Sunday, May 15, 2016

My Kingergartner Pianist

We started Nia in piano lessons when she was three years old and now at nearly six I wanted to share a bit of an update on her progress...

I was around the same age when I started Suzuki piano lessons which influenced my decision to find Nia a Suzuki teacher. We started with a fantastic teacher in Jersey City who noticed Nia took more to the violin at first. We decided to continue to pursue piano as it's such a flexible instrument for a basic understanding of music. From dance, writing music or singing, Uka and I agreed it would be the best foundation at this time especially because we have my childhood piano

Nia gave us a bit of push back at first especially during practice if I was in attendance. It was a group lesson with about 10 minutes of private instruction. Uka and I kept a nonchalant, no-pressure attitude which served us well into Nia taking piano lessons during her school day in Pre-K 4. This energy kept up going into the summer before Kindergarten with her in-school Pre-K 4 teacher recommending private lessons as Nia was advanced. I liked this arrangement so that I wouldn't have to shuffle the kids around and could play with Grayson in his room while Nia had her lesson. 

Once Kindergarten started we hit a bit of a wall: it was just such a long day for Nia. While she had full days in Pre-K 3 and part of Pre-K 4, once we moved to NH and she went to a 3-day, full-day program it was a lot for her to go back to the 5, full-day program in Kindergarten. By the time we got to piano lessons after school Nia was worn out - there were many tears and a bunch of attitude. Concerned about Nia having animosity towards piano lessons, I decided to cancel after about a month, and she went on a 6 month hiatus until we resumed almost two months ago. I sit down from time to time to play the piano and one of these times Nia heard me play and started crying saying she wanted to be able to play like me. I told her she'd need to resume her lessons if she'd like to learn. She told me she was ready so we signed her back up at a local studio which let us do a partial semester as a trial. Nia and the teacher hit it off, partly, I think because she and the teacher share the same name!

Nia smiles as she skips off to her weekly lesson, and the studio has a play area for Grayson to use while she's in her lesson. Grayson's also of the age that he's starting to be inspired by Nia - he tries to play along-side her, gently tapping the keys and making up his own songs (or even playing well known songs like this one). 

I kept all my music from my childhood piano lessons, and when I saw my Wizard of Oz songbook dated from when I was 8 1/2 years old, I decided to let Nia use it. I played a song from it, and she was so excited because she recognized the song and asked me to teach her. There were a few tears at first, but she persevered. I knew her elementary school's annual talent show was coming up and told her she could play "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" for it. At first she refused, but I explained that she had plenty of time to learn it and she did! 

This past Friday she gave her first full-song performance on the piano in front of an audience. The day of her performance I had a casual approach: I didn't make her rehearse and reminded her to take a deep breath beforehand, tell herself that she is the best and to bow at the end. I have to admit that I was totally the stage mom who grabbed her sheet music at the last minute,  but she didn't need it. She was one of 35 acts and 4 piano solos - the only one to memorize her piano piece:

I'm so proud of Nia, and I know this was an important confidence-boosting moment that she'll remember. We plan to continue with piano lessons. 

No pressure!

Have you or your child taken music lessons? What was your experience?