This one goes down in the annals of “Things I Never Believed Would Happen in My Lifetime.”
My son started taking piano lessons when he was five years old. Since then, I’ve spent a good portion of the last nine years of my life nagging and brandishing a whip in his general direction to get him to practice. I couldn’t possibly count the number of arguments we’ve had about whether or not he could quit taking lessons.
Last night in the middle of studying for his Spanish test and writing up notes for Biology, he headed to the piano. He’s been doing this lately as a way of relaxing and taking a break from his studies. What an immense joy it is for me to hear him play the piano for his own pleasure! Still, ever in parent mode, I heard this admonishment escape from my lips: “Don’t practice for too long!” (The poor boy can never win)!
It was during a
conversation negotiation I had with his nine-year-old sister that I truly appreciated how astonishing that statement was. His sister has been chafing under the constraints of the “boring” songs in her Suzuki violin book and has even hinted that she may be ready to give up playing.
From the other room, my son called out to her: “Don’t stop playing! You’ll regret it. I used to be just like you. I hated practicing, but now I really like it and I’m glad I didn’t quit!” He ambled into the living room to join the conversation.
“Well, I don’t want to play the songs in the Suzuki book. I want to play River Flows in You,” she insisted. This is a song by the Korean composer Yiruma. My son recently discovered his music and has taught himself how to play the song by ear. It’s one of his favorite pieces at the moment, so we have the pleasure of hearing it often.
I shot him a dirty look and jokingly said, “I blame YOU.”
In response, he dispensed this nugget of wisdom to his little sister: “You can do other songs if you want, but you need to keep up with the Suzuki book. The songs are designed to make you a more confident player. They’ll help you hone your skills.”
What the hell?! Am I being punked? Adolescence was no joke, but the cacophanous noise of pointless arguing and grinding gears is starting to fade out, and I could swear I’m beginning to hear the faint strains of sweet music in my ears.