Two more days with the Bug…some random musingsFebruary 21, 2008 at 10:08 am | Posted in little bug, music | Leave a comment
The winter flu season has inevitably struck down our wonderful babysitter, who, her other employer tells me, has never missed a day of work due to sickness in four years. So when Janet said she was feeling sick on Tuesday, I told her to head home immediately. Everyone in our house is finally healthy, and I’m a big believer that when people start to feel sick, they should get in their own beds before infecting everyone else. So I’ve had a few bonus days with the Little Bug. I was going to get two papers written during this Winter Break week, but that’s obviously not going to happen (was it really going to anyway?) Instead, I went to music class yesterday — for whatever music class can really be worth to a seven-month-old. Actually, she was totally engaged with the other babies and bouncing to the music. And I really don’t mind spending how ever much I’m spending so that she and Janet can wave some jingle bells around and do the hokey pokey every week. After watching a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday about a brilliant young composer — how he was inspired by his early violin lessons and the passion he now brings to classical music — I called my mother to ask where and when and how I was first exposed to music. I know that we had a scratched, hand-me-down, upright piano (that probably was never truly in tune) in our family room, and by the time I was four I was clamoring to learn how to play it for real. Those four-year-old lessons didn’t work out so well, but the next year I tried again and was hooked, taking lessons through my senior year in high school and then even for a semester in college (what?). Music at some points has been a consuming passion (like, in high school? When I locked myself in my room and made mix tapes featuring deep, deep songs by Billy Joel and Pink Floyd?) and other times has been one of the main focuses, for better or for worse, of my extra-curricular life (Tigressions). I do know that my parents sang to us all the time: we used to joke that we could name a word and my mother could come up with a song for it (“Mustard! Try mustard!”), and my father taught us to harmonize in his beautiful baritone. I want to give my daughter the exposure I had — singing around the house, music in the car, a piano to experiment on — so that she can choose for it to someday infuse and enrich her life as much as it did (does) mine. They key word here, though, is choice. I don’t want to force it on her, but just want to provide the environment that allows her to discover and hopefully embrace it on her own. I think that’s why it stuck with me: my parents never forced me to take piano. But music was in some form or another always around me. After I started lessons with much enthusiasm and success, they did insist that my sisters take lessons, however, and I think that’s why they rebelled and didn’t last more than a few years. Although Jennifer, who took lessongs much longer than Erin, did end up in an a cappella group in college, as well. (I also remember one car ride when a three-year-old Erin tried to sing “ABCD” and we were all horrified — horrified — that she couldn’t sing it in tune (how awful is that?)) I’m not really sure what my point is, other than to immediately contradict myself and wonder if maybe a little direction actually might not be so harmful. If you have to start by forcing the issue, perhaps you can open a child’s eyes to something they might eventually enjoy? Isn’t that a theme of parenting in general?
Anyway, one of the (many) things I love about my husband: while he may not have been in an a cappella group (or even close to it!) he, too, loves to sing and sings around the house (and, in fact, it is he who finally got me to watch American Idol after years of protesting in principle). Most sweetly, he sings to our daughter, making up songs just for her.
Someone once asked me: if you had the choice between either only television or music in your home, which would you choose?