In fact, when they were little bitty preschoolers, no more than four-years-old, I had contemplated signing them up for Suzuki music lessons. I drove to the studio, parked my car, looked through the big glass window at the sweet little children in a semi-circle around their instructor, playing their teeny violins and I grabbed my checkbook. But then I opened what must have been a sound-proof door and the sounds of the squeaking, oh my good heavens the SQUEAKING, nearly made my eardrums bleed. I dropped my checkbook back in to my bag, grabbed my ears, and ran. Maybe if there was one child, I could have done it ... but there was no way I could manage it with three.
My sanity is too important to me.
So last year, Carolyn expressed an interest in playing the violin and so we went out and rented her one, and then signed her up for three months of private lessons.
Here's how it went down...
Violin comes home, Carolyn is thrilled. She pulls it out of the case and drags the bow across the strings and rejoices in having her OWN! VIOLIN! She sleeps with it that night.
The first class happens and she is very attentive. The assignment from that first class comes home and she practices for at least 15 minutes a day for all of three days. The next three weeks are torture for her and us, as we remind her to practice - and she doesn't want to - and we feel like loser parents taking her back to class where she has learned nothing over the past week.
We still have two months of private pre-paid classes and because Carolyn is 100% disinterested, we ask Elizabeth if she'd like to play the violin? "Sure, I'd LOVE to!" she excitedly exclaims. She pulls out of the case what is now considered to be HER! VIOLIN! and she drags the bow across the strings and sleeps with it that night.
Showing up at the next private lesson, the instructor barely bats an eye. With the large volume of students that go in and out of the studio, I'm not sure he even noticed that we swapped out the sisters, despite the fact one is more than 6-inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than the other. Elizabeth's enthusiasm for the violin sustained for approximately ninety six hours and then the next three weeks we were telling her to practice, and she was dismissing it and we were back in Loser Parent Mode.
With one month of private pre-paid lessons remaining, we swapped out Elizabeth for a semi-interested William. This time the instructor noticed and said, "I sense something different here...." Yes indeed, the toe-head blonde boy is not nearly as interchangeable as the brown haired, freckled faced, blue-eyed girls. Fortunately, the instructor was very understanding and cooperative and after one month, William had also reached his maximum saturation with playing the violin and it was returned to the music store. (Although, if there had been a fourth pre-paid month, you can bet your rosin I would have tried to swap out William for his little brother.)
This year, in fourth grade, the children are offered the opportunity to play a stringed instrument.
We rented three instruments for a year and have not only invested in the insurance, should one of the instruments be inadvertently backed over by a minivan driven by parents who are trying to MAKE HASTE! and get to school on time because the cello cannot go on the bus, we also invested in some excellent ear plugs for all of the practicing that they will need to do at home. I'm hopeful that with the positive peer pressure of their friends, most of whom are also playing a stringed instrument, our two violists and one celloist, will learn to play "Ode To Joy" between now and June.
My husband is hoping for something a little more contemporary and has recently introduced our children to The Charlie Daniels Band. For the past two days, he's had "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" playing on repeat. The kids love the tune and are feeling very inspired.
Fingers crossed it sticks.