|At least all that obsessive watching of "The Two Towers" has been productive|
But somehow, with the all the piano practice, homework, sport and other stuff we have to fit into our week, violin seems to have fallen somewhat off the radar. We were managing one session a week, with The Doctor at the weekend, but it increasingly ended in tears, either of frustration because he found it hard, or because there was something much more interesting to be done with his brother. (Meanwhile I was wondering if the neighbours could hear the terrible sounds emanating from our house and thought we were strangling a cat.)
Six months in, and his teacher had begun to write subtle, then not-so-subtle hints in his lesson book about the need for more practice. He'd also joined a string ensemble at school and had been given music to learn for a concert -- despite the fact that he had just about mastered playing open strings. It was time for action, so I decided that over half term we would get to grips with the violin.
Now, although I have tried in vain before to emulate the "tiger mother" style when it comes to music practice, I have never really succeeded. But this time I tried all sorts of things. Bribes, mainly, but also -- playing along to a CD that came with his violin book, and me playing the piano with him so it seemed like we were doing duets. But there was still lots of grumbling and not much improvement.
And then.....it happened by chance that Littleboy 2 was playing a tune on the piano that he said reminded him of the music from Lord of the Rings (something the two of them watch obsessively on DVD). I sat down at the piano and managed to pick out the tune. (Just goes to show that MY years of music lessons, which included barely scraping through my 'cello Associated Board exams until I gave up at the age of 18, did actually pay off).
Soon we were looking up, and improvising, all sorts of different musical themes from the Lord of the Rings films. There was the Shire music (which has a vaguely Irish/gipsy feel), but their favourite seemed to be the "Riders of Rohan" music. I wasn't sure which this was, so we used the iPad to look it up. (Handy parental tip -- you can find all kinds of sheet music on the internet, and an iPad is a perfect way to look at it.)
Littleboy 1 then spent a whole half hour engrossed in playing this theme on his violin (I've tried to post the video here, but it doesn't seem to like Blogger). Voila - his playing improved, and he was then able to tackle the concert pieces much better. Littleboy 2 even accompanied him on the piano.
So thank you, Peter Jackson, or actually Howard Shore, who Wikipedia tells me wrote most of the music for LOTR. Thank you for saving violin practice. Now, if you could just help me with that maths homework.....