Monday, June 22, 2009

One step forward...

I can't remember how much I've written about this, but things have been somewhat... trying with Dante lately. Part of it is his age. Part of it is my lack of patience. Part of it is his high intelligence and our lack of clear boundary setting when he was younger. Or so we've been told, anyway.

The upshot is that I have been slowly tearing my hair out and losing my voice from shouting and Dante has been known to have quite a temper and... well, I think you get the picture.

Since he was five he has been having piano lessons. Once a week, with a few weeks off over summer. He did his Preliminary exam last year and obtained a B+. Not bad, but not reflective of his natural talent. Of course I have been driven mad by his lack of enthusiasm for practising. Last year he was bribed with time on my Nintendo DS, which worked wonderfully until he got his own at Christmas.

Anyway, after all this time, he still has trouble actually reading the notes of the music. Instead, he memorises the pieces which is not really bad as such but he should be able to know at least some of the notes by now. And lately it's been so bad that I have seriously contemplated just giving it all up, even though I strongly believe in the benefits of a musical education, having had one myself and appreciating the efforts my parents went to to pay for it!

The other night Dan asked Dante to practise piano - the usual complaining and grumbling and half-hearted efforts ensued. I got so frustrated that I had a conversation with Dan about it, within earshot of the boy (but not obviously so).

"What are we going to do with him? He shows no interest, isn't learning and is wasting our time and money..."

I then went on to say how important it is to one's future education etc. Dan busted Dante listening in and he explained to him how all the coolest people know how to read and play music and how he wished he'd had the chance to learn... Blah blah blah.

Dante soaked it all in. Complained that he couldn't read the notes and needed help. So I went to help him. Instead of the usual shouting and complaining routine, I tried a different tactic. Remembering how easily be learnt what the different notes are (crotchets, quavers etc.) I decided to use the same technique - a chart. I drew one up in black marker and voilĂ ! He suddenly could work out the names of the notes on the music and transfer it to the piano! Incredible!

The best thing was that afterwards we were both so happy. He was happy that he could do it and I was happy that he was happy and trying. Boy oh boy. Something simple like positive reinforcement works so well and when I'm tired and cranky I just forget about it. Got to work on it!

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