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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

One & two &...

"Musicians say that a flute can do anything!" --Jean Craig

We are moving into that time of the year. The initial foray has been made, the battle lines have been drawn & it is down to the hard slog.

Ditz has been tackling her flute practice in 10 minute increments. Trying to hit the low C & the high B are giving her a headache & though she can manage both notes she has new scales to master that include them & scales have always been Ditz's downfall.

Jan is tackling the scales differently this year. Rather than hoping Ditz might apply herself to the boringness of rote learning he is showing her how the system works hoping that understanding will lead to application. Hm. The thing is Ditz does have some sort of a grasp on this {Thanks, Alison} but fails to think before she toots more often than not. Or she thinks of something else & gives answers that are so off the wall one can only wonder.

Just like I like sitting in at theatre rehearsals & choir rehearsals & dress rehearsals for the ballet I like siting in on Ditz's flute class. I like listening to the way a piece of music is unravelled note by painful note then painstakingly reconstructed ~ & it is very painful. Ditz won't count & Jan is a martinet about giving each note its correct value. I like watching Ditz's face grow intent, fierce with concentration, & I like the new way she has of talking shop with her teachers. It tells me she is very comfortable musically, that she understands enough to discuss & question. What's more I am seeing her pick up her mistakes when they happen & discuss what went wrong & how to correct it. She is doing this with violin as well.

The violin has driven Ditz nutty from day one but she won't give it up. There is something about it that captivates her despite its difficulties & though her practise is sporadic, flute being far easier & far less demanding musically, she has plugged along. She really enjoys her lessons & her teacher, Althea, has always said violin is a group instrument so has played with her; really good for Ditz's counting! Twelve months ago when Ditz got her first spontaneous vibrato she ensured it never happened again. The strings vibrating under her fingers like that made her skin crawl. Althea has waited patiently & is now very gently encouraging vibrato. Ditz still isn't keen but she's at least trying for it now. I think it's a good thing we never went for an oboe or clarinet. If Ditz is like this about vibrato she'd never have got on with a reed vibrating in her mouth!

Now we begin to see the framework grow flesh. No longer are the notes limping uncertainly after each other. Now Ditz begins working on her timing & pace. The difficult passages are isolated & rehearsed separately, slowly at first until she can play them at pace without faltering. Passages get strung together. By term four this should be at exam level even though Ditz has opted not to do her exams this year.

Five years ago, when Ditz had her first piano lesson, she whined the whole way through. "I can't. It's too hard. I'll never be able to do this." It took a lot of hand holding, a lot of encouragement, to convince Ditz that she would get better, that what seemed so hard would one day be easy. I still see her get that look in her eye when faced with a new piece of music & then you can practically see her cogs going round & round. She has done this. She can do this again. As Sian has always told her, not many people become musicians because it is really hard work!For a child for whom so much musically has come far too easily this is an invaluable lesson in persevering... & we are starting to reap the rewards.


seekingmyLord said...

Different young musicians on different continents with different instruments learning different techniques playing different music, yet the complaints are analogous. Oh, yes. The counting thing is also not the Princess' thing--it has been my breathing exercise for four years now! (Rolling my eyes.)

Ganeida said...

Well, I can't count musically either & am happy if it sounds good to me. lol. On the other hand I can now pick wrong notes & screwy timing & unfortunately the flute is one of those instruments that can be heard all over the house no matter how quietly Ditz practises. Come to think of it ~ our neighbours can hear Ditz practising all up & down the street!

kimba said...

Is it really FIVE years? Surely not.

Ganeida said...

Kimba: it must be close. Ditz was eight when she started & she's nearly 14 now. Time really does fly!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ganeida,
My husband doesn't read or play music, but it's amazing, he can pick a wrong note a mile off. He thoroughly enjoys hearing the children play, though!