Monday, June 1, 2009

Sneaking in some music

DH has been giving Barley stealth music lessons. While Barley gravitated to the electronic keyboard during Teddy's season of keyboard lessons, he steadfastly refused to take lessons himself. The same way he steadfastly refuses to eat most vegetables put on his plate. And while nutrition is something I am willing to wrestle him on, music is not. This has to be something he likes and enjoys, not something we force on him.

But I knew he had some musical gene--inherited from DH since I certainly don't have any talent in that area. Barley likes to make up riffs on the keyboard, and does so even more, now that we have a real piano in the house. He loves it when DH practices on the keyboard, enjoying the background music so much he'll come in and give him an unexpectedly random hug or kiss on the cheek. The music just makes him...happy.

He copies any tune his brother sings. And with music being such a big part of DH's life, he's anxious to share this with both the boys. Teddy is easy--he is naturally interested in anything and everything. With him, the challenge is FOCUS. Barley is a tougher nut to crack. He often makes up his mind against things, and refuses to even try.

Last winter I committed the major sin of signing him up for basketball against his wishes. Ultimately, he had a great time--so long as I was not watching him. If I looked away, and only watched out of the corner of my eye, he would relax and have fun. But if he caught me paying attention, fugeddaboudit! He would glare at me in anger, sulk, and stop listening to the coach. I brought my knitting with me and pretended to be engrossed in the sock pattern.

The next year he AND his brother participated enthusiastically in the same basketball league, and they pooled their Christmas money to buy a basketball hoop for the backyard. In the end, Barley loved basketball--even though he did not want to try it initially. But the resentment from him about being forced into it was hard to overcome.

Not wanting to make the same error with piano lessons, we've been stalking Barley on the music thing. DH bought kids piano books online, and just left them lying around the house for Barley to find. He propped one up on the piano stand, all innocent--open to page 1, but made no reference to it at all--not even the many times they were sitting on the piano bench together playing. (Side note, I hate that formal music education in CA doesn't start until grade 4, and even then is only for 3 months--totally inadequate!)

Last week, Barley finally took the bait. He read the picture instructions showing where middle-C was, and started playing. He followed the 3 first steps on his own; matching the numbered keys in the book to the keyboard, and then mapping them to the musical notations on the page. Within 15 minutes, he was reading the music (OK, only 3 notes worth, but it is a start!), and even BRAGGED to his brother about it on the ride to school, humming ... c, d, E, e, d, C, D, E, C, even SKIPPING a note! Yay!

We're so smart, outplotting a 7-year old...

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