Monday, April 18, 2011

running low

In the beginning everything seems so new and exciting. Sounds and recipes and books and projects. Even diapers and spit-up were new and exciting fourteen years ago (although still endearing these days, in an odd sort of way). But then the lag time comes, and the recipes get old and the sounds start to grate and the lost sleep catches up with me and, well, some of the sheen comes off. While I'm a firm believer in trudging through the learning morass, sometimes I just run out of gas. You know what I mean?

Our oldest wanted to play the piano for years before we finally put him in lessons. Numbers Two and Three begged for violin lessons for ages. We were all of us excited to pull out the new books and tune up the rented instruments. Practice was a treat; lessons a highly anticipated event. Watching the kids pick up a note or a fingering was absolutely thrilling, as much for me as for them. And really, can it get any cuter than a little kid sitting at such a big piano? Or an even smaller one snuggling a 1/16 size violin under her chin?

But then practice got hard and and lessons got tedious. While the early piano years are a little easier on the nerves (after all, even the wrong notes are technically in tune), I don't think it is a stretch to say that the first two years of violin lessons fall somewhere between defenestration and being drawn and quartered. So many things going on at the same time; so many fingers and postures and notes, oh my. By the time Number Two was getting the hang of the bow going one direction and the left hand fingers going another, Number Three was still trying to figure out how to hold the thing.

Seven years from the beginning, here we are: Two musically proficient kids, one who has started, stopped, started something else, and re-stopped, and three kids who have had nary a music lesson among them. And I feel a little conflicted. Our family doesn't have a lot of space for more right now -- lessons, practice, reasons to complain -- but at the same time our life is so much richer for the music these kids have already brought into it. Can I really stop at three and leave the rest of them hanging? I'm calling this a temporary break, and crossing my fingers that I'll be able to keep it from slipping into a permanent one.

When I watch group jam sessions between these older kids and their dad, the choice seems already made for me. There is definitely a larger family band in our future.

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