Sunday, October 21, 2007

How do you teach this?

Ryanna had her third violin concert in her life Saturday. I was really excited for her because she has progressed so much in her abilities the last couple of months. We took the summer off because her teacher was gone and we were terrible about practicing...pretty much didn't practice to be honest, but boy did we have good intentions. I didn't know how it would be starting up again this August and I have been pleasantly surprised by her improvements in so many areas--bow hold, fingering, speed, etc. There is a lot to think about when you play a violin.

I signed her up to do this concert at one of the group lessons she takes every other Saturday. They have children of all ages and abilities that perform. Ryanna's teacher, Mrs. Bowling, had decided that it would be good for Ryanna to play the theme to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I agreed, she had really grasped the song well. Seriously, she's been able to play this song without any errors for several weeks. I was really excited about the concert.

A brief history about Ryanna's violin concerts...She was always a bit shaky on the songs she was going to perform before the past two recitals. I never knew how she would do. I was always excited and anxious for her. She apparently has the ability to rise to the occassion and do well. With this history in mind, I knew she was going to rock this concert. She was so prepared.

Imagine my surprise when she got lost playing her song on Saturday. Here she was the first performer (she always is because she's always the youngest person playing the easiest song) and she started the song beautifully. I was really pleased and all of a sudden, she forgot to repeat the middle section. Oh no! I was worried for only a split second because not only does she rise to the challenge of these pressure filled events, but she is very good at finding her place in the music if she misses a note.

Well, this time she didn't. She wasn't able to find that note right away like she's so talented at doing. She wasn't able to act as though she slightly missed it. She got lost. She did eventually pick up with her teacher and finish the performance. She bowed...(I love her bows) and everyone clapped of course.

Honestly, I felt badly for her. She KNOWS this song better than any other song she's ever done before. We've practiced this song over and over. Not to the point where it's obnoxious because she knows it so well there has been no need. I couldn't help but wish it had been perfect. I wanted her to shine on her special day. Her grandma drove down from Colorado and we even had some good friends, Jack & Annie & their little girl, come and watch.

After the performance she went and sat down to finish listening to all the other performers. She didn't cry or seem distressed at all. After the concert finished, she came up to me and I told her good job, but I couldn't help but ask her what had happened. She didn't seem to know exactly herself.

We went to get gelatto afterward and had a good time as a family celebrating her performance. She had done the best she could after all.

I just wonder, how do you teach your child to strive for their best and be slightly disappointed that they didn't reach it and want to do even better next time? How do you do it without making them feel like they aren't good enough? How do you let them know that they are so perfect to you in every way, but you want them to reach their full potential, but not heap so much pressure on them that they always feel inadequate?

I struggle with this because I know I have felt this way. I know my potential in different areas and I know that I'm not reaching it all the time. I remember as a child wanting to please eveyone so badly and feeling their disappointment when I wasn't reaching expectations. Honestly, it definitely helped me to excel, but is it good? I don't want to be one of those parents you hear about who are vicariously living their lives through their children. You know those parents on the bleachers who are freaking out about their child missing the shot or the goal or the pass opportunity. That's not me. I want to be encouraging without demanding. I want my child to want for herself to achieve.

When Ryanna and I did a lesson today, we warmed up playing the first four variations that she knows. Then I said, "How about we do the theme now and I'll go get the camera and we can record it?" She said, "Yeah, 'cause I didn't play it right yesterday." My heart kind of sunk when she said that because I wondered, "Did she say that because she recognized it herself or because she could feel my disappointment?"

I realize that I'm imperfect as a parent and I hope that my child can look back and forgive my imperfections as I know I've certainly had to do for my parents. I just want so badly to be a better parent. Isn't that what we all want? To be better than the previous generation? To reach our feel like we might not have been perfect, but no one could fault us for trying? I think about this all the time. I worry that through my thoughtless words and actions, spoken or performed in haste, I may damage the relationship I have with my children or cause them to lose confidence and trust in me.

I am so proud of her. She is such an amazing child. My gosh, she's playing the violin at four years old!!! I could've never done what she's doing at her age. She's such a great sister to Owen, helper for me, friend to so many. I love her to pieces and I am so proud of my little girl. I hope that she can continue to teach me to be a better parent and remember that we're all works in progress.

(Here is the song from this afternoon. She starts to play the wrong note and catches herself and corrects it. The camera goes crazy a couple of times because I am holding Owen and he was batting the camera. Note: you'll need to turn off the music on the Pumpkin Patch slide show to hear this correctly. If you can't figure out how to do that, you can also view this at:


Lacey said...

So cute! I especially love the bow at the end! I have no good advice to give as I am basically in the same boat! Keep you head up..your a great mom!

Lolly said...

wow, that is so cute! Good job Ryanna! I have no advice for you Audrey, I know you are a good Mom though.

donna h. said...

Bravo!!!! When I talked to Ryanna on the phone this weekend, she was aware that she hadn't played the piece perfectly. I don't know if someone had told her or if she knew all by herself. But, she seemed VERY pleased to have participated!!! Her video that you posted to the blog is adorable!

My advise is to give your children lots and lots and lots of opportunities!! Not every event in the life of an opportunity will be pulled off without a hitch but it will be a grand learning experience. The beauty in this is that the events that have a glitch usely are the most memorable. By participating we learn. The trick is to keep the self-esteem as high as you can. And, I think you do that by giving unconditional love and encouragement. When an event happens and a stumble occurs, always keep the lines of communication wide open...that means being able to listen without judging. Being a GREAT listener is a hard thing to do. Also, alway be compassionate in that sometimes we give it all we've got (and we've prepared) but it doesn't come out as anticipated. Remember to move on...quickly...and don't dwell on it.

