A mini-tantrum over posture

Not a great lesson. I wanted to get her going on some more of the Canon, and since she likes to read music, I decided to start by clapping the rhythms of the whole song. (This was a followup to the discovery yesterday that each measure in the four-measure sections she knows have almost the same rhythm.) That went pretty well.

But it went downhill when I tried to get M to generalize about each section. That is, I was trying to get her to answer this question: “What is the rhythm of 3 out of the 4 measures in the section we just clapped?” She clapped the section perfectly, and she knows what a measure is, so I thought this would be easy. But it wasn’t. When I asked her to clap the single-measure rhythm, rather than doing that, she tried to clap the whole section. When I stopped her and asked my question again, she started fidgeting and complaining that she was tired and that her legs hurt.

And here’s where we went off the rails. To protest the questioning, she started fidgeting like crazy and sitting down, away from the music. I insisted that she remain standing and try to answer my question.

Was this crazy? Maybe. I don’t know. I do know that I find the type of resistance she showed, which is basically a kind of passive aggression, seriously aggravating. And I know that I believe that the mind follows the body, so if the body becomes squirmy, the mind will too. And I know that I believe in the value of insisting, as a matter of principle, that a child comply with reasonable demands.

I also know that I don’t believe in nagging, so when M remained noncompliant after one or two requests, I stopped asking and started reading my book. She then started crying and telling me how awful I was. I replied as calmly as possible that I had told her what I wanted her to do; it was something she could do; and I expected her to do it. I reiterated that if she wanted shorter and better lessons, they were in her grasp: she just needs to choose to cooperate better.

She cried and berated me for about five or ten minutes, then went into another room to cry by herself for another five or ten minutes. She again tried to take control by telling me, “I’m ready. I’m waiting for you to come get me.” And I again responded that I was waiting for her and would not be coming to get her.

She came back, and we managed to practice fairly effectively and without conflict for another 40 minutes or so. We worked on:

  • Pachelbel’s Canon. We got started on a new 4-bar section.
  • Meadow Minuet. We tried to add bass notes to the first section. This went surprisingly poorly. Part of our problem is that her left-hand fingering is now a little screwed up because she’s fingering things the way the Canon is fingered, not the way Meadow Minuet is fingered. So M has to do some unlearning, which is always frustrating. But we worked on small chunks (just the first two measures), and M was pretty tolerant of her frustration (she kept making the same mistake over and over).

I’m glad I have an independent kid, but I do wish she would express her independence in a different way.

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