Saturday night I was asked for the "who knows how many-th" time how long Haley has been taking lessons, who her teacher is, if she wanted to play fiddle/violin, etc...basically how did Haley become so good at playing? As it is many times, this time it was the mother of a toddler who was looking for advice on when to start her own child and which direction she should take.
"Turn around and run the other way" was probably not the response she was looking for. Ha!
No, seriously, I am always happy to share what worked for us and give people a starting point if they ask. I'll answer their questions and encourage them. Music has been a wonderful thing in the lives of my kids and I feel like I've often had to stumble upon things accidentally...I wish there was a guidebook.
But, I also hold back when answering those types of questions because I know just how much had to occur at just the right time to put us where we are now....kinda like the "perfect storm." There are a number of factors that had to be present to make this work out the way it has so far. It isn't as simple as taking a child to the same teachers or starting at the same age.
Haley, herself, is the biggest factor. She is a bright kid. She memorizes extremely easily...she was memorizing every book I read to her beginning at 11 months old so learning music and keeping it in her head just became a natural extension of that skill. She extrapolates on what she learns with ease and applies her knowledge to new things. She is extremely mature for her age and always has been. She has an eye for detail so she seems to pick up every little aspect of what a teacher is trying to get her to do. She is determined and she wanted to play violin. This all started because she asked to play not because I had in mind that she would be a violinist/fiddler when she grew up. She likes to practice and will ask to practice if I don't think of it first. She enjoys the time we spend together practicing and she likes to make me happy so she isn't the kind of child who would be resistant to doing something.
Our family is another big factor. We were already homeschooling when Haley came along. I was home with the kids and when I worked, their daddy was home with them. Haley is almost 5 years younger than her next youngest brother so she came along at a time when she seemed almost like having a 1st child all over again...her brothers were older and played together well so I had a lot of time to spend with her and could stop whatever I was doing to practice with her when she picked up the violin in those early years.
Music was always a big part of our lives. We listened to different styles on music, I sang to the kids every night before they went to sleep and in the car, and we danced around the kitchen regularly having fun to music.
We also value music education so are willing to put our resources like time and money into the kids' music education. Having a child this involved in music takes lots of time. There are days sometimes when I feel like just forgoing practice for the day but we don't. Haley practices every day for hours unless she's ill but even ill she has always picked up her violin to play something. It is just part of our lives like getting dressed or eating. It takes a lot of time and commitment. We have the ability to put in a lot of time because she home schools so can split her practice time and do it between school lessons. I don't think she would put in as much time if she had to go to school all day then practice for hours at a time after school.
We do without in other areas (house size, new cars, remodeling the house gets pushed back, etc...) to be able to provide the lessons and experiences she needs. I drive a lot transporting her to and from activities and spend quite a bit of time researching experiences for her.
The finale factors that play a big role are the people in our lives. Haley has amazing teachers. They seem to know exactly what she needs to improve and they each have a wonderful relationship with her. She loves them and works hard for them.
Besides the teachers there are the people who have given the kids opportunities to play their music, the wonderful people who come to see them play, those willing to help them raise money to go to Ireland, people who play music with the kids at sessions and with Haley in orchestra, and friends she has made who also play music. Without the friends she has made, both adult and kids her age, music would not be as fun for her.