Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” has been one of the soundtracks of our summer.
My now 10 year old daughter begged for piano lessons for about a year before I actually found her a teacher and signed her up for lessons. I had been following the rule that she should be able to copy a rhythm and sing on pitch before starting an instrument. While I still think that is good advice- as a general guideline- I now know that there are other cues. At 5, Amelia could copy a rhythm, but was not really able to always sing perfectly on pitch. She did understand music enough to pick out a tune on the piano that she had learned in music class. I realized that carrying a tune is both a function of recognizing different notes AND of have the musculature to make your body do what your brain told it to. The reason for waiting until a child can carry a tune and copy a beat is that before that, they might not be able to recognize when they were making a mistake. All this is to say, that, as in most parenting conundrums, you need to follow your instincts. I was quite sure that Amelia would be able to tell when she hit a wrong note. Most of the time, she could. Now she has been taking piano for 4 years. She plays Bach, Mozart, The Beatles, and this summer, her teacher is allowing her to take on a piece she has wanted to play for most of those 4 years. Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” has been one of the soundtracks of our summer. In June, the first half was played at one tempo and the second half sometimes was interrupted by frustration and tears. In July, the first half is at one tempo and the second half at a slower one, but the song continues to its end. I am guessing that by August we’ll get to hear the whole song- both hands, all at the perfect tempo. I can’t wait.