The Next Generation of Music Lovers
As the last notes of the Overture to Mozart’s “The Impresario” faded away, my first grader leaned over to me and whispered, “That’s called diminuendo, Mommy.”
No, my daughter is not a music prodigy. She is, however, a music lover, and very knowledgeable for a girl of her age. Not only can she explain diminuendo and crescendo, but she can name all 104 instruments in the orchestra and in what family they each belong. She can tell you which instruments are the highest and which are the lowest, which instruments sit where in the orchestra and the difference between 3/4 and 4/4 time. How did she learn of all this? It was a combination of music lessons, a great elementary school music program and taking advantage of Chicago’s best cultural opportunities.
Music is clearly important to our family. My mother-in-law grew up in a musical family, and is a serious amateur pianist. My husband and his brother played instruments through high school. And when my daughter was born, my mother-in-law expressed her wish to buy us a piano when the time came to start taking lessons.
My daughter started piano lessons in kindergarten and we were fortunate enough to find a teacher who specializes in young children. Our piano teacher is patient, nurturing and most of all, determined to keep piano lessons fun. It is no surprise, then, that my daughter loves to play piano. She is proud of the progress she has made over the past 18 months and to be carrying on this family tradition. Although I occasionally have to nag her about it, she practices every day with a pretty cheerful attitude.
My daughter’s enjoyment of her piano lessons has been reinforced by the top-notch music program at her elementary school. In a time when many school districts are cutting their music programs, my daughter and her classmates attend music class three times a week. Our wonderful principal has clearly made music a priority. While my daughter’s knowledge of crescendo and diminuendo may come from her piano lessons, her extensive knowledge of the orchestra and different musical styles comes from her school music class. Even if she had not learned to read music in her piano lessons, she would have learned before she graduated from her elementary school, where the fourth graders have their own orchestra. We did not pick this elementary school for the music program – who knows enough to do that? But I am grateful for it every day.Continued on the next page