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Practice makes perfect, right?

January 11, 2012

My coffee mug is full, the tree is lit, I’ve got a new book on my Kindle, and there’s piano music playing in the      background.  Beethoven’s Fur Elise, to be exact.  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?  Well, that depends.  The coffee is pure Kona and the book entertaining.  The song is playing over and over, as if it is a CD stuck on repeat.  Again.  And Again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the song.  I love the piano.  I really like just about anything musical.

Here’s the hard part.  My seven and a half year old son is playing it.  I can’t deny his interest in trying an instrument, and he comes by that desire honestly.  We have many family members who sing or play musical instruments.  I played piano, and later played French horn in middle school band.  When I got bored with horn, a friend taught me to play the clarinet, and I taught myself a few scales on the flute.  A self-proclaimed band nerd.

Any girl who didn’t play the flute had flute envy, too.  Admit it.  It was the easiest to carry to and from school, it was the cutest instrument, and flute players always had the best parts in the music.

Back to the piano playing.  He’s learning, and it’s a pretty neat process.  I love hearing that he’s figured out another measure of music.   For days, he seemed to be stuck on the fourth measure.  I put in an emergency call (ok, Facebook message) to Jim Nord, organist/pianist extraordinaire.

“Do you by any chance have some beginner sheet music for Fur Elise?”

Thankfully, Jim showed up the following day, music in hand, just in time to hear the familiar first four measures echo through our living room.   We’ve come a long way since then.

No one learns to plan an instrument immediately.  My parents endured countless hours of me practicing the instruments I played.   I can’t even imagine how it was during the brief year that I played the viola.  String instruments only sound good when played by someone who knows how to play them.

It’s something we, as parents, have to just deal with.  We want to enrich their lives.  They need to practice regularly.  We may not want them to practice regularly, but they must.  Is it wrong to wear noise cancelling headphones, claiming they only enhance the beauty in that 100th round of Ode to Joy?  I wouldn’t do that of course.  I can’t afford good noise cancelling headphones.

I remember when my grandfather gave my three year old brother a drum set for Christmas.   What on earth was he thinking?  My brother banged on that thing night and day.  Fortunately, we had a basement, so we couldn’t hear too much.  The floor rattled, and I can’t imagine what the neighbors thought.  Today, he earns a living playing in a band.  He still plays loudly, but at least it all makes sense now.

I’d love that for The Boy.  We have a long way to go, but Fur Elise is a start, right?  Hopefully, he’ll be taking proper lessons soon, and our repertoire will grow.  For now, I can handle a few missed notes and the same three songs.  I tell him that it isn’t funny to purposely mash the wrong keys just to upset his mother’s sensitive ears.  I tell him that everything he plays his beautiful, and encourage him to play more.  As we speak he seems to be teaching his sister.  It’s Fur Elise in stereo, with four hands!  Strange.  I feel the sudden urge to run the vacuum constantly.  Over and over.  Again.  And again.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 13, 2012 4:19 pm

    My children have not taken up instruments just yet, but I can only imagine. I remember my days of learning the clarinet. It was not pretty, and I definitely had flute envy.

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