Thursday, January 19, 2012

How To Cultivate Potential?

There are things I would like to have happen here -kind of a repeat of history if you will -but as yet, I haven't figured out how to do many of these things.

One thing I wish I could see take place is more musical instruction for both the kids.

When I was Maya's age (she's 8 now, ya know), I had begun getting musical instruction on the piano.

The teacher I had was a strict (boy, was she ever!), crusty old maid - Miss Grace Dom!

If my cousin Ruth Ann ever reads my blog and sees this post, I know she can attest to Miss Dom's methods because she too had her for her piano teacher back then.

Miss Dom made you sit up -very straight, VERY STRAIGHT! Proper posture was I think the first thing she tried to teach her students. After that it was finger and wrist position which had best be just as exacting as did your finger and wrist positions in school for those Peterson Penmanship Classes all students of my generation seemed to be forced to learn. Then it was on to the finger exercises and she was as much a bear over those things as the positioning of one's back and hands.

The coup d'grace though probably had to be the metronome and how everything you did, ever key you struck, had bloody well be according to the right timing on the metronome or the little wand she always carried in one hand would surely be landing in no time at all across your fingers to let you know that last move -whatever it may have involved -was in error!

I think she had also taught my Dad's baby sister how to play the piano too and I think Aunt Mike had said Miss Dom was "old" then but by the time I landed in her front room, she definitely should have been retired long before I got there! Patience was the very last thing that could be said about Miss Dom's attributes although the mere fact that she took me on as a beginning student and put up with me and my lackadaisical ways for over 18 months does say that she must have still had some patience left in her, doesn't it?

But anyway, I would really like to see the kids -Maya especially -learn not to just read music but also, to learn to play an instrument. But herein lies a bit of the problem.

When I was a kid, we still had the piano my Grandparents had purchased via Sears and Roebuck back in 1917! My Mom had taken piano lessons on it as a kid and she actually had learned a good bit about playing the piano too -unlike her wayward daughter.

But today, the piano no longer resides in my house. It's now in the "rec room" at my older daughter's home. It also is in dire need of tuning -to the extent that I wonder if tuning it is even possible to do for it today.

But we do have an instrument here in my house now -the beautiful electronic Hammond organ that had been the pride and joy of my late Aunt. Something I had coveted for many years but never dared to even dream that possibly it would become mine after she passed away. And when it was given over to me, I was in such a state of shock for quite sometime, in disbelief at my good fortune. Not that I am so talented in the music department that I actually know how to play this instrument. Oh my no! I can putsy around on it a bit but about like those violin lessons I also had as a child, most of my attempts at making music on it sound like a big old nasty cat fight much of the time.

I think the lousy sounds that come forth when I try to play the organ are what prompted Mandy when she last rearranged the furniture in the living room to put the organ against this one wall and leave the cord to it showing on the floor under the keyboard but to plug it in, would require the help of another adult to move the organ out, away from the wall, to be able to reach the receptacle. Yeah, that's what she did to me, knowing full well that I wouldn't be able to find someone when I get in the mood to try to play this organ to help me move it just to plug it in. Sadistic, isn't she?

But anyway, let's be realistic here too and come to terms with the fact that to learn to play a keyboard type instrument, well an organ like this one isn't exactly the recommended piece of equipment! That, plus to be honest, I don't want any unnecessary further possible damage inflicted on this item that, truth be told, I do treasure having it here in my home. Every day as I walk past it, I remember my aunt and the beautiful music she was able to come out of it and I remember that aunt for all  her wonderful ways too.

I wouldn't want to take a chance that allowing the kids access to the instrument might harm it in any way, shape or form.

About the only solution I can see here to my lovely but yet jaded idea about their learning to play a keyboard type of instrument is if we could ever afford something along the lines of say a digital piano maybe. Even something like that, although the prices are way lower than those for a spinet or heaven forbid, a big old upright piano, they're still more than a bit out of bounds for Mandy's and my income put together.

And then too, there's also that other thing that comes into play here -that being do either of the kids actually have any talent or interest in learning to play an instrument. In many ways, it's evident they both do have a modicum of musical talent but is it enough for one or both of them to make it worthwhile to invest in the cost of lessons and of course, an instrument? The talent may be there but I wonder if either of them would be able to sit through the dull part of music lessons to learn the very basics without the child going totally stir-crazy in the process?

And then too, there's also the added problem for us in getting enough funds gathered to build a side room onto the house -one that would house the organ as well as the piano! (We barely had enough room in the living room as it was to get the organ in here, ya know!)

Oh well. I'll cross that bridge if/when it ever becomes a reality or a necessity and right now, it's highly doubtful that will come about.


terri said...

I'll bet that piano could still be tuned. My sister has the piano that belonged to my grandparents. My mom learned to play on that piano and so did my sister and I. Unfortunately, I hated lessons, hated practicing, and I didn't keep up with it. But my sister still plays on that old piano.

Maggie May said...

I had one years tuition on the piano as a child of 6 or 7 and I can still remember how to read music. I think it is very important to learn this as a child because its easier for them to learn.
Maybe a recorder would help? They are fairly inexpensive & you could teach Maya at home.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Travis Cody said...

I had very brief exposure to guitar when I was in elementary school. But I was more interested in sports than music. It still pains me that I didn't take more interest and learn piano.

Suldog said...

My two cents, as a person who loves playing and who made a scant living at it for a short time, is that you should plug in the organ then invite the kids to sit down at it while you're there to supervise. Let them do whatever they want with it, with the proviso that you give them a warning to be gentler if they bang on it.

Do this once, then see if they ask you if they can play with it again. If they do ask, let them, in the same fashion as the first time. Or you could ask them, a day or two later, if they'd like to play the organ again. Either way, if they show interest, then think about lessons of some sort. If they show no interest, I'd let it drop and not worry about the lessons.

I think it's important that children who WANT to learn an instrument be given the chance to do so, and almost equally important that those who truly DON'T want to learn an instrument be given the freedom to pursue something else. Tastes may change with age - I didn't really want to learn anything until I was in my teens, and would have HATED taking lessons earlier. As a matter of fact, I did take trumpet for about three weeks while in sixth grade, did not enjoy it, and would have enjoyed music much less had I been forced to continue.

Another tack could be to let them play around with all the instruments you can get them access to, and in that way you may find that one of them is more attractive to them than the keyboards. Some kids like tooting a horn, while others like banging on things. You never know which might be their true calling until they have a chance to try it.

Just my opinion, Jeni.

CiCi said...

Interesting that you do have dreams, Jeni. That seems a good thing in my opinion. I like how you think things through and figure out how something would be possible in your home. So some day it just may happen.

Bud said...

When I was a kid (jr. high) I wanted to play the guitar. My parents found a music school and signed me up. The school said they started everyone on the accordion (!!)so for six months I dutifully learned Lady of Spain and a dozen other songs that I didn't like. After six months, we found they had no guitar teachers but they'd be happy to seol you an expensive accordion. My parents were willing but I wasn't. That was the last of my music lessons, so now I'm 67 with two nice guitars I can only, as you say, futsy with.

I hope you can at least expose your grandkids to playing an instrument because is childhood is the only time to learn easily.

Deb said...

I agree with Suldog's comments. I would plug the organ in, and allow them to play it, if they wanted, as long as they were supervised. Otherwise it is just collecting dust. If they aren't interested, you'll know soon enough. I think maybe you should consider playing it yourself...just for the fun of it. If the kids see music as fun and if they are surrounded by music, they might tend to join in the fun.