Monday, February 04, 2008

Mamanxiety, Part Two

Once again, wondering if I'm ruining my kids for life......

You know how each child has an area in which they shine? The Dark Lord is a fantastic writer and MonkeyBoy is a spectacular artist. With The Princess it's always been music. She's always reacted differently to music than her brothers did and I was delighted that when she was under 2 years old she was able to start music classes. It was a schlep to get to the school but it seemed worth it as the teacher was a friend of ours and The Princess so clearly loved her class.

She ended up taking quite a few classes there on Friday mornings over the years with a small, consistent group of kids. Music class was the highlight of her week until this fall when her beloved Miss Liz was mysteriously replaced. The new class had a completely different tone and the teacher, while clearly very talented, maybe was better with older kids. Too much talking and not enough music in my opinion. Plus things just got harder and began moving faster and The Princess began to struggle. She started to complain that she "couldn't do it" any more--everything was confusing and too hard. There was pretty rigid program without a lot of review and I feared my darling poppet was getting lost.

I've never really studied music but I began to wonder if a group setting was the best environment for a young learner when things are beginning to get complex: reading music, using two hands, figuring out the rhythm--there's an awful lot going on now. I talked with The Princess about the idea of maybe trying out private lessons where she could have her own teacher. She thought that sounded great--along with her group class, but two different simultaneous music programs just isn't feasible for many reasons. I really began to feel that going with private lessons was the way to go and began to get her used to the idea.

Last Friday was her last class at the old school. The recital was bittersweet and we were both sad to be leaving friends. But I was convinced she'd be happy and learn more in her new situation. Her first lesson was today and she prepared by dressing carefully, with numerous special accessories, stick-on earrings, and a name tag made just for the occasion to help the teacher learn her name. She bounced out of the car and ran up the steps eager to get started. She was happy to show the new teacher what she'd been playing and was delighted to play on a lovely Yamaha grand piano.

I sat with her for this first lesson and something clearly wasn't right. She became nervous and unsure of herself while trying to equate new terminology with concepts she already knew. Again, there was too much talking from the teacher, so much focus on the notes for a kid who can't even read yet! I could tell she was hugely disappointed even though she put on a brave face as we were leaving and told me she "kind of liked it" but I knew she was telling me what she thought I wanted to hear. While practicing tonight she was full of resentment with me for taking her away from her old class. I know that most of this is about the change and not the teacher, but I am feeling like such an ogre even though I was really trying to find the best place for her music to grow. It's like the struggle with her brother--I just wish I could have a few moments where I felt certain I knew what was right.


ElizO said...

Oh, I hope she does end up loving her piano teacher. It is amazing to hear Ode to Joy coming from her little fingers! If it doesn't really work out, we have an incredible piano teacher I can refer you to, but she doesn't really like to start kids until they are 7 or 8 and have a fair bit of finger strength.

I taught piano lessons when I was in college and could pitch hit if you find yourself in a bind, but if she really loves music it sure would be great to get hooked up with a teacher that is a great fit. I know it is tricky finding a teacher for a little one, though. Good Luck!

hippiedippiemommie said...

I know there's a great teacher for her out there. Is she at all interested in the violin, or is it just piano?

One of the parents at Harmony is a private music teacher, shall I ask her what she knows about piano lessons for little ones?