Monday, May 18, 2009

Musically Inclined

Thank you, my friends, for all of the lovely and encouraging comments about Francie's piano recital. We are pretty proud of how hard she works to play the piano.

I think she had mixed emotions about her recital being posted on her old mom's blog, and I have realized that I need to start asking her permission to share some things about her life. I genuinely don't think she minds me writing about her, especially considering how she'll laugh and yell out "That's for the blog!" when something hilarious/disgusting/mortifying/crazy happens here at home. But I can see that I owe her the courtesy of asking now.

One one hand she was a little embarrassed to know that people could watch her play the piano (even though no one could actually see her, thanks to some stellar videography).

On the other hand, I could tell that she was thrilled to know that we thought so much of her recital that we shared it with our friends. She felt grown up, and at nine and three-fourths years of age, she is all about finding things that make her feel grown up (like perfume and lip balm) in a house full of little kids.

To answer a question from Colleen in the comments, Francie has been taking lessons for three years this month. When she started we didn't own a piano, but we had an electric keyboard. It worked out fine for a while, but when we saw that she had a knack for music, we knew we would have to get a real piano.

Francie also started playing the flute in the school band this year, and next year she says she wants to add the glockenspiel to her repertoire. Well sure, doesn't everyone leap directly from the flute to the glockenspiel?

I guess I shouldn't talk. I am the woman who has only ever played one instrument in her life -- if by "instrument" you mean "cowbell in my high school band."

Admit it: you've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. (Oh, Christopher Walken, you slay me).

Coming up next in her performance schedule is her school's spring show on Tuesday night. It is billed as a "musical comedy in one act," and she will be playing the Mexican Hat Dance on her recorder while her classmates dance.

And let me tell you, there is nothing like hearing four bars of Mexican Hat Dance played seven thousand times on a recorder. Really, nothing like it.

All that aside, I have to say that music lessons have been a great thing for Francie. Not only has she discovered a love of music and a talent for it, but it has taught her discipline and you know what they say about music instruction helping with math and other subjects? It's all true.

Another plus? Francie can help me with my choir music now. I can sing, but reading music is not my strong suit, as evidenced by my choice of instrument for the school band.

I would be lying if I said that I didn't feel a happy glow when I see my child glance over my choir music and then begin to play it, or when I see her in church with the hymnal open on her lap "playing" the song.

I'll have to bear all these benefits in mind because lately Fiver has been saying that he wants to take piano lessons. (Are you ready for that, Mrs. S?)

I'm not starting him for a little while, and who knows how long he'll want to continue, but I won't discourage him from it either.

Fiver is musical, but in a very different way than Francie. Maybe a musician can explain it better than me, but Fiver seems to approach music from a purely mathematical aspect. Does that make sense?

He has excellent timing, and I hate to even say this out loud, but if he can learn to tolerate the noise, he might make a great drummer. His count is perfect.

He also has a lovely voice, with good pitch, and he sings quite a bit at home, but he really dislikes singing with other people. His voice immediately takes on a very flat tonal quality and he covers his ears while he's singing with others.

You can only hear his real voice when he sings alone, and you can only hear him sing alone if he thinks you aren't listening. You have to sneak up on him and catch him unaware. It's like trying to catch a musical leprechaun or something.

Francie approaches music from a much more emotional place. You can hear it in her dynamics when she's playing. You can hear it in her singing. You can even see it -- when she plays something jazzy, she moves her body at the piano bench. We like to say she's gettin' her Stevie Wonder on.

Seeing them makes me wonder what musical qualities Sally and Bun will develop. I have a feeling that Sally will be able to shake a mean tambourine at the very least, so maybe Rob and I should start saving for an old multi-colored school bus now.

Hey, college doesn't pay for itself, pretty babies . . .


