Never Give Up!

Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s Day. With that comes reflection on how becoming a mother has changed your life and how your kids have grown. My son is the kid playing in the video above, and I have to tell you in the beginning it was very challenging to teach him how to play the piano. Like any kid he didn’t like the idea of practicing and he got easily frustrated with all that playing the piano involves. Our lessons often ended with both of us upset and ready to throw the piano out the window, but it was too heavy for either of us to pick up! This continued for several years and then one day after about 7 years something changed.

Today we are both so glad that we did not give up. It’s pretty often these days that my husband and I wake up to the sound of live jazz piano being played in the morning. We can hardly believe that we even have to ask him to take a break from practicing sometimes to do important things like eating and sleeping. I’m talking about a teenage boy choosing piano over eating! That alone is enough for me to know that when it comes to piano lessons and frustrated kids and parents giving up cannot be an option. If you hang in there – especially on the most difficult days, the day will come when your child too will be glad you didn’t allow them or yourself to give up!

Happy Mother’s Day – everyday!

Musical Mother’s Day Gifts

Here are some of the gifts my students gave their moms for Mother’s Day:

 Using a composing activity by Susan Paradis, Caroline wrote a song for her mom. I took a picture of her while she was composing. Then I laminated her song and mailed the song and the picture to her mom.

   Jordan made a video of herself playing her mom’s favorite songs. In the video she also tells her mom just how long it took her to get the song right! I’m guessing she wanted to make sure her mom knew just how much of herself she put into this gift!

4 year old Mia wrote a song for her mom using the notes in the 2 black key group. Mia sang and played the song for her mom. I wrote down the notes she played, then printed them along with the words she made up on pretty stationery. We laminated it and gave it to her mom at the end of her piano lesson.  She also recorded the song as part of her CD recording project. 

 Madison wrote a song for her mom using my songwriting game and  composing tools from KinderBach. Again, we laminated it and Madison kept it as a surprise to present to her mom on Mother’s Day.

What’s the best musical Mother’s Day gift you ever received from your kid? Share it in a comment below!

Instant Motivation – Children

As part of her interview for the CD Recording Project my students have been doing this Spring, I asked
my daughter who her favorite musical
 artist was and she said, “You, Mom!”   How sweet is that?!

From Piano Parent to Piano Student – What My Mother Now Knows Pt. 3

Hello Readers! This is the final post of the series about my mother’s adventures as a piano student. In yesterday’s post she shared what it feels like to actually be on the bench during a lesson. Today you will get to find out about her biggest challenge so far in lessons. She writes:

I Can’t Play This!

After my first Hanon song, I procrastinated a month.  Then I started translating the next song.  I discovered that notes began to change within certain measures.  But that translation helped me get those notes correct.  Afterwards, I sat at the piano and pecked out the song.  As time progressed, I developed courage, moved beyond pecking, and played rhythmically.  On several occasions I told the teacher that I would be ready to play Hanon by the next week.  But I didn’t feel comfortable when that day came.  Within a two-month period I went and demonstrated to my teacher that I could play  my second Hanon song.  Her face lit up and she was very proud.  Indeed that let me know that I had WHIPPED Hanon just as I told her I would.  “Whew!  The work paid off.

Five months of piano lessons is an honor and a privilege.  I’m venturing more and am determined to let each song tell its own story.  I have a sway, a rock, and a love all my own!

Coming Full Circle – Twice!

You already know that I have moved from being a piano parent to a piano student and that my teacher also taught my younger daughter. But there is more! I taught my teacher, Gisele Gentry, when she was a college student. You never know where life will take you! Enjoy the journey!

From Piano Parent To Piano Student – What My Mother Now Knows Pt. 2

Yesterday I wrote about my mother becoming a piano student after years of raising 2 daughters who both play piano. Today I will share what she has written about her experiences as a piano student so far. She writes:

When I Grow Up I Want To Be…  A Piano Parent?

I always wanted to play the piano but never took lessons.  In grade school I played the plastic flute and did that well.  In Junior High I took music appreciation and could clap to the beat very good.  But I never took piano lessons.

