This has been a fascinating summer, musically, for me with my boys. There were lots of rehearsals and fantastic chamber music performed within their earshot. Several kids concerts were a big hit, as were some laid back church events involving both a playground and my viola & violin. I thought for sure these were perfect scenarios to pique the interest of Toby, age 4. His brother Isaac is still just 2, so I figured he was still more of a sponge than anything.
I should have known better. Isaac has taken the proactive role practically from birth, and it turns out that music is no different. The first time he grabbed my hand to march me upstairs declaring, "Go to work, Mama. Play the vi-lin now," I thought he meant he wanted to hear the theme from Bob the Builder for the zillionth time. Nope. He would not leave the studio without "playing" himself.
Fantastic as that was, what really has me smiling is that Toby had followed us upstairs and directed me to, "Do the Mr. Violin voice." That boy is now the proud owner of a foot chart, and knows how to use it. He can find his ear with the end button and holds the bow on his bow hook with the instrument in rest position. This is nothing short of miraculous to me; Toby is a young 4 year old boy. He has messed around with the violin a few times but he's easily frustrated if he thinks he's made any mistakes so he generally prefers other things so far, and I'm cool with that.
I know it was seeing Isaac have a "lesson" that got Toby going, and I have no qualms about continuing to use that. Isaac gets a mini-lesson (it turns into drawing with colored pencils in less than 60 seconds on most days), and that puts Toby in the mood for his own session. Many of my students have paired up over the years to have joint recitals, mentoring relationships, practice partners and plain old violin buddies. I remember my own years in school orchestra, youth symphony and all the festivals along the way. There really is nothing like the camaraderie of peers to inspire, goad and energize an interest in music.
Let's use it!
Here's a video of Toby with the foam violin we started out playing. It helped me avoid getting tense and saying, "No!" or "Wait, careful with that!" in these early lessons. He didn't seem to really mind that it doesn't make its own noises. As you can see, he provides those happily enough.