Sunday, 12 April 2009

10,000 hours of hope...

My four and a half year old son's violin teacher had a chat over the phone. "I think", she said, enthusiastically but carefully, "he's going to be very good". I took a minute to register that good meant talented. A small voice inside me immediately piped: "He'll achieve what you never did! It's early enough! He can be great!" I wondered, is that shocking or instinctive? Should I be ashamed of myself?

He'd wanted to learn (I'd played too, but from nine. I'd been "good" too, but not good enough early enough). They teach the Suzuki method at school and I'd agreed reluctantly, privately thinking: "Isn't he a bit young?"

They chose him to play in Assembly. I crouched in the corner, against the wall, minimising my presence, worried about embarassing him. But he stood, proud, a little figure with ruffled brown hair, brown violin up, tiny bow, and from the waist, tiny bow....there was silence. The notes came, pure, well drawn, rarely out of tune. He stared ahead. A very fixed, very serious stare of utter concentration. Not of a four year old. The pride bubbled up and seeped through. "My gorgeous, wonderful, clever son...I love you". I thought. "My miracle..."

They say it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a skill. I told my son, as a joke. "Can I do my violin practise now?" he asked, in reply. He plays every day. And it's become as natural as cleaning his teeth. I'd never force him or push him. If anything, he pushes himself. He enjoys being able. Being 'good'. Making progress.

And I still can't help thinking: "My sweet boy. He'll achieve what I never could." Only time will tell.

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