And today's topic: How things can be Better. Oh, this isn't about World Peace or Ending Poverty in Our Time. This is a First World conversation. Or monologue, if you will. It is about violin bows, computer speakers and pianos.
For Christmas, my lovely husband purchased me a gift certificate to a local violin shop. Many years ago, I had a violin bow that was quite nice. I let my daughter take it to school, because she played in the school orchestra. She broke it. She said she just sort of bumped it on the floor, but there are rumors of mock swordfights. While I suppose I should give her the benefit of the doubt … seriously … the swordfight scenario sounds far more likely.
At any rate. I haven't had a nice violin bow for 13 years now. They're a little pricey. And while neither my practice schedule, skills, nor talent warrant The Best ($25,000 plus) it would be nice to have something better than the $35.00 plastic bow I've been getting by with. So today I took my Christmas Gift Certificate for a far more modest amount - and my husband - to the violin store. And we tried out bows of varying prices. And I realized -- the differences were oh-so-subtle --- but oh so profound. When I was younger, I wouldn't have been able to tell. I wouldn't have had the confidence -- I would have doubted myself so much that I wouldn't have trusted my own perception. But now I could tell the differences immediately, and I realized how much I really, really, really needed to not be playing with the $35 plastic bow. My new bow is a joy, and now I WANT to play!
Exhibit B. Another lovely Christmas gift was a very nice bluetooth speaker that I can hook up to my computer, iPhone and iPad. I've been just getting by ..once again… with either the internal speaker or a $19.95 Amazon thingy. And you know, I don't listen to music that much. (I know, I know …. I'm a music teacher for heavens sakes! I should be listening to LOTS of music!) Well sheesh, now I get it. With a NICE SPEAKER who wouldn't????? This speaker makes listening to music a joy and a pleasure.
So. This is all coming around to one last thing. You want your child to have piano lessons. You think you can get by with an old, out-of-tune piano, or a digital keyboard. Oh gosh, please don't. The difference is oh-so-subtle (well not really) but oh-so-profound. It's the difference between just getting by, and learning to love the sounds you make. Want them to keep up with their piano lessons? Gift them the motivation of really fine sound and really responsive touch. They may very well not be able, for some years, to tell the difference. They'll just know that playing is really, really fun.