June 5, 2010

Music & Light Bulbs

Using music to promote Hadley's early language development was a success, but I haven't thought of music lately as a tool, just another activity that she enjoys. In the last few months, Sarah, her music teacher (who has worked with her since age one), has repeatedly talked about how important it is to keep her singing. Hadley wasn't able to do the children's chorus this spring due to a scheduling conflict, but has continued her weekly piano lessons with Sarah. Each week that I see Sarah, she at some point tells me, "Hadley must keep singing!". I agree with her, hustle the kids back in the car, and life goes on.

Only this week did her message really sink in.

Hadley does not really practice (and I choose not to force it, despite having forced myself to practice long and often while I was a violinist), and her progress on the piano is slow. We have a keyboard at home that we moved into her bedroom, so she would not be bothered by her younger brothers when she practiced. I thought the privacy would increase her practice time and perhaps motivate her to do so more regularly. More often than not, however, she messes around on the keyboard and just has fun with it. There is no formal practice and, since she's upstairs in her bedroom, I can't sit with her and help her review the weekly work (unless I want two three-year old boys to have full run of the rest of the house).

For some unknown reason, this week Hadley chose to practice her actual piano work. I've listened to her play (and improve). I've also heard her sing the words to the songs while she plays (something that Sarah has recently required her to do). She can sing a song in tune on its own. She can play the piece on the piano in tempo. She can't do them together at the same time. Finally, that light bulb went off over my head. Sarah hasn't been telling me to keep her singing just to get her back in class. Sarah knew well before me that Hadley needs to keep singing because she can't process the sound of the instrument and modulate her own voice at the same time.

My music teaching friends will remind me that this is a skill that all music students need to develop...but this goes beyond the norm and clearly is something that is impacted by her hearing loss. Hadley has been taught to focus on the source of sound, to tune out background chatter, so she can identify and interpret speech. Right now, when Hadley hears the piano and her own singing voice, her brain responds as if listening to two people talk at the same time. Her singing voice is usually just above or below the piano note; close, but not quite.

Since Hadley does have the basics of the skill, and the interest, I know it's something that can be improved if we focus on it this summer. If Hadley wants, I know it's a skill that she can fully develop...but only if she keeps on singing.

1 comment:

  1. Hadley's story brought tears to my eyes along with the rest of my siblings. Sarah is our mother and this is a true testament to what our mother has been teaching for the last 40 plus years. Thank you Kerry for sharing your beautiful Hadley's story. We hope there will be more to come.