Boy Wonder?


I suppose it happens to all parents. We wake up one day convinced our children are geniuses of the highest degree, worthy of prodigy status. It happened to me a year and a half ago, when Archer unable to speak, was able to sing. It was the only way he could speak coherently. It was more than a miracle. It was a relief. We had attended various sessions of the speech therapy prescribed through Early Intervention but for Archer, it was music that finally got him using his words.


We pulled him out of speech therapy, upped the dosage of Bach and Debussy, Mozart and Bizet, surrounding Archer with melody until his songs became sentences and his sentences stories.

Beyond vastly improving Archer's speech, music has become Archer's co-pilot. (In the last year Archer's language has progressed so rapidly we've been told he could easily start Kindergarten a year early. To put that into perspective, this time last year? Archer was three-years-old with the language ability of a 12-month-old.) He's come a long way, baby. Partly thanks to music and its whisper, like angels in his ear.

Archer has always been unique, quirky, his own beast. His ability to concentrate solely on music and sound was cause for concern in the beginning. He had a sort of reverse ADD which made it difficult for him to focus beyond whatever it was that was consuming him. This waved a red flag to many specialists at the beginning who believed he might be on the Autistic Spectrum. (Einstein Syndrome? Perhaps. I like to think Archer Syndrome is a more accurate label.)

I wrote about our preliminary experience dealing with IEPs and Speech Therapy quite a bit in my book if you happened to read it and although I always knew Archer was not Autistic, I was very much aware of his differences, communicative struggles and the fact that he was not like other children.



Of course I never wanted to "fix" him. Whatever it was and whoever he wanted to be would emerge beyond the tests and the milestones he was slow to overcome. What was most important to us was nurturing his strengths and for Archer, clearly it was (and still is) music.

From an early age, Archer listened to music with his eyes closed, his little hand in the air like a Southern Baptist at church during prayer. He still does. And his voice? Pitch perfect.

"We have to nurture this," I said.

Hal agreed.

So for the past few months we've been on a mission to find a boy's choir, music program or magnet school (if they even exist) specializing in music in the Los Angeles area.

Unfortunately for the past few months I've come up empty-handed. Unable to find a school or choir-program for children under six years of age, which is unfortunate, even shocking for one of the most creative cities in the world.

This is why I'm writing this post. I'm on a music mission for Archer who craves it, who sings to himself all day long, who constantly corrects me when I try to teach him the sounds of the instruments.

"Do you hear the trumpet?" I say.

"It's not a trumpet, mommy. It's a French Horn."

And he's right. Which is crazy.


Archer's ability to differentiate clarinets from oboes, violins from cellos and memorize melodies after one listen far surpasses my ability and expertise, even Hal, a music major and classically trained pianist, guitarist, former CBGB rocker has nothing on Archer's pitch perfection.

His ability to pick up drum sticks and without every having practiced or performed, play without missing a beat:



Of course he's my kid and of course I'm going to think he's the raddest in the land, but after everything we've been through, I can't help thinking maybe he has something - an innate gift, divine inspiration, an ability beyond what is the norm for his age or any age. And what kind of bonehead parent would I be to not do encourage the hell out of that shit?


Especially after last week when Archer sat down to the piano to play Carmen (his favorite song like crazy omg he's obsessed) near perfectly and completely by ear, his hands in proper position.

So... help?

Boy's choirs or other recommended music programs in Los Angeles for four-year-olds? I've been searching but all I have been able to find are youth choirs and music schools for children aged 6+.

You're always so helpful and insightful and full of secrets and knowledge of undisclosed locations, good advice. (Thank you so much in advance.)

GGC

106 comments:

AVB | 10:16 PM

My thought on this is that whatever type of music program exists for 4 year olds, it's not going to meet the standards of Archer's needs.

Did any of the places you found for ages 6+ have any ideas? I'd also try calling the local Montessori School, they might have a suggestion or two ...

Good luck!

armonia | 10:16 PM

HI, an alternate just in case there are no schools in your area, a private tutor in music/piano or instrument of his choice could be perfect at his age, i had one at his age and then when on to piano at a school of music in mexico, by being on a one on one basis he could possibly advance much faster.
congrats on your children, as parents we are trully blessed!

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:23 PM

Hey, AVB! Archer's school director is looking into it for me and I've been reluctant to be like "well, my kid is REALLY AWESOME and you should just let him into your school even though he just turned four!" Maybe I need to get over that but I also don't want Archer to be the token little boy - thought that might be awkward for him.

