Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Christmas Baby

I have been having so much fun with this girl, who is almost four.  She charms me.  She is a total ham, a tad mischievous, and has the heart of an older soul. (When asked what she wants for Christmas or her birthday she responds "Whatever you want to give me, I am sure I will love it.")

I have to admit that a lot of days, after I pick her up from preschool, the temptation (while Bronwen naps) is to turn on TV for her, so I can "get things done." I give in to this fake babysitter more often than I care to admit in writing. It's hard to resist the siren song of TV, especially when Madelyn asks for it.

But I have been trying, really trying, not to do this as often.  

This week we've been enjoying mild weather. We've been making up games like "Twirly Hugs" and we finished the Christmas decorating together.

Madelyn was excited when we pulled out this book:
She thought it was stories.  (We're doing the Christmas-book-a-night thing again this year.) I explained that it was Christmas music and that we could go to the piano where I would try to play while she sang.
 Well, be still my beating heart.  She was so into it. I think this will be the highlight of my week.
We sat together for half an hour or so, playing, singing, making mistakes, listening, starting over, and giggling. She loved "Angels We Have Heard on High" (we did it twice), "Once in Royal David's City" (also twice), and "Silent Night" (all three verses at least three times). We both had a blast.
In this book I found an accompaniment for "Away in a Manger" (Madelyn's favorite) that was easy enough for me to play with minimal goof ups. I really, really, really wish I had captured the audio somehow. This was the only carol Madelyn would sing as a solo, and her sweet little voice, perfectly in tune, made my heart melt.

I thought of sitting at the same piano with my mom when I was a girl, doing the same thing. And I know my mother did the same with my grandmother.

All this to say, it pays to turn the TV off. 

And this: to raise the kids in the house with a beautiful piano right here, and leaving it silent, would be a waste of beauty.

So I checked a book out of the library on easy piano lessons for kids.  If the kids won't let me try to teach them, I've got a line on a teacher who will come to the house instead. 

It's going to happen.


Fizi said...

Wonderful. I would love to play piano and sing with my children. Sadly, I am so left-handed that, despite many lessons, hours of scales and much heart-break later, my right hand still wants to play the bass line and my left still assumes dominance. Happily Angus has decided that Isla should learn the piano. She wants to and is fortunately right handed. Angus has also decided that Isla should have a piano for Christmas next year but it will be many years before we can sing and play carols together. Oh, what a happy day that will be!

Katie Parsoneault said...

Margaret, this makes my heart happy. I only wish we were close enough that I could teach her, because it would be huge fun and she would thrive.

Try to find a teacher who is more engaged in helping Madelyn WANT, really WANT, to know what is coming on the next page. That inner fire of curiosity and engagement will pull students through the roughest patches of I-don't-want-to-practice-right-now (and everyone has those). So many teachers use external motivators like fear of performance (you HAVE to practice for that recital!!!), rather than taking the time to explore the student's goals, and what she wants from piano study. Even very small kids have an idea, and while they can be guided, my happiest, longest-lasting, and most high-achieving students are those who were most self-guided, and who, with my help, learned to set their own goals, and to tell me what they like about their own playing and what they think they should do next as they learn a piece. Training students to self-coach gives them freedom to learn and achieve and OWN THAT, and most students are really pretty good at speaking their own truth: "I like that I kept the beat but I need to get my fingering better," for example. SO much more effective than the teacher saying, "Now watch that fingering there, you've been doing it wrong for three weeks in a row..."

Sorry, but I have seen so many students almost wrecked by teachers with good intentions who do not listen to their students that I tend to rant on. I send you and your girls and the GD love from afar ... and many happy hours singing and playing together!