Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's NOT about the violin.

What a breakthrough!  Annika has been taking violin since October.  Until yesterday she had only done  many different finger and muscle strengthening exercises. To be honest it's been a struggle.  I got mad at her after last week's class and came close to quitting classes all together.  I know I sound like a tiger mom but you have to hear where I'm coming from.

We started violin because we feel....and know that music is a huge aspect of learning. But, also like sports there is so much a skill like playing an instrument can teach you about life.  Annika chose the violin.  She was excited about it and then it got hard and I saw her focus fly right out the window.  One of Annika's weaknesses is that she only wants to do something if she's good at it.  I'm hoping to help her get comfortable being outside of her comfort zone. Or at least to not run away from it.  You can't accomplish much if you only want to stay in your comfort zone.

So, one thing Annika does very well is steer her ship and everyone in it to where she wants to go.  In violin class she started making jokes, hiding under chairs, talking in funny voices, entertaining her teacher to do anything butt proceed with class.  I talked to her about it. I tried to help her get comfortable. I tried to motivate her with rewards. And every class was torture...for me. Even the teacher said she could see this bothered me more than her.  But I had never seen Annika behave like this.

After last week's class I put my foot down.  I sat her down and was very stern because it's all kind of a joke to her. Mostly what I wanted, and hoped, I got through was that I didn't care if she failed, if she didn't play it right or whatever.  I was mad because she wasn't trying. She wasn't even giving herself the chance to fail or succeed.  That's all I wanted from her. To just try and give herself a chance.

With that conversation I at least got her to practice easier.  We practiced every other day for 15 minutes.    Gemma is always crawling up on Annika's legs when she's playing the violin.  We used her as a focus tool.  If Annika could play with her baby sister at her feet then a solo performance with her teacher would be a breeze.

She had her class again yesterday and what a breakthrough! During the week she finally practiced stroking the strings with her bow.  And during class Annika actually played a song along with her teacher on the piano for the first time! Her teacher was impressed and surprised with her focus.  And I was happy to see her focus come through in a way I've often seen before.  I was mostly happy with the confidence she had acquired throughout the week. I was happy she found the courage to give herself a chance and I was blown away by how impressive she was.  Honestly, I did not expect her first time playing to sound that....competent, for lack of a better word.  Her teacher has been impressive with the way she built her muscle memory to hold the bow and violin and tuned her ear to hear the melodies.

So, again here I am saying that it's not about the violin and her playing. It's about the lessons she is learning. She must have courage and try. Being outside one's comfort zone is actually a thrilling place to be. To gain confidence she must practice.  A little effort with consistency goes a long way.  She has tremendous ability when she stops worrying about failing.

The icing to my cake was when I talked to Annika's teacher at school today.  Turns out her behavior at school is exactly the same as what it's been like at violin when she is challenged.  So, I'm hoping I can now take the lesson learned in violin and apply it to school without me being there.

At any rate, I love watching the video above.  And I love hearing Gemma in the background.    

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