In terms of your suggestion, Armonia - I would LOVE some recommendations if anyone knows of anybody who has worked with younger kids. I would prefer someone super laid-back as not to pressure. Archer does NOT respond well to pressure AT ALL... something organic... where he can be free to do his thing with some guidance.

shannon | 10:43 PM

Hey! I'm de-lurking to throw my two cents in :) This suggestion isn't so much in the way of music classes or long-term programs, but the Hollywood Bowl does a "Summer Sounds" series for 3-9 year olds that might be something fun for Archer to explore while you continue your search for something more substantial. I grew up in the Valley, and my absolute favorite memories of LA are spending every 4th of July at the Bowl, and at least a few other concerts there during the summer season. My parents would buy the nosebleed seats and bring tons of snacks, and we would enjoy the music right when dusk was settling and the heat was abating...so perfect. I didn't do the kids' program myself, but I used to babysit kids who seemed to really enjoy it, so maybe it's worth a shot!

Good luck with the search :)

shannon | 10:44 PM

oops, forgot to include the link!

http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/tickets/summersounds.cfm

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:46 PM

Thank you! We LOVE Summer Sounds!!! We've been going for the last few summers. The Hollywood Bowl is my FAVORITE summer destination. Good call!

Elmpixie | 10:55 PM

I was also considered a child musical prodigy with perfect pitch, and began violin at age 3 and piano and voice at age 4.

my recommendation is first to start with a private teacher. That way archer would have a chance to discover what musical instruments he really values and wishes to persue, and you would have a musical person who was devoted to making sure archer was happy. That way there wouldn't be any mistakes as well, a nervous audition at a boys choir could land him in the wrong section, etc

Then, a teacher like that who specializes in young children would know what to recommend in terms of other groups as well.

Don't get discouraged however if archer doesn't love the first teacher he goes to, in fact, expect to try a few lessons with 2 or 3 teachers first, and then expect to change teachers every 3 or 4 years as he progresses, and as you discover the need for a new perspective.

If you do start with a private teacher, you get a chance for archer to really find where he wants to go with this, and a chance for someone who works regularly with kids to really find out where and how deep his talent lies.

I'm a big proponent of music at a young age... it changed my life for the better every day, but it would never have worked without the private teachers who taught me.

ALSO, one more thing... just because it's his voice, doesn't mean he doesn't need a teacher! in fact, as a singer, he arguably needs a private teacher more because of the risk of damaging his voice irreparably under bad tutelage or disregard (for example, the harried and stressed choir master)

Good luck! and if you have any questions, PLEASE feel free to contact me at elmpixie@gmail.com

I now teach young people, and I see everyday how much music, and starting music young changes their lives for the better...

consider the suzuki method, finding a suzuki method teacher in whichever instrument he wishes, i've found thats one of the best for young childern to follow, learn from, and enjoy. It really gives you a strong musical basis for the rest of your life.

elmpixie | 10:57 PM

Also. From everything you've said about archer, and I've been reading you for a while! I would SERIOUSLY look into waldorf education.

just my 2 cents!
I'd be happy to tell you more if you liked at some point.

Amanda | 11:01 PM

I was just going to suggest waldorf! What a wonderful gift he has! So many other parents would want to "diagnose" why he wasnt talking and you just let him be him, you sure are raising a fine young man!

mfk | 11:15 PM

Unfortunately I don't know anything about music programs, but just wanted to recommend a book: Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. You might have already read it because of Archer's interests, but if not then I definitely recommend it. Maybe you could even tell him some of the stories (maybe simplified a bit)... I find them to be a bit like neuropsychological fairy tales and Sacks is a great writer.

ikke ikke | 11:25 PM

Hey Becca. I don't have any helpful suggestions, sorry! But I thing Archer is amazing. A while back you posted that youtube video of him singing Carmen pitch perfect -- OMG.

amonkeyslife | 12:21 AM

Have you thought about a music therapist? They can really tailor a program to fit with what Archer would exactly need and would probably be a better fit than to just place him in random lessons. Some even run their own choirs and group sessions.

I actually know a few MT's in Cali, but not 100% sure where they are located.

Here's the AMTA website - they work with all kinds people, both disabled and gifted: http://www.musictherapy.org/

I do think that private lessons would also work, but at such a young age, he needs interaction with others. Plus, it would probably be beneficial to wait on the lesson front until he's a year or two older. Though they DO have some excellent resources now.

One outlet that may be immediately 86'd is church/temple choirs. Any church I've ever been in has let all ages participate, but you would have to be okay with the songs they sing.

