Have you ever heard the expression that practice makes perfect? I had a teacher that used to say, “Don’t practice until you don’t make any mistakes. Practice until it is impossible to make any mistakes!” Practice is essential to any course of musical study just like practice is important to baseball or soccer. You don’t get good at it watching from the sidelines!
I can still hear my mother’s voice calling to me on the old city block in New York. My friends and I were either playing Kick the Can or Red Rover. Suddenly, in the middle of the most awesome and competitive game, I would hear my mother’s voice sailing through the atmosphere. What was she saying, do you ask? She would be calling my name like a song and telling me to come in and practice.
Without her persistence in calling me in every single day, I would not be the musician I am today. The number one thing that I hear from parents is that they want piano lessons or guitar lessons to be fun. Sure, it’s great fun, but music is also a discipline. Music is as important as any academic subject which, once learned, is knowledge, beauty, skill and pleasure for a lifetime. And that can only be accomplished by encouraging regular practice intervals.
The earlier children start learning a musical instrument, the better. At the Forte School we have piano lessons for children as young as three years old. We are one of the only schools in this area that teaches Mommy and Me piano lessons. In this exciting program, young children ages 3 to 4 years old learn to play the piano, read music and even compose their own little songs with their parent or caregiver. The parent is also learning alongside the child and will be there to assist in practice at home. There is that word again. Practice!
We need to treat our musical studies just like any other academic subject. We have to give the proper enthusiasm and support in the home. No child is going to leave their video games happily and sit down to Beethoven’s fifth, but once they do this regularly, it becomes a part of their daily lives that will pay back in amazing dividends.
Looking back, I would rather have kicked that can and ran those bases just one more time. I would’ve loved to have kept yelling out, “Red rover, red rover, send Erika on over!”, but when I heard the voice of my dear mother crying out from up the block, I am very glad that I acquiesced. The truth is, once I was inside and washed up, there was no thing that I wanted to do more than to make the music and to feel those piano keys beneath my fingers. To this day it is the single most exhilarating feeling to me. As a youngster, I didn’t know that my single mother with a million things to do other than chase after me to practice was helping to give me a precious gift. So come on now, Forte families, let’s band together even now when it’s summer and the games are afoot. This is your reminder to urge your little people to practice everyday!
As I have to call my own kids to practice, I thank my mom. Thanks, mom, for calling me in every day! Thanks for giving me the discipline to succeed.