Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mommy, Come Play - Four Ideas

I finally found the perfect picture to add to part two of my post "Mommy, Come Play!" But I also found all these other pictures of my kids at play with music and figured I might as well sprinkle them in this post - the final installment on this discussion - just four specific principles Norah and Lizzy have taught me in this new approach I'm trying with music.  And no, I don't believe these approaches will apply to all ages - it's how you work with "saplings" not taller, older "trees" but more of this wouldn't hurt the trees, either:

1. Lots of sun and water and hardly any pruning. I may say, "Time for music, anyone want to play with mommy?" but usually I just go to the piano and start playing or get out my guitar and wait for the that gravitational pull to bring the ducklings to me. Once they've asked for my help I keep making sure they're the one leading the practice. I ask questions, I don't give commands. For instance:"Here are all the books we could play out of, what would you like to do first?" OR, "Which song would you like to play?" OR, "Would you like my help scrubbing that spot?" If they say, "No" then we move on - no frowny face, no huffing, no disappointed look. If they say "Yes" then I start the scrubbing, but very gently (think baby bath). If they start playing something differently I might say, "That's different, isn't it?" I've had Norah go on for 5 minutes this way, making up a story about why her left hand doesn't want to play the notes he's suppose to so the right hand did it for "him" - complete with voices and all. I would have missed this awesome "recital" had I insisted she play it "correctly."

2. Take more time smelling the flowers than you do working in the garden. Following the lead of your child might mean you spend 15 minutes just watching them play at the piano. Maybe for a week they just want you to sit and watch them make up songs on the piano. You may doubt that anything "productive" is being accomplished. In those moments, check your purposes. Check your math.

3. Keep the plants thirsting for more. I always stop before I know they want to - each book or "pattern game" or "finger secret" we're working on, as well as the "play" session in general.

4. Don't miss the roses. So last night I really went to the piano because I wanted to play. But I've trained my girls too well. 3 minutes and Norah is there. She plays around me on the piano for a while. Then starts using a pencil to pretend she's teaching me - using all sorts of interesting made-up words to describe the exciting things she's teaching me to do, drawing little doodles in my music. When after 20 minutes I'm still not paying much attention she grabs my left hand off the keys and says, "No, like this, take a ride and watch closely." I'm still playing with my right hand, trying to sneak in my practice time while she shows me what to play with my left hand. I go back to my song and she's offended. "No, mommy, play the song I showed you!" Finally I realize what I'd be doing if I shewed her away or ignored her any longer and I "take a ride" on her hand again. I do the little simple rhythm she shows me, then add something similar in the right hand and ask, "Like this?" "Yes! That's it, perfect! Now higher. Now faster. Yes! I love it mommy!" Then she has me take a ride and plays a totally different, softer motif. It sounds like Brahms's lullaby, so I start making up a lullaby like that. Norah says, "ah....that sounds so pretty. Like a baby song. I'll dance to it while you play." When we went up the stairs to bed that night, Norah was beaming at all she had taught me. "That was so fun, mommy! I taught YOU, hahaha!" Yes. She did.

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