Renata Geyer is one of my MT friends and she works in San Bernardino (again, absolutely NO KNOWLEDGE of Cali or the cities of Cali, so if this is way too far away, my apologies), if you want to actually speak to someone and see if she has any suggestions. I know she's working at a psychiatric hospital, but all MT's have connections in other areas.

Good luck on your quest!

Julia | 3:48 AM

sorry - not being US based I can't really help... but have you looked into Montessori (sp?) schools? I hear those are pretty amazing at nurturing gifts, and children who need to learn in their own way/at own pace with artistic stuff (nice use of the lingo, huh?!).
Sounds like Archer is a special guy - I know 25 year olds that couldn't spot the difference between oboe and clarinet -for a wee guy his age... that's some remarkable stuff.
I guess in the meantime, if you can't find an official choir, you can just keep doing what you're doing and exposing him to as much music, and as many different genres as possible - for proper intense tear jerking stuff I recommend Karajan conducting the Berlin Phil... could be a bit much for Archer, but it sounds like he is a tad beyond the William Tell huh!!
best of luck x

Meredith | 4:19 AM

Have you looked into the Suzuki Music Program? It is based on the theory that as long as children are exposed to beautiful music from a young age, they will develop an "ear" that allows them to play beautiful music on an instrument. My husband began violin on this method at the age of four and developed perfect pitch (which it sounds like Archer is pretty close to!). Suzuki classes are group classes for young children and as they get older, they have a private teacher. It is truly amazing to see the teaching method work on children so young. They also offer Suzuki piano, recorder, flute, and cello.
Good luck!

JMK | 5:13 AM

Wow. I am amazed. And Archer is super lucky to have parents that nurture what he has, rather than freak out about what some expert says might be "missing". I love how in the video, after he is done playing and everyone claps, it almost looks like there is this hint of disappointment in his eyes, if you will, like, oh man, the song is over! I don't have any advice other than I think it's important to find something that is up to his level, or else it might just be frustrating. I went through a couple of piano teachers at first because I went from playing -actual- songs to playing made up "learning songs". Some of the educational material out there is just plain annoying. I'd much rather be learning to play a song I recognize.

Best!

Caitlin | 5:43 AM

I would just take a gamble and meet with the instructor or the leader of any music program you find that is 6+. Explain your situation. People who love music are all the same--they want to encourage more music in the world! There is at least one person out there willing to work with you and with Archer. He truly is talented, and that is nothing to sneeze at and it definitely is not motherly bias. Good luck!!

Kirsey | 5:54 AM

What about calling up one of the 6-year-old programs and explaining your situation and asking if perhaps they'd take a little 4-year-old genius? It couldn't hurt to ask right?

Adventures In Babywearing | 6:19 AM

Wow- no help here but that video is awesome and I would say you are not crazy to think he's majorly gifted!

Steph

Lindsay | 6:44 AM

There's a place downtown my neighbor loves, I'll find out the name.

mommymae | 7:25 AM

not sure if there are any 'rock schools' in your area that take 4 year olds, but that might be an idea. even if they don't start until 5 or so, they may take him on if you show them what he's all about.

archer's unbelievable, but you knew that ;)

Anonymous | 7:34 AM

Do you have Music Together classes in your area? I've been taking my daughter since she was nine months old, and they're great! The directors never talk down to the kids in terms of using proper music terminology, and there are instruments to play and lyrics to learn every class. Every class group is a mixture of ages (nine months to probably five or six years), so Archer could attend any of them. Good luck! -Chan

lesloo | 7:40 AM
This comment has been removed by the author.
lesloo | 7:40 AM

My LA geography suuuuuuucks (in a NYC girl) so I don't know if this is close to you, but Flea from the Chili Peppers started a music school a little while ago:

http://www.silverlakeconservatory.com/

It looks like Archer might be a little young for their programs, but I bet they can point you in the right direction!

Ashley | 7:44 AM

He SOUNDS absolutely gifted!! If you can't find a choir or something in your area, you could always get some performance tracks and sit down with him and coach him yourself. OR, I would also recommend getting him an instrument. Let him pick out whatever he's interested in and get him an instrument. Since he seems so interested in music, you could find someone to give lessons or you could start giving him lessons yourself, which I hope to do with my son someday.

Here is a site I bookmarked for when that day came.

http://www.musictheory.net/

Good luck and keep us posted!!!

Anonymous | 7:47 AM

I love this story of Archer. My son Daniel is 18 months and still not speaking, our dr yesterday suggested seeing a specialist (ENT). It made me sad but after reading this I feel OK and know it will be OK. Thank you for your story, sorry I can't help with lessons, I live in SLC, UT.

