How do you unschool music training? Let me tell you a story.
In a moment of spontaneity, our miniature band, two violinists attempting both harmony and rhythm, declared itself: we have to take this show on the road.
These kids could be stars. They could dominate the stage. Move over Taylor Swift, my kids have come to town!
Okay, no, we didn’t do that, but I certainly wondered if their passion meant they were going to hit the spotlight someday. Until they were no longer interested in their violins. Then they declared a lack of interest altogether.
“Mom, could we not play violin anymore?” But this mom wants them to learn music, so we decided to unschool music training.
Cough, sputter, choke. “Not play the violin?”
I had a vision of taking our show on the road and apparently it was dashed.
So when we returned those rented violins to the music store, I was thankful, relieved even, that they each grabbed a guitar from the display wall and jammed out for a bit.
It was still there. They’d not thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
They’d simply outgrown an instrument.
Maybe they weren’t interested in learning scales and simple ditties.
They wanted to jam.
Still, we walked out of that music shop instrumentless.
The notion of them learning or playing something else wasn’t there.
They were simply thankful that mom returned that violin to its rightful place: the shelf.
One day, a few months later, I heard a voice: “Mom, could you teach me some piano? “
“Umm, sure honey. Since I wasn’t taught the piano, I can show you what I learned on my own…I’m proficient on the right-playing melody, but clueless on the left-hand playing chords. But sure, I’ll show you how to translate that page of music to a stringless instrument.“
And she was hooked. She played those ditties over and over and over till I taught her another, and another.
At some point, I realized I was finished teaching her what I knew with my right hand.
I told her we should check out YouTube and see what they could offer.
She experimented with that for a couple of months, learning a few things about chords and harmonizing.
And then she surprised me, Mom, could I have piano lessons?
And I knew we were right back where we started, with an instrument, an instructor, and practice.
The only difference? She initiated it.
And I’ve heard no complaints since…
I’ll dream big for my kiddos, but I don’t anticipate Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, or David Foster emanating from my home (though I’d be glad to be proven wrong).
Fortitude, consistency, and skill are learned from repetitive, persistent practice.
These skills can be instilled through an instrument, a sport, chores, a job, or a bookworm.
But for them to be real, they need to originate from within.
I was thankful to learn that sometimes we don’t need to push our kids in a specific direction; instead, we can just watch and wait and see them choose it for themselves.
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