February 4, 2011 at 6:00 am
I heard it before I knew what was happening.
I was moo-ing. In public.
Mooooooooo! The man playing Igor Stravinsky said gesturing at me.
Moo. I responded.
Mooooooo! he said again, lifting his conductor baton higher.
Um, mooo? I tried again.
We’ll work in it! he said reassuringly.
You work on it, I thought to myself.
I had brought my kids to a school-age performance of the ballet “The Emperor and the Nightingale.” If I had wanted audience participation I would have taken them to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror.
And now I had embarrassed myself in front of several classrooms of Montessori kids.
But this was not the first time my lack of musical confidence had led to stage fright and later red cheeks. It was just the first time the public embarrassment had included animal sounds.
The whole experience, which I relive periodically in staggering flashbacks, reminded me of something I have been telling myself I want to work on.
I want to be more … musical.
Last year, a friend told me she heard a pretty well-know and very respected homeschool author and speaker at a conference. The woman insisted the talk not be recorded because she was going to tell the parents in attendance about some of the things she wished she had done differently as a homechooling mom.
The one that stood out for me when my friend relayed the story: she wishes she would have sung more.
Her children often saw her as a stressed and busy mom, she said, balancing educating her kids, a career, a home, and writing books on the side … they rarely got to see her as a mom enjoying life; humming a happy tune, as it were.
That’s me. I thought. I’m that way too.
I gave up piano lessons around age 11 when other interests took over. Our little grade school offered music class twice a week with a woman who clearly hated us all and often wondered outloud how she had gotten saddled with the one grade school in the county that had absolutely zero Fame-like talent.
Later I had mix tapes, sure, but while friends went to sweaty outdoor concerts, I openly questioned the appeal of standing just close enough to a band to have to drive home with my ears ringing, smelling like smoke …
I married a man who loves live music, and somehow loves me even if I don’t understand going to see U2 every year.
During my first pregnancy I read about the benefits of playing music to your baby. I had visited a friend after her son was born and recognized Bach on the CD player. Her 10-day old infant didn’t seem moved.
When my own son was born a few months later, we were given music too. I played him the CD of children singing kid classics like, ”Do You Know the Muffin Man” and he screamed until he watched a stranger buy the CD for 25 cents in our yard sale.
Owen never liked music meant for kids; neither of my children did.
They did like the classic radio station, I discovered one day. And we invested in some audiobooks for longer car rides.
Somehow, though, they have both developed a love of music, and I have felt for a while like I need to catch up. I really wanted to find a way to share music with them — just in a way that didn’t make any of us batty.
Enter Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb.
Their CD Can You Catch the Moon has given us a perfect blend of age-appropriate songs; familiar melodies and music that I can enjoy as an adult.
Since getting that CD a few months ago, we have added more Elizabeth Mitchell to our collection, and suddenly, I am finding myself singing.
Another resource that is helping me to feel more musical are the CDs from Naturally You Can Sing. (I mean, naturally I can’t, but the CDs are helping.)
In observing Ellery’s Waldorf class offered through our homeschool co-op, I am seeing the power of music for young children, especially in helping them to make transitions.
Today, as we were getting ready to play in the snow, I found myself singing: “Thumb in the the thumb place/fingers all together/this is what we sing in mitten weather …”
I am here to say that singing is a waaaay more peaceful approach to getting kids dressed for snow-play than shouting PUSH like a labor and delivery nurse in a medical drama.
So while I am not ready to moo in public again anytime soon, I am finding that there is a definite place in our home (and car) and life for music.
I think Igor Stravinsky would be proud.
How do you bring music into your home?