Good Luck, there is always private lessons till he's 6.
Brandy S

Shelley Greenberg | 8:34 AM

Hi Rebecca - First of all, how awesome is Archer's talent? That is so exciting. As a kid who grew up in piano lessons and band and choir and musical theater and jazz singers and all of it - I think it's exciting.

I don't live in L.A. so can't recommend any programs, but like others have said, I'm sure you could find a private teacher to nurture his skills early on and at least "tide him over" until you can get him into a larger program, OR they may end up remaining a part of his life for awhile, as a supplement to choirs, etc. (That often happens with the most talented among us.)

It seems though like he has an interest in a number of different instruments as well as voice, so if you can find sort of a "jack of all trades" musical person who can sit down with him for an hour or two every week and just kind of walk through all the different instruments like a buffet, that might be what is necessary until he figures out which one or ones he really loves best.

My point is, it would be a shame to put him in piano lessons if he has a talent for it but actually loves drums. Or to find a guitar teacher, if he actually wants to sing. You get the point.

There are lots of all around musicphiles in the L.A. area I'm sure. Try creating a listing on Craigslist perhaps?

Something to think about!

As always, adore you and the blog. x

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com | 8:38 AM

I don't know if anyone suggested it already, but the Hollywood Bowl has a great children's program. And it's such a great way to get in touch with other children who have this in common with Archer and with other parents who may know more about the music opportunities in LA.

Also, if you find an old music/instrument shop, the owners of those places really know the ropes of the music world. And more than that, the people who own shops like those tend to know how instruments function. You never know; the behind-the-scenes of an instrument could be just as interesting for Archer as the music aspect of it.

My last suggestion is to find an adult chorus. Obviously a youth choir would be preferable, but it might not fulfill his needs. Adults who are still active in choirs are going to be the ones who know the most about who and what to look for with regards to Archer's specific talents. Moreover, the director of an adult choir will likely know who is worth the money and who is not.

Chiyiyite | 8:44 AM

De-lurking to say: Elmpixie is right on the money. I would echo the comments about Montessori and especially Waldorf. I would be concerned about putting a 4-year-old in a social environment with 6-year-olds, though. The expectations may be too great, not on a musical level, but on a maturity level. Also, if you haven't already, you might want to pick up "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, which is a fascinating read that will support your already stellar instincts to give Archer plenty of opportunity and time to explore his interests. I haven't read his third book "Blink" yet, but I think it might be appropriate as well.

Off-topic: I really enjoy your blog. You are inspiring on many levels. Just Wow.

-Jennifer

Megan | 8:52 AM

I think I'd make an appointment at the best program you can find for elementary school kids, bring Archer, sit him down and have him play something. They aren't setting age limits based on kids with his talents. You might be able to get them to make an exception if they see him in action. If you can't get an audition, send a video. Someone is going to be very excited to discover him.

Courtney | 8:54 AM

You could possibly ask some of the 6 year old programs. However I worked with a children's choir and our starting age was 6 no if's and's or but's. The children that were under 6 had not had enough time in school to be able to sit still and take direction well enough for the duration of our practices/performances. It was just too distracting/not fair for the other kids. And well if you made one exception then it kind of became the norm.

Not trying to shoot you down, just want to explain why so many of them start at 6.

Eva | 9:35 AM

I'm gonna jump on the Suzuki bandwagon here... I started piano lessons at age 4 with a piano teacher who taught with the Suzuki method -- and she remained my teacher for close to 12 years, before I finally advanced beyond her teaching level and I switched to a different teacher!

The great thing about Suzuki is it really is all about the ear. I remember as a child having a tape that I listened to every night as I went to sleep, with all the songs I would be learning in the next few months. It starts out simple, and builds on technique. But the wonderful thing is it's often familiar music at the beginning, and beautiful classical music all the way through. Really develops the ear at such a young age.

I disagree with the commenter above that you shouldn't start private lessons at such a young age. In fact I think it's the BEST time to start private lessons -- a good teacher can really help capture an inate talent and nurture the love of music and talent in such a way that they become a part of the child. That's what happened to me.

I joined a church choir when I was 5, but that's because my mom was already a regular attendant there. But they also sang gorgeous English church music and didn't have a cap on age.

My younger brother was much like Archer, it sounds like -- he didn't start talking until he was 4, but already from the age of 2 1/2 or 3 he could sing back any song anyone sang to him, including the words, verbatim and in perfect pitch. He's now 18, and is an incredibly gifted cellist and is starting at the Oberlin Conservatory this fall to study cello. He started private cello lessons on the Suzuki method at age 5.

