My oldest son is a musician. He has been since the day he was 11 months old and his uncle put his first guitar in his hands. For years it was called a “dingtar”. When he was three his piano teacher said to him “we are going to play jingle bells” and so he played it for her. From ear, never being taught before. It would have been easy in that moment to force my agenda on him. You are a musical genius. More lessons, more practice. Instead I sat back and took his lead. We never went to another piano lesson.
There were always guitars in the house. He spent seven months when he was four standing with a full sized electric guitar in front on the TV watching Green Day’s Bullet in a Bible and being Mike Dirnt. I could see he changed his strumming based on the song. He was clearly learning the rhythm and maybe a chord or two by simply watching. Again, I could have jumped in and put him in lessons to learn these skills instead I took his lead, “no I’m good thanks.”
He sold his guitars at one point because having pokemon cards felt more important. And he saw a way to get those cards for things that in the season of his life he really wasn’t spending much time using. So we sold them. He was happy for many months with those cards that he got. Even though I wanted desperately to intervene to stop him.
I bought myself a Ukulele for my 40th birthday. I plucked away making little to no progress for well over a year. Then we had one of those visitors who brought his awesome guitar playing self into the middle of our living room. The boys fought over my Ukulele for the days following. So I ordered two inexpensive Ukulele’s so we could all learn together.
They arrived. We started plucking a bit together. But really what happened was that my oldest son disappeared into his room and emerged, what felt like instantly to my struggling musician self, playing full songs on the Ukulele. Which meant we then needed a junior guitar which he transferred the knowledge to seamlessly. Now less than a year later there are two electric guitars, four ukuleles, two acoustic guitars and a mandolin scattered throughout our home.
We spent a short amount of time in guitar lessons. Which were frustrating more than they were rewarding. So once again I sit back, take his lead and watch as a skilled musicians continues to blossom before me. Easily picking up music on the instruments he comes across. He has a confidence in his own learning ability that allows him to approach each new instrument like he already knows it’s insides. And with a little attention and time he finds a way to make it come alive with sweet music.
I can not put into words the wonder it is to hear my son make music. His own style. His own learning. But if I had to put a cherry on top of it all, it would be what he has taught me. I had struggled with the Ukulele and with in ten minutes he had me playing more than I had in the months before. Not only does he understand how to make music, how to learn new music, he also holds the ability to transfer that knowledge to another person. If that is not mastery of learning I don’t know what is. This is why, I stand back, each time and watch where the learning takes my children. Never forcing it to go where I think it should.