I’ve always had music inside of me. Though growing up an athlete, eventually you had to pick one or the other. I chose sports. It was no contest, especially since the clarinet had lost its luster after my best friend in 6th grade, Jennifer Hart, challenged my first chair seat in band. and won. I wouldn’t begrudge someone advancing, but she told me that she wasn’t going to challenge me, so I did not practice the piece the night before the contest. and she did it anyway. and won. that was the end of my music career.
With sports, any sport, I just knew what to do before i was told. My first love was baseball. I remember being at practice as a 5-year-old, and the coach tossing the ball for myself and the other 5 year olds off to the side of the field.(read: out-of-the-way from the real practice going on.) I had my dad’s old floppy, no padding, dark brown leather baseball glove that he used when he was little. The coach tossed me the ball and I remember almost before it left his hand he said, “oops. I’m sorry. that’s a bad toss.” Well, I stretched my glove across my body, above my right ear, jumped up, and caught the wild throw. He was stunned.
So, of course when I had children i was very excited to watch them love sports as I did. But not only love it, I wanted to introduce them to what had been my salvation as a child. I loved being outside(read: out of the classroom) and playing something organized with a set of rules that did not change. I loved just for once looking like I had my act together. Purchasing my daughter’s first set of soccer cleats was one of my proudest mothering moments. And the moment, sadly was very short-lived.
My girls though fairly coordinated(well, one of them is. the other has been known to hit parked cars on her bike. I have no idea where she gets that.) are just not natural athletes. They are great runners and enjoy playing outside, but they do not live and breathe sports like I did. and of course, they just don’t need it as badly. Which brings us to our music endeavors.
We began violin lessons when they were quite young on my husbands initiative. We picked the violin because a)it was relatively inexpensive. b) it was small and portable. and c) we had access to an incredible teacher down the road from our house. I was a little intimidated by the venture but am all about my kids being exposed to lots of things. The first time I picked up their violin, it was like holding a new-born. It was awkward in my hands, and i was afraid of dropping it.
We had been taking violin for a few months when something incredible, dare i say, life changing…happened. My girls were having a lesson, and the teacher pulled out a big red button that had the word “EASY” on it. Whenever they did something correct, she had them hit the button. Then the button would say, “That was EASY.” She asked them….”Do you know why we practice everyday?” They stared at her with blank faces. “Because it makes it easy,” she added. A light bulb went on for me.
I remembered back to all of my efforts in high school and college to play the guitar. The key word being ‘play’ and not ‘learn.’ I remembered all the walks of shame I had to do to my lessons that I was grossly unprepared for because I had not practiced. I was just so accustomed to knowing how to do something, the idea of learning how to play an instrument had escaped me. But now, I saw the connection. All you had to do was practice little bit everyday. how novel. Then you would not have to binge practice just for the lesson.
So, I also began ‘learning the violin’ with this teacher. That was three years ago this past april. And though, I’ve had moments of deep bitterness when I see just how easy it is for children to learn music vs. an adult, I’ve stuck with it and presevered. Because I’ve always had music inside of me. I just did not know how to get it out.