I'm rambling, but one more thing -- in my family, one thing that was crucial to our musical development was that our father was very, very involved in our music lessons. When we were very young, and wouldn't really have the ability to practice by ourselves, my dad would practice with each of us for 1/2 an hour every day, guiding us through the things our teachers had taught us. It was certainly not forced on us, as we loved to do it, but the fact that it was an activity that we shared with our parents made it even more an integral part of our lives.

And all three of us -- my brother, sister, and I -- are still musicians! Piano, violin, and cello.

Good luck!!

lonek8 | 9:40 AM

well, I don't know anything about teh LA area, but the idea of a private tutor seems good to me - someone to work one on one with him and really nurture what is obviously a very special gift. Good luck!

Katie | 9:40 AM

I grew up in a very musical family. My mom a violin teacher, my three sisters and I all started playing the violin at the age of three.

I definitely suggest you look into the Suzuki program and try to find a Suzuki-based school or trained teacher for piano or any instrument he is interested in. Piano though is a great first instrument especially for young children.

The Suzuki program is based off listening. So the first few years of learning is all about listening and imitating. It is a great program. And was designed for young children.

It was started by Shinichi Suzuki in Japan, and is now a global program. For more information visit: http://suzukiassociation.org/about/suzuki/ and http://www.suzuki-method.com/index.html

I hope this helps!

Your escalator operator | 9:46 AM

Just seconding the recommendations for Suzuki - I started with group lessons before I turned 4 and stuck with the violin until college. After watching the video, I wonder if they have a program for budding young timpanists :)

Good luck!

Jaelithe | 10:05 AM

I don't know what is in L.A., but here in STL I've found Kindermusic classes to be surprisingly awesome. They include singing and dance and rhythm exercises with all sorts of percussion instruments. I put my son in Kindermusic for two years, and now he's doing Music for Little Mozarts piano lessons. I think a lot depends on the teacher, of course-- I see how any program could wind up being lame without a great teacher.

Jen | 10:05 AM

I had similar experiences as a kid. At two I could sing anything back that was played on a piano or radio or whatever. The local children's choir here was very religious and didn't let children younger than 4 really sing and perform. My mom took me to the directors and had me work with them. Once they saw what I could do, I was immediately placed in their program. It may just be a matter of taking Archer to the program directors and letting him show off a bit of his talents. Otherwise, I'd find a private voice coach/piano teacher/etc. who could nurture him along until he's "old" enough.

Jessi | 10:35 AM

I skimmed the comments and didn't see this so I'll throw it out.

What about checking with music teachers at local universities or community colleges? They may be able to point you in directions of reputable music teachers and groups/schools that would nurture his talent.

Hope you find what you're looking for!

Charlotte | 11:05 AM

I'm a professionally trained musician/ classical pianist/ piano teacher/ choir director and whatever comes along--and that video of Archer is pretty amazing. So is his story of learning to talk through music and singing. I wish I would have had a kid like that among my piano cohorts ... *sigh*

Aaanyway, I second the idea of Kindermusik, to get Archer used to making music together with other kids and to dance etc., BUT at the same time, you want to do something beyond that, as well. I'm thinking a children's Orff orchestra, perhaps, because he seems to really enjoy the drum he's beating in the vid. PLAY Los Angeles has Summer for Big Kids (3-6 years) program that I'd check out because they have an Orff class (play-losangeles.com/2.html). This looks like it's ideal for Archer.

beth | 11:42 AM

Since he's so clearly awesome, would they let him in early?

Cloud | 11:53 AM

I've got nothing on LA, since I live in San Diego. You've already got lots of recommendations to get him a private teacher, which I think is probably a great idea. You could call the music department at UCLA or USC and see if they have any recommendations for teachers. They might even know of one of their students who would like to give lessons to pick up extra money- this is how my parents were able to afford my first music lessons and the teacher was excellent. I was a lot older than Archer, though.

I also wanted to add that correlations have been seen between high musical ability and other abilities. For instance, people with perfect pitch have a greater ability to learn a tonal language such as Chinese (the correlation has been seen both ways on this one, in that people who speak a tonal language as a native language are more likely to have perfect pitch, too). Also, I think correlations have been seen between music ability and math ability. So you might want to explore other areas of potential interest for Archer. I'd poke around the UCLA or USC childhood development department website for ideas on how to pursue that.

Anonymous | 11:58 AM

How about one of these classes?

http://www.colburnschool.edu/

Go to "School of Performing Arts" > Early Childhood and scroll down

My Son took a class there and they are great! They definitely nurture each child's individual musical talents, while not putting too much pressure on them or causing them to dislike it. Wonderful!

