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Make a Joyful Noise

Campster tries out the trumpet
Our weekly "drum lessons" have continued, and have morphed into musical experiences of all kinds.  Campster wanted to try the trumpet.  Jor Man wanted to play the guitar.  So each week we each play whatever instruments we want to play.  It's spontaneous, and wonderfully unstructured.  And it doesn't look like any music classes I've ever been a part of.  But the kids are loving it and we are all learning to play and make music together.

I am learning a lot from Jon, the "teacher".  He will make suggestions to the kids about a rhythm to play or to try doing it "like this".  And the kids sometimes will do what he says.  But sometimes . . . well, sometimes they blow him off.  And the prideful mommy that I am - I feel ashamed of my kids.  Or is it of my parenting?  There, I said it.  I feel like they "should" obey him.

But I notice that Jon is not affected by their lack of obedience.  He simply goes with it.  He'll say "Oh, that's a cool rhythm you are doing.  Let's do that."  And then he'll tell them what their rhythm is called.  The kids trust him and see him as a co-creator and co-discover-er of this mysterious thing called music.

Each week I see improvement, not only in technique, but in willingness to try new things and enjoy the process.  If we are afraid to make "mistakes" and feel we have to it perfectly, it really takes the joy out of it.  I am reminded of John Holt's experience of learning the flute as an adult, which he writes about in How Children Fail.  He would get so tense and stressed at the expectations of the teacher, that he became unable to think and to remember how to play.  The only thing that relieved this was to make the very mistake that he most feared making.

Jor Man learning chords on his electric guitar
In an interview, he said:  "I started the flute at 34; I was a very bad learner, very tense, very scared of mistakes. I started the cello at 40. I was better, only played a couple of years because I was lecturing and had to quit. Took it up again at 50; I was a still better learner. I've taken up the violin now at 60, and I've gone much further in the first year - with 10 to 15 minutes a day on the violin - than I did in my first year on the cello. Some of it is a transfer but some of it is that I'm much happier at the whole business of learning something new. Much of it is just by hanging out with these little guys [children] and seeing what they do."

I try to remember this when I am tempted to "make" the kids learn.  It is counterproductive.  Kids learn best when they are free to learn, what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and how they want to learn it.

Sher Bear has a "microphone" that she employs as she sings out her original lyrics.  She worships with abandon.  She is a witness for Christ to the "teacher".  Not because she shares theology, but because the passion of her heart is Jesus.

Big Dad letting the neighbors know we're here.
Big Dad is getting to where he can keep a beat!   I am tempted to say that this is miraculous, because in the past he could not clap to the beat, even if he was watching others clap.  But I have always wondered how a person can play basketball; bouncing the ball, and measuring his steps to the basket, without rhythm?  He is also trying guitar for the first time.  I think we will all be surprised by his musical abilities.  He has never pursued music before.  As a child in catholic school, he sang in the chorus.  One of the nuns told him and another student just to mouth the words.  Really.  Talk about being more interested in the product than the process.

I would like us to work on a song to present at worship - perhaps a David Crowder song?  But I also don't want to hijack what is already working so well.  Perhaps I will learn my part, and invite others to join in as they like.  Now I want to decide: do I learn it on the piano, or the guitar?  High-class problem, I know.  There are so many wonderful ways to worship the Lord!

Wish you were here!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you read The Call to Brilliance by Resa Steindel Brown? I think you would be really interested in chapter on learning music, in particular the piano and the approach her "school" took.

Inigo Montoya

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