Saturday, July 12, 2008

What if?

I just read about another child who's a musical prodigy. In this case, she's a pianist.

Here's what amazes me: what if nobody had ever placed this child's fingers on piano keys? Think about it. WHAT IF???

Is finding our talent a matter of chance? As a mother, I'm terrified at this thought. I look at my children and think, Could she have been a tuba virtuoso? Or Might he have been a zither whiz? My kids had the usual chance to try the elementary school selection of instruments (which oddly neglects the piano and the guitar, statistically the most commonly played instruments in the U.S.) but I've never tried piano lessons. Never gave them a banjo. And, yes, please, forgive me, but I've never put drumsticks in their hands.

Mother panic setting in. What if, what if, what if....

How many prodigies are undiscovered because they weren't connected early on? Because nobody put their hands on the ivories and let the magic be revealed?

I've vowed to watch my chickadees with more attentiveness. I'll catch every nuance of their interests. And, just to be sure, I'll put their hands on a keyboard and see if they happily pound out "Heart and Soul" or "Chopsticks"--or if they produce "Minuet in G."

Because you just never know....


Debby Mayne said...

Wow! Amazing that you brought this up. I had similar thoughts a few days ago. I wondered what my children would have done if I’d made them stick to something they showed talent in. Maybe I made it too easy not to pursue something to the end.

A couple of summers when my daughters were in elementary school, I enrolled both of them in a slew of classes (dance, music, art, and drama) to see if anything grabbed their interest and held it long enough to keep them in it. Then I made it easy for them to stop—and they did. Throughout middle and high school, they tried a few more things, but nothing stuck.

They've since found what they like, and neither of them has done what I expected. Alison is a fitness buff, and Lauren likes anything fashion or makeup related.

I think it's good to expose your children to all sorts of things. But trying to figure out what they're good at or even what they have a passion for can be difficult for a parent. Maybe we’re too close to really see.

As for the drums, Lauren once said she wanted to try it. I said not at home. So she started hanging out with drummers in Christian bands, and they taught her the basics. She picked it up pretty well, but it's not her passion—and I'm thankful for that!

Lisa said...

I worry about that too. I wonder at which stage I have thwarted the budding artist or musician. Is it horrible that Brad is 10 and has only had one year of guitar? Was it wrong for me to not let him play trumpet because I knew that I did not want to hear him practicing that:)?

I console myself with the idea that perhaps the prodigies naturally gravitate toward those things that they are good at and that if there had been signs of emerging genius I would have recognized it.

Or maybe both of my kids will have yet another story to tell the therapist when they're 30...sigh...

sandi said...

When I was in fourth grade my parents offered to buy a piano so I could learn to play. In all my obvious wisdom, I told them, "No, that's ok. It will be just one more thing we'll have to fight about."

Your kids will be fine.


Kacie said...

Janet, I agree with Lisa: I think that children tend to gravitate towards those things that interest them--and naturally, that's generally where they discover their talents.

Justin, for example, loved music from the time he was a toddler--and subsequently, we put him in piano and voice lessons, and eventually, he played sax for several years in the school band. Now, he's a self-taught guitarist and pianist...not a virtuoso, by any stretch of the imagination, but he shows real talent and ability.

I wonder sometimes whether--if we had forced him to be more disciplined with any single instrument--he might have been more successful, but we went for "well-rounded" rather than "expert," and now he's a jack-of-several-instruments and master of none. ;)

We're still hoping he decides to pursue his musical interests as more than a hobby or a way to impress the girls, but really, when you're a nineteen-year-old guy, what else is there? ;)

Love you...see you in SF in a couple of weeks!!!

Janet Spaeth said...

You four make me feel so much at ease. I suppose if they were child prodigies, they'd have let me know by now, right?