Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Arts

I love the arts.  I have always found musical, crafty, artistic people to be quite interesting; and I greatly value the outlet, or means of expression, that the arts can offer an individual.  As a young person, I loved writing poetry.  I also found comfort in listening to music ~ which I've always thought of as poetry with a melody.  (I'm a folk-singer, lyrical kind of music lover most of the time.)  Even sometimes now, when I feel down, I turn to my writing and my music to heal my wounds.  I want something like that for my children.  I believe our words are just one way in which we communicate and it's such a gift to tap into all the other means...or mediums...which will help us clear our heads, express our desires, fears, anxieties, and joys, and let go.  While I believe some of this is innate, I also believe any/all skills need to be crafted...with the help of others trained in that craft.

Perfect example: There is a young girl in my class this year who has amazing artistic talent.  She told me she began drawing (mostly sketching) when her brother (who has severe special needs) was adopted and had tantrums.  She would lock herself in her room and sketch.  Her artistic skill began to grow; and it was encouraged by her parents and teachers.  In elementary school she won a scholarship for her artwork and she put all of the money towards a year of art classes.  She began taking classes 3 times a week and she's still doing this three years later.  She brought in her portfolio and showed me her paintings.  (She learned to paint in these classes...she was mostly sketching at home.)  She explained how she paints from the back to the front; and how many layers exist in each of her pieces.  She told me of different brush strokes and techniques she's learned; she explained the patience it takes to finish a piece and how she never gives up on a painting even if it's not her favorite.  She spoke of her teacher and how much she has learned from her over the past few years.  Beautiful!

So, while she may have begun drawing on her own, it is with the guidance of an art teacher that her talent and skill were crafted.  I want that for my kids.

So, how do I find that special gift they have...and make it about their talents?

Drew, who is 6 1/2 years old, has always enjoyed music.  But I kind of think: what little kid doesn't like music?  All of my kids have taken music classes as toddlers and enjoyed it!  However, Drew's interest has, in my opinion, been different.  He used to love to play songs in a little Baby Enstein book we had ~ where he could follow the notes by the numbers in the book.  He loved to sit at the piano and gently stroke the keys.  He loves singing; and he loves making up rhymes (like me!).  Now he's been taking piano lessons for about 4 months, usually once a week, but sometimes not so often.  Not only was he already reading notes after his first lesson, but a few really cool things have happened since his lessons started...

*He has gone to the piano during moments of frustration and practiced his songs.
How cool is it that he could be upset and find some comfort in playing music?

*He has written his own song ~ lyrics and music.
Granted the song was about Chico, our cat, and how great he is...but isn't it amazing that he would let words flow from his head to paper and then bring those words down to the piano to write the music?

*He has gone to the piano, with no music sheet in front of him, and played around til he created the first few notes of a song he learned at school.  He then played them for his teacher and she recognized the song!  Replicating a song after only a few months of lessons?  Isn't that awesome!?!

I think Drew might have a talent here.  He may not end up being Mozart, and I'm totally ok with that, but he may end up being someone who writes music when he feels sad, or jams with friends on the weekend, or appreciates music and plays piano at home.  Who knows!  As his parent, I want to be tuned in to what he is good at and interested in ~ tossing my talents and dreams aside ~ and allow him opportunities to grow in ways I can not support.  I can't help him develop a talent I don't share.  But I can get him a good teacher.  I can listen when he plays.  I can tell him how amazing he is.  I can be his biggest fan.  And I can hope that maybe these lessons will allow him to really develop a gift...and discover a place he can turn when he is sad...a gift he can be proud of and share with others.

This doesn't mean every kid needs to play an instrument - or even that all three of mine will.  I don't know yet.  I don't see the same draw to music in the other two yet.  But I'm tuning in to them all, and trying to learn what teachers they might need to grow in ways that are true to who they are.

I'm watching.

I'm listening.