Piano just didn't stick for my daughter. I got so tired of negotiating practice times (30 minutes of scales=one episode of Wizards of Waverly Place) and dreading recitals (yes, it is possible to screw up "Lightly Row" in two consecutive performances) that, when she said she was ready to quit after little more than a year of lessons, I couldn't have been happier.
The story went pretty much the same for my sons with their guitar and bass lessons. And so went my hopes of raising the contemporary (and much smaller) version of the Osmonds.
But a year ago last spring my daughter came home from school and announced, quite loudly, that she was ready to try an instrument again, this time the drums. And while I was still pretty gun shy about going the full-on instruction route, I did allow her to sign up for a session of Girls Rock Camp , the one-week day camp held at the Madison Waldorf School on the city's west side.
It all seemed innocent enough. She'd spend five days during the hottest days of summer in an air-conditioned environment tinkering with the cymbals and snare. Maybe she'd meet some nice new girls. And realize that she wasn't longed to be a pop star, after all.
But I learned my lesson. Never sign your child up for an activity in hopes that she might "get it out of her system."
Instead my daughter was smitten. Not just by the drums (more on that later), but also by the entire creative experience, which is nothing short of miraculous. In just one week, the campers, ages 8 to 18, are divided into bands, assigned an instrument which it's entirely possible, like my daughter, they've never laid hands on before, write a song (both music and lyrics), and record it.
Finally, as a highlight, they get the chance to perform their finished work in front of a live audience at a showcase at the Goodman Center Loft.
My daughter learned so much at Girl Rock -- and not just how to twirl drumsticks and keep the beat. She also learned how to resolve creative differences between her and her band mates (she wanted to pen dark and brooding lyrics, they something far more age appropriate which included the words "sunshine and puppies" in the refrain).
She learned that nobody gets it right on the first take and that it's not rock n roll heresy to smile in your band poster. She also learned that a great artist couldn't possibly perform without just the right amount of glitter in her hair.
But most importantly she learned that rocking out on the drums is totally fun. And yes, we did start drum lessons shortly after with a terrific teacher at the Madison Music Foundry. And while I still have to nudge her to practice on the rented drum pads she keeps in her room (we haven't yet made the commitment, financial, space or noise-wise, to the real thing), she's still jamming, almost a year later.
My daughter giddily returned to her second year of Girls Rock Camp just this past week. And even though it was new band members and a new song (she felt satisfied this one was angst-ridden enough), lightning did strike twice. She's already brainstorming band names for Girls Rock -- take three -- next summer.
And while I've never played an instrument in my life, I have to say; the whole thing is pretty darn inspiring. So inspiring, in fact, I'm giving some serious thought to participating in Ladies Rock Camp, the weekend long version for (much) older girls, this coming fall.
You've all seen the viral Granny Drummer video, right? No reason that can't be me in a few years.
So move over Sheila E. -- Sari J. may be coming soon to a venue near you. If you happen to live close to my garage. And I've forgotten about the whole next Osmond thing. I'm now thinking more Partridge Family. You know, because the mom gets to be in the band.comments powered by Disqus
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders " 10 boys and six girls " enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.