Opie had piano lesson #3 today. Although I began this adventure with trepidation, I’m already seeing many benefits of her musical cross training.
She is enjoying her time at the piano, and I suspect one of the big sources of pleasure is its independence. Because the oboe is so complicated and temperamental, I have had to be quite involved in her practicing. It takes the two of us to keep on top of the state of her equipment, the reeds, and everything else.
But the piano is always there and ready. Opie can flick it on in an instant — no reed to soak or instrument to assemble. She can play for just a few minutes whenever the mood strikes. She can use headphones and be the only one to hear, or use the speakers and play as loudly as she wants. Since it is less physically demanding, she can still practice when she is a little tired.
Because I’ve been so involved with oboe, I’ve purposely tried to do the opposite with the piano. I check in every so often to see how things are going, and I (usually) remember to ask if she has practiced, but she is in charge, and she enjoys it. Unbeknownst to either Teacher or myself, she practiced one of the last songs in her piano book this past week, and then surprised everyone at her lesson.
I can see how piano is going to improve her oboe, too. She is engaged with music for that much more of each day. During her piano lessons, Teacher can have her count out loud to perfect her timing. She can count during practices as well, and having to play both hands at the same time also reinforces the need for correct rhythm. Physically, she will be building hand and finger strength and dexterity; surely that will be useful for oboe. The piano is always in tune, helping to improve her ear. And theory makes so much more sense with a piano. Scales and chords are much more easily demonstrated. Playing both the melody and the bass herself helps her understand the gestalt of the music and how the parts work together.
One of the things I was most worried about was scheduling two practice sessions each day. So far it has been summer — less scheduling, more free time. No problems thus far; she is getting everything done with a minimum of fuss.
My fingers and toes are crossed that this continues.