Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Joy of Music in our home

During my six years of mothering, there have been countless times when I've been touched by how special a particular moment is. Watching a baby take those cautious first steps; seeing a young child struggle with something that seems simple to me and then witnessing the pure joy and pride that washes over him when he finally gets it all by himself; listening to him read a book from cover to cover for the first time. There are so many important "firsts" that happen in family life. Lately, though, our six year old has been taking beginner piano lessons, and I believe that this experience has been the biggest "miracle" in my parenting journey so far.

What a joy it is to have our home filled with music while I'm working on dinner in the afternoon, and to have that music come from our young son! He's only a few lessons in, but he's already reading simple sheet music, practicing short songs, and - my personal favorite - working very hard at his little keyboard, composing his own tunes. He sits with his tongue fixed at the side of his mouth, an extremely serious expression, and he barely hears anybody who walks by him or even speaks to him. He loves the "record" feature on the keyboard, and he'll sit for half an hour or more just lost in his own world, creating a little performance using the sounds of all the different instruments. His shoulders bop and groove in perfect tune with the music, and I have visions of him in 20 or 30 years sitting in a studio with fancy headphones on his ears and the latest and greatest recording equipment in front of him, bopping along to the beat in the same way he does now at his little borrowed keyboard.

His goal is to get into drum lessons, when his wonderful music teacher starts teaching a section for his age group, but he really enjoys piano and wants to keep playing that too. For now we can only afford one music lesson each week anyway, so having him in beginner piano is perfect, and it will be a good precursor to drums when he is able to start that.

We don't have a particularly musical household. We listen to music often, many different kinds of music, but The Man and I only casually pluck around on a guitar and Bug is now the only person in our family who knows how to read music - a fact that he's pretty impressed about, judging by the smirk in the corners of his mouth when it came up in conversation. As soon as he expressed an interest in music, though, we wanted to grab a hold of that and nurture it in him. Some research online led me to a local music group where I found a wonderful woman who teaches group music lessons out of her home, so for only $10 each week (compared to $25 weekly or more for the lessons at music shops and other businesses) we're able to help him develop his musical talent at an early age, even though we don't have the skills ourselves to teach him.

He first expressed an interest in learning music during kindergarten. Every Wednesday was music day and he would look forward to it eagerly. He was always prancing around the house singing the songs from class and telling us about interesting instruments he'd learned about. Towards the end of the school year we found out that the budget for formal music instruction was cut, as is sadly often the case, but we'd seen him become so excited about music that we knew we had to find a way to keep him learning. Now, to see him working so hard at the keyboard, the smile on his face when he plays a song all the way through, to hear the beautiful sounds of his music and the notes that become smoother and more confident each time they're played through, I really am experiencing one of the greatest blessings of my parenting career.

Crawling, walking, self-feeding, talking, using the potty, even reading - these are very exciting and meaningful events, such a big moment in a family's life. As our children have learned these skills I've felt proud of them and proud of helping them learn and practice. As he's learning to make music, though, it's like watching him develop a gift that is divinely inspired. I believe that people with artistic gifts, like a gift for music, painting, or dance, can tune in to something bigger than themselves while doing their creative work. It has been said that well known artists have "had God in his hands" and that about sums up my beliefs. It makes my heart absolutely swell with pride to see our son growing up and developing this incredible gift.

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