Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ready for Suzuki

I could be more productive than hiding in the kitchen behind the baby gate. I am sitting on the floor in front of the heater with my laptop, in my pajamas, and listening to the dishwasher hum and swish while I alternately type and stir the chex mix in the oven. I am not feeling very ambitious but I have a TON to do, including pick up the entire house, wash all the dishes that my sister left me when she came over and made a birthday cake at my house, and also at some point in time get dressed so I can get a haircut and pick up two prescriptions. I can barely breathe and I didn't sleep much as a result. I have been without allergy medicine for about three weeks now, and I had a few Zyrtec D around that I took once every three days for the past week so that I wouldn't die in my sleep. Those ran out a couple of days ago and I am SO relieved to hear that my insurance company finally processed the "annual pre approval" of allergy medicine. It would be logical for me to just see this coming and get it done in advance, like before I run out, but I take allergy meds only seasonally, which end up being spring and fall for me (and for the kids it seems) and therefore when fall hit I was unprepared and only had a few days of meds left. Well, what I didn't realize at the time was that my insurance requires paperwork and preapproval of all allergy meds not just once, but ANNUALLY (Grrrrr!) and therefore I had to go through the whole process again. Call the pharmacy, who told me to call the doctor, who then called in a script to the pharmacy, who then ran the script through insurance, who then declined it. The pharmacy calls the doctor, then me. The doctor must not have followed up so then a week later I am calling the doctor because the pharmacy is telling me the insurance still isn't approved. Fast forward another week and I call the insurance company and it is approved (this morning) and now I am hoping that I can pick up the meds this evening or tomorrow at the latest. I can barely breathe and it just makes me miserable. OTC meds just don't do it, and then there is the whole hassle of taking a D allergy med, so that when you want to GET the medicine you have to buy only 15 days at a time (in case you are trying to make meth you know) and how fun is it to stand in line every 15 days at the pharmacy with two toddlers to buy overpriced meds that you would rather just get monthly at the pharmacy anyway? Oy.

So by this point in time my nose is plugged solid and my head feels like it's a giant balloon and my ears are sore and feel all clogged. You all know the drill. And the poor kids are on Claritin D, and it isn't touching Marek's snot, which just proceeds to stream down his little face. Poor kid. he probably feels crappy too.

What else is new. Well, not a whole lot. Ardyn starts her first ever Violin lesson tomorrow. We found a very inexpensive used violin from Shar Music (online) which was recommended by our Music Teacher. It's a 1/10 scale violin and it is adorable. The Violin was about $50 and because she is young her teacher recommended a fiberglass bow (less chance of breaking, costs less) and so we have everything, including the Suzuki book one. I started reading a few books this week geared towards parents of Suzuki students. I started with "To Learn with Love, A Companion for Suzuki Parents" and although I enjoy it, it has many references to the other book I had wanted to read, so I thought I should pause the first book and start reading Dr Suzuki's Book and part biography, "Nurtured By Love, The Classic Approach to Talent Education." I am really enjoying Dr. Suzuki's book very much, and some things that he says give me "aha" moments.

My favorite so far has been regarding right handed people. Being left-handed, I can fully appreciate the need to adapt yourself to everyday life in a right-handed world. His approach to teaching everything, including music, is that Talent is not BORN or inherited. It is learned and taught. Every child has the ability to be talented and we should give each child that chance by beginning to teach them at a young age, when they are most able to learn and absorb new things. We don't give children a "choice" to learn their language. They learn their "mother tongue" or native language by repetitive exposure and immersion in the language. We expect that they will learn to talk and therefore we patiently and determinedly teach them. If we teach children music the same way, without asking if our child is "talented", we give each child and equal chance to excel in music, and in life.

Think about right handed people. Are they born right handed? Perhaps. I don't think Dr Suzuki believes that, but I have seen in my right handed child and my left handed child a preference very early on. However, I have learned through the years to do MANY things (the majority of things really) right handed, and some things with both hands. This isn't because I was BORN right handed, but because I was taught to do both, and immersed in a world that is essentially right handed. A right handed person doesn't usually exercise their left hand and practice using it, but anyone who has can tell you that practicing and regular use of your non-dominant hand will result in being able to use it, sometimes ambidextrously or interchangeably with your dominant hand. When I decorate a cake I switch hands continuously, depending on whether I want strength, control, or a different angle of approach on the cake... and I do the same thing with my artistic endeavors. I learned to play pool and sports right handed, cut with scissors right handed, but I still prefer to write and do certain things, like play guitar, with my left hand. I wasn't BORN right handed, but exercise and practice has enabled me to use it every single day.

So the point he makes is that talent and ability, especially when related to music, but when related to anything in life, can easily be learned. As long as you are taught at a young age and use practice and repetition.

Some people dislike all his methods, particularly the fact that he expected students to play their pieces without music. In the beginning, when teaching children that can't read, he teaches them by ear. For example, you may not be able to read music, but you can plunk out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano if you know it by ear. Same concept. But he DID teach children to read music later, when they were able to read... but he also expects them to play a piece so much that they can play it without looking at music in the future. He wants them to play and not look at their fingers. He wants them to KNOW what is right (fingering wise, tone wise, etc) and not just be reading it off paper. The theory behind this is that once your ability becomes second nature, you can focus on the emotion behind the music and not just fingering the notes. So there has been plenty of controversy surrounding his teaching method, but the book itself explains much and is interesting to read.

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