Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Musical Memories

Blog Awards

Things went very well on the first day of voting for the blog awards. We have had nearly 1000 votes cast so far. I'm so glad the voting was automated. Otherwise, the winners might not have been announced until 2007. I'm not privy to the numbers yet so I don't know who is in the lead in any of the categories. I don't think I'll look until the voting is over. I love the suspense. I"m also afraid I might stuff the ballot for Spunky Jr. in the best teen category!

The blog awards is not the only reason to get dressed up around here these days. We've been attending our chiildren's Christmas concerts. The older three are in the local community youth symphony. And four of them participate in a homeschool concert band. It is wonderful to see the fruits of their hard work.

Where did all this musical ability come from? I believe it was divine intervention. The thought of 6 more croacking out tunes like their mother was too much for the Lord's ears. HE had to do something.

All my children love music and play multiple instruments. Our home is never quiet because someone is always playing something. This is nothing short of amazing to me. Rest assured their talent is not inherited. My husband and I don't have one ounce of musical ability. I play the radio because that's the only way I can carry a tune. When I want a room to myself I just start to belt out a song like "Love Will Keep Us Together". Before long I'm alone.

Somehow music is a part of our lives. People have oftened asked me how we did it. Well, I'd like to think I was the conductor of a magnificent plan that cresendoed into a symphony of sounds. But I'm not. However, there are a few things that we did early on that now looking back have been instrumental in their musical development.

1. We took advantage of free concerts. From the time my children were little I took them to concerts. We lived near the University of Michigan school of music and I would go to recitals. In the fall, we would go listen to the Marching Band rehearse on the practice field. They would sit on the side and march as they practiced. That was nice because they didn't have to sit still and be quiet. The indoor concerts required me to teach them how to sit quiet but once that was done I could pretty much take them anywhere. Many churches also have musicals and I always tried to check the papers and attend those. A personal favorite was a "human Christmas Tree" where the choir was placed on risers and shaped into a tree. All the music was acapella. It was beautiful and entertaining.

2. We kept them in church with us during the worship and sermon both. The praise and worship are always a favorite. I think this is where my son Jason developed his love of the drums. Now that he is older he is frequently in the basement worshipping on his set with a praise CD. We also played church worship team alot at home. They would gather whatever "instruments" (read pots and pans and recorders) and a few play guitars and we'd all sing to the Lord. (That was back when they didn't care how I sang!)

3. We didn't buy them their instruments. When my children expressed an interest in an instrument we encouraged them to save their money. When they had enough they purchased the instrument. We did help with the rentals to make sure they wanted to play that instrument. But the purchase was their responsibility. They have been able to purchase two violins, two trumpets, a flute, and a drum set, and a electric keyboard. The clarinet and oboe were mine (from my feable attempt at music in my youth). Friends gave us a flute and a trombone. The piano we have was also given to us.

The way they earned their money is a post for another day. We do not pay an allowance they earned all the money themselves. They are not super kids by any means. But children who want to do something will find a way to pay for it when given the opportunity. A side benefit is that since they made the purchase they take much better care of the instruments and also practice more faithfully.

A special memory for me was when my son, Joshua (12) gave his first violin away when he purchased his full size. He could have traded it in to help defray the cost of his full size but he insisted he didn't want to. On his younger sister's 10th birthday he put it into a big black bag and gave it to her as a gift. He is now helping her learn how to play.

4. We play alot of music during the day. When they were little I picked one classical CD and played it for that week. We would then choose another composer the next week. Most of the CD's were not purchased we checked them out of our library. We were especially fond of the composer/story CD's. Like Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery, Bethoven Lives Upstairs, and When Bach Comes to Call.

5. We were creative with lessons. We have bartered meals for piano lessons. My daughter, Kristin, learned how to cook by making a meal for piano teacher once a week. This saved him the hassle of cooking and Kristin felt like she was contributing to the lessons. As she progressed she became responsible for teaching some of the younger children. This reinforced her learning and created a special musical bond between them. Since the instruments have been purchased the children also contribute to the weekly lesson payments. Kristin also has a few piano students who pay her and she uses the money to pay for her flute lessons.

6. Four are involved in homeschool concert band and three are in orchestra. The ability to play in a group situation has been helpful in their development. We helped organize the band so that our children would have another outlet for their music.

These are some of the things that come to mind when it comes to raising muscial children. When my children first started playing their was a lot of "joyful noise". But now that they are getting older and more proficient the melodies are a beautiful blessing to our household.

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