Family Life

Learning Music by Heart

posted: 06/03/11
by: Michelle Duggar


(Photo credit: Robin Hill/Getty Images)

I love music, and that's why we wanted our children to be able to play an instrument, as well as for the purpose of worshipping the Lord. Jim Bob and I are not musically inclined; I can hardly even read music. We were so thankful we found our piano teacher at church. She offered to teach our children piano lessons for half-price to anyone that was a member of the church, and that was like an answer to our prayers.

So our kids started learning music when they were little, tiny things -- they had to sit on a cushion on the piano bench just to be able to reach the keys. It's about consistency, and each day you get up at the piano and you practice. When the now-older kids were little it might be 15 minutes every day. As they got older it was 30 minutes, and then the oldest ones practice an hour and there are times that it's work; sometimes they just didn't really want to get up there because they'd rather be out playing in the yard.

I'd say. "Okay, well, it's time for piano lessons; we're going to set our timer and you go and work through all your little scales and then do your two pieces that you're working on." I've got a little chart, a check list. When they finish their practice they write in that they did 15 minutes or 20 minutes or 35 minutes, or however many minutes they practiced. Then they bring me the notebook and I check off their practice times. There's accountability.

But they just know every day, okay, we've finished lunch and we go and we start our music practice, so it's in the schedule; this is what we do. So it's just a part of life, and it's consistent, but I still think the words of praise make all the difference in the world because even the little ones that still do that thing with their violins -- It's just this squeaky little violin, you know? The high-pitched noise that makes you go, "Whoa, my ears! -- I'm still going to say, "Oh, listen to that. You played the whole piece of "Twinkle, Twinkle!"

There were times when some of the kids turned 12 or 13 and they were like, "Oh, I really don't want to do this anymore," and Jim Bob and I would say, "Hang in there; stick with it! You're going to be glad you did in the long run," and sure enough they come back later and say, "We're so glad that you had us continue and not stop, and didn't let us quit."

So now they just go to the piano (or the violin, viola, harp or cello, depending on who's sitting down to play) and just play for fun, and they love it because they've mastered it. They have the ability to just play whatever they want to when they sit down; it's not just about learning the next thing. The goal has always been to use music to honor the Lord and encourage others to turn their heart in that direction.

I've never been a hard, push, push, push kind of person. I'm the one who's always saying, "Oh that sounds so pretty; I just love hearing that." And they're like, "Mom, I messed up on about six measures." I don't realize it, and I'm like, "Oh, you did? Well, it sounded really good to me."

I think it's been a real good thing. We've had good music; wholesome, happy, cheerful, joyous, melodious music in our home.

[From the TLC Editors: Mark your calendars for the new season of 19 Kids and Counting, premiering on June 7 @ 9/8C. On June 7 you can also find the newly released book by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, "A Love That Multiplies."]

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