Giving the Gift of Music

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Hardly a day goes by when my husband and I aren't driving one of the kids to a music lesson or concert. Our children have been fortunate to study with a variety of piano teachers as the Navy moved our family all over North America. They've studied classical music, jazz, pop, and even movie soundtrack music with instructors in Hawaii, British Columbia, and Oregon.

After six years of piano lessons, our daughter Sabrina moved on to play trombone. Now in eighth grade, she plays in both a concert band and an award-winning jazz band. Our son Jake still plays piano, but also now plays percussion -- the snare drum, bass drum, bells, and even an African hand drum called a djembe. He's been hinting around about wanting a full drum set for his 12th birthday this summer...and I've been trying to think of a way to break it to the neighbors.

Our routine is the same no matter where we live or what instrument they're studying. I drop one kid off, go home, and get dinner started, and then return 45 minutes later to switch off, picking the first one up and dropping the second off. Then I dash home again, get dinner on the table, and come back for the second.

One December, at switch-off time, I rushed in to hear not the tinkling of piano keys, but rustling paper, and Sabrina saying, "Mom, wait! Don't come in." Early December and rustling paper could only mean one thing -- Sabrina's teacher, Ms. Margo, had helped her make some sort of Christmas present for me. Forty-five minutes later, the same thing happened with Jake.

That Christmas morning, my husband and I opened two of the best homemade gifts we've ever received: recordings of our kids playing beautiful music for us. Ms. Margo also labeled the cassettes with each child's name, the song titles, and the date. I keep the tapes in my car and I still listen to them from time to time.

Musical recordings would also make wonderful Mother's and Father's Day gifts. (Sabrina and Jake, if you're reading this...consider that a hint!) There are several ways to make recordings, depending on the equipment you have available:

  • Cassette tape recorders (around $20) are easy for kids to use on their own, and most car stereos still have tape players.

  • Digital voice recorders are a little more expensive (around $60), but with the right software (often pre-installed on computers), you can burn CDs from the recordings.

  • Any computer with a sound card and microphone can make a .wav file, which can be emailed or, with the right software, can be converted to a format that can then be burned to a CD.

    Even kids who don't play musical instruments can make musical gifts for their loved ones, simply by recording themselves singing songs. Homemade gifts that are easy to make, inexpensive or free to deliver, and made from the heart -- what's not to love?

    Which homemade gifts from your kids have touched you the most? Click the comments link below to share ideas.

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    Giving the Gift of Music

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