Good Boys Do Fine Always

For those of you who are curious, Jeffrey is indeed still slogging away with piano.

Yes, I was truly upset about his teacher’s recommendation that we take some time off, but after consulting my mother-in-law (who not only is generously funding the lessons, but has also put six children through lessons herself) I’ve decided to just keep slogging on through.

The last thing I want is to give my kid the message that two so-so weeks of lessons grants him the right to quit. 

So: we’re slogging.  The biggest obstacles Jeffrey faces, other than the usual attention-span problems, is learning the notes on the keyboard and proper fingering.  Kim, his teacher, has therefore issued flash cards and a finger exercise known as “tabletop tapping.”  We’re also reviewing many of the songs he already knows, teaching him to look at the music instead of his hands, and to hold his fingers the right way and play instead of pounding the keyboard.

After nearly two months of flashcards and table-tapping, Jeffrey has improved enough to focus on directly identifying keys on the keyboard and working on playing his review songs properly.  Every now and then I see him make a small leap, a connection — hey, when the notes on the page move upwards, it means the notes are higher! — and he’s really starting to make an effort in making a sound that is “smooth like ice cream.”

And the bribes rewards?  Those don’t hurt, either.  Jeffrey has only two or so more days until he gets enough stickers on his chart for an R2-D2 toy.  Woot.

In other music-related news, a few weeks ago I found a bag of plastic busts of composers’ heads for $1 at the thrift store.  They’re kind of dated (Edward MacDowell is the lone representative of American music) but I thought they made for goofy fun.  Look — I can juggle them in the air and say they’re too hot to Handel!

Jeffrey on the other hand, was fascinated and spent a great deal of time making this on top of the piano:

 composer temple

He gathered the boxes, the flowers, and ribbon all by himself, and dubbed it the “Piano Temple.”  In case you can’t tell (it’s kind of blurry) Beethoven is at the top (the only composer Jeffrey knows).  I think the Maestro would approve.  And what is up with Bach’s friggin’ enormous head?!?  (He’s just below Beethoven on the right.)

4 thoughts on “Good Boys Do Fine Always

  1. About Jeffrey and piano… I totally understand. I’ve taught piano for 30 years, currently with 40 students. And I’ve seen this happen with my students and my own daughter. From my experience… (1) Let them quit, they probably will come back and when they do they’ll soar. One of my boy students dropped lessons for a year and when he came back he won an audition to perform at Carnegie Recital Hall (he was in 8th grade). (2) Smart kids would rather memorize exactly what they need to know to get through the lesson than work to learn how to read the music. Check and see if Jeffrey can sightread a new piece without the teacher’s help… that way you’ll know if he’s learning by rote. (3) Creative kids like Jeffrey need creative outlets. Playing the piano isn’t creative unless the kids are writing their own music (or if they’re playing at the level where they can be creative in their interpretations of the classics.) Jeffrey seems to be interested in composers…so that might be used to light the spark.

    Come over and visit me at my blog…..

    And GOOD LUCK!!

  2. Haha, I love those busts! Too funny. Good for you for keeping up Jeffrey’s lessons. I always wished I had been able to take lessons when I was younger. Oh, and I like the new pic at the top of your blog- way cute!

  3. Sorry — we don’t own that bed. It’s just a random picture I found of a bed via Google Image Search. Good luck!

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