up, I really appreciate the effort my parents went to to send me to piano lessons and I want my kids to have the same experience. I really believe that learning an instrument is an essential skill (as well as reading music) and I want Dante to nurture his natural musical talents as much as possible. (The teacher was impressed with his ability to sing in pitch and clap rhythms!)

Hopefully, though, this will encourage me to play more, which in turn will encourage the kids... and so the cycle goes.


Shanathalas said...

Its great to hear that Dante's started learning the piano. Music lessons at such a young age will make a huge difference for learning things like languages.

I can understand Dante's frustration. It does take a long time to progress, but once he starts to see the fruits of his labours, I'm sure he'll find it more rewarding.

Anonymous said...

Music is so important to the development of language, creativity and physical coordination skills. I'm so glad dante has started on his journey, I hope he sticks with it (unlike me :-( )