March 14, 2011


Music has always been a huge part of my life. Nobody in my family (as far as I know) has any musical talent. My mom loved music, but wasn't any good at it. She attempted piano lessons and guitar lessons as a kid, and had to stop because she just didn't get it. I don't think that my dad ever took music lessons.

My parents never forced me to take piano lessons or any sort of lesson growing up, but my mom always liked to sing. She'd always be making up wacky songs while my sis and I were growing up, and while she claims that she doesn't have a good voice, I don't think she gives herself enough credit.

I didn't get into music until grade 5, when I was introduced to the recorder, but I for me, the "real deal" was when I picked up the clarinet in grade 7. I played the clarinet in various school bands from age 12 (grade 7) until just before I turned 29, my most recent gig being with a symphonic band at the university, which is open to both students and non-students. I also played the tenor sax for 1 year in the jazz band in high school, and I can even play a bit of the flute (my grandmother bought me one 5 years ago). I am self-taught at piano, and though I totally suck at reading bass clef, I managed to paw my way into playing a pretty decent rendition of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. A few years back, a friend of mine gave me some private piano lessons, which was a blast. I improved quite a bit. Unfortunately, she had to stop once she got a full-time job and I never took it up again (maybe someday). I don't get to play much without any motivation (i.e. being prepared for class).

My new instrument is the violin, which I got in 2003 as a birthday gift from my mom and which sat largely unplayed save for a few futile attempts at self-study, until I signed up for an adult violin intro class at the RCM while I was on mat-leave. Now I take private lessons, and it has been awesome. I can now proudly say that I play the violin. Don't expect to see me playing at any weddings though.

So onto PK. PK has been exposed to music all her life. First, in utero, when I went to band practices, and then after she was born. I'd created a special playlist on my iPod just for her, and would spend many an afternoon dancing with her in the carrier to anything from The Beatles, The Monkees, and The Who to Beethoven, Mozart, and Strauss. She started music class at 5 months, and library storytime (which had a singing component) at 2.5 months. And it shows. She LOVES to sing. She LOVES "The Sound of Music" and re-enacting scenes from it (as if I haven't mentioned that enough). She truly looks forward to music class every week, and as annoying as it is to haul our butts to class every week, it's totally worth it. And I'm totally psyched that her new pre-school is going to have a music program.

Once PK outgrows the RCM toddler program, I definitely want to put her in a Suzuki program. I'm hoping for violin because Suzuki is all about hard-core parental involvement (parents learn with their kiddies and act as home tutors) and I can actually help her with the violin. Plus she's mildly interested in her own little itty bitty violin. Though so far she's tried to play it as a guitar and has yanked more bow hairs than I can keep track of. (Do you know how much it costs to re-string a bow???) I've tried to teach her a bit about the violin, but she isn't patient enough for me show her how things are done. She just wants to do them herself. Kind of reminds me of me, actually! I hope that by the time we get around to putting her in the Suzuki program, her attention span will be better.

I started thinking about this whole Suzuki thing because this week at music class, the teacher brought in two kids who were in the Suzuki program - a brother and sister, ages 8 and 5, respectively. Both play the cello. They played a few pieces (with harmony!) for a class of almost-three-year-olds, and the kiddies were just mesmerized. Especially PK. She was so fascinated by the playing. And she clapped and cheered enthusiastically at the end of each piece. It was super-cute.

So I'm really really hoping to do the Suzuki thing, but I also want to make sure that PK doesn't turn into one of those traumatized kids who hates playing because their parents were tyrants about music class and kept making them go for years and years even though the kids hate it. But that's still a year or so away. For now, I'm going to relish in the sounds of my daughter singing wherever we go.

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