My daughter T is musically inclined. Maybe she got it from her dad or it’s maybe because of the Kindermusik classes that she attended for almost seven years… two of which I was her teacher, ahem!
Starting when she was just four, we would come home to her playing music on her harmonica, glockenspiel, dulcimer and recorder (all instruments from Kindermusik), including the Lupang Hinirang, Christmas songs, and even Boom-tarat-tarat that she heard from our household help before! We realized then that she would love to have “formal” music lessons eventually.
At six, T started recorder lessons with about six other homeschooled children in Catholic Filipino Academy’s music club under Teacher Ford Pundamiera. What’s exciting about the program is that the kids get to be part of an orchestra, together with older students on different instruments. They have the chance to perform in actual programs and not just recitals.
In fact, a few months after starting her lessons, T and her classmates and the rest of Teacher Ford’s students performed at a benefit concert (click link to watch video). It was followed by performances at the two Philippine homeschool conferences that The Learning Basket and Manila Workshops organized.
The music lessons however, while inexpensive, can still add up with the other lessons she’s taking; we were feeling the pinch. And as much as we love for her to continue attending Teacher Ford’s classes, especially now that her class is already starting on the violin, we felt that we had to re-assess and make sure that this is something that she really wants and enjoys.
So… we asked her to “pay” for her music lessons.
How? By asking her to play her recorder every Sunday with her dad’s church choir.
Admittedly, we weren’t sure about the wisdom of this. Were we being “bad” parents to require her to join the choir when we could just pay for the music lessons? A quick call to my mother, whose wisdom I value very much especially when I’m in a parenting conundrum, appeased my “guilty” conscience. She validated our reasons and gave it her seal of approval.
So why is my 8 year old daughter paying for her music lessons, albeit not with cash but by joining a choir?
1. To make sure that she really wants it
We needed to find out which of T’s classes to stop to cut down on expenses AND lessen our presence in the traffic-jammed streets of Manila. When we broached the idea to her, T said “yes” even before I finished speaking.
This showed us that she’s really into her music lessons and that it’s not just a passing fancy. If my parents asked this of me before, I would have immediately dropped my never-ending piano lessons!
2. To make her work for what she wants
Even at a young age, we want to teach our children to work for what they want. My husband and I are glad to have this opportunity to make our children realize that we can’t — and won’t — just hand to them whatever they ask for. In our book, this is another way of battling entitlement.
3. To open the door for service
Though our daughter joined the church choir as part of our agreement, we are praying that this will blossom into a love and life of service like her Papa. Hopefully, offering her time and talent will eventually become completely natural and voluntary.
4. To nurture her talent in an actual musical group
The choir is just a small group composed of my husband on the guitar and a handful of singers (like about five to six!). It’s perfect, really, as it provides our little musician a comfortable and safe opportunity to be part of a musical group with a real purpose.
And even if the members are all busy that they don’t have regular practice sessions, we’re sure that playing with others — and cramming to practice songs with her dad an hour before the mass — will give her a rich, hands-on musical experience.
5. To help her come out of her shell
My daughter is slow to warm up, and can be quite self-conscious. But she confuses me too: she didn’t want to join the choir when we asked her before because she loves jamming with her dad at home, but is always extremely excited to be part of ballet performances. Maybe she doesn’t want to be noticed and singled-out, being the only child in the choir?
Her solution, therefore, is to hide and stand close to her Papa. She can be heard playing but cannot be seen by a lot of people… which is just fine with us. What’s important is that she’s playing and she’s enjoying it! Hopefully, little by little, she will feel more comfortable playing her music and shed her bashfulness as she grows up.
To be honest, I was surprised that our eight-year-old immediately agreed to the idea of paying for her music lessons. It actually appealed to her and made me realize that I don’t give her much credit. What started as a dilemma for us became a venue for creative parenting that will hopefully, fingers-crossed will reap our child positive benefits now and in the future.