Monday, December 28, 2009

12/28/09 7 days for 6 strings

This morning, Julian and Katrina were unbearably adorable. They spent the better part of an hour with Julian reading a fairy book to her, both completely absorbed in the story. I think Julian was more into it than she was!

We've had ~gasp~ rain here on and off the last few days, and I've learned something about Katrina: she loves rain. She grabs her rain jacket the moment she realizes it's raining, puts on her boots, and goes right outside. Two nights ago, Dave had to insist she come inside, because it had been dark for over half an hour and it was dinnertime -- never mind cold and raining, that was fine with her. She threw a huge fit about having to come in. She very very happily plays in the dirt and mud, singing to herself the whole time outside.

She is an odd little bird sometimes!

We've rediscovered our little ukulele, and Gabriel has been tackling learning it again (though we lost our little instructional book on it). It's eerie hearing him play something on the ukulele, then duplicate it exactly on the piano, chord for chord, note for note. Tonight, I caught a little video of a very rare thing for him: singing while playing.

He's no Elvis, but it's interesting seeing him work through a song (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in this case).

There's a precedent for string-instrument "Twinkle" in his life.

(Cellist: Anna Vazquez, Papa Paul's daughter.)
(Oh my this brings a tear to my eye...even at 6 months old, he had such an intensity about him. Maybe that's just me seeing it. And she is so good with kids.)

It was so cute seeing him hanging out in a chair and going between trying to play a specific tune, and just strumming idly -- musical tinkering, if you will. You can just about see the music coursing through him -- it's just in him, even if it doesn't show up all the time.

Meantime, Julian was on the piano. Given the rainy afternoon, and the destruction the boys were engaging in earlier in their room, I was sorely tempted to resort to the video route (we have "Ice Age" from the library, as yet unwatched), but as is usually the case, somehow they find their own entertainment. Seeing both boys working on their instruments, while Katrina happily prattled about outside in the rain, I was once again glad I didn't go there. Even if the walls in their room and my vocal chords had to suffer for it.

Lately, Julian's been practically studying the piano. He's been working really hard actually, teaching himself tunes from the piano's preprogrammed ones. Gabriel does the same thing, but their styles are very different. Unlike Gabriel, Julian almost always sings along, he doesn't do any chords, and he doesn't try to play fast. But he tries more songs and he's more experimental with the musical aspects with each song. Like Gabriel, he spends hours playing and practicing.

(Dave and I are talking about lessons for Julian now. That will be interesting. Julian doesn't show the same sort of skill or talent that Gabriel does, but generally by nature he's more open to instruction. And Julian also has a musicality, a creativity, about him I don't see in Gabriel, who I see as more of a "technical" musician. Julian finds freedom in music; Gabriel finds order in it. For the record, Dave doesn't quite agree with this characterization, and indeed, it's very vague and subjective.)

Meantime, Dave and I also mused that maybe a kid-sized guitar is needed here. Gabriel's eyes got huge at the idea, but we were prepared: he doesn't take good enough care of the ukulele to get a real six-string guitar yet. So we set up an agreement: 7 days for 6 strings. That is, if he takes PERFECT care of the ukulele for 7 days -- no running with it, no putting his feet all over it, no holding it up Pete Townsend-style to threaten his brother, no leaving it on the floor -- then we'll talk about getting a guitar.

Then we put the 7 days in writing on a calendar, countdown style, with a line for each day to put a check or an X. I give it 10% he'll meet his end of the agreement -- Gabriel can be very motivated, but he's still just a 7-year-old kid who doesn't think past what his next gross-out noise will be.

Truth is, I hope he makes it. I'd like to learn a little guitar myself.


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