Thursday, 16 December 2010

Ariq's First Performance

I really don't know what to say.. My heart feels like a mug full of hot chamomile tea.. happy, warm and content..

The first time Ariq asked me to enroll him in drum lesson, I wasn't sure if it was going to be a long-term thing. He was only 3 years old then, but he kept asking every week, until I took him seriously and finally started searching for a music course which would accept a child his age.

While Ariq was half way his KG-1, I finally found a music course that was close to home. It was not too expensive and had a reasonable length of sessions for children. Each weekly session was 45-minute long (they aimed for 30-minute learning time, allowing 15 minutes to keep the student/child comfortable and happy). I thought it was good!

At first I was worried about Ariq running around the place (the music course). He would enter each room and try every type of musical instrument he found. To my surprise, the staff said to me to let him be. The place was meant to make children interested and happy in learning music.

My memory of taking music lesson when I was about Ariq's age was that music learning was a 'serious business'. It was about hard work, pride and achievement. For 6 years, I had to come to weekly lesson without ever having any examinations or having any performance/concert because my development was considered 'out of schedule'.

I was just a child and having to do something repeatedly without ever seeing an appraisal or achievement was eventually becoming a burden. After 6 years of what felt to be an unbearable burden, I finally got my chance to 'escape' from my music lesson because I was facing Elementary School Final Exam.. :-(

I still liked playing the piano and guitar after quitting my lesson, but thinking about music lessons would make the hair at the back of my neck stand up! It was a thought that could make me feel more than uncomfortable. That was partly why, I had to take some time to prepare myself to enroll Ariq in his drum lesson. That was also why I was really worried about Ariq wandering around his music course place.. I was so relieved seeing the attitude of the staff at the music course, and I started to feel more comfortable being in the music course place.. :-)

Anyway.. after some time, Ariq was confident enough to ask his drum instructor to show him how to play the piano, the guitar and the violin. His instructor showed him all and Ariq was very happy.

Ariq had been going to the drum lessons for almost a year, when we (my husband and I) made the decision to move to Mother's house. It was impractical for Ariq to keep going to the music course since it would be quite a distance from where we would be living. So, I asked him to be patient until we could find another music course. I was relieved when he agreed..

After one year living in Mother's house, Ariq felt that he was settled at school. He started asking me to start his drum lesson again. So, I started searching for a good place for him, and I found one, which was very close to home.

This time, Ariq was a little older. He was already in Grade 1 of Elementary School. He was excited to start drum lesson again. I was also very happy, taking a one-year break from drum lesson did not make Ariq feel relieved, instead he was really missing his drum practice. I was relieved that drum lesson was not a burden for Ariq. He enjoyed it a lot, and I started to realize that he loved it!

This music school is slightly different from the first one Ariq went to. Here, the lessons are only 30 minutes/session, once a week. It would've been a struggle if Ariq doesn't like his drum lesson, but since he loves it so much, he is always eager to go to every lesson (on rare occasions, we have to rush him when he enjoys playing with Aza too much nearing lesson time, but most of the time, there is never a big problem getting him to).

After the first three months of lessons, I asked Ariq's instructor about how Ariq was doing. The instructor told me that considering that Ariq was still very young, he was doing well. I asked if Ariq needed to start using music books, the instructor said not yet. Ariq's instructor said that, for the time being, Ariq was learning much faster by listening to the beat. All Ariq's teachers at school always say the same thing. It doesn't matter whether Ariq is looking or not, reading or not, paying attention or not, as long as he is listening. He understands and absorbs everything well.

The following six months, Ariq's instructor was aiming for Ariq to be able to count musical rhythm. It was a process of putting logic and feeling into the music, something that would definitely bring Ariq to the 'next level' of playing the drum.

Amazing! Once Ariq could count musical rhythm, he could find the beat of many songs by himself, as long as the song is not too difficult for him to follow by listening. He also became more confident in adding some of his own combinations when he was playing.

Two months ago, before Ariq's aunt (Sinta) departed to Italy, she saw an invitation at the music school's wall for all students of the music school to join the year-end concert and suggested that Ariq be included in the concert. I asked the music school staff about it, and Ariq's instructor agreed to let him perform.

At first, Ariq's instructor planned to play duo with Ariq on stage, but after a couple of week practices and saw Ariq's progress, he decided that Ariq was ready to play solo and he (the instructor) was just going to stand next to Ariq during his performance.

Around the same time, Ariq has been asked a few times at school to play the drum at school events, but he kept refusing. When I asked Ariq about this, he said that he would only perform at school after he's done his first performance with the music school. I guess he was not completely sure about his confidence playing in front of a lot of people without his instructor's presence.. :-)

Last Saturday (11 December 2010), was Ariq's final practice for the concert, at the music school. During that practice, there were a few spots where Ariq was really struggling to keep his timing right. After practice, my husband continued helping Ariq practice at home until Ariq was comfortable and confident playing the song he was going to perform.

Sunday morning, on the day of the concert, Ariq woke up and practiced straight away. He smoothly did his song in one go. I was still nervous, remembering how he was struggling during his final practice at the music school. However, we had to go, and I couldn't waste time worrying..

We arrived at the mall where the concert was held at lunch time, and we were hungry, so we quickly had lunch. Mum, Dad and Aza were meeting us there. My uncle came too. Mother stayed at home because she was still having a bit of cough and didn't want to risk a more serious flu. Kyra stayed home with Mother, as we thought the concert would be much too loud for her tiny ears.. :-)

I was really hoping Mother would come to the concert, because Mother is always very excited about Ariq's progress in playing the drum, but Mother's decision to stay at home was somewhat a relief for both Mother and me, because Kyra would be home with her grandmother, not only with the maid and the nanny...

Anyway.. Mother must come to Ariq's next concert!

Back from lunch, Ariq's instructor was already at the concert area. Ariq was happy and confident of having him at the concert, especially when Ariq saw him testing the drum set on the stage. I guess, for children at Ariq's age, the presence of the people who are parts of his 'world' (in this case, his drum 'world') was everything to him. I could clearly see that Ariq was so proud of himself to have his family and instructor there for him and his performance.

The concert started out with all keyboard and piano performances, then the guitars. After that, it was finally the drum performances and Ariq was the third to go on stage. During the second drum performance, I set up the camera to sit nicely on one of the keyboards off stage, facing the drum, while I was holding Mum's mobile phone, ready to capture the event from a different angle.

I was holding my breath almost all the way throughout Ariq's performance, especially at the spots where Ariq was struggling during his final practice. I was finally exhaled when Ariq completed his performance without any noticeable mistake.. ;-) (He missed one beat at the beginning of the song, but he smoothly corrected it, and played beautifully throughout the rest of the song)..

Beautiful! Extremely beautiful!! Well, for me, it was.. :-)

We often reminded Ariq that he shouldn't come late to his drum lessons, and he has to be disciplined himself in practicing at home, but he pushes himself harder than we do. I'm often worried that he would feel burdened and decide to quit, but it has been about three years since Ariq first started going to drum lessons, and he never looks bored. He always looks more and more enthusiastic..

I'm so happy seeing Ariq doing something that he loves doing. I'm also relieved that my experience  does not become the same kind of experience for him.. :-)

Aza and Kyra might have different talents and interests, and I will surely observe them first before helping them decide what they should do outside school. It is always nice to have a special thing that we love and enjoy doing.. like Ariq and his drum practice.. ;-)

Finally, here is the video of Ariq's performance at the concert. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.. ;-)

Note: the concert was held at Depok Town Square, on Sunday, 12th December 2010.