Buckle your seatbelts and don’t try this at home on your own, kids. Duane tells the truth: children should not use his program solo, but under a parent’s (or other responsibile adult’s) tutelage. So because I want my children to learn the piano, that means that I need to learn the material first.
Doesn’t always happen that way. Either that, or we have to check into the “responsible” part.
Sometimes, the kids watch the DVD before I do. Which leads me to now realize: they are tone deaf, music-deaf, and possibly deaf-deaf, if their ability to listen to me is any indication. The wonderfully-simple, familiar music which the piano crash course uses does not ring a bell with my teens and tween who hail from a foreign land.
So I sing it for them, either the tune alone, or words and all (which could be a life-scarring experience in itself, but they’ll survive, hearty souls that they are). Then they try to follow the music and duplicate the sound, at least with the melody.
Doesn’t compute. They rush it in spits and spurts, mashing the keys like pureed potatoes. Connecting the dots and stringing the notes together is proving to be more difficult than I imagined.
So I go into my very detailed, musical note-reading explanation.
“If the note goes UP on the staff, then the sound of the music goes HIGHER,” I make my voice high and squeaky. “If the note goes DOWN on the staff, the sound of the piece goes LOWER,” I employ my best double-bass rendition.
There is a flicker of recognition. Houston, we’re making contact. I let them listen to Duane’s marvelous playing on the DVD, where it’s so clear and so carefully measured, no long pauses between notes, no playing the right hand melody at another time than the corresponding left-hand chord….
Slowly, they get it. We tap out the beat, also slowly. They think it’s hysterical to hear me singing in slow-mo. I’m glad that they’re being entertained so inexpensively.
Step by step, we’re getting there. I find myself playing simple songs from CDs, and the radio. My hand directs as a choir director would, not in time to the music, but moving up and down, demonstrating for them the notes moving upward or downward. Their musical attempts on the piano start to take shape, and sound like something recognizable.
The slow mastery leads to self-confidence and the desire to do more. We schedule small, every-couple-of-weeks recitals in the family room and can tell that they’re making a greater effort when others are going to hear them play a piece or two.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing that we open to anyone outside of our immediate, nuclear family. That might result in some Three Mile Island kind of meltdowns. Instead, we use the force of positive sibling peer pressure to spur them forward and let them know that others are making music, too.
Finally, we’re hearing a few songs that need no gift of interpretation to decipher. It’s music to my ears.
———– Copyright 2011 – Alexandra Bartologimignano
(Alexandra jets here and there with her two boys, two girls, one husband, and two dogs, while chronicling their larger-than-life adventures at http://www.destinationsdreamsanddogs.com———–