Thursday, October 21, 2010

Piano Trouble

My son has grown up with music.  My girls have played the piano and violin since before he was born. It was only natural that he would want to start playing himself instead of merely watching their lessons.  This year, as he turned 6, he decided he wanted to try piano.  The first few trial lessons went very well.  He seemed to catch on quickly and the teacher suggested he have his own 1/2 hour lesson.  This last week however, we hit a major bump in the musical road.
 He was told by his teacher that he needed to practice his 4 songs 6 times every day.  We sat down to practice one night and he asked me how many total songs that meant.  When I told him 24, I thought he was going to run out of the room.  He did however sit on the bench and begin to play, but not the songs he was supposed to practice.  He wanted to make up his own songs.  I sat behind him and let him play his own composition until I felt he might not stop on his own. We turned to his song and we started to review the notes. (I'm far from a musician myself but I know enough of the basics to guide him.)  He read the first three notes keeping the time as he spoke.  The fourth note he said incorrectly and he knew it before I even said anything, so he started over. This time he made it to the 6th note, so he started over.  Now he reached the end of the first line.... and he started over.  By this time his short fuse was about to ignite and he hadn't even played the song yet.  He felt he had to be perfect and if he wasn't he had to start over. I told him he should keep going but he refused. After about 20 minutes of this, I was able to get him to begin playing.  Unfortunately, we went through the same routine.  I quickly decided that our practice session of 24 songs was going to have to be trimmed down to maybe 1.  
I finally told him that as soon as he made it through the whole song (which was only 2 lines), we could get ready for bed.  Despite how much he wanted to be done practicing, he continued to start over at the slightest mistake in note or tempo. I wasn't even pointing out the errors, he did it all himself and I just sat there behind him.  I honestly had no idea what to do.  But I felt that if I let him give up and go to bed it would set a bad precedent.  So we continued to sit at the piano, both of us now exhausted.
After about an hour of this he finally finished the whole song and it was almost perfect, he made one tiny error on the last note.  But I quickly said,"Okay you're done. Great job!"  He sat on my lap on the couch and we listened to my daughter play Beethoven's Fur Elise. We were both so glad to be finished.  I asked him if we could finish tomorrow's practice a little bit quicker.  He smiled a knowing smile and said, "Mom, I love you."


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