“This song has fun stuff in it,” Seric commented, hitting the yellow button on the toy table again.
A friend had given us a toy table with various buttons and noise-making contraptions on it. We placed the table in front of Rose while she sat on her “Tea Potty” drinking tea and waiting for results. Seric and America often sit across from Rose and play with the table as well, encouraging Rose to sit on the potty until she poops.
One of the buttons alternated through six common tunes, most of which we knew already. One of the tunes no one could identify. It is a fun tune and Seric stayed enthralled with that tune for two months. He would rapidly push the button to get back to that particular song and then sit with his head cocked sideways listening intently. When it was over, he would hum the song and if he got stuck on a part, he'd hit the button and listen again.
I was impressed with Seric's persistence at learning the fun tune. He's the kid that learned his ABCs because he loved to sing-shout them with me as loud as possible; then whisper them as quietly as possible; then sing them while pinching our noses shut; then…
Before my husband and I married we talked about everything we believed and hoped for in having a family and teaching the children. My husband said that he felt it was important to make music a part of our lives if at all possible. We both agreed it was important to find a good teacher and a good method. So before we even had a child we began to pray for both of those things and research music methods.
A few online polls amongst musical people led us to believe that the method we were looking for was the Suzuki Method. It was not until I read Sinichi Suzuki's book Nurtured by Love that I realized why this was the method for us. Although centuries and cultures apart, Sinichi Suzuki and Leonardo da Vinci were kindred spirits in learning.
In short, Suzuki's philosophy was immersion: filling a child's environment with great music so that it becomes a shaping force in his ability:
It has always been assumed that one is born with the skills and talents he later manifests. But can we observe those “inherited” gifts in the nursing baby? It is erroneous to believe that children who are five or six years of age (with that many years of training) can be rightly judged as talented or untalented in any given area. Regarding what can be inherited or inborn, I am convinced that only the physical attributes can be judged as superior or inferior at birth. It is from that point on that a child's environment begins to influence his psychology. Thus the conditions of his environment shape the basis of his ability.
When our oldest two children were three and five years of age, we met a young, enthusiastic Suzuki piano teacher in our own town. We had no idea how good she actually was until a year had passed and our first piano recital came around. Twenty-something children took turns playing their first and second book pieces and I was amazed at the general enthusiasm and skill of every child.
My first thought was to marvel that our teacher had so many talented children. Then I remembered Suzuki's own belief that every child is musical and I realized that we had found a great teacher of a great method.
Our kids continue to enjoy music and the house is constantly full of music. My husband is always providing them with new musical material to observe by playing them a new song that he's heard and found interesting for one reason or another (usually through youtube).
The kids discuss various songs and presentations of songs and make up their own renditions. A favorite family activity is finding videos of other kids who have covered various songs. Dad or I preview the videos we show the kids to make sure there is no lurid or disturbing material in them (beware!) but we do not try to limit the kids to videos that contain only our views, confident that they are capable of observing and recognizing truth. Many things are openly questioned and discussed until everyone is satisfied.
I love it when JudyLucy starts belting out “Rolling In the Deep” by Adele and Sarah sings “Hey There, Delilah” by Plain White T's. I love to hear David on the piano going from Bach's Minuet in G minor to the plaintive “Waiting for the End” by Linkin Park. I especially love it when they come up with new songs all their own, on the spot, ad libbing as they go.