Melody | 12:07 PM

I'm an elementary music teacher and I know of two companies that cater to parents wanting to increase their children's musical exposure and experiences. Kindermusik and Music Together although they may be a little too in the box for him. Taking him to Concerts is a great way to increase his exposure. A children's choir at such a young age concerns me because it might reign him in too much when all he really needs to do is continue to explore and fall in love with music. Thank you for nurturing your sons gift!

Sara | 12:25 PM

when you posted this video of archer playing the drums i was amazed that he kept the beat so well. i thought he must have already had some musical training. i think you have a great idea to nurture his talent he really is gifted. good luck!

Heather | 12:29 PM

I love *so much* that you've been encouraging this! I also second, third, fourth the recommendations for a Suzuki music program. A good Suzuki school would have both group and individual lessons in a variety of instruments, and in my experience there's nothing better for kids Archer's age.

Anonymous | 12:38 PM

Contact the directors of those programs for 6-7 year olds, and ask them what they would recommend you do now. They can probably point you to some programs or teachers for the younger kiddos.

Elmpixie | 12:52 PM

I think most of us agree! Suzuki, Private lessons, and Waldorf!

Remember that all those groups are great but a private teacher will be able to recommend the "right" group, something that will fit archer right.

Swingkid | 1:03 PM

Suzuki is the way to go for his age. they typically start children much younger and it sounds like he's already teaching himself by that method. He sounds really gifted. Best of Luck, look forward to reading about it!

Bea | 1:06 PM

Unfortunately I can't suggest any programs etc since I'm not in the US. But, wanted to applaud you for letting Archer find his voice in his own way, and then recognizing that his love of music is something to be nurtured.

If I had a dollar for every parent I knew whose child wasn't developing 'on schedule' I'd be retired by now. You're a great role model for letting kids develop at their own rate, in their own way.

NG | 1:09 PM

Oh honey - get that boy a music therapist. And a good one. You need someone who can deal with him and all of his talents and who understands that he uses music to express himself. Choirs, great. Lessons, great. Do that too. But you could get music therapy identified on the IEP and then not only will the school provide it but it will be used specifically to help him accomplish his educational goals too -- which sounds like something you've already been doing. Plus a music therapist will tailor a program to his specific strengths and needs.

www.musictherapy.org

Jill | 1:36 PM

I second whoever mentioned that you want to let him try out various instruments. He's obviously shown an aptitude for drums and voice, but those are also those that are most accessible for him at this point, and perfect pitch often accompanies aptitude in another instrument (or more). You never know - he might take one look at a cello and fall in love. My husband has a great voice and was in choir as a kid, but he loves learning just about any other instrument. I think it's the challenge of it.

Issas Crazy World | 1:57 PM

I have no words of wisdom, not really at least. But Archer has huge talent and there has got to be something. have you tried contacting some of those programs and telling them about him? Even though he is young, maybe if they saw him? You know what I mean? Because he exudes talent and six seems like a long time to wait, since he just turned four.

The Informal Matriarch | 2:05 PM

Awe I have a super special smart savant-like boy too. He actually IS autistic though.

My dear son was singing harmony at 2.5 years old and before he was even two he had about 25 songs to memory. Now it's up to over 100 songs and he can sing perfectly in pitch too. He drums on things and on himself ALL DAY LONG. He's figuring out songs on the piano now too. He's also completely obsessed with numbers and letters and he's reading now at 3.5 years old.

It's so much fun hey!!?? To really actually KNOW you have a savant type child on your hands...ooo the delight.

My piece of advice is to encourage it like crazy but try and find the balance between encouragement and pushiness.

Also, if we spend too much time encouraging their super strength we might forget we need to really encourage their social skills. Kids who are different like this tend to lack those and their super gifts might suffer when they're having a hard time at school.

I think some of these choirs would make an age exception for your son.

Annika | 3:45 PM

My suggestions (and there are 52 comments as I begin typing, so they may be repeats):

1. Call those music schools for six-year-olds and say, "My four year old played Carmen by ear and was pitch perfect. What do you suggest?" They might take him anyway, or they might know of a private teacher.

2. Look into Suzuki. In Japan the violin is started at age three. There must be a traditional Suzuki teacher in Los Angeles.

