Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I just had a phone call that despite being number 130 on the waiting list, my daughter has been offered a place in our local Suzuki piano program. On one hand, I'm thrilled--while I grew up being a snob about the "mechanical" quality of Suzuki (and while I'm still a wee bit skeptical of what seem to me to be its exaggerated demands), I've been really impressed by how it allows very young students to play real music, and to develop excellent touch and dynamics very early on (my friend's 6 year old has a much more nuanced style than I ever had). And my daughter has been asking for lessons for almost a year now. And I am in the midst of pretty major repairs on our 100 year old upright piano, that should make it playable and then some. On the other hand, I'm feeling more than frantic about returning to teaching, finishing the impossible article, figuring out what the commute and parent responsibilities are at my daughter's new school, and financing private school, Saturday Chinese and Chinese dance lessons (which will involve 5 different performances throughout the year), and her ongoing ballet classes. I'm already too busy and too broke, and the thought of two piano lessons each week (one group and one private) plus daily practicing that I have to enforce is more than a little daunting.

Plus, I realize that she is only 5, and that it's not as though her musical ability--if she has any--will evaporate if I choose to wait until she's 7 or even--gasp!--eight before signing her up. By then, I'll have tenure, and my fantasy about post-tenure life is that even though I'll be just as insanely busy, I won't be so perpetually anxious. (Those of you who know my IRL know that's a forlorn hope).

I just read this article about what sounds like a terrific book. As I've said before, if I still had my husband, I like to think my daughter would be in our local public school, and we would be among those committing to our community and working to improve our neighborhood schools (or, at least, those of the next-closest neighborhood!) And I am trying (not very successfully) to keep my own ego out of my choices for her, knowing at the same time that I want her to appreciate many of the things I appreciate (music, art, reading) as well as the things to which she is already drawn (insects! volcanoes! astronomy! gardening!) It's hard when there is only one of her, and one of me. I want to give her the activities I wanted to have had, and don't have my husband's voice of sanity and restraint. I suspect he'd tell me to wait on the piano lessons. Maybe I should listen to him.

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At 7:33 AM , Blogger bg's Little Sis said...

I find this such a challenge with my kids as well, one of me, and so many things they'd like to do and try and things I'd love for them to do and try and not enough time, money or sanity to go around....ugh

Good luck, we waited on piano to, next spring is my target:)

At 8:10 AM , Blogger Snickollet said...

I often get paralyzed by wondering what John would do. I'm starting to feel like I don't know anymore, which hurts, and makes me confused.

Good luck with the decisions. And everything else that's going on in your busy, busy life.

At 6:54 PM , Blogger Terminal Degree said...

I don't have kids, so I have no idea how hard such decisions must be.

But I have taught music lessons to kids for over 20 years. From that perspective:

Lessons take a lot of work on the parent's part (and yeah, it's usually the mom, even when there are two parents). Especially with Suzuki, there's an expectation that a parent will supervise every practice session and attend all lessons.

It that sounds overwhelming, it's really fine to wait another year or so until her motor skills are a little more advanced and her reading skills are really strong. You won't be holding her back. :)


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