February or no, I am still finding myself with the desire to hibernate. To cozy up in my bed with a good book. To watch Downton Abbey and The Finder to my little heart's content. To play Words With Friends all day. To pretend I don't have responsibilities.
After a weekend spent doing all of the above, I knew yesterday had to be productive. And, let me tell you, when one puts her mind to it, it is always amazing what one can accomplish. But only if her mind is to it, mind you. I finally cleaned up the kitchen from the Young Men's activity Joel held on Friday evening (he made luau food for them)(don't you wish he were your YM leader?). I taught a couple lessons. I did some laundry. I helped the girls with homework projects, like Sophia's 100-day project (hard to believe they've been in school 100 days now this year!)(I know most of you passed that milestone a while ago...we start school late) and Bria's science worksheet. The girls and I made Valentine cookies for a sister in our branch who has had knee surgery, and then our family visited her in the nursing home for Family Home Evening later (they got new heart cookie cutters in their mailboxes yesterday morning)(see how I did that?).
But the most important thing I did yesterday was practice the violin with Sophia. I confess, the winter doldrums have definitely made me a bit apathetic on the music-practicing front. Sophia has been getting very little practice time with me, and she needs it the very most! Bria is quite self-sufficient and amazingly gets herself up at 6 every morning and comes down to practice. I rarely have to remind her, and I only do if my 6:30 alarm goes off and I'm not hearing scales coming from the living room yet. And even then, I only have to walk to the bottom of the staircase, say "Bria!" and she's right down. Chloe practices the piano without my asking her, it's just that she doesn't always practice the right things. And, I have been negligent with making sure she does lately, hence she's not progressing as quickly as she might. (And her piano teacher reads this blog.) (SORRY! I'll be better!)
But it also means that little Sophia, who has only been playing for a few months, is left on her own, too. And that means she either doesn't practice, or she does, but with no attention paid to the important things like posture, fingerings, and, oh--correct notes. So yesterday, with my newfound desire to be productive, after Sophia got off the bus and ate her lunch I told her we were going to practice her violin together.
And I was met with a full-scale temper tantrum. No reasoning would work to calm her down (especially not the reminder that she has her first recital next week) and I found myself wanting to just give up on it and go back into hibernation. It's easier.
But then I remembered all of the fun things I used to do to get Bria to practice when she was a Twinkler and throwing tantrums. So, I quickly made eight little cards with her Twinkle rhythms and things like bow circles and finger marches written on the back. I laid them out on the floor and told her we were going to play a game and it was going to be SO FUN! She could draw a card to find out what she was going to play! SO FUN! And she only had to draw four and then we could be done.
And, since she is in Kindergarten, she did indeed think this was going to be SO FUN! and enthusiastically ran to get her violin out of its case. The first card she drew was the rhythm she will be playing on her recital, so after she did it once, I told her she would be playing it with the piano at the recital, and so did she want to try that? Yes, she did. SO FUN!
I went over to the piano and dug up the piano accompaniments and I was suddenly bowled over with this sense of deja vu, for lack of a better word. A sense of total well-being and joy. That accompaniment book is well-worn from the millions of times I played through Twinkles with Bria. She started at a much younger age than Sophia and it took her longer to learn them, and I played them with her on the piano every day diligently. (Of course, I lived in sunny Arizona at the time, and the January blahs don't happen there.) When I think about that time spent with Bria, I recognize it as being a source of great joy for me. The pride in my little daughter as she worked her fingers and bow to make music. The pride in herself as she realized what she was doing. The quality time spent together, working on something hard, but rewarding. And now Bria has this confidence--she knows she can do hard things with that violin. It's why she has no problem getting up early and working on it (not that she never has her moments...she most certainly does).
I haven't really given that confidence to Sophia. Not yet. But yesterday was a start. And I began to feel that pride as I played the piano for her and heard her play every last one of her Twinkles without a hitch (because she didn't want to stop at just four), professional fingers and all. And when I turned around from the piano and cheered for her after she played the first time, I could see it in her eyes.
This is what she needs from me.
So even though her posture needs a lot of work (as all you violinists out there will most certainly recognize from the video), she now knows that she can do hard things with her instrument, and she likes how that feels. And I anticipate that today she is going to get off of the bus excited about practicing.
And I will be just as excited to help her practice.