Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Elizabeth- A Virtuoso Pianist in the Making

One of the things I wanted to do on this most recent trip to Ghana was to teach the children to use the keyboard I knew another volunteer had left. I spoke with my old piano teacher, bought the beginner books she recommended, and had high hopes of eager and proficient students. I'm always an idealist.

Of course, things never work out the way you think they well-- especially in Ghana. It wasn't until my last day at New Life I actually managed to find time to pull out the books, bring in the batteries, and dig up the keyboard. I knew there wasn't much time, but maybe, I thought, I can at least teach them enough that they can use the books to teach themselves.

Most of the kids were either too busy or not interested to sit in on the lessons. Belinda, Elizabeth, and Ophelia were the most interested. I taught them about the different beats each note gets. We clapped through several sections, trying to get the timing right. To my surprise, Elizabeth could clap out each pattern almost flawlessly.

And that wasn't all. As I began to teach them which keys were which note, she began to zip through the songs that labeled each note. She wasn't actually reading the music, but she was able to read the labeled notes and remember exactly which ones were which on the keyboard. And she kept perfect time. Belinda and Ophelia did pretty good too, but whenever they got the timing or note wrong, Elizabeth immediately corrected them. I was astounded. She was a natural.

Belinda, Elizabeth, and Ophelia check out the next song in the book.

We played through some more songs, and I let them look at the part that began to explain the actual reading of music. Elizabeth was fascinated, and delighted with herself for being good at something naturally. We weren't able to get far, but far enough that Elizabeth at least would be able to follow the simple instructions in the book to continue learning. I don't know if she will, or if the others will either. There are many things they need to do with their time, but I hope Elizabeth and any others who desire are able to keep learning. If any volunteers go back who know how to play, see if you can pull out that keyboard, pull up the piano books I left, and give it a go!

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