Thursday, November 5, 2009


Once again, life has been richly generous with us through our friend Mr. Dempster. A fellow teacher from TVHS, Mr. Dempster has let us borrow indefinitely a xylophone! Bill had been talking with Dave about Katie's love for her music class and for singing and instruments, and so Dave brought the xylophone to work yesterday.

Katie absolutely loves it so much! She was running to it last night, saying, "I want to play my xylophone!"

She seemed to figure out on her own that it is played with both mallets at once, generally.

Her Uncle David is a percussionist, so he might be able to teach us a few tricks...

A very enthusiastic Katie is eager to play notes...

She did some nice work... It was cute. Bill and I were eating a late dinner, and she went to play her xylophone while we were still at the table. She kept checking, kind of shyly but with happiness on her face, to see what we thought. I would look at her and say, "Oh that was very good! Will you play us some more dinner music?" And her expression would light up. I could tell that she was feeling as I do when I love something so much: kind of shy to reveal the depth of how much it means to you. She would play a little and look at us again, almost seeking reassurance that it was okay to delve into her feeling of loving it so.

Yesterday was a big day for Katie, actually. Last night she had her first live theater experience at the Valley Winds concert at the Old Town theater. My brother has returned to his music, and last night was the first time Katie has heard him play so that was particularly special.

Oh, she was so happy and proud to be a big girl at the theater. She got to wear a nice dress, and even though she was a free admit, the box office gave her a "student" ticket so that she could have and hold one of her own. Waiting on the benches to go inside, she held her ticket proudly as I explained the procedure and how we each had one and the ticket takers would tear part of it and let her keep part of it.
Then inside she worked hard on being silent, though it was a little difficult at points for her to remember. I explained that it was like the library. On a couple of pieces that she really liked, being quiet was easier for her. We watched the horns and we talked about the conductor.
My parents made sure that my brother and I both knew the beauty of live theater growing up and how to conduct ourselves properly. I think theater experiences are part of being educated, actually. Nothing compares to seeing music or drama performed live; there is an authenticity to it and a way that live performers and the audience create an energy together that cannot be replicated in other forms. Live theater experiences are essential, in my mind, to understanding the dynamic between artist and audience that exists to varying degrees in all works of art. There are also behavioral formalities that are expected (or used to be expected, in the past---more and more some of the art of seeing theater is dying) of the audience that, I think, underscores a sense of true respect for the arts. Dressing up, silencing phones, sitting quietly, etc. The fact that we have to be the best version of ourselves in the theater seems to emphasize what a privilege it is to interact with artistry---and that is a value I want Katie to have. For only by respecting and feeling humbled by true art can we fully learn and take hold of ideas, from antiquity to the modern age.
It was a good first experience for Katie, with room to grow as she learns the importance of silence and sustained attentiveness without distraction. We stayed through intermission---I wanted her to see that concept in action: a break and then a return. But we only listened to one more piece, because I could tell that she wanted a bath and snack and cuddle time. So Bill and I and Katie said goodbye to Amie and Boppa and were on our way.
I hope watching the performers play their instruments live will help Katie connect even more to what we do in our music class. Katie has had several breakthroughs in her singing career lately, though. We are singing all the time together, her little voice mixed with mine. Yesterday morning, she made up her own song:
"Peekaboo, peekaboo/A-peekaboo-boo-boo..." She had her own melody and everything. It was definitely a jazz composition, and she sang it several times upstairs. When we went downstairs, I got out the video camera and sang it---I don't know how to notate music, and I wanted her to know what her first original composition was someday. So I sang it so that she will know what notes to write down in the future. I tried to get her to sing it for the camera again, but by then she was ready to play "market."
She received a cash register for her birthday, so we put all the play coins in her purse and then she took her list we wrote and went shopping. She brought selections of her play food to me, and I pretended to scan them---"beep!"---and then I would tell her what to pay. When I say, "That will be 25 cents" she knows it is the red coin. We are working on adding up different values together. Then she took her play food to the kitchen where we pretended to make dinner for everyone. She loved that game and we played for awhile...
So life is beautiful and saturated with amazing learning experiences everyday. I love the thrill of figuring out what beautiful thing to share next with her... My goal is to fill her little heart up the to brim with as many of life's happy things as I can, to last her throughout her life and to show her how fun it is to learn about everything!