Get a Piano, Even if You Don’t Know How to Play It!

I will keep today’s post simple, because we are so busy adoring (and playing) our new piano! I’m planning a piece that gives a bit more background about the piano, but what’s on my mind right now – the first day we woke up to find it in our living room – is just to eat up every minute with it, savor it like the scene on Christmas morning when the stockings are stuffed, tree lit, and gifts everywhere. That’s how I see the piano right now. It’s surreal. It’s really, really here!
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I grew up playing piano. I *think* all three of my sisters also took lessons, though my oldest sister and I were the ones it stuck with most. I can still play half of Fur Elise, and part of Like a River Glorious from memory. So yesterday I did both, about a hundred times. I also played chords, just to hear the beautiful sound of them. I tried to make up songs. It was like being a kid again – not having sheet music to get in the way of my creativity – I was just trying to make sounds that were pretty. Of course now I’m itching to get sheet music, but it was a neat experience just exploring the piano like a kid.

Speaking of which, I knew Seth(5) had a particular interest in playing the piano because he always, always runs to one and sits playing it, softly and respectfully, every chance he gets. He talks about it, too. But our older son Luke(7) surprised me when he showed interest as well! I believe we made a mistake with the banjo his grandparents gave him for Christmas. It is such a nice instrument, and we wanted to impress proper care (ie it’s not a “toy”) and get him lessons to teach him proper handling and it made such an impression on him he’s afraid to pick it up, now. I’ve tried encouraging him to just get it out and pluck on it, but he’s really wound up about it and just won’t. So we have some work to do – or rather undo – to help encourage him to try the banjo again.

With the piano, I tried an opposite approach. My own excitement was palpable, first of all, but I made a point to say how much I enjoyed the beautiful sounds either of the boys made (with the simple rules that we don’t bang on the keys or eat/drink near it. They have respected these 100% so far). This morning, Luke was up early as usual and we walked out into the living room together. I asked him if he would play the first song of the morning, because I couldn’t wait to hear the beautiful sound of the piano and I loved how he played yesterday. Proudly he sat, playing the melody he created with the black keys yesterday. He loves the pedals, too, as I did growing up.

Yesterday, out of nowhere I would hear the sounds of the piano wherever I was in the house and just grin from ear to ear, so happy that my children are exploring music. I’m not a skilled pianist and I don’t know anything about teaching music, but based on what I know of my kids and playing a piano like this one I had the instinct that a)it’s best to put the piano in a room where it won’t compete with the t.v. and b)postpone belabored “lessons” for at least a few weeks while the kids learn they can enjoy the instrument and experience the fun of making up their own songs. This morning, I thought I’d research more about kids and piano; benefits, best practices, etc. and I found this wonderful blog post that confirms all of my own hunches.

http://elissamilne.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/10-things-you-should-do-before-your-child-begins-piano-lessons/

So I’m off to enjoy the surreal, melodious sound of a still slightly off-key piano (until we get a tuner). I can’t overstate the joy and beauty of having music in my home now, as I did as a child. Whether or not you, yourself know how to play an instrument, know that music is good for brain connections, creativity, child development and of course, mom joy! I think a used piano (unless you’re rich) is the perfect instrument for kids. It just lends itself to exploration and doesn’t necessarily need special instructions to enjoy.

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