Monday, November 4, 2013

Musical abilities at a young age

This morning, I heard distressing news that left me worried, concerned, frustrated, and not wanting to eat even though I was hungry (my body's typical reaction to stress). Instead of allowing distress to ravage me and challenge my well-being, I tried to refocus attention to the positive stuff in my life, and much came to mind, including but not limited to: blogging, being surrounded by friends (and family), playing music, taking photographs, having four wonderful children, carrying no school loan debt (especially considering just how long I have been in school), the list goes on.

Anyways, music has been a huge part of my life since I was little. My parents took a huge risk by letting me start taking piano lessons at the tender age of 4 1/2. It could have been one of those momentary 'desires' that I wouldn't take seriously. What 4 1/2 year old really knows what she wants? Their risk started paying off as early as a year later. A year after I started taking piano lessons, my piano teacher told us she was leaving, because she was getting married. What? She had found us a new piano teacher, and I still clearly remember setting foot in Ms. Carter's house for the first time. It looked like a super huge house, and I remember her comment that we didn't have to take our shoes off upon entering her home. I don't remember that day being a time she would use to determine whether she would take my sister and me on as students, but I recall playing scales for her. Later she would let me know that she had not planned on taking me at such a young age (5 1/2), but since I could play all my scales already, she could not not take me. I wasn't sure what her comments really meant at that time other than I had a nice teacher that would replace the teacher that was getting married.

I started competing in piano competitions at about 7 years of age, where I won my first piano competition. And I continued to take piano lessons for over 12 years. Even though I wasn't a music major in college, a music professor agreed to let me take private piano lessons for credit. What a huge deal!! I am not saying this stuff to brag, but emphasize the importance of music in my life.

Lately, my passion is in singing, but I am not as certain of my abilities there.

Well, my eldest, at the age of 5, told me she really wanted to take violin lessons.

Really? Are you sure? That's a really big deal. I have to pay every month to rent a violin, and private music lessons are never cheap. For several months, she really, really insisted she wanted to take lessons. By August, on the cusp of turning 6, I gave in to her insistent request.

At the end of August of 2012, when she was still 5 years old, she started taking violin lessons. I knew little to nothing about the violin. Little did I know that I was signing up to coach her through every minute of every practice, every day. I had to make sure her bow hold was correct, her bow was sitting evenly between the bridge and the fingerboard, she attempts to play more in the upper part of the bow, that her bow hits the intended string without hitting other strings, that her other hand is pressing the correct part of the string, and so forth. Imagine coaching her through practice whilst taking care of my three other (younger) children!

Somehow she and I have survived and managed to thrive! Isabella has faithfully practiced 6 days a week, nearly every week. And, I have somehow coached her and take care of the other three without falling apart. A little over a year later, by the middle of last month, she finished learning all the songs in Suzuki Book I as well as a few other songs. She will perform in her first solo recital (with a piano accompanist playing), performing all the pieces she has learned, some 17 songs, in a little over a week. I am so proud of her.


Another child in the family who has more obviously excelled in music is one of the twins. I was taking inventory of the songs she could sing, albeit not perfectly (without missing a few words here and there), but knew pretty decently, on November 1st (the day she turned 25 months old). And she can sing 6-7 songs: The ABC song, A song in Mandarin about 2 tigers, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" in Mandarin, "These are My Glasses," "Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves the Little Children," and sort of "This Little Light of Mine." Perhaps I am biased, but I am pretty impressed.

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