Saturday, April 24, 2010

A 1st for My 1st & a 1st for My 4th

My first son had a big first today: his first solo violin recital! He played "Allegro" (as did 3 other students in the recital...that's how it goes with early beginner recitals, I suppose), and I got to accompany him on piano. He played excellently. Could I be any more proud?? :)

Later this afternoon, my fourth son had a first as well: his first time sitting up playing with toys! Up until now, he's always been in the Bumbo or the farm-toy-exersaucer-thingie or lying down on his playmat or in the playpen or in the johnny jump-up (in his opinion, the best invention ever made). But today, I decided to see how he would do with sitting up (to be clear, he didn't get himself into a sitting position; I put him in it). Last time I tried, he promptly fell over; but that has been quite a while ago, and it was obvious today how much he has progressed. I could see him start to lean and then regain his balance. Only occasionally did he do a slow descent to the side, too far for him to recover by himself; and only once did he do a real fall (landing on a pillow I had placed beside him for such a time). It was really fun to see him in this position, and it reinforced to me how far he's come from the infant stage. My boys typically develop their large-motor skills so slowly that they seem to take forever to leave babyhood behind and move on to being toddlers. Babies born after them are running circles around them while they tentatively take their first steps. But I really don't mind. Immobility has its advantages. :) Nevertheless, it's always exciting to see the development of my little sweethearts.

A violinist and a sitter-upper! Hooray for my boys! :)


Sally said...

This is so remarkable! Josiah did just excellently with the violin! I'm always wondering when, where, and how to start our kids in "real" music lessons. Something is going great for Josiah!

I can't believe how fast Shav is growing up. It seems like just a few days ago I was checking your blog often to see when he was born. My! I know a lot of hard work and tired days have passed between then and now, but to me it seems to have gone by really fast. He's a cutie!

Beth said...

Yes - HOORAY for them! What awesome milestones and you should be proud!

Patti said...

How long is it before I can expect this lovely AND pleasant to listen to "Allegro" and not screeches that will set my teeth on edge? Your answer is going to directly influence when Harper starts the violin lessons she has been asking for since she was 3.

Davene said...

Oh, Patti, what a good question! There's so much I could say...

Josiah is doing Suzuki violin which definitely gives very young students an opportunity to learn, but we didn't start him until this year (he was 7...still is, as a matter of fact). Part of the reason was because we wanted to see if his desire for violin lessons was a passing fancy or not...part was because we wanted to save money :)...and part was because I was a piano teacher and had seen how much more quickly older students progress than younger ones (not always, of course, but often), so I wasn't in a hurry to have him start young. It's been interesting this year to see him move along more quickly than some of the other students in his group class, some of whom are quite a bit younger than him. I know that his maturity and age has given him an advantage at this point in time, but will he be a better player in the long run? I don't know. Perhaps their early exposure to the instrument will help them to develop certain fundamental qualities of playing better than he'll ever get them. Who knows?

I guess I see some advantages to starting early and some to starting late...but I don't regret at all the fact that we held Josiah off until now.

However, about the screechy sound...Josiah still makes LOTS of screechy sounds! There have been plenty of times during this past year that I really had to bite my lip during practice sessions with him so that I didn't discourage him by my...ahem...honesty. Did you know that the violin is one of the hardest instruments to learn? And that scientific studies have proven that playing the violin uses more parts of the brain simultaneously than many other pastimes (like playing a sport or even playing the piano)? There is just so much to coordinate! So don't be deceived by the video I posted - you would cringe at times listening to Josiah practice. I think that's the nature of the beast when it comes to learning violin. With the piano, if you hit an F#, it's going to sound like an F#. It might not sound great if you hit an F# and a G at the same time, but at least the notes themselves can't sound too harsh. But oh my, violin sounds can certainly be harsh!

One thing I've been reminded of though is that when you're very close to a violinist (when you're the one playing it or are geographically very close to the violinist), you hear a lot of screeches that are not audible further away (and I don't mean half a mile away, just a few yards). :) Sometimes I'll listen to Josiah playing in another room and think, "Wow, his tone is really getting clear and beautiful!" and then I'll hear him play right next to me and think, "Oh, never mind, it's still scratchy." :) Having the distance from the violinist on stage to the audience in rows helps to eliminate some of that noise.

And in the video, having the piano accompaniment helps it to sound better, too. It makes the tone more smooth and even.

With Harper, I don't even know how to advise you. I am a HUGE fan of music lessons for kids. HUGE! But with violin, you as a parent need to be ready to hear some brain-jarring sounds before the really beautiful stuff comes. In this process with Josiah, I've been reminded of how my parents put up with my less-than-beautiful music for years. What a sacrifice! :)

Valerie said...

That violin video melted my heart. So precious. And Shav sitting up? Cute! I love this stage. from 7 months to 7 years... love it all :)

Patti said...

Thanks for the insight, Davene! After reading it, I think we will definitely wait at least another year. We are planning to do Suzuki. Harper is going to start ballet lessons next month. It will be her first lessons of any sort and she is incredibly excited, though I think her expectations are going to be rather dashed when she realizes that the first day of class will not culminate in her dancing the lead in "Swan Lake". Another reason that I think the violin would be an extra challenge for her right now--I'm pretty sure she thinks she will be a virtuoso after a couple of weeks.

We recently checked out a book from the library entitled Mole Music by David McPhail that your boys might enjoy. It's the story of a little Mole who teaches himself to play the violin and, though he never realizes it (because he is underground), his beautiful music literally changes the world. It's idealistic, but sweet. And I love McPhail's illustrations.

Leah said...

Awww, Josiah played so beautifully! I heard lots of ringing tones :-). Unfortunately, even after nine years of lessons, there are still occasional screeches {especially in 6th and 7th positions} when I'm nervous.

I started piano in second grade and violin in fourth grade.