So this morning I had a nice fanboy moment at, of all places, Liam's ECFE class. We started way back in September going Tuesday and Friday morning, and today was the penultimate meeting for the Tuesday class. The first hour the kids and parents are together (Fiona has been hanging out in the sibling care room since Katie went back to work and I bring both of them on my own), and the second they are separate, with the kids doing more directed play and the parents going off to a discussion group where we have talked about various aspects of child development and the challenges of parenting 2-3 year-olds. Today's discussion group started a little earlier than usual because our parent educator Leanne had brought in a guest speaker. The woman looked familiar, and when she introduced herself my hunch was confirmed, even though we had never formally met in person. Leanne knew the guest because she and her son attended another of Leanne's ECFE classes, but I knew her because she spent several years with that most excellent Twin Cities vocal music outfit The Rose Ensemble.
Our guest is also a music educator, and appropriately enough she was there to talk about how to integrate music into the daily life of infants and toddlers, and also to dispel some of the myths about how musical aptitude is solely based on innate ability. She used an analogy that I found quite compelling: reading is a learned skill, and although some people will be better at it or pick it up easier than others, we do not tell those for whom it is difficult to abandon it altogether. Yet that is often what happens with music. Some children will have a knack for it, and it will rightly be encouraged, and they may one day make it to Carnegie Hall. Other children will struggle mightily, and unfortunately will be told by society to give up and move on to something else. There are those who might say that we should tell children to focus on developing the things they are good at, and I certainly agree, but the process by which children figure out what skills or subjects they are more adept in is more often than not framed by the language of being a failure, which can have harmful psychological effects far into adult life. These effects can be especially damaging when it comes to music, given that it is an element of every human culture (at least every culture of which I have knowledge). As our guest reminded us, it was not so long ago that making music was a part of almost everyone's daily life, and it was only with the invention of the phonograph and recorded music, and the subsequent rise of superstars, that western society got away from that. In fact before the late 19th century the analogy with reading was pretty much the reverse: literacy was considered a skill for the elite few and music one that everyone could and should develop as far as they were able. Thankfully, I learned, my wife and I are doing a lot of good things to make music part of Liam and Fiona's everyday experience, and even if neither of them go to Julliard they will be encouraged to pursue any musical aptitude they might have to the fullest.
I waited until after the formal presentation to out myself as a squeeing fanboy, and our guest was quite pleased to know that Jordan (Sramek, Rose founder and artistic director) and co. had a groupie. Now go and buy some of their CDs, you won't be disappointed.