Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thunder of Applause

Things have really been clicking for Curly Miss on her violin this fall. The new teacher, as I have mentioned, does a marvelous job with her and the switch to a better instrument hasn't hurt either. At last she has the whole Twinkle memorized; not only that but she does it with beautiful posture and left-hand position, something that certainly cannot be said for her five- and six-year-old classmates who mastered Twinkle in the space of about six weeks but who scratch it out with the joyous abandon and disregard for proper technique inherent in the age.

Curly still practices every night with Daddy for twenty minutes or so down in the "Secret Music Tower" which still holds magical fascination to her. We have seen good weekly progress but had yet to see a leap forward such as I am told usually happens at this stage.

Last night we got the leap.

Up to this point, Curly has been extremely hesitant to play in front of anyone, her Daddy and teacher included. I fretted about this as both Hubby and I have severe performance anxiety. I am told that most Suzuki students don't struggle with this as the method itself incorporates only positive performance experiences to boost students' confidence. I had not seen this yet so I determined to be patient and hide my worries.

Yesterday we had four guests to dinner: the couple who stayed the weekend with us, E & K, our frequent visitors, and their good friends, S & K, a couple they had wanted us to meet. Hubby and E fixed us a scrumptious meal of Thai food which the kids even ate tolerably well then we sat around the table chatting and working on logic puzzles ("nerding it up", as Hubby calls it). Practice time came for Curly and she and Hubby headed off downstairs. Before she left I invited her to play for our guests, fully expecting her to decline. To my surprise she accepted and soon she and Daddy were back with her little violin.

She stood tall, planted her feet and set her little violin on her shoulder. With lovely left-hand position and a beautiful bow-hold, she played Variation A of the famous/infamous Twinkle Theme and Variations by Mozart. She played with charming confidence and stunning tone. I wish I had gotten a video of it because it sounded light-years better than the last time I had heard her do it on the old violin. Everyone (who are all musicians, incidentally) listened raptly and when she was done and gave her cute little Suzuki bow, we all broke into such a great round of applause I thought her little face would split, she was grinning so big.

We know that music is not meant to be performed to gain accolades or attention; it is performed for the joy of the performer. But for such a little mite, working away day after day with such slow improvement as to be unnoticeable, such a performance with such great feedback is truly vital. It shows her the milestone she has reached and shows her, too, that her music can bring joy to others.

To see her play with such obvious enjoyment, confidence and poise even though she is still little brought great joy to me. The language of music, when begun at a young age, builds pathways in the brain that will last a lifetime. It is for this reason we spend the time and resources to bring it into our children's lives.

As a postscript, Little Mister always watches his sister with interest and longing. A couple of times I have allowed him to play very carefully with the 1/16 violin now that Curly is no longer using it. He always views this as a very great treat. I think I might try giving him a few games to play here and there to introduce a bow-hold, for instance and see how he does. It will still be a few years before he can begin formal lessons but I can see the interest and ability already beginning to show.

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