Saturday, December 17, 2011


Mommy, can I type?  That's a common request in our house.  We have computer days and non-computer days but the kids know that the non-computer days become computer days when they can somehow convince me that what they are doing is for 'school'. 

Zachary decided to type the words to Silent Night.  Simonne commented that it would help him remember the words.  I agreed, thinking that it would also help him read the words.  He loaded up a youtube video with the lyrics and went typing away.  Sometime later, after the second stanza, I saw him typing:
(he helped me reproduce it for this post).It was such an abrupt change from the words and phrases.  He was typing in a staccato fashion, almost as if he wasn't thinking about forming anything specific.  Puzzled, I had to ask him about it.  Simonne, without looking up from her typing, said: That's how you play Silent Night on the steel drums. I looked back at Zachary startled.  This was the same Zachary that had vowed not to go back to any more steel drum classes because he was doing horribly. 

Their teacher invited me into the class last week for me to hear them play Silent Night.  I was very excited to see Zach so proficient.  I knew Simonne would play well, if only because the teacher asked her. Zach really does exactly only what he wants to do (so it appears to me anyway).  I figured he learned the song as a series of hand movements.  It never occurred to me that he knew the notes as well!
Later that evening, I called Isaiah over and asked Zachary to tell him the notes in Silent Night.  As Zachary rattled the letters out, I was amused at the befuddled look on Isaiah's face.  Since I had passed the befuddled stage, I went to curiosity.  Zach, I asked, did you memorize the notes to be able to play Silent Night?  He didn't answer.  Simonne commented that she didn't do that because she would lose track of her place in the song if she was thinking about anything else (like the names of the notes) but the song.  She sings in her mind and that helps her know which parts of the drum to hit.  Zach, with prompting, explained that he could imagine himself playing and tell us what notes he was hitting in his imagination because the notes were written on the drum.

Having not gotten very much farther than EGBDF in music theory (are those the lines or spaces?) I think I'm way out of my league.  In many ways, I'm glad I know I don't know.  I might be tempted to prescribe methods and dictate the process for the children's musical development.  Instead I'm forced to just allow it, to trust, and perhaps learn a thing or two.

My eyes met Isaiah's over the kids heads and I mouthed we are just lazy.  We have recently been talking about our own musical/instrument development.  There are really no obstacles, only our own willingness to move from not knowing to knowing, from discomfort to comfort.  In many ways, it seems children just move through those hurdles.  One more reason to embrace a more child-like approach.  Where's my recorder?

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