Convinced that I had given birth to a musical prodigy, this first-time mom decided to enroll son Joshua in a piano class when he was four. The world needs to meet this genius-in-making, I figured. I found the local studio of an internationally-acclaimed music education program and attended their informational meeting.
“You only have a small window of time to develop musicality in a child,” the owner of the studio explained. “Even smaller window to gain perfect pitch.” Oh no–it might already be too late! “Every study shows that musicianship and high intelligence go hand in hand. Almost all highly accomplished pianist is also a genius.” She failed to add that many of them are also crazy, but the scare tactic worked. I forked over a big chunk of money to sign my son up for the first semester.
On the first day of class, I marched in with my son and took my place in the chair next to the keyboard. At least one parent had to attend with the student and sit through the 30-minute class. “Thus, the parents also get some music education,” the instructor cheerfully said as we opened the instructional book which came with the colorful bag with the CD of all the songs we’d be learning. We paid for the whole package, as per the contract.
The kids sat at the keyboard which was basically a synthesizer shaped like an organ. The bench was quite high, and my son’s feet dangled midair.
“Kids, sing with me: do, re, mi, fa, so!” The instructor urged the class as she played the scale. I took a deep breath and sang, “Do, re, mi, fa, so!”
“That was good, parents. Now, let’s hear you, kids.” Evidently, this teacher has done this a few times. I changed my voice to sound like a little child and leaned over to my son whose mouth hung open in puzzlement and tried again.
“Do, re, mi, fa, so!”
I made a good ventriloquist.
The semester continued on, and we faithfully attended our lessons each week. I diligently did our weekly homework with Josh, singing or playing along with the CD of the songs.
One day in class, we had a special guest come in to play a piece. She was probably 7 or 8, and she was enrolled in the special class for highly advanced young musicians. “This class is by invitation only. We observe your children and, after two years, decide whether your child continues in the regular or advanced track,” the teacher explained. I knew right away that my son would be joining this girl someday.
She sat at the regular piano in the front of the classroom. Her feet did not touch the floor, so they outfitted the pedals with wooden blocks for her. She took a deep breath then began to play.
I was expecting her to start with Chopsticks. Instead she launched into Chopin, her little fingers dancing up and down the scale, moving her body with each measure. She closed her eyes at some point as if to truly feel the music. I couldn’t believe my eyes nor ears. Her little body was inhabited by a 20-year old concert pianist. It was almost creepy.
I was just getting into this grand piece when suddenly I was jarred back into reality by a big “thud” next to me.
“Waaaaaaah!” my son cried on the floor, wedged between the keyboard and the bench. He had fallen off the tall seat.
Great. This little girl is playing a grand piano piece, and my son can’t even stay seated.
Josh continued on with this music education system for many years until he graduated about 6 years later. He never did make it to the advanced track, but he did become an okay piano player. Today, he is marching in the band at his high school, playing the trumpet. He never developed perfect pitch, but he has great appreciation for music, especially jazz.
I, on the other hand, learned to sing my do-re-mi’s perfectly well. I also learned to humble myself and to let our kids be who God made them to be.
And that was well worth the tuition we paid!