I've always said that the two things my kids wouldn't have a choice about growing up would be learning to swim and taking piano lessons. I've always thought those were two vital skills for a person to have. Swimming is obvious, since knowing how can mean the difference between life and death should one find oneself in a body of water. And piano? Well, I'm clearly biased, since that's what I do and all. I could make 1000 arguments for my kids taking piano lessons, but chief among them is that I want my children to know something about my profession and appreciate the importance of music (and, by extension, the arts in general) in our culture.
Come to think of it, swimming and piano lessons were two consistents throughout my childhood. No wonder I want the same for my children!
Swimming is great. We've joined a pool the last three summers or so, and my kids love taking lessons and I love swimming laps while they take lessons, and it's working out just...well...swimmingly.
The music stuff is a different story.
Thus far, my children don't seem especially musically adept. When Daniel started kindergarten this past fall, for example, we were treated to many tuneless renditions of "My Country 'Tis of Thee," which the kids sing every morning after the Pledge of Allegiance. His sense of pitch has improved somewhat, but I think we can safely say he's far from being the next Pavarotti. Anya's in the same boat. She does love to sing, the enthusiasm is certainly there, but even in simple tunes like the ABC song she inadvertently changes keys several times.
It's okay, really. I'm told by a friend who teaches music in an elementary school that sometimes that sense of pitch comes later (though I've heard plenty of kids younger than mine sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" with waaaay more accuracy, and I'm trying not to feel demoralized by that). It's fine if my kids aren't fabulously talented. I never was, in fact. It's just that by the time I started college I had decided that playing the piano was what I liked better than anything else, so that's what I majored in. I got by because I worked hard and could handle the academic side of things pretty well, too. (I kind of wish someone would have mentioned how finding a job later would be nearly impossible, and maybe suggested that I pick up a second major in something practical, but no one did. In fact, I ended up barely squeezing out a German major, which was fun and interesting and useful for the music stuff...but see above re: employability. I'm afraid that by now my Deutsch skills are pretty rusty, too.)
I'm getting totally sidetracked here. My point is this: Daniel is 6 years old, finishing up kindergarten, and I think it's about time he started piano lessons. The trouble is, he doesn't agree. I know better than to teach him myself; that would be a big, fat, huge mistake of epic proportions that would probably significantly damage our relationship. But even when I suggest that we meet some piano teachers and find a good one with a personality that clicks with his, he's resistant to the idea. "No, mom, I just don't want to," he says when I ask.
Are you ready for this? He'd rather play soccer. And the thing is, he'd probably be pretty good at it. Daniel is a fast runner, very coordinated, has good endurance and enough physical assertiveness that he'd probably do more than stare at the ball and wait for it to jump into the goal on its own like I did when I tried playing soccer at his age.
I haven't signed him up for anything soccer-related yet, partly because I'm not sure where to start but mostly because I'm not ready to go down that road. I know a lot of kids who play soccer, including a few who are quite good at it, and I know how it completely takes over their lives and their parents' lives. (Two of them are my piano students. Let me just say it is entirely clear to me where their priorities lie.)
After finding a promising lead on a good piano teacher in the area, I asked Daniel again what he thinks about piano lessons. "I'd rather play soccer," he replied. I died a little inside, but simply asked "Why?" He thought a minute before he replied, "Because then I can run around and stuff and that sounds more fun."
There it is. If you were a gregarious and active little boy, given the choice between running around with a bunch of friends and playing a sport that everyone knows about and appreciates with a crowd cheering you on, versus sitting alone at a piano, what would you choose? Soccer, of course. In what world is playing the piano more fun than soccer if you're a kid like Daniel? Bizarro world, maybe.
I'm so doomed. I don't want to be the pushy parent, I don't expect him to be some dedicated and great musician if that's not his destiny, but I want him to learn and it's killing me that I'm meeting resistance already before he's even started.