The Girl | 3:53 PM

Oh my god, Bec. He IS awesome and talented and these schools that he's too young for, have they SEEN this stuff? His singing and his drum video (Holy crap!) and all of that? Maybe they would make an exception for this incredible, exceptional boy? He's amazing. Moving through the world with your Archer must be such a privledge.

dcfullest | 4:15 PM

I would look into two national programs:
Suzuki
Kindermusik

Ray | 4:31 PM

Archer did play those drums perfectly. He's so adorable. From the video and the way you write about him, he probably does have a gift in music. ;o) I don't live in LA so I cannot help you with finding a school, but the best of luck to you with finding one.

It's also so great that you can see his talents for what they are. So great that you believe in him enough to want to help pursue that talent and help him, (even if he's only four) make that talent into something great. So props to you for being such a great parent!

Alison | 4:39 PM

My mother is a suzuki piano teacher (unfortunately I live in Portland, OR, or I'd give you her number), and that school of training starts kids very young. I started at 5, but her youngest student is 3, and I'm all, how in the hell can you teach a 3-year-old to sit still, let alone play the piano? But she can. (I think it's because my mother is magical.) Anyway, Archer might respond well to that particular system of training, as I did, because they focus on actually playing in the early stages, as opposed to theory and reading music. For a younger child, this is a lot more organic and less stressful than the repetition of most beginner-level music classes. The parents are also very involved in the suzuki method, which it sounds like you would enjoy.

Something else you might try is asking for an audition with an independent choir. If he shows up with perfect pitch, the director may not care that he's 4.

Bekka Ross Russell | 4:43 PM

Just wanted to chime in and say that my mother is a cantor and, like most cantors, runs children's choirs that she adores. And they're small, even with a reasonably large temple, so they really get individual attention, regardless of age. I know my mom bursts with pride when 'her kids' do well, and really encourages them to reach their full potential. Also, reform synagogues tend to be pretty lax about theological requirements - if you were interested in the community and not the dogma, you'd be far from the only one.

.02 from another Bekka (and long time follower, of your blog and book)

Alison | 4:45 PM

I remembered this after I hit the publish button...
I go to a lot of jam music festivals, and there are always hippie drum circles, many of which include little kids. Awesome little kids who obviously grew up with music and never miss a beat. You could look for an open jam session in your area, someone in a group like that might know of a good kid-friendly program.

Cave Momma | 4:54 PM

I don't know of one but I know of a person who may be able to help. Bruce Bales with Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

http://cyber.gwc.cccd.edu/faculty/bbales/GWC%20Faculty/Welcome.html

I sang with him for many years and hope to go back soon. He and his family are incredibly talented (not to mention, great people) and his wife works with children's choirs so they may be able to help. Archer definitely has a talent and I applaud you for doing this for him.

Best wishes to you and your beautiful family.

Jeneva

karishma | 5:00 PM

oh wow, i really got nothing, being on the other side of the country, but.... that's crazy amazing. the kid definitely has a gift. and i know you said that you didn't want him to be the token little boy in a bigger group, but i think with the talent he has it would work. the directors just need to know how good he is first, and i think it would take ten second of watching him and seeing how connected he is to music for that to happen. and i also think that any group for 4 year olds that exists isn't going to actually nurture him. it's going to be groups for fun, not really led and directed, and what he needs is something that will develop his talent! he's clearly gifted.

Desiree Fawn | 5:03 PM

Ooh, I definitely agree with a lot of these comments -- I hope you can find a one on one teacher to guide him through his brilliance!

Little Miss Moi | 5:20 PM

Dear Rebecca. Of course, I don't have any suggestions, being that I live in Oz. I'm sure you'll find something though; as you said, LA is one of the most creative cities in the world.

I did want to say that I loved how Archer, around the 30 second mark, was hurrying everyone up because they started to lag a little!

BonJoey | 5:39 PM

I would looooove to see/hear a clip of Archer singing Carmen (or whatever!)...could you post a link? He is so sweet! Thanks!

ThatMommy! | 5:45 PM

what a cutie! sounds like he is annointed ;)

Jessica Gottlieb | 6:08 PM

Oh I have the solution.

Piano play, Miss Sharon.

I swear if you don't love it, I'll pay the bill.

(818)789-6110

Amy | 6:43 PM

Why do I feel like he is the real version of August Rush.

duck | 6:52 PM

Hi,
i would recommend as others have you look into Suzuki programs as well as Orff music programs. Often the Orff theory is linked with MOntessori. But either way I think the most important things you are all ready doing. Give him the opportunity to explore music in all its forms. Enjoy it as a family, celebrate his gift and generally do as your doing. You are obviously doing something right. Have you taken him to a symphony live yet? I would love to see his expression. I know the symphony here has family days where the kids can get right up close to the musicians and see them play, ask them and the conductor questions. I am thinking Archer would love that. And as for worrying about bragging about him, GO AHEAD! He is WORTH bragging over. Every mother worth her salt brags. It just so happens you have a very good reason to.

