The Munchkins

Life with identical twins

Piano Recital 2017

Ballet was Saturday, piano was Sunday.

We had our ups and downs with piano as you do over nine months, but this spring both girls really hit their stride with piano. They found pieces they really enjoyed (I should say Marta found them pieces she knew they would enjoy playing) and practicing wasn’t such a chore anymore. Both girls ended up playing their pieces so much they memorized them. Delaney could play hers at just about any speed, preferably super fast. At one point Caden and I said “Enough! We don’t want to listen to it anymore!” Which is something you don’t necessarily expect to say but there you go.

They did not want me to video their individual pieces, but said I could tape their duets. The first duet did not go so well, so that can stay on my phone. This is their second duet. I love this song and even though playing together is really difficult for them to do, I hope they keep playing duets in the future.

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Piano Geniuses

Just kidding. But, the girls piano playing has really hit its stride. Both girls practice willingly and sometimes even excitedly, and their lessons go really, really well. This is a stark contrast to the fall, when it was a grind to get Caden to practice and I held my breath through her lessons hoping they went well.

Delaney enjoys piano a little more than Caden does. I think she likes the challenge, and it maybe comes a little more naturally to her. Caden struggled with piano throughout the fall and into winter. Things weren’t clicking, she struggled with her pieces, and she didn’t want to practice. Delaney doesn’t always love it either, but most days she’ll practice without much arguing. I even started contemplating how much longer to make Caden continue with lessons. A year? Two?

But now? Caden’s playing has just blossomed. She’s understanding where to play softer and where to accentuate. She adds her own flair to pieces and will sit down and play even when I haven’t asked her to practice. It’s so fun to listen to her play!

Their teacher and I talked about it a bit at the end of their lesson. Last summer the girls didn’t play much piano at all. Because of that, Caden had a difficult transition back into things once lessons started back up again. She had similar issues with math, another subject we didn’t hit much over the summer. We have math apps on their iPads, but I don’t have any solid ideas on how to get the girls to play piano over the summer. I’m hoping that they will naturally play? If not, we may have to designate one day a week where they play something, just to keep it fresh in their minds.

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Spring Piano Recital 2016

The girls had their spring piano recital on Sunday. I am so, so proud of how far they have come this year. They started off barely knowing any notes, and ended up playing pieces with some complexity to them! Overall, all of the kids at the recital did a really great job. The older kids played some beautiful pieces, they were so melodic and I could have listened to them all day. I’m super excited for next year.

Delaney was up first. Turn up the volume a bit, this piano seemed to play softer than they were used to.

Her second piece. This was her favorite and she played it just about every time she passed the piano. For Delaney, learning how to play piano is very much like a puzzle to her brain. She loves figuring out the notes and the rhythm, and being able to play something without needing to really look at the music. She would often focus on one piece above all others until she could play it well. She asked to take piano lessons this summer, but later backed off and now just wants to practice on her own.

Caden was next. Her first piece is Brahm’s Lullaby. This piece took her a while to learn, but I loved every minute of her practicing because this is one of the songs I sang to them when they were babies! When we had our lesson last Monday, her teacher didn’t think the second piece (Fanfare Minuet) was recital ready. Caden really wanted to play it and promised she would practice. The deadline really forced Caden to practice for extended periods of time which she doesn’t normally do. On Saturday morning we sent a video of her playing the song to her teacher and she agreed it was recital ready! I was very proud of her for taking on this challenge and working hard.

As their gift after the winter recital, their teacher gave them two books of duets. While they are the cutest thing ever when they play them, they hate practicing them and argue the entire time. There was a little glitch at the end of the second duet, but overall very good job!

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First piano recitalĀ 

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The girls had their first piano recital this weekend! It was very low key and perfect, for which I was thankful.

Caden had one piece and she had practiced that bad boy to death, so I knew she would do a fabulous job and she did. She was the first to go, and she played beautifully. Here’s a little clip. (Since they were wearing the same dress, we did different hairstyles. Delaney was very concerned that she look different than her sister.)

Delaney had two pieces to play. One was nice and easy. She had some tempo issues with the other piece so she was practicing it very slowly with the metronome. I had no idea what speed she would pick for the recital but she played it perfectly! She didn’t rush after the eighth notes. I was so proud! Another little clip.

