One of our friends' children, who is a voracious reader entering third grade, sits with a blank look, not answering when her piano teacher asks what note comes after “C.” Her parents worry that after two years she doesn’t know the names of the notes on the grand staff and that she can’t play the rhythms properly. I ask the girl how was piano lesson? “Terrible,” she says, “like always.” The teacher is very nice and has a lot of success with his students, including our friends’ older daughter.
I find the younger at the piano, head down, working in her master theory book so she doesn’t get another dollar taken off her allowance. I sit beside her and play a few notes. She smiles. I ask if she wants to join. She nods. Play the black keys, I suggest. Any ones you want, at any time. We alternate notes. She adds one, I add one. She giggles. She plays in perfect rhythm.