Sunday, March 11, 2018

Piano Fiasco

A few days ago, Calder melted down because he could not play a new piano piece.

I must confess I was largely at fault. I didn't hide my exasperation that he couldn't recognise the basic high C note. And that he couldn't see that two notes on the same line means he should play the same sound twice. I forgot often that Calder cannot sight-read.

Last Thursday, Calder's piano teacher remarked that Calder must have been working very hard to be able to grasp one song within one week. Truth is Calder doesn't have homework and tests like his sister because he studies in a special school. At home, if he doesn't play the piano, he's watching TV or listening to music. He has no initiative to practice on his own but he's always very happy when Mommy has time to guide him in his piano. And it gives him great delight to be able to play a new music piece from beginning to end. We usually tackle the piece a portion at a time so it takes him about four days to go through a longer piece.

If he's able to play the piano relatively well, it's because he likes to practise. He can sit at the piano for an hour, playing till his hands ache and he has to shake his fingers loose yet he remains cheerful. It's also because he has good memory. I'm always amazed by how his left fingers can settle so easily at the correct keys for chords. The other thing I've observed is that his brain does amazing fixing when he's asleep - the mistakes committed at one practice would have disappeared by the next day's practice.

I enjoy guiding him at his piano. Yes, I help him learn his music pieces even though I've discovered long ago that I'm no longer his match - I can tell when he plays  wrongly but cannot demonstrate the right way to go about it.

Saturday morning was our first time trying out Marriage D'amour. He couldn't place his fingers at the right places so I instructed him to play the same portion over and over again. I pointed at a note on the score and asked him what it was and was frustrated when he gave me random answers. I said, "Play double of each note, Calder" and carelessly overlooked that of course he wouldn't know what's "double".

That's when Calder started banging the piano and chanted "take escalator take escalator" (no idea why he said that) and yelled.

Oh oh. We were supposed to join his granny for lunch. Can he make it? Should I let him play familiar pieces to calm him down? Nope, not working. So I asked him to lie on his bed before I turned off the light. I vaguely remembered that he had been taught (in school) breathing techniques to calm down. So I asked him to blow 20 times. Still crying.

I took over the blowing instead. "One (gentle blow on his face), two (another gentle blow on his face), three... twenty (a kiss on his forehead)." Again, Calder? He indicated yes. So I did it another two rounds.

By this time, I was smiling as I blew. Because he had stopped crying. His breathing had calmed and he was gazing very intently into my eyes. A very special moment.

"Calder Mommy love. Sorry I was impatient."

Then I got him to blow onto my fingers 20 times. And directed him to the kitchen for apple (I've noticed that crunching has a calming effect). And in case he was hungry, I gave him a cake too.

By the time we came out of the house to take a bus, he was smiling.

Sunshine after the rain.

I must remember that Calder can play the piano without recognising notes. I must also handle his feelings with care, and not assume that because he is quiet, he is immune.

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