In the case of you, Audrey, I think your desire to be a great mother will supercede any errors that are made along the way. Because I know your heart, I know that whatever opportunity that you give your child is in the best interest of molding them into a happy, successful person. After all, unless things have changed, your children don't come with a manual. And, being a good mother is a work of art. The biggest guide in raising your children that you can be guided into to always choosing the right (or the left if that what's the GPS Navigation System says to do!)

DKAZ said...

AMAZING! I got teary reading that and then watching the video and little Ryanna taking her bow-SO SWEET. I think it's because I so know exactly how you feel(and I'm PMSing.) Then knowing Ryanna and how much I'm sure she wanted to play it perfectly-well, I totally feel your pain. I think as a Mom you will feel more pain than your children when it comes to mistakes, failures and disappointments, but I also think you'll feel just as much happiness for them too. All I know is that I'm already worried for my kids, cuz I've been known to be a little psycho when it comes to all things competitive.

Just so you know-you're a great Mom Audrey!

Lara said...

I feel like if we demand too much perfection as parents we kind of kick ourselves in the foot...we want our children to be able to accept their imperfections and ALSO to strive to be better and to excel at what they choose to do.

However, failure is very important for them to learn self esteem. If we always tell them they're wonderful at everything they do, they get that we are not being honest anyway, and somehow their self esteem is lower this way. I think it's okay to be honest when they didn't do something exactly right. In a loving way, of course. :) I don't want to be the parent that demands and is never satisfied and hurts the self esteem that way, either.

I'm certainly not perfect at it. Heaven knows Bria and I struggle almost daily with violin practice. But I am so dang proud of her to have one more song left in Book 1 as she turns 7. It's really amazing. It's the same thing with Chloe (and Ryanna is doing much better than Chloe!...Chloe just doesn't have the interest that Bria has).

Anyway, I think you handled it wonderfully. Praise her for the fact that she did it in front of all those people and help her to prepare better for the next recital. We have one coming up in a few weeks and I'm just praying that Chloe will even play. :)

Crazymamaof6 said...

oh she is adorable! and i love her bow! bravo ! bravo! encore! she is fabulous , and she is little still. i have no advice for you , sorry.

Dori said...

just make fun of her. No, seriously though, I would praise her for all of the things that she did (I'm so proud of you for standing up and playing your violin for all of those people. I am so proud of you for practicing so much, and working so hard. I am so proud that you know how to play that song, what a big girl you are.) And then ask her how she felt about it. That way if she is feeling some disappointment, she can talk to you about it then. Honestly Audrey, she is amazing. I remember in high school singing solos on stage would almost give me a heart attack, and it really affected my voice. It sucked! I would feel so frustrated, because it sounded SO GOOD in the shower that morning. Later, singing became a lot more natural to me when I stopped worrying so much about what other people thought, and just doing it because I enjoyed it. Just support her. You are a great mommy. Love ya!

Tina said...

I ask myself the same question all the time- how do you teach your kids to be self-motivated with a desire to succeed to please themselves and not necessarily others? I wish I knew. There has been a lot of good advice in these comments though, so thanks for opening up the discussion.

Zim Family said...

I wish I had advice. I wish I knew how to get my kid to just focus on one thing for more than five minutes...and you have yourself a maestro in the making. Yeah, no advice from me. But Ryanna did such a fabulous job playing on the tape. She is such a little cutie...and you can see that she is so focused. That's pretty amazing I think.

bloggingchristy said...

Ryanna is so cute! I agree with you that it is amazing that she can play the violin at all at four years old. I hope that we get to see you and your kids again soon! Are you going to Utah for Christmas?

I worry all the time about being a good mom. But I figure that as long as I'm trying and being prayerful the Lord will make up for the rest of what I haven't done as well as I should.

jayne said...

Audrey--totally off topic of being a good parent (loooong way to go on my end), but Odd Girl Out is the book about bullying. It's for a book club I'm hosting, but it's also helpful for when my daughter gets older. (or really discouraging, can't decide yet). It's not a novel, it's actually a research book with various stories compiled. I'm only 1/2 way through, but someone told me near the end the author has a few chapters on how to help with girls manipulative nature and how to cope with bullies encountered. I hope these are helpful because right now I want to lock my sweet daughter in a closet until she's in college so she can skip a lot of the nasty teenage girls she'll me whenever about books at We definitely have similar taste in books!

Kylie said...

I read up on your recent stuff this morning, and fully intended on emailing you the link to my blog, but I wanted to figure out how it all works first. Obviously, I am paranoid about looking would think I would be used to it by now. How did you find me? Is it bc I linked my page to yours? This is a whole new world, and I'm pretty techno-savvy...sigh.

Anyway, I do love reading your posts, some of them could very easily be turned into essays and published. Kinda makes you glad you went to college, huh?

Your kids are adorable!

Phil said...

Just remember 10 positive comments to every negative one. I believe in being honest. Kids shouldn't grow up with an inflated opinion of them self.
They need to feel capable and able to do what ever they put their mind to. They need to enjoy the proses and not just the finished product (concert or score from the winning game) Ruth

Phil said...

Just remember 10 positive comments to every negative one. I believe in being honest. Kids shouldn't grow up with an inflated opinion of them self.
They need to feel capable and able to do what ever they put their mind to. They need to enjoy the proses and not just the finished product (concert or score from the winning game) Ruth