Friday, 28 September 2012

Leave the wylus on

I should introduce the rest of the cast as well. Today, let's look at the ideal piano parent. Joy asked me to teach Amelie, the eldest of her two kids about five years ago now when she was six. Joy has recognised music among the many gifts her children have. Perhaps when they were in the cradle they'd perk up when a certain song came on the *wylus. Perhaps they'd sing or clap along with the TV as toddlers. And it would be in tune or in time. Then, without being pushy she's given them an opportunity to learn in a more structured way. She's provided good equipment - in this case a nice Yamaha piano - because sometimes it's counterproductive to learn on any old thing (although that didn't do me any lasting harm). She's attended the lessons and learned alongside the children and managed to get to a pretty good standard herself. In the early days she brought Spiro, the younger one along to the sessions to soak up the music and, who knows,to pick up some of the tuition. Now, it's been said that even the infant Mozart had to put in the same practice time as anyone else and I think that's very true. Once, the composer Clementi was involved in a piano playing competition with Wolfgang Amadeus and came off worse but he was right to point out, ruefully, "Even the genius has to practice scales in thirds with each hand." So, above all, without being overbearing, Joy has supervised the piano practice and has come along with questions and problems to be resolved. Without having unreasonable expectations, she's had unlimited faith in Amelie and Spiro to be the best they can be. When they had to move to Houston, Texas she searched out the best teacher she could find. But - and it's lovely for me - even at a distance of nearly five thousand miles she's found a way of letting her children keep in touch with their first teacher. That's Skype. *Wylus? In Britain we sometimes still call the radio the wireless. I saw a small ad in the Gwent Gazette here in South Wales trying to sell a used car. What did it have? Supercharged engine? Check. Sporty wheel trims? Check. Wylus? Check. So, I always say wylus. And the ideal piano parent always has the wylus on at home.

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