I don’t play any musical instruments. In infant school I was always the one given the triangle.
When I was about 11, I was in the school choir which mostly involved singing Christian themed songs set to pop tunes of the time (just don’t ask). Or we sang Christmas songs. Always Christmas songs. Even in, like, March. I’m about as musical as a wardrobe.
Growing up my husband had piano lessons. His mother plays pretty well and wanted her son to follow suit. Other people on his side of the family are very musical. They sing, they conduct, they play multiple instruments. One is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Family parties nearly always involve a sing song or some kind of musical entertainment. They’re a tuneful bunch.
Looking at all of this I was rather hopeful that my daughter might show some musical aptitude. And she did! I signed her up for piano lessons and she took to it like a duck to water. She was able to read music after one lesson. She took her first piano exam less than 6 months after sitting down at a piano for the first time in her life. In that 6 month period she also broke her wrist and was unable to play or practise for 9 weeks. She still managed to pass the exam with merits. She sat the next one 3 months later and passed with distinction. Her piano teacher would gush and complimented her amazing ear. It was WONDERFUL.
I know people say you shouldn’t live through your children but bugger that! This was gggreeeeattt. She performed with other students in a local shopping mall to raise money for charity, playing two pieces of music. One from sheet music selected by her teacher and the other was Somewhere Over The Rainbow from memory. I. Loved. It. It wasn’t about showing off it was just joyous to watch my child do well at something that I was so totally rubbish at. And then? Then she quit.
In fairness to her she wasn’t well at the time and the piano thing was all just too much effort. It required energy she simply didn’t have. But then she said the words no mother wants to hear “I never wanted to play piano, I just did it to make you happy”. Ah. I couldn’t argue because it was true. She’d never asked for piano lessons. She never mentioned anything about wanting to play a musical instrument. There was no yearning or begging or hinting. She just obediently did what I asked of her and because I was so totally utterly completely thrilled she didn’t feel she could say anything. Until she did.
Part of me still regrets letting her quit. A little voice in my head screams ‘You should have been more of a Tiger Mother!’ and ‘No child likes learning an instrument, they all want to quit but then they thank you when they’re older for making them do it. I should have MADE her do it!’. It just feels like such a massive waste!
People kept saying maybe she’d go back to it but my daughter has flatly refused to sit at a piano ever since. Every time she’s ambled over she sees the hope (desperation?) in my eyes so immediately marches off to do something else.
Recently we saw some friends who have 3 charming boys. They have a large playroom at one end of the house and in the corner is a piano. After lunch I walked down to see the kids, who were all getting along famously, and there’s my daughter sitting at the piano playing sheet music beautifully. She hasn’t sat at a piano in three years. I stood stock still in silence afraid my presence would break the spell and of course it did. So what did she do when she saw me? She looked like I’d caught her snorting coke, stopped abruptly, slammed down the cover, got up and walked away.
I went back to the kitchen, strangling the air and told my husband who laughed and put his arm around me and tried to console me with homemade brownies. Which mostly worked.
Is this simply part and parcel of the mother daughter relationship? Because I want her to do something she will automatically resist? Is this the natural way of the world? The norm? Possibly.
The teenage years are going to be such fun. *sigh*
*This blog post is dedicated to Julia who asked me to ‘please write a blog post soon’ 😊