The Family that Practices Together…Makes More Music

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Where’d You Grow Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday SUNDAY?

I’ve grown musical…

Or at least my creative space has grown to include some musical instruments. Over the last week (give or take a few days) a transition has started to happen, in my room for sure, but in my mothering too.  I went from a drill-sergeant-instructive mother of a reluctant- french-horn-playing child (Middle Sprout)  to a flute-wielding music teacher of a music-loving-french-horn-enthusiast.

There comes a point in parenting when auto-pilot seems like a feasible approach.

“The kids are self-sufficient,” I justify.

“They are independent and competent, and they will most certainly be contributing members of society… if I just make sure they stay on track.”

That is a form of parenting… but it’s not teaching.

My husband is in the middle of his master’s courses in education, and we have talked regularly this past week about the responsibilities of teachers. I am challenged by so many of the things upon which we’ve agreed.

Teachers should be interested in knowing the children they teach. They should be challenged to teach TO that kid not AT them. Creativity needs to be fostered, not squelched, and that goes for both the instructor and the instructee.

The same line of thinking has gnawed at me with regard to coaching. I contend that coaches ARE teachers and by thinking like teachers it changes the entire approach to that role. Everything becomes a teaching moment.

So when I asked my daughter this week what I could do to help stop the fights over practicing her french horn, she answered, “I want you to help teach me.”

I sat with that request. I considered the fact that I’ve been trained as a teacher, that I consider myself a coach of people.. and I was failing her.

My first day with “music teaching” on my mind, I went in with Middle Sprout to listen to her practice. I realized that when she was in our front room, she could hear all the noise and music of her siblings in the basement. It was not conducive to her learning. So we moved.  I helped her to set up her stand, chair, and instrument in the writing space of my room. An appropriate space for creativity, I thought.

She played. I listened. She asked me to play with her. So I dusted off my flute case, relearned the fingerings so I could play them an octave higher than her, and the flute/ french horn duet began.

I have practiced with her every day since. We are both getting better, and she has come to remind me to play instead of waiting for me to harp reminders at her.

We had a visitor to our music practice, yesterday. Big Sprout toted his violin case…the one that seems to have shrunken in the last two years…and he bowed, plucked and strummed. A guitar would be a better match for the music he is trying to make, and I’ll be adding that instrument to the room.

Music is meant to be shared, and I had been asking our daughter to hide herself away and practice regularly on her own. I’m a mom, but I’m a teacher too, and even if my investment in our children makes my blogposts late…we all deserve more music.

In addition to my new role as a music teacher, I had an opportunity this week to interview and observe one of the most inspirational music teachers I have ever seen. I’ll be writing a full piece about the Drumline teacher and coach at Wellstone Elementary school in St. Paul, but I’ll leave you with a slideshow/audio clip of what it sounds like to motivate 30 sixth graders to make music together.

Here is an additional youtube clip of the Wellstone Drumline performing.

Music depends upon the instrument…but it depends more upon the teacher. Music is shaping the lives of those kids at Wellstone…and I’ve made a decision to let the movement of music be a shaping agent in our house too.

If you have a good choosing to grow story, I would love to help you share it.  Email me story ideas or links to choosingtogrow@meaganfrank.com.

Happy growing!

copyright 2012   Choosing to Grow                                                         Meagan Frank

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