How To Make It Fair.

If you have more than one child, there is a a good chance that one day you are going to have to choose between them. And the more kids you have, the greater the likelihood of that day will come sooner, rather than later.

Unbelievably, we’ve managed to avoid having to make any difficult choices so far.

A few years ago I had to choose which children to take back home to NZ with me, when I went to say goodbye to my grandfather. I could only take two for practical reasons; The eldest two were 5 and 7, the youngest two were 3 and 1. It wasn’t a difficult choice, I took the older ones and the younger ones don’t even remember there was a time they were left behind.

And there was the time that DH had to go to a violin concert for DD1, while I went to watch DD3’s end of term dance class ‘show’ at the same time. Neither of the girls seemed to mind, as long as they had one parent each to watch them. We each videoed the concert we attended and after watching his video, I have to say I think I got the better deal.  read more

Exams, A School Fair And A Hamster, At Last.

Today was always going to be a busy one.

This morning, I took DD’s 1 and 2 down to Wembley for their Piano Exams. Their last practices yesterday went well, apart from a tantrum by DD1 about a wrong note in one of her pieces. But we went on and did her sight reading, then came back to the troublesome piece and managed to sort it out.

They had a quick run through this morning, then off we went in the car. I had an anxious moment when we got stuck in some horrendous traffic, but managed to find a short cut and we got there on time. read more

Pre Exam Nerves by Proxy.

On Saturday, DD’s 1 and 2 will sit their piano exams. DD1 is sitting her Grade 3 and DD2 is sitting her Grade 1. The tension in our house is almost unbearable; everyone’s nerves are stretched and the slightest thing is setting them off.

We’ve kept the whole thing as low key as possible, but they have had to practice  hard and spend a lot of time lately learning scales and doing aural tests. They know that they will fail if they do badly. Piano exams aren’t like written exams; if you get off to a bad start, you can’t rub it out and try again but simply have to forge ahead.  read more

Piano Lessons For Parents.

My post today has been inspired by this blog, which chronicles one woman’s determination to start playing her viola again after over a decade. It’s filled with personal anecdotes, news, information and video clips of interest to anyone even mildly musical.

When you are a mum, especially one of the Stay At Home variety, it’s easy to fall into the trap of living your life through your kids. I spend so much time running my 4 around, I could easily kid myself that I’m having myself a social life.

But there came a time when I realised I needed to do something for myself. A hobby, if you like. And one of my ‘extra-curricular’ activities is playing the piano. read more

Pia Pia Piano.

My two eldest DD’s, aged 8 and almost 10, are learning the piano. And sometimes, they would rather not be.

Before school broke up, we were in a nice little routine. 20-30 minutes of piano practice after school, every day, except for lesson day. There was very little fuss about it, they accepted it as something they had to do.

Both girls are also learning second instruments at school; DD1 plays the double bass and DD2 plays the trombone. I don’t make them practice these as often as the piano at this point; 10 minutes 3 times a week seems to suffice. So they probably do 40 mins of music practice and homework a day, all told.

By the way, yes, you read that right. I do ‘make’ them practice. read more

Music practice.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve slunk upstairs for nana-nap. Obviously, I haven’t got around to sleeping yet but I don’t feel like tackling the Mt Everest of washing to be folded in the corner of the room, so I’ve fired up the laptop instead.

DH is downstairs supervising the older two girls doing their music practice. DD1 is 9 and has just passed her grade 2 piano and is also learning the double bass at school. If you are considering letting your child learn such a large instrument ( it’s taller than I am) make sure you have some means of getting it to lessons. Ours doesn’t fit in the car with all 4 children; I’m going to have to put it on the roof rack if we ever all have to go anywhere with it. The other thing about the bass is that it’s very expensive to repair if you ever break it ( yes, I’m speaking from experience). So make sure you insure your instrument, even if you are hiring it. DD2 is 7 and is about to sit her grade 1 piano. She’s learning the trombone at school.

Both of them are at the stage where they can play recognisable music on the piano and they like to playing simple duets together. I  find myself enjoying listening to them play. But they are still at the beginners stage of the trombone and bass and these practice sessions are not so pleasant to listen to.

I think DD1 and 2 are pretty typical kids in that often they don’t feel like practicing. So I have to make them. Some days are better than others and they fight about who will go first. Other days I often think it’s a wasted effort as there is very little practice going on amongst the wailing and whining. They practice their piano daily and it takes as long as it takes, sometimes 10 mins, sometimes 30. DD1 was practicing for close to an hour when preparing for her exam. I keep an eye on their notebooks to make sure they aren’t skipping anything. They practice their other instruments 4 times a week and I find this harder to enforce.

I think I’m quite strict about making them practice in comparison to some of my friends, but I’m nothing when compared to the lady in this article . She states her children practice music for up to 3 hours a day! I don’t know about my kids, but I know I wouldn’t have the stamina to crack the whip for that long. I may supervise my children doing their practice or homework but it’s supervision from a distance; I don’t want to feel like I’m doing the work along with them.

I do feel a bit guilty about making my children do their music practice or not letting them quit an activity they begged to take up, but have since grown tired of, before the year is up. But although I want my children to be happy, I also want them to know that they need to work hard at things sometimes. Often you do have to put some boring slog to master a new skill to the point where you enjoy it.

But I also think it’s important that they get to go to sleepovers and have playdates, be in school plays, watch TV and play computer games as well. My children don’t need to be the best at everything but  I will do what I can to help them be the best they can be. Then the rest is up to them.