Hearing Them Learn

Currently three of my kids are studying musical instruments. We’ve got a guitarist, a drummer, a violinist, and two of them are also picking up the piano pretty well. Now, obviously that can lead to a fair bit of noise around our house. Out of tune chords, shrieking violin strings, chaotic pounding from the bedroom where the drums reside, so on and so forth. And normally this leads to all sort of jokes about the horror you as a parent will be subjected to when your children begin their musical adventures.

But I love every moment of it.

I get to hear the missed notes and the out of tune instrument, and I get to listen to them struggle at the basic skills of tuning strings or keeping a steady rhythm. And then I smile inside when they really get something because I can audibly discern when a new idea or concept or piece of music finally clicks in their brain.

You see, often when my children learn something it’s somewhat hidden from me. They’re making connections and building understanding in the hidden worlds of their own minds. They’re learning about math or science or history but I often only see what’s going on inside them when it bursts forth in conversation, or when I stumble upon something they’ve written or drawn. But with music it’s all very much out in the open. I get to hear every bit of it.

She really loves her violin, and has been talking quite a bit lately about becoming a professional musician some day. Regardless of if she takes it to that level or not, it’s a lot of fun to watch and listen to her learning.

Unfortunately I don’t get to hear my drummer quite as clearly, as he’s using a pair of digital drums with headphones. Yet often I stand outside the door while he plays listening to the just-audible thump of his drumsticks as he tries to piece together a fill or keep a steady rhythm. Other times I see his developing sense of rhythm when he absentmindedly taps along with a beat or air drums as we listen to music.

As you may have noticed from many of my past posts, I love books and reading, and there’s something profoundly magically about watching kids learn how to read and enter the larger world that it opens for them. But as my kids learn more about music and I listen to their explorations, I’m realizing that it is every bit as magical if not more so.

So I’ll keep listening with a smile to every missed note, every struggle to keep an instrument in tune, every botched song and every screech. Because with every mistake I hear, I’m lucky that I get to listen to them learn.

The guitar is his instrument of choice at the moment, along with the piano, though he’s expressed an interest in learning a variety of other instruments.


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