Bouncy Boy has an ear. Well, he has two ears, actually, but what I mean is, he has an Ear. He has perfect pitch. The real deal. Ask him to sing an A and he will produce 440 Hz, pure and true, every time. And now that he knows the names of other notes, he can sing them on demand as well. Last night his sister made a balloon squeak in the next room, and he off-handedly commented that it was an F sharp.
He started Suzuki violin lessons this fall, and even aside from the Ear, he has incredible musical aptitude. He is grasping concepts of rhythm and note-reading effortlessly. Violin technique is coming easily to him, too. His bow arm is fantastic, his left hand position is “scrumptious” (his teacher’s word, not mine), and he intuitively corrects his own intonation. Furthermore, he loves it. He counts the days until his next lesson, and practices with good will.
He practices with good will (most of the time, anyway) because I take great care to structure his practice sessions so that he can be successful. Because the thing is, Bouncy Boy also has ADHD-ish issues, and it is very hard for him to stay focused on an endeavor like this. I have discovered that for BB, the magic number is three. That’s all. Just three. I can ask him to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star three times in a row. If I ask him to play it four times, or god forbid five, he will melt down. So I break it down into smaller pieces. I ask him to play the separate phrases of Twinkle three times each — no prob. Then I ask him to play the whole Twinkle three times — again, no prob. So he’s actually played Twinkle six times, but he just doesn’t realize it. And then we do it again with a different rhythm. So ultimately he is getting quite a bit of Twinkle in there. I just have to be soooo careful about how I get him to do it. And it is working. He is making good progress; his teacher is delighted and so am I.
Delighted, but. There is a poignant side to this as well. Bouncy Boy loves playing the violin. He wants to do this. I mean, it’s one thing if ADHD-ish issues get in the way of something he might not care about anyway, like finishing worksheets in school, but when it affects something he cares so deeply about… it hurts. That is why I am so damn grateful for his Ear. Anything that makes it a little easier, that gives him a leg up, is fine by me.