  1.'s eerie how similar Francie and Fiver are to E and A!!! We've also discovered A has perfect pitch but the "noise" bothers him. E's on the flute and piano too! Maybe we could go in on the multicolored bus! :-)

  2. What a blessing to have little musicians in your home! We tried piano with FB but he just wasn't that interested. Now he is taking guitar and seems to really like that. He is one of the few his age that still likes choir at church so I think he will always like music but I don't see a multicolored bus in his future.

    Tigercub,on the other hand, reminds me of August in the movie August Rush (have ya seen it, I highly recommend it!). Every time he hears music he puts his little hands up and starts "directing", although it usually quickly changes to baby dancing which is equally as cute!

  3. That's cool!

    I didn't think all my kids were musical until recently. Big Brother has been teaching himself the guitar, much like I did in high school, only I didn't have the Internet to help me. He also has hijacked my banjo and sometimes I hear him working on that. He doesn't sing, though. Middle Sister has taken keyboard, spent some time singing in choir, and is halfheartedly teaching herself guitar. Little Brother LOVES to sing, requires a hymnal at Mass, and who knows what he'll wind up playing. I know he'll play something. Little Brother sings when he's happy (especially when he thinks no one is paying attention.) He almost can't help it.

  4. Wouldn't it be awesome if music were a more lucrative (and stable) career choice? My oldest also has a gift. He took lessons for about five years and then his piano teacher stopped teaching and he didn't want another. And then we found out he had really been faking a lot. He plays by ear and can barely read music. He's just really good at playing by ear. His teacher was really helping him by teaching him how to find the chord to go with the melody. And now he can play almost any music he hears, by ear. I keep telling him he needs to find a job playing piano for parties. Ha! Maybe Fiver can play by ear -- ever tried?

  5. The Juje7:57 AM

    There is nothing like listening to your kids playing and singing! (I realized I really sounded like Gee Gee there, lol) I vote that you guys get that multicolored bus, as long as I get to be the cool aunt who does their wardrobes! I mean, hey, if it worked for Beyonce to have her whole family in her group and her mom doing her can work for us, haha!

  6. I love music. I have very little musical ability. In fact, when I am singing at church and holding Butterfly she taps my mouth and tells me to stop! Brutal honesty I guess. :) I hope my kids take after Husband, who plays guitar and sings and can play some piano by ear.

  7. GeeGee9:09 AM

    I am so grateful that you and Rob have given the gift of music to my angels...they all have beautiful voices, but I must admit that Fiver's deep, strong voice has always amazed me. He sings perfectly on key...I hope he always feels comfortable enough to sing when he wants...Francie has the soprano, and my Sally has a beautiful tone...her voice reminds me of bells...(don't ask, but it is the only way I can explain it) We shall see what Bun adds to the mix when he decides to chime in.
    By the way,blogger friends-I must tell you that these children come from a long line of musical people. Aimee and Rob both have beautiful singing voices and Aimee's maternal grandmother, aunts,uncles,and cousins are outstanding either in voice, instruments, or music teachers/band conductor, etc.

  8. Good for you for encouraging your kids' musical interests! I hear too many parents on a daily basis say things like, "I don't know why we are buying this, little Johnny is only going to quit as soon as it gets hard", and they say that right in front of little Johnny.

    I'm all for putting Fiver in lessons. With the right teacher (which it seems like you have a good one!), he will blossom and it will do him so much good. First grade is a great time to start lessons - most teachers I talk to say that is the perfect age, with some exceptions, of course.

    Keep up the good work!

  9. Music is good for the soul- and no, it isn't often a lucrative career choice, but in this economy, what is? Play on, Francie, play on, and perhaps the elusive leprechaun will emerge one day- Sing it, Fiver!!!

  10. Great blog! :)

    I loved all of it!

    Also, my oldest is 7 3/4. haha--kids are so funny!

  11. Gosh, it just hit me... I should start asking Madeleine Sophie what is okay to share too! They are getting old enough to care!

  12. i bet Uncle John would be glad to be the sound guy ;-)

  13. Come on get happy!

    That's going to be running through my head all day long now! :)

  14. yay! tell francie i said: once you go glockenspiel, you never go back! ; )


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