Gamma and I practiced piano on the weekend. It worked like this: she threw a fit, I sent her to bed, she took a long nap because it turned out she had thrown a fit because she was tired, tried practicing again and it worked fine.

Besides not wanting to practice at all, another problem we have with her playing the piano is her insistence on improvising and having fun when she plays. She goes in and tinkles like some jazz pianist instead of practicing her etudes and scales, which frustrates us to no end.

Music is not supposed to be fun.

We have worked out a compromise where she is allowed to improvise, if necessary, as long as she practices her scales and etudes for a certain length of time.

Sometimes she forces me to play along with her when she improvises. As I’ve said before, it sounds exotic and somehow not wrong as long as we stick to the black keys (her discovery).

We even had a big success with one song she was learning. She had it down by heart. She could play the song without notes, except she always made the same mistake in one measure. So I broke it down, made her play with notes again, more slowly, and we used a metronome, and I clapped the rhythm and sang it and went through that measure note by note and she got it and now she can play it by heart again, only right. And when she went in to her lesson this week her teacher checked off that song, meaning she has learned it and no longer needs to practice it, for which Gamma has given me great credit with the result that I am now in charge of piano practice (i.e. the others have weaseled out of it).

Picking her up at a friend’s house was a great success, piano practice was too, so I decided to try putting her to bed. I have been busy lately and preoccupied and have neglected that.

She has also complained that English is so boring in school, so we read an English book in bed. Some encyclopedia for kids sort of thing, an illustrated book of questions and answers. We leafed through and she asked about whatever illustration caught her eye.

“What’s that about?” she would ask.
“The ring of fire, a system of volcanoes and seismic activity around the Pacific ocean. Hundreds of erupting volcanoes. Merapi on Java island is erupting right now, miles of lava and poison gas forcing the evacuation of 30000 people who live on the mountain,” I said and we talked about volcanoes for a while.

“Who’s that?”
“Vlad Tepes,” I said. “The article is about who Bram Stoker based his Dracula on.”
We talked about the article for a while.
“Did he really impale people on stakes?”
“You bet.”
We discussed the why.
“How did he do it?”
I suppose one soldier held them down while the other impaled them, I said.
“Did they all die?”
I said I supposed so.
“Anyhow, good night,” I said. “Pleasant dreams.”

5 responses to “Bedtime

  1. i would like you to be in charge of math drills or something in these parts. you could make converting centimeters to millimeters fun with just a few handclaps and a little ingenuity. i have faith in you. i’ll take over bedtime stories for you!

  2. mig

    dude, she fell right to sleep.

  3. is it very different telling stories in German vs. English? i mean, do some of the jokes get lost in translation…

  4. if you’d been in charge of my piano practice perhaps i would be able to do what i have always dreamed of – accompany myself singing cole porter and gershwin. hey ho.

    as for the improv. ENCOURAGE IT!!!! I’d say 50/50 is good, (and yes the scales are the freedom pass) but also encourage gamma to expand, write stuff to put to music, break all the rules. not improvising is a prison. take it from me.

  5. D

    The part I hate about reading someone bedtime stories is that they invariably fall asleep during boring bits and you have to reread them again the next night.

    I ought to impose a rule of “you miss it, you miss it”