I haven’t written about our Suzuki violin experience in a long time, which is funny because it has sort of taken over our lives this year. On the afternoon of our second-to-last violin performance of the year, I thought it was appropriate to share a little about this year in music for us.
Our violin teacher extraordinaire, Kathleen, moved into our city this year and so started a full on violin program this year. This includes not only our weekly private lessons, monthly Suzuki group lessons, but also weekly beginner orchestra for Micah, and numerous performances.
Kathleen set about setting up programs and challenges to motivate families to practice more and commit more to learning their instrument. She added the memorization of poems to the tasks for us to accomplish. And perhaps most ambitious of all, she asked us to commit to trying a “100 Day Challenge”.
According to Kathleen, this challenge has simple rules:
No skipping days
You must play the violin for 5 minutes every day
IF the sun hasn’t come up, there is still time
So…we did the 100 day challenge. That is right, I want some applause. I successfully managed to force my children to practice the violin for 100 days without skipping a day. Although on Day 99 (!!!!), I was on call and Tim forgot and had to WAKE UP Ariel from a deep sleep to practice! (Otherwise she would have had to start over at day 1 and I wasn’t sure I had it in me). The result of the challenge was pretty incredible, I have to admit it. The progress was amazing. And after about 30 days, they were resigned to practicing everyday so there was no more arguing or negotiating to practice “tomorrow”.
Anyway, I could tell you (and likely will at a later date) about the benefits to my children, the community we have developed with other families, etc., but what I most want to share is how F sharp has become like another four letter word for me.
I don’t know why, but F sharp seems to be a difficult note to remember for the beginning violinist. Ariel has made incredible progress this year. Up until December, she couldn’t play a single song and now she is just flying through the songs. But there is something about F sharp. It is in the very first song you learn (Twinkle Star), the first scale (A scale), and repeated many times. She never remembers. OK, that is an exaggeration. But I feel like I am saying “F sharp. F sharp!, F SHARP!!!” about 100 times each practice session. I am totally annoyed about this. And I seem to forget that I am saying this to a, until recently, 4-year-old violinist!
The worst moment of realization came when I was trying to take a video of Ariel playing Twinkle Star, for Nanny. I took the video and then she wanted to see it. And there it was: recorded proof of horrible mommy-hood. My voice, sounding extremely bored, irritated, and annoyed all at the same time: F sharp. F sharp! F SHARP!!!!
So yes, my 2 older kids are fairly accomplished violinists now, having played at many solo and group recitals having survived the 100 day challenge. And it all looks so pretty and nice from the outside. But in the background, is some kind of tiger mom yelling F sharp. And thinking many other four letter words in her head “why can’t she remember that note!!!!”.
And so we are off tonight to the orchestra concert….