The discussion of bands and band instruments the other day reminded me of something that I haven’t thought about in quite a while.
When Child was in the third grade, she came home with a permission slip and information on joining orchestra at school. I was a little skeptical. When she was five, she wanted to take piano lessons but after 2 months, her piano teacher fired her. She didn’t want to practice and then at the last lesson apparently she was rude to him (I was in the kitchen when this happened, so didn’t witness it). She hadn’t made any other overtures toward an instrument, or even music in general, so I was surprised when she informed me she wanted to play the violin.
I always wanted to let her try things, so I read through the papers and signed her up. Luckily the school had a violin she could use for free and the next day she carried it proudly home. Then for the next week she proceeded to torture the poor thing horrendously. I can’t even begin to describe it but whatever you’re imagining right now, amp it up. The dog and cat hightailed it as far away as they could get from her. I wanted to jump off a cliff, but since that’s not very encouraging to a kid, I pasted a smile on my face and ate a lot of chocolate. At one point I thought, is it really that hard to make a decent noise on a violin, so while she was at gymnastics, I tried it. I certainly wasn’t going to win any awards, but I could at least pull the bow across the strings to make a sound somewhat reminiscent of music. So there it was; Child had no violin ability. Still I let her scratch on because I figured I’d let the music teacher do whatever dirty work was needed.
By the end of the second week, she was practicing much less. While this made all the ears in the household happier, I knew it meant she was losing interest. The third week she didn’t practice at all, despite my reminders. There was a practice book in which she was supposed to record how much time she spent playing; I told her that if she wasn’t going to practice she had to be honest and put down “0” or it wouldn’t be fair to Mr. Brown, the music teacher. So she marked all the days with a “0” and off she went to school. When she came home that afternoon and she still had the violin, I was a little surprised but not nearly as surprised as when I looked at her practice book and where there had been “0”s that morning, there were now numbers on every day. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, one even said 30 minutes. She had erased the “0”s when she got to school and written in her false data.
While I appreciated her ingenuity, I couldn’t let this go, so I made an appointment with Mr. Brown, took her with me and had her tell him what she had done and then apologize. He was AMAZING. He was very kind and understanding. He asked her if she really wanted to continue and when she said “yes” (I just about fell on the floor), he suggested they give it another week. Of course she didn’t even pick up the violin the next week so we went in again and met with Mr. Brown to give him the violin back. She never looked back.
Is there something that you just don’t a talent for?