Thursday, November 06, 2008

Random Notes on Piano

Five-year-old gent is a smitten kitten.

Thursday is piano day. We have a lovely piano teacher, Miss Melissa. She encourages students to arrive early or stay a few minutes to observe others' lessons, so we often see the lovely and shy twin girls who take lessons immediately after the fine young gents.

Today, my fine young gent beckoned to me and whispered in my ear, "See that girl in the pink? I think she's beautiful." Then he giggled. I nodded and agreed that both girls are very lovely. "Mom, I just think she is sooooo pretty." He hid his face.

"Mom. I love her. Mom, I think I want to marry her."

His little face. He was giddy. He was even blushing a little. It was sweet, and silly too, of course, because he's five and she's....eleven? twelve? And it was also absolutely endearing because it made me think of how most of us have felt at one time or another in the throes of a mad crush. Smitten and silly and giddy and in luuuuuuv.

Maybe next week, he'll play her a love song.

This gent got a compliment today, from his piano teacher. Miss Melissa asked, "Now, how old is he again?" of the eldest fine young gent, nearly eight. "I'd forgotten that he was that young. You know, he plays very well for his age. Very well." The twins' dad agreed.

It's true. He just gets piano. He's not a prodigy by any stretch of the imagination, but he understands how the piano works. He has taken to scales as though he was born knowing them. He likes learning to sight read. Today he told us that as he plays, he can see the music in his head.

He has absolute pitch, too. Sometimes I'll be singing my latest earworm and if it's a song he knows, he'll join in. Then he'll tell me, "But actually, Mom, it's this," and start singing in a different key. If we go to the piano to check, he's always right. His grandfather, loving husband's father, had absolute pitch as well. He was a country singer-songwriter, Wynn Stewart. He was an interesting guy. I should write a post about him sometime. Anyway, story says that he would complain when loving husband's mom sang, because, though she wasn't a bad singer, she didn't sing songs in the original key, so they clashed with what he heard in his head.

Here's how I knew that we'd lucked upon the perfect piano teacher: One day, I asked her, "Don't you get tired of hearing 'Twinkle Twinkle' all the time?" and she was taken aback by the question. It was though it had never occurred to her. Here's the crazy part. It's not as though it was just one of my kids playing Twinkle until he'd learned it. She follows the Suzuki method. Traditionally, Suzuki students begin by playing endless versions of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Over and over and over and over. I've only had two beginners and I've heard the Twinkles enough to last this lifetime and into the next. She said that she enjoys seeing her students learn so much that she likes hearing them play the Twinkles. I would go stark raving mad.

We love our piano teacher. As in, we have a genuine fondness for her and we think she's wonderful. She's experienced. She has clear expectations, and she loves music. She's got very talented students in their teens, and young beginners. She's the perfect blend of strict and sweet, precise and flexible, high standards mixed with understanding of what's developmentally appropriate. She loves the piano, she likes teaching, and she enjoys her students.

This fine young gent plays piano too. He likes it, and he's good at it. All fall, since we started lessons again, he'd been dragging his feet about practice. Three weeks ago he had an utter sobbing meltdown over piano practice. He told me he hated piano. He never wanted to play piano again. He begged me to let him quit. "I always make mistakes!" he wailed.

I felt horrible. Was I pushing him too hard? Did I start him too young? Was he comparing himself to his brother? Had I been torturing my child? Was it all my fault?

I hugged him. I told him he didn't have to play piano. He didn't go near the piano for the rest of the week. I resolved to talk to his piano teacher.

Next piano day, I told his teacher we might need five or ten minutes to talk between the gents' lessons, while the boys played outside.

"I never want to play piano" gent waltzed in behind me after a short jaunt through the garden, bowed to his teacher and hopped up on the piano bench. He cheerfully played his pieces and practiced new things and giggled "Oops" when he made a mistake.

When his lesson was over, his teacher asked, "Is this a good time to talk?" And I replied, "Uh, I don't think we need to. It seems to have resolved itself."

During his brother's lesson, he drew Miss Melissa a picture. He's practiced willingly ever since.

I don't play piano. At all.

No comments: