Minor and Major (#458)

I called Charlie downstairs to practise after dinner. He sat right down at the keyboard and put the velcro-backed C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C onto the keys, starting at middle C. (His teacher has been gradually fading the size of the letters, with the thought that eventually no letter labels on the keys will be needed at all.)

Charlie read the notes and sped through the songs: Firefly, Happy Song. Before playing Rolling, I wrote the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 on the back of Charlie’s right-hand fingers. I placed my own hand gently under his as we turned to the new sheet that Charlie’s teacher had brought yesterday with 4/4 time marked and a treble clef. He grinned a little to see numbers on his fingers and looked intently at the music: “D, 1; E, 2; F, 3; G, 4.”

D, E, F, G, the keyboard sounded.

Charlie and I look alike—-when he was a baby, I used to tell my friends, “he’s me as a boy!”—but I have often found that there our similarities diverge. I love books, taught myself to read, prefer to stand on the sand and contemplate the waves. Charlie is doing his best to learn to read, prefers bike-riding to books, is a fish in the water. But I think we have found some common ground in these piano lessons.

From the time I was in the first grade until college, I took piano lessons and practising was a sine qua non, a part of my day. Especially when I was younger, I did not like practising at all and tried to find creative ways to explain to my mom that 25 minutes of practising was more or less the half-hour I was supposed to do. When I was in high school I decided that I wanted to do more than prepare for recitals and spent hours, hours, memorizing Bach and Brahms and Chopin. When baby Charlie was able to sit (finally; Charlie reached every “developmental milestone” not according to the “schedule”), I loved to have him in my lap while I played lullabies from a book my sister gave me.
And now here I have been spending some time every day—a little more every week, as the piano teacher adds songs and exercises—helping Charlie practise the piano. Helping Charlie, smiling, focused, curious, practise the piano.

“Play C Major scale and that’s it,” I said as Charlie got to the end of his music book.

“C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. B, A, G, F, E, D, C.”

Charlie, just as I did as a girl, is taking piano lessons, practising, playing. A minor triumph, perhaps, but it sure sounds good to me.

2 Responses to “Minor and Major (#458)”
  1. Christine says:

    Kristina, I love, love, love hearing about Charlie playing the piano! When we were initially asked by our lead therapist what skills we wanted to focus on with Oliver it was, hands down, to ride a bike that we thought was most important. She thought that was a rather odd choice, and even though it took us many months, it was — and continues to be — the most rewarding thing ever to see how much he enjoys riding his bike down the sidewalk everyday. I know you and Jim know what I mean. And I suspect that the same thing will be true of Charlie learning to play the piano.

  2. Yes, that is exactly it! And when you see your child _doing_ what seemed beyond impossible—peddling on his own, playing the keys: Talk about something more beautiful than the rainbow.

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