Thursday, November 13, 2008

Music of the mind

Archer has asked a few times in the past month whether he can have piano lessons. He's added musical notation to his list of obsessions, clearly delighted with the mathematical and symbolic possibilities.

When I tuck him in for bedtime, he sometimes holds me in the room to tell me about time signatures and fractional note values. On his magnadoodle, he writes a note with many lines about a staff and tells us it's the highest note. As we pick up the pieces of paper he leaves scattered around the house, we sometimes see songs that he has written out in imitation of the music he sees at school and in the church hymnal.

I started piano at his age, and while I didn't have perfect pitch or any extraordinary abilities, I did have a good ear. My piano and choir teacher, Mr. Alexander, made us name intervals and chords before he would dismiss us, and I took great pride in being among the first to get out. To this day, one of the proudest memories of my childhood is the time he gave me a new song and I sight-read it without accompaniment all the way through, missing only one note.

What I hope for Archer in learning an instrument is that he will be able to translate the patterns in his head into physical movements and gestures of his body through space. That's the essential skill for my strange little boy, who lives so much inside those patterns -- numerical, abstract, often complexly folded and arcane -- that I sometimes worry that he'll get lost in there, missing the possible correspondences between his sense of order and the world all around him.

1 comment:

doafy said...

What type of music does Archer get excited about? It would be interesting to know if he gets into something with heavy motor rhythms (Bach or Philip Glass) or if he's into music that follows less obvious patterns.