I am sitting on the floor while my three year old son hides behind me. We are at the music class my wife signed us up for. He has no interest in participating no matter how much I cajole.
Music is an important part of my wife’s life as an experienced and talented flautist. I enjoy music, and once played the banjo, but I am in no way musically talented. I do a pretty good job with selecting songs on Pandora but beyond that I don’t know much.
A recent article in the New York Times touted the benefits of an education in music and how many successful people have that in common with their pedagogical background. My wife had told me this a few years ago when we first enrolled our then three-year old daughter in a Suzuki program. My wife is serious about this business. When she told me of the class I joked that our daughter was too young to learn to ride a motorcycle; she did not see the humor.
My daughter now plays relatively well on the violin. Her commitment though is less than stellar. She has to be poked and prodded to practice. When she does, she sticks to the songs she knows, unwilling to try harder material. My wife has patience with this and assures me that it is the long haul that matters—not the day-to-day fight to practice. I trust her but wonder how wise an investment this really is.
All this is going through my head as I wonder why I am struggling to get my son to engage in this music appreciation class. He is not appreciating it. He lies on the ground, won’t participate and goes boneless when I try to pick him up to be part of the group.
There are glimpses of success. Once in a while the teacher gets his attention and he engages in something that interests him.
When I learned the banjo, I wanted to go from awful to talented without much effort. I did not want to go through the middle ground of mediocrity that entail years of practice. So I gave up and lost out on the education that hard work to master something provides. I don’t want that for my kids.
My wife understands the dedication it takes to master an instrument. She has played the flute for over thirty years and continues to improve. She knows the ups and downs and realizes that what our kids need is for us to be steady and to keep them committed, no matter how much they don’t want to participate.
I am learning, and my son is working, toward getting up off of the floor and partcipating in something he has no idea he will some day appreciate. Let’s see who learns the most. It might just be me.