Let’s Play the Finger Game!

Oh my crazy daughter…

This past Saturday I had the joy of taking Baby Girl to her piano lesson.  I do this every Saturday, in fact, and I don’t simply drive her, I sit through the lesson with her.  You see, she’s only four years-old and it’s a particular method of music study (Suzuki) that demands parental involvement.  It’s OK for me, you see, because I also play the piano so I get all of the lesson.

Read for the Finger Game?

Read for the Finger Game?

One of the fun things her teacher does with her is to pay the “finger game” at the end of the lesson.  Let me explain something here about what we call “fingering” in the parlance of piano.  Each of our fingers are numbered, so to speak.  The thumb of each hand is finger 1, the index finger is finger 2, etc. until you reach the pinky which is finger 5.  To play the finger game, the teacher asks Baby Girl to place her hands on top of her hand and close her eyes.  Then teacher pulls slightly upward on one finger and my daughter has to state which finger it is.  What is the point of this?  Well, with 88 keys on a piano and only ten fingers, many composers find it helpful to instruct the musician which fingers are more helpful to use in striking particular keys in the sequence.  It’s that simple.

So there we were, happily on our drive up a busy six lane boulevard in North Texas on a Saturday afternoon.  “Daddy, I’ll call out a number and you show me which finger it is!” she shouted from the back.  She was obviously aware that I could not play the traditional finger game as I was driving the car.  “OK, sweetheart,” I shot back.  “Sounds like fun.”  We only had about ten minutes before we’d be at the studio.

“Ready, Daddy?”

“Ready, Babe!”

Here was her initial sequence.  Pay careful attention.

“Uh, 1 – 5 – 4 – 2 – 1 – 4 – 2 – 5”

I made it.  Pretty good so far.  I proudly held my hand up, the back of my hand facing my daughter in the back seat and also sort of oriented toward the lane of traffic to my right.

As my daughter continued to call out numbers I really found myself enjoying this little game with her.  She was learning.  We were both laughing.  The cars on the right were honking and gesticulating wildly.

“Look, sweetie, even the other cars are getting in on the act!”

She couldn’t have cared less.  She was too busy calling out her next sequence.

“1 – 4 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – 3 – “…

At about the fourth “3” I realized what was going on.  Did you catch that?  3 is the middle digit.  I had been inadvertently flipping off the other drivers and all in the name of music.  Oh well, at least I’m pretty sure I’ll never see them again.  For the record, I slumped down in my seat and took the next turn even though it was not the way to the piano lesson.

“Baby Girl, let’s not focus on the third finger, at least not until we’re back at home, OK?”

“OK Daddy!”

She’s such a sweetheart.

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One response to “Let’s Play the Finger Game!

  1. Really funny. Really sobering too. While there may be moments of embarrassment caused by our interactions with our children, they are far outweighed by the memories and connection we create with them. As an added bonus, we get to play a role in their education.
    Great “Dad story.” Thanks for sharing.

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