Are you familiar with the Suzuki method? I wasn’t. Oh sure, I’d heard of it—all those cute little violin prodigies, and something about kindergarteners learning how to play by ear that sounded impressive—but I didn’t know many details until I signed my kid up for piano lessons with a Suzuki teacher.
It turns out that Suzuki is great for kids. And really, really rough on parents.
Want to drop your kid off at a lesson once a week and pick him up an hour later? Nope. Because you’ll be sitting there during the lesson, watching and taking notes and cringing at each flaw that you were supposed to work on that week. How about listening to your kid practice in another room while you check your emails? No, that will not be your life. You’ll be in the room, listening, watching, helping.
I won’t bore you with the other details except to say that you practice the same songs many times and by the end the kids turn into tiny musical geniuses. What they do is incredible. They can switch hands and play the right hand part with the left hand and vice versa. They can play songs by heart, and they can do things like play the songs backwards, and they can improvise. They can switch keys in mid-song. It’s astonishing. And they all can do it.
Halfway through our first year I realized my kid had developed perfect pitch. It really could not have been going better.
But there I was. Night after night I sat in the chair, listening patiently to my seven-year-old run through the same songs. Twinkle in every possible variation. Honeybee. Cuckoo. Lightly Row. London Bridge. Mary Had a Little Lamb. Long, Long Ago.
All these songs, night after night. And me just sitting there, smiling and nodding and making mild suggestions.
The boredom creeping in. The tension building. Waiting for something new. But no. Back to the Twinkles. Variation A. Variation B. Variation C. Variation D. Honeybee. Cuckoo. Lightly Row…more Twinkles…
Until finally one night I walked out in the middle of practice. I went to my office, closed the door, and turned on the computer.
That was the night I bought a bass guitar, an instrument I did not play, because I needed something new to happen.