N. has been taking piano lessons with a fabulous teacher since late September 2010 and he's really been enjoying it and has learned a lot. We wanted him to take lessons because we thought he would like it and because being able to make music is so life-enriching over the long term. One of the the true joys of music is to share it with others, whether by making music with other musicians or by playing for willing listeners. N. has recently had some great experiences making music with and for others and I never expected he would do either so early in his study of the piano.
Unlike Suzuki strings instruction, for example, where children play "Twinkle, Twinkle" with other beginning violinists, I think piano instruction tends to be solitary. But one of N.'s really good friends is learning to play violin and when he and N. get together to play with Legos, blocks, etc., they end up jamming together, just improvising on the piano and violin, listening to each other and trying to match tones or moods. They are not self-conscious and play together with freedom and joy, having fun creating sound together without caring about the product. I love it that they both love music and without any adult intervention they've figured out that they can share that with each other.
One of the many things I love about N.'s teacher is that she doesn't hold student recitals. I suppose there's a time and place for recitals, but I think a recital would have been counterproductive for N. this year. Instead he's had a lot of fun playing spontaneously for friends and family. He always volunteers (we never make him do it!) because he really likes the pieces he plays and loves sharing them with our guests. He plays with a lot of verve and skill for a beginner and I think he enjoys the surprised and positive response this elicits from his listeners. In playing for friends, the emphasis is on the fun of sharing a favorite piece of music rather than on the perfection and performance that might be the focus of a recital.
When we began N's piano lessons, I primarily imagined the benefits for N. of learning the instrument. Recently I was reminded, however, that music isn't just for him, but a means through which he can give joy to others. We've been visiting his elderly paternal grandmother in the care facility to which she has moved, and N. gives her great pleasure by playing for her on an electric keyboard we'd brought along. On another visit, his grandma was listening to a resident play an organ in the common area, and both women encouraged N. to try it. Both women had a wonderful time showing him how the instrument worked and listening to him play. I was so grateful to N.'s piano teacher for all she's done during the past year to give N. the means to make his grandma and her fellow resident smile. Here's a bit of the moment I captured on my phone: