Growing up, I had a piano teacher named Mr. Cooper. He was definitely the coolest dude I knew. We played show tunes and easy listening tunes and Christmas carols with the occasional piece of classical music thrown in for good measure. Fast foward to the present and we’ve had a piano sitting in our house for over three years now. The piano made sense when we bought it. Both Rob and I had grown up in houses with pianos and a room in our Richmond house had a wall that appeared created for the instrument. A few months after buying the piano, however, we moved to a much smaller house in New Jersey that was definitely lacking a piano wall. We have been squeezing past the piano in our crowded dining room ever since.
I’ve been asking the girls about piano for a long time waiting for them to be ready to begin the adventure. And then out of nowhere, seemingly, Caroline began asking to take guitar lessons. Rob had taken guitar for a short amount time as a child. Turns out his mom was trying (in vain) to engage him in an activity that didn’t require a ball or bat. Somehow, though, I didn’t think this was why Caroline was interested. Finally, I realized that her music teacher, a super fantastic woman, plays the guitar during class. As soon as Katherine learned that Caroline would be taking guitar, she asked to take piano and the music lessons began in earnest at our house.
I haven’t been able to get a picture of Katherine and her teacher yet but the picture below shows Caroline hard at work with Sean, her version of Mr. Cooper. Sean is also a totally cool dude.
I’m still a bit on the fence about the whole experience. I don’t require the girls to practice perhaps because my reading of the Tiger Mom book is still a bit too fresh. That being said though, they will both spontaneously begin playing- sometimes looking at their assigned pieces sometimes just playing. Both of their teachers agree that they are too young to be doing anything other than what they are doing.
At work now, we are rehashing the phonics vs whole language debate yet again. As I think about this conversation in relation to music, I can’t help but see the connection. The girls are learning, through exposure, not drill, how to read music. Katherine can name the notes and see when her hands should move up or down on the keys. Caroline is able to play chords both by heart and while looking at the notes. Are they perfecting the ins and outs of music? No. But are they learning love music? I just think they might be. For now, I will come down on the whole language side of music instruction. We’ll see how far it takes us…