5 Things a Parent Learned from Keyboard Year 1

Our studio parents are the BEST!  I love the spirit of collaboration and authenticity they bring as they share what they have learned with each other!  So today, we are hearing from one of our seasoned music moms, Heidi Bodrero, who has had out children in our program for many years now.  She has taken 3 children through the keyboard program and has a 4th in Keyboard Year 2 this coming year.  Heidi is the first to admit, that no parent does it right all of the time.  We are all struggling to just do what we can.  However, she has learned some things that you will find very helpful – and comforting!  This article came about after she had made some insightful comments during a keyboard Parent Time once.  I knew I had to ask her to share, and she graciously, albeit hesitantly, accepted, in the spirit of helping others.   I have inserted a few insights in italics, not to detract from her great article, but to provide additional insight.  THANK YOU, HEIDI!  Enjoy!

1. Know the songs! Sing the songs!  The kids can play what they can sing.  Playing the listening CDs over and over is so important.  If the student is familiar with the song, they can play it much easier and it is exciting for them to learn to play something they can already sing.  It makes playing more fun!  When they get stuck on learning to play a new song, I always encourage them to sing while they play.  95% of the time, when they sing it they figure out by themselves how to play it.  This takes responsibility off the parent to a degree – that’s great for busy moms!

2. Trust our Ears!  We have learned our ears are smart.  When something didn’t sound right, my kids became frustrated at the sound.  I have learned to turn it around and praise them for hearing that it was NOT right saying something like, “Good job listening with your ears.  Your ears are smart and they know.”  Oooooh, soooo important that they become confident in their own hearing!There have been times where my kids have played the song incorrectly and I heard it (pat on the back for me recognizing it), but my child didn’t notice that it was incorrect. I have learned rather than yelling from the kitchen, “that’s not right, try it again!” I could keep peace in the house and love of the piano if I let it go and trust that it will be corrected in class.  And 100% of the time it has been corrected in class, mostly through self-discovery by watching and listening to others.  Nobody can MAKE anyone learn anything!  Motivation – in it’s purest form – comes from the desire to want to know.  Allowing the student to correct it himself gives him responsibility, freedom, and fosters the desire to want to learn more.  

3. Retreat from moments of frustration and temper tantrums!  I have learned that rather than fighting through a temper tantrum or frustration of a new concept, as with all of us, my kids were/are more open to learning when their minds are calm.  When things get heated and they are obviously not willing to learn, I send them to their room to calm down.  However, this is not an escape from practice.  When they are ready to ask for help, it is their responsibility to come to me and tell me they are ready for me to help them.  At this point, if I am unable to help them and it is important enough to them, I will allow them to Marco Polo or text their teacher to ask for help.  I’ve noticed that sometimes when a parent gives the student the option to ask their teacher, they miraculously figure it out on their own!  It’s fine with me for them to polo the studio (Nan), but removing yourself from the main responsibility just makes the student stronger in the end.  🙂

4. I Don’t Have to Know! My first year though Keyboard Year 1 was intimidating.  I took piano for 14 years and never learned music the way my son was learning it.  However, I learned quickly that I don’t have to know all the patterns, notes, and chord changes.  I have learned to trust that they will learn what they need to learn and if they are confused while practicing, that it is okay to say, “I don’t know!” and “What do you think?” Whew!  I didn’t have to teach them what I didn’t know!  That is what Musikgarten is for!

5. Let Go!  I learned that I needed to let go of their success. It was good and often necessary for me to emphasize what was expected of them regarding practice time or goals, but then I needed to step back and watch. I allowed them to discover on their own what success (and failure) was and how they accomplished it. I think this was the hardest thing I have done and when my kids missed out on parties or rewards it was heart breaking; but, now, I am so glad I handled it that way!  When I let go of this they recognized Mom was not going to cover for them on their practicing and effort.  Although I was tempted many times to just check the box, refraining from that has been a huge blessing to them taking on their own responsibility for their actions or lack of action.

My kids learned so much from Musikgarten — and so did I!

-written by Heidi Bodrero, one of our music moms