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Are your kids musical?

I don’t know if I’ve ever written about this but often we are asked, “Are your kids musical?”

I think all kids are musical.  We don’t make children like music in the same way we try to convince them that vegetables are great, kids just love music.

Jason and I are normal parents; we think our kids are amazing with potential to excel at anything they try…but that doesn’t mean our kids are exceptionally musical.  Mags takes piano lessons but guess what, she hates to practice.  And really, I don’t want to make her play.  June has great pitch for a 3 year old (but she has some listening issues since she never seems to hear me when I ask her to put her shoes on or brush her teeth or stop hitting her sister with the mini broom.)  Mags has incredible focus but also gets frustrated unless she can perfect something.  So, the last thing I want to do is sit with her at the piano while she whines and cries about not playing a song perfectly.  That’s not what music is to me.

Here it is, I don’t care if my kids are good at music.  What I do want, is for them to experience the emotional outlet that music provides, the freedom.  Finding that changed my life.

Surrounding them with music is enough for me at this point.  They see how much we like certain songs, how we practice, how we talk about music, we take them to shows, they come on tour.  We video tape them when they make up dance routines and we tell them we love their made up songs (we do).  That to me, covers more  ground than making sure they will be skilled musicians.

Music appreciation and Tibetan/cultural music 101:

We just went to the bomb fest and the girls saw one of their favorite bands, Free Energy.  They danced and then covered their t shirts in chocolate ice cream before getting a sound massage with some gongs and tibetan bowls.

Solo performance , Tamborine improv, and Intro to Stage Diving:

Last week we got to be guests at Elizabeth Mitchell’s show at the Eric Carle museum.  Mags has no fear of singing solos and I had no idea, but she can pick up rhythms on the fly and plays a mean tamborine.

June said “I need to go poop” into her microphone and then launched off the stage after I told her not to (at least all the people had already cleared out before her stage dive)

Mags played with their  “apple-lele” after the show and wrote a song in a few minutes, and then had to, of course, play it for Liz.  I know she is starting to get that feeling.  Usually it comes from her spending time with herself and an instrument…not playing it correctly but just creating and being free and I know that’s exactly how I was.

Sidenote-We’ve been long time Ida fans.  Elizabeth and her husband Daniel are in the band Ida.  (I’m talking “fans” since the time Jason and I first met)  and it’s hard to believe we were asked to bring our family to join theirs on stage for the show.  If you are not familiar with children’s folk artist Elizabeth Mitchell, then please go here.  Also, go buy my favorite Ida record “I Know About You.”

So, with all this music education (via just hanging out) this happened:

A couple of days ago Magnolia went to “bring a friend day” at her friend’s girls choir.  They spend an hour playing musical games (ear training) and music theory  and then they sing together for the parents.  It was great but I had no idea that I would actually…witness my daughter unable to contain herself while singing.

While the rest of the choir watched the director and sang beautifully, my little 6 year old held her hands up in the air during crecsendos, tilted her head while singing and I saw it…she felt it.  I kept thinking, she’s not like that.  She’s a rule follower.  If someone told her to stand still while singing, she would have.  But for those 2 songs, she was free, she was feeling it and she was getting from music what I get from music.  I don’t even know if she knew the words or was on key but it didn’t matter.

And then she ran over to me and confirmed what I saw firsthand. She shouted, “Mom, I HAVE to do this.”

And I said, “I know.”

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