Thursday, October 6, 2011

Red Brown Green

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I am a music addict.  It's how I was brought up, immersed in music 24/7.  I spent much of my pregnancy with Ben agonizing over whether it was better to start with violin lessons or piano.  It wasn't a question of if, or even when (by age 3 at the latest, I figured), but which.

So then I went and had a deaf kid.  I don't know what else to write in this paragraph; you can probably guess what goes here.

When Ben was maybe a month old -- I don't remember exactly, but it was after his hearing loss had been confirmed -- some friends came over to visit and meet him for the first time.  Two of them are professional musicians, and the other two are fellow music addicts.  Much of our conversation typically revolved around music.  We hadn't yet told them.  About the deafness.  So finally, after all the oohing and aahing and jokes about our sleep deprivation had subsided, we told them.  Everyone immediately slipped into support and sympathy mode, but I could see the dark shock in their eyes.  Or maybe I was projecting onto them what I was feeling.

What I was feeling at the time was grief.  Grieving the loss of a certain vision of parenting.  Grieving the loss of music in my child's life.  Wondering what a life without music feels like -- it still seems so alien to me.  Violin vs. piano?  Suddenly seemed a foolish, naive self-indulgence of pregnancy.

Fast forward almost four years.  I'm not sure what to put in this paragraph either, except that, well, duh, we figured a few things out in the meantime.

Yesterday Ben had his first piano lesson.  Okay, he's closer to four than three, but technically I got it in under the deadline, with exactly two weeks to spare!  He plopped down in front of Janis' piano and proceeded to play "Hot Cross Buns".  We'd been working on it at home for a few weeks now.  We call it "Red Brown Green," because we color-coded the piano keys at home.

It was a good lesson.  He's definitely not the most naturally compliant kid around (his middle name should be Pushback), so it'll take a little doing to figure out how to keep him engaged and committed over the long haul, but I'm determined to do everything I can.

I just can't quite get over it.  Yesterday he had his first piano lesson.  Even if he never has another one (and I can guarantee you that he'll have plenty), it feels like we broke the tape after a marathon, and we've just been handed a gigantic shiny trophy.

Now, ask me in a couple of years when I'm pulling my hair out trying to get him to practice whether it's still so shiny.  I'm guessing it will be, although I might not be prepared to admit it.

Oh, and Janis, the piano teacher, was one of those four friends who visited that day when Ben was a baby.  It's kind've a nice bookend feeling.  She was there at the beginning of that phase of the journey, and she's here at the beginning of this one.


Lucas'Mommy said...

Beautiful post! Enjoy that trophy! I believe it will still be shiny in a few years, and that shine will never go away.

We mourned (among other things, of course) the inability to raise Lucas bi- or tri-lingually like we had always hoped. It seems so trivial now, but it was a big deal. He's starting to dapple with some Spanish, and I'm hoping when baby girl comes (and if she can hear), that I will speak lots of Spanish to her, and he will pick up on it too.

Excited for Ben to embark on this new journey!!

Yanti said...

Congratulations!Must have been an exciting moment for your family.Rhianna's current music school will only enroll 5 year olds for instrument classes.So now she's stuck with her music appreciation class until next year :(

tammy said...

Beautiful post Julia! Music (on the radio, CDs etc) is huge in our household. Our family road trips always have a "theme" song we all sing, and ALL of us belt out many songs together wherever we may be. I LOVE how music sparks memories, a smile, or even tears. After we found out Aiden was deaf, this was the one thing I mourned for quite awhile and how he would participate in something so important to us as a family.

Little did we know.

It's taken awhile, but our boy is starting to sing, and with a tune.

Enjoy your trophy for years to come and I'm sure it will shine on for quite some time! So, when do violin lessons start? ; )

Anonymous said...

Everybody loves the Avett Brothers. Do you ever let Ben look on YouTube? If so, check out some Avett Brothers performances and covers. Here are a few to get you started:

Colorshow, Scott Avett on piano also youtube other renditions

Kick drum heat, Seth Avett on piano

Head full of doubt, Scott Avett on piano

Best rendition of Colorshow, Scott Avett on banjo--notice how he jumps up and down.

Maybe Ben would like to play banjo!

Kathy said...

Well Sis, it really has been a journey. And it doesn't ever end, according to Mom and Dad. Despite the worries and fears, and I know those are still many issues, it seems like my nephew has a wee bit of interest in things musical! I suspect that there will be plenty of singing round the cake this year and you can bet we will be singing right along over here. Now about that tuba I promised him... Your loving sister, the very, very proud Aunt Kathy

Madeline said...

Yaaaaaaay for Ben! I'm so glad he's starting piano! I brag about Ben all the time to people, and they're all impressed with someone so young who loves music so much, whether or not his deafness comes into the conversation.

krlr said...

This was beautiful. I wish I knew how to play - even when he starts rebelling against them later on (or, you know, now), know he'll secretly appreciate it 20 yrs from now because he'll get all the girls. Cheers to marathon tapes!

Elsie Hickey Wilson said...

I remember when he unwrapped his tiny violin last Christmas, the look on his face and he said, "My very own violin!" This kid has had a thing about music ever since you banged on the lower octaves of the piano and it was in the range where he could hear "something" if not totally. Hot Cross Buns today...tomorrow.....Ben keeps surprising us! I can hardly wait to get there and hear a "Red Brown Green" recital!
It was only yesterday that I was with you for your first violin lesson! Time passes! Love ya' MOM

crazymamaof3 said...

Is so nice to see how good Ben is doing! Nicholas has yet to say a word after 5+ years with his CI. Thats okay though..we are working on signing and he is making progress!