Music vs Math

On Wednesday morning I find myself helping Jackie with her music theory class. I’m not a musician. I studied music in school so I know the basics. But I don’t recognize instantly all the notes on the music sheet. And I don’t have a perfect pitch. But for that I have a lot of grace and patience with Jackie. We fumble and stumble trying to discern the melody and she does the solfegiu. As she is studying an octave higher and that throws her tone off but she tries and knows more than I ever did. The pauses, the rhythm. She says she loves my help. I even downloaded the garage band app so we could play the notes on the piano and figure out the melody. It’s easier to remember this way. We laugh silly at how off key we sound. And she is half well prepared for her extracuricular music class, mandatory because she studies an instrument. She is ahead of her peers if music theory but not by much. I do appreciate her effort.

On the other hand, math brings out in me the crazy teacher. I realize this is the type of teachers I had. Severe. Abrupt. Loud. Angry. I channeled my focus with fear raging around me. I could focus my mind, creating silence despite the environment so I could think through the math problems. I realize that was a click my mind made to overcome my circumstances. Those are not natural circumstances conducive to learning. But I know no other way. I know to give space. And if I am asked for help I get very bossy when it comes to science.

I am not afraid of math. I love math. I remember formulas and I excelled in math throughout high school and even advanced math in college. I studied finances and some of the math things I solved are so bizare they make no sense to most people. And yet, as I try as I might, to slow down and help my daughters, I get so irritated, it’s like I’m possessed. My extensive knowledge does not help with my patience. And yet, when I help my daughter with her music I am a completely different kind of teacher. The humble kind who understands hardship and inadequacy.

We inch along. Jackie is making good progress in school. From time to time I help her along but I know to step away before I get irritated. Now ivy its learning how to read. She recognizes letter and she tries to read syllables. It is a crazy endeavor for her. She is so hard working and diligent but I sense a kind of discouragement in her. Her teacher makes general assessments and gives general feedback and it doesn’t really help me or her. They collectively take responsibility for the slowness or rowdiness of her colleagues. I bet each parent has the power to speak encouragement into their kid, to get with the program and rise above the murky feedback I get or she gets.

It is proven again and again that we all thrive despite our circumstances. Sometimes we catch some good wind in our sales but the sea is mostly difficult to navigate, the waves are tall, the currents are strong. May we be good navigators for our kids through the news seas of school and life.

May I use fewer words, kind and clear, firm and hopeful. May I believe well, and trust also that God is in control beyond my skill or abilities to foresee the future.