Last night, my oldest daughter got to play in her first solo book recital (book one), performing all of the songs she has learned, so far, with the exception of a few pieces she’s working on from book two. It was really beautiful to watch her go all the way from “Twinkle Twinkle,” to songs written by Bach. As I sit and reflect over the last 8 months or so, I’m struck by how music has changed our family in ways I never would have foreseen.
I expected our children to enjoy playing their instruments. I expected lessons to help teach them things such as work ethic and bring some of them out of their shells a little bit and help them to gain confidence. I expected it to bring them closer together and make them better friends.
I didn’t expect it to make me a better mother.
I didn’t expect it to help me relate to my children better, or teach me to communicate better with them. I didn’t expect it to give me more patience or enjoy them more. It has done all that and more.
For a long time, I’ve struggled with really connecting with my children. Oh, we’d play games and I’d teach them things and we’d read books together but the sad fact was that I was usually just going through the motions, waking up most mornings and watching the clock, just waiting for bed time. I didn’t know how to connect with them. About a month ago, all of that changed when my two oldest daughters expressed an interest in playing their instruments professionally and my husband and I decided to take them seriously.
I started researching what it would take to get them to a professional level. I became invested in their music lessons and practice sessions in a way I hadn’t been before. In short, I made what was important to my children, important to me.
Isn’t that the very definition of love? As we muddled through learning how to communicate with one another when we were frustrated over a particular passage, as I learned (and am still learning) when to push and when to back off, as we figured out how to accomplish things together, as I got glimpses into their personalities I’d never seen before, we grew closer in ways I’ve been praying about for a long, long time. And the surprising thing (although I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising) is that it has brought me closer to the other children, as well. It’s helped me to connect with them and enjoy things about them I’d never seen before. It’s given me a type of vision and understanding and love that I lacked until I set my own desires aside and made my kids desires more important. Never in the life of our family have I ever been been so busy. Nor have I ever been so happy.
No matter where the kids end up, no matter whether they achieve their goals of being professional musicians or just have a hobby to enjoy, I will be forever grateful for what the WKU Pre-College Strings program has done for our family.
I expected good things to come from music lessons. I didn’t expect it to change our lives.