Read The Notes, Child.

My 7-year-old has been taking piano lessons for about a year and a half. She’s got a good ear, not extraordinary, but good enough to play pieces without having to rely on reading the notes. She uses the trial and error approach. Try a note, if doesn’t sound right, try another until something rings true. It’s not the most efficient method of learning a new song. She’s perfectly capable of reading music, but chooses not to. She’d rather feel her way through, mess around and experiment than read the notes.

Her trial and error method really bugs me.

My internal monologue goes something like this: There’s a map right in front of you, child, read the map, the map has all the answers, why try this road and that road when the map is right there telling you what notes to play? You’re going to end up being one of those people who refuses to read the Ikea manual before assembling your furniture or follow a recipe or read the fine print on a contract or even read the contract. You’re going to end up taking shortcuts, aren’t you, shortcuts that will end up consuming more time and energy. You’re going to jump right in without assessing risks, make a trail of mistakes, and say oh-well to the consequences. You’re going to end up with a tattoo you regret. Read the notes, child.

When I talked to my husband about this, he said, “That sounds like you.”

Guess who else that sounds like? My father. His trial-and-error spirit drove him to uproot his wife and two kids from their home to immigrate to another country with very little English, little money, and a map that was nothing but a vague sensation in his gut. It’s unnerving to have a father like that. It’s also unnerving having a daughter like that. It’s even more unnerving to be like that.

Am I trying to correct the me in my daughter?

Sure. My kids are like little mirrors reflecting the strong and the weak in me. Most of the time, I like what I see. Sometimes, I don’t and want to make adjustments. However, there is a little voice in me that says to let them be. Leave them alone. They’re not you. They’re not mirrors. They are themselves. Yes, they are themselves, but they’re not islands. They’re deeply entangled and connected to me and the world in ways I will never fully understand. I legally have an 18-year window of influence over them, and I want to do everything I can to make sure my daughters grow to be better than I am, better at trial-and-error, better at following their guts, and yes, even better at reading the notes.

Published in: on September 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm  Comments (8)  
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