Thursday, October 6, 2011


1 a : the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity

I'm not a music person.  I'm especially not a classical music person.  I've always seen music as primarily a vehicle for delivering lyrics.  There are some artists whose voices I particularly like, but far more often I like a song based on whether I like what it says and how it says it.  There's a reason this blog is called Word Girl.  I'm really all about the words.  Or maybe I should say it used to be all about the words because my daughter B is ushering in a whole new world for me.  A world where I don't just tolerate music, I actually enjoy it.

B started taking piano lessons in December of last year.  She immediately took to it.  Her first lesson was right before Christmas, so she went three weeks between her first and second lesson.  In that span of time, she learned the entire book her teacher had given her.  That was a harbinger of things to come.  For years, we've tried to help B find something she loves.  She's good at sports - she just doesn't care about playing them, especially on teams.  But piano?  She plays all the time.  We never have to remind her to practice - although I might have to remind her to play what the teacher actually requested.  I've never timed it, but my best guess is that she plays for at least an hour daily.  She'll walk over, play a song through a few times and wander away.  She does this all day long.  So much so that I hardly notice it anymore.

As a part of our homeschool, I thought it would be fun for B to get to learn about a few composers.  She chose Bach and asked piano her teacher if she could learn a Bach song to go along with it.  She's been learning Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.  So strong is B's musical influence in our home that J is whistling this song as I write this blog post.  Jesu is the song that always makes J cry at weddings.  (In his defense, it's hard to not cry at weddings when you have three daughters.  That whole giving them away thing? Yikes.  I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to just give them away.  What horrid language.)  He's joked with B that her learning this song is a blessing because by the end of her mastery of it, he'll be immune to the song's beauty and emotional content.  I'm not so sure.

B's been having trouble sleeping of late.  I blame this partly on Dr. Who, partly on hormones and partly on B's strong will - if she believes something she can will it into being.  So if she thinks she can't sleep, she definitely can't sleep.  In college, J listened to Eric Clapton's Timepieces and he jokes that he never heard the third song because of his Pavlovian response to the music.  A few bars and he was out cold.  I thought I'd see if I could work the same magic for B.

I downloaded a copy of Jesu and a few George Winston songs and burned a CD.  After a few nights, I decided five tracks weren't enough.  So I did some research, listened to countless songs on Freegal and made another, longer CD (12 tracks, nearly an hour long).  I didn't really think much about it at the time.  J was out of town, so I didn't really have anything better to do.  It was only when he commented on how odd it was for me to be researching and selecting classical music that I realized he was right.  It's pretty out of character for me.

This realization delighted me, in part because it made me realize how B has changed music for me.  I enjoyed making her CD and have even listened to the playlist a few times since creating it.  That may not sound like much to you, but for me, it's proof that I'm learning from this daughter of mine:  learning to appreciate an art form that doesn't immediately resonate with me, learning to love something because my child loves it.

Tomorrow I leave for a weekend silent retreat.  I have a three hour drive each way.  I normally drive a good portion of the ride with no music at all - letting the silence begin to seep into me before the retreat officially begins.  But I think this time, I might bring along a bit of musical accompaniment in the form of a copy of B's CD.  And I have a niggling suspicion I'll miss the bits of piano music I have grown accustomed to hearing throughout the day.

1 comment:

Christine said...

I love this post, Shannon, because classical music was my own introduction to the music world. When I began ballet at 5, my musical requests were LP's of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. It wasn't until the Middle School angst set in that I began listening to the Top 40. Your post really convicts me to bring classical music into my own childrens' lives. -Christine