When my daughter Dana was 5, I enrolled her in piano class.  She would cry the first few times I would take her to her teacher’s house.  Each of those times I used my self-fulfilling prophecy and told Dana to try the lessons for 3 months.  Then if she still didn’t like them, I would discontinue them.  One day I dropped Dana off and returned to pick her up.  To my surprise Dana was laughing with the teacher and venturing as she played the piano.  From that day forward I never saw Dana cry about not wanting to take the lessons.

I started Jessica, Dana’s sister, to take piano lessons when she was 7.  At home Jessica had Dana as a mentor.  She would often watch her play.  So that was much encouragement for her.

Yikes! I’m A Piano Student!

Last October I started taking piano lessons from the same teacher who taught my younger daughter many years ago. Once I started lessons I soon realized that I had to discipline myself, to learn theory, and to practice daily.  If I make one mistake, the average time I have to start over again.  Though this is part of the challenge that comes with a person striving to achieve, much time is invested.  Had I realized this when Dana and Jessica were taking piano lessons, I would have signed up for piano lessons myself.  We would have been able to encourage each  other.  I would have enjoyed listening to them and making comments along the way.  Equally, I believe that they would have loved listening to me.

I remember when I first started taking lessons and how there was such a difference from my preparation at home to my lessons in front of my teacher.  My fingers would shake a lot as I struggled to remember the notes, the melody, and the keys.  Long hours of rehearsal enabled me to improve from this madness over time.  I found that as the songs increased, the demands to practice increased.  I even discovered that if I stopped practicing the songs I learned to play, I would forget how to play them and would have to start over again.  I also learned that there are favorite songs and others that I simply put up with.

If I’m dissatisfied with the outcome of my playing during my lessons with my teacher, as soon as I can get back home to the piano, I get back on it.  I keep playing the song to my satisfaction and feel much better.  I’ve learned since I started lessons last October (I’ve progressed to page 112 in my book which goes to page 159) to translate each song.  When I write the alphabet per note, that helps me a lot.  As I continue to play the tune, I improve significantly.  The more I play with concentration, the better for me.  I begin to relax when the melody sounds right and I can hit the key at the right time.

Come Back Tomorrow

In tomorrow’s post you will get to read about my biggest piano obstacle so far – HANON – and how I showed him whose the Mama around here! LOL

From Piano Parent to Piano Student – What My Mother Now Knows Part 1

 I was very surprised to learn a few months ago that my mother had decided to start taking piano lessons. After years of transporting my sister and I to and from piano lessons with various teachers (sometimes against our own immature wills), the music bug had finally bit her! Since she and I live in different states I am not fortunate enough to be her piano teacher, but this is probably for the better, right? I mean, can you imagine?!

When she told me the news, I had so many questions. Why? What is it like taking piano after having raised two piano players? Do you enjoy practicing? Is it easy to learn to play the piano? How does it feel to sit on the bench under the pressure of playing for someone? Underneath all these questions was the deep desire that maybe, just maybe this piano learning journey would help her to understand a part of me that maybe was inaccessible to her before because she had not sat on that bench as I had, didn’t know how wonderful being able to play music makes you feel after you finally get your hands to do it, and she hadn’t had to turn down social opportunities because she had to practice piano while others played outside. How would she be different as a result of this experience? How would I be different?

At any rate I have relished hearing about her experiences with piano learning and thought that you might enjoy reading about them as well. So, this week there will be a short 3 part series of posts about her piano adventures! If you are a piano parent, perhaps you will gain some ideas about how to support your child’s musical learning. And if you are a long time piano player like me, maybe you will get some satisfaction of knowing that there is a parent out there who can truly appreciate all the things you had to go through to become the player you are today. If you are a teacher, you will gain some insights on how to teach parents to best participate in the child’s music learning. Or if you are a student just learning to play, you will be encouraged to know that someone else is facing similar challenges as you concerning piano learning and yet they think it is worth it.