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Piano Lessons

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We’re in our fifth week of piano lessons now, and we’re finally finding our groove. The first month was definitely a struggle. The girls knew how to play some basic notes, but playing with both hands together was a huge hurdle for both of them. Because of this, they really didn’t want to practice during the week, which made lessons difficult because they weren’t as prepared as they should have been. But, during this last week, things have really come together for both of them and finally practicing became easier and more routine and we fit it in more often. They’re also getting better at playing, which meant I didn’t need to sit next to them while they were practicing. Lessons are expensive, so we’ve talked a few times about how they need to take this seriously, or else we won’t continue it. They both love it, so I don’t think that will be an issue anymore.

Our teacher is really fabulous. They are working on similar things, but she assigns them completely different homework so neither is ever practicing the same piece. This works out perfectly for my two competitive twins, since it takes the competition out of it. She also breaks each piece down measure by measure which has helped them slow down and figure things out.

Lessons are Monday nights, just after dinner. It means I have to be on my game so that the girls are eating by 5:30, but as long as I plan ahead we’re good. It also means that I have an hour and twenty minutes of time to listen to their lessons … and work. It’s actually worked out really well. It’s time when I’m really focused and just sitting at the kitchen table, and I’ve gotten a lot done on these Monday nights.

Any time we try something new there is always this adjustment period where I feel like it’s chaos and maybe we shouldn’t be doing this, and then we settle in. The girls have been so excited about piano, and I worried for a bit that we would never settle in to this, so I’m so glad we have. I’m looking forward to the hopefully many piano recitals we have in our future!

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Piano Lessons

I finally connected with the piano teacher and yep, she was right at the end of her lessons. She said she could have done lessons with them for six weeks, but they would likely forget everything over the summer so she suggested we wait until fall.

The girls are very into the piano right now. They play it almost daily, either playing random notes or trying to read their piano books. I really wanted to take advantage of that excitement so I decided to give them piano lessons until fall. I took piano lessons for years as a child, and according to my mother I was quite good. I’ve lost 90% of that, but I can handle the early stuff. Luckily, I bought them a few books for their birthday and they got a few as gifts, so they each have their own book to work through. Otherwise, I think the competition would be fierce!

I’m keeping lessons to 20 minutes or so, and not pushing practicing a ton. They practice once or twice a week and for now, that’s enough. We are slowly working our way through their books, and trying to keep the frustration on the low end. So far, so good.

An interesting note on the piano books. Of the three we have practiced from, one was very different from the others. It labeled the notes with numbers rather than the letters, and focused mostly on the black keys, rather than the white keys. I was so thrown by it that we set it aside and moved on to another book. Overall I like the books they’re working on now, and it’s interesting to see how the same skills play out in the two books, and how the girls pick up or struggle on different things.

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We bought a piano!

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The girls have been talking about wanting to take piano lessons for six months or so. I dismissed it for two reasons. First, when would we fit piano lessons in? Second, don’t pianos cost a ton of money? Not in the budget.

They recently completed piano lessons in music class at school and they talked of nothing else the entire time. The school district has keyboards that go from school to school, so they actually got to practice a few times a week on them. They learned the basic keys and notes, and came home and played me their songs on our tiny keyboard.

Hearing Delaney talk about how much she loved music (because it’s like math, they’re both about numbers!) gave me the push I needed to go out and at least look to see how much a piano would cost. Turns out, you can get a piano for not a crazy amount of money.

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I found a wide array of pianos on Craigslist. Some for not much money, some for a lot, some had moving included in the price even! I looked through a ton of listings but knew when I saw this piano that this would be the one for us. It was clearly in great shape and had been maintained and tuned throughout its life. The woman selling it had sold her house and needed to get rid of it. The price seemed too cheap to be true, but we went and checked it out and it was perfect. Everything is in great shape, and the piano is beautiful.

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My dad was planning on coming up to hang out with us on Sunday, so I asked if he thought we could move it. He wasn’t thrilled, but with a little muscle from one of the guys I work with (and the neighbor boy!) we did it!

And now, we need to figure out piano lessons. I’m hoping to possibly find someone who will come to the house? Otherwise Saturday morning lessons will probably be what we go for. I had thought the babysitter could take them after school, but with the time we have, I don’t think we can make that happen.

The girls are beyond thrilled. They are so excited about this and are both taking things very seriously. Caden said she really wants to be a famous musician someday, so perhaps this will be the thing that kickstarts her career.

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