Leslie | 7:13 PM

I have no suggestions, as I don't live in California. I do have to say that Archer is completely talented and I hope you find somewhere that he can further his talent with music. He is amazing!

Lindsay | 7:18 PM

The Colburn School downtown, someone else posted about it.

Anonymous | 7:50 PM

He'll probably be one of the more naturally talented kids in these classes, but I heard they were a lot of fun for the little ones in the summer. Maybe the preschool music program with some private lessons?

http://www.hollywoodacademyofmusic.com/

Hollywood Academy of Music offers private lessons for piano, keyboard, guitar, voice, drums, violin, bass guitar, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet (other band instruments also available) and songwriting. We also teach a group workshop called "School of Rock-Band 101", Pre-school Music Classes, and our new "Recording Artist" program.

Anonymous | 8:07 PM

Forgot to throw in a link to hillcrest. They're a local public music magnet. I haven't heard much about it but it might be worth looking into in addition to summer classes at hollywood academy and private lessons.

http://www.lausd.net/Hillcrest_Dr_EL/Music%20Magnet.html

Sarah

Grammacello | 8:46 PM

Hi Rebecca and Hal
De-lurking as a (32 years) experienced Suzuki cello teacher (in Canada, regrettably) to say that I believe that you can't go wrong with this method, properly taught. By the way, they start right away with private lessons and group as well (concurrently) and I have started kids as young as 2- one of whom just finished a Masters degree in Suzuki pedagogy and is opening her own school.
That said (and she is only one of several former students of mine who have made lives as professional musicians- our goal is to produce "beautiful people with beautiful hearts"- And it does help, in these ...dark... times to do this small thing for good in the world.However, it does need to be done the way it is supposed to be. Your kid will get a solid musical education within in a nurturing, non competitive positive parent-involved environment.
I have a list of people in your area (as a member of the American Suzuki Association) and would be glad to e-mail you some contact info so you can check it out.
One more thing: all my (personal, not student) kids were Suzuki trained- the eldest (who is not a professional musician)the only one with kids so far, has both her kids (age 7 and 4) in Suzuki lessons- a good second generation vote of confidence. IMHO.Please e-mail me for contact info in your area and I can answer any other questions.
By the way there now is Suzuki violin, viola. cello, double bass, guitar, piano, harp and flute.(not in all areas but you are a in big urban area.HOPING to chat by e-mail. your kids are amazingly beautiful and I have read your book twice.Wish I were closer- I would take Archer in a heartbeat.
Fondly, Grammacello.Jo-Anne

Grammacello.Jo-Anne | 8:51 PM

PS
I can't see how to leave my e-mail privately but if you say it is OK here in a comment I will e-mail you with my addy.
Grammacello again

Alyxmyself | 9:37 PM

Just wow mom he's beautiful :)

I get that discouragement thing. My son is now nine, and I think its that he is so used to getting things instantly, he likes the way that feels, that natural thing you spoke of, he gets discouraged and I have to remind him its okay to have to work at something. Its funny, my kids get that from me.

I've been seeing you involved with Momversation over on Dooce for some time, but am now enjoying your blog.

Erin | 1:51 AM

As someone else mentioned above, I'd recommend looking into the Suzuki training.

http://suzukiassociation.org/

They work with very young children, and do a lot of playing by ear. They offer string instruments, piano, and voice. It's amazing to see kids that small with that much talent. I know they offer some camps, too, I worked at one. This might be a good thing for him, so hopefully there's something in your area, although I don't know how there couldn't be.

lisa | 2:18 AM

Will ask a good friend of mine who is a rock musician down there (and also a therapist)if she knows of any places. At one point she was going to offer classes in rock therapy at her music studio. Pretty cool your little guy is into the drums. The world needs more drummers!

Chrissy | 6:13 AM

What a talented little guy! I have a much bigger version of one. My 19 year old has an amazing ear and his primary instrument is the viola, but he has pretty much mastered any instrument he picks up including violin, piano, acoustic and electric guitar and my dad just gave him an old electric bass and he's teaching himself that. He starts college in the fall on a scholarship to major in music education. Too bad we live on the other side of the country as he's wonderful with little kids. I will echo those that suggested the Suzuki method. That is what his viola teacher used. I see that the LA Philharmonic has an education program. I'm sure that they could make suggestions for things locally for you. My son played for 5 years in the youth orchestra of our local philharmonic orchestra and it was a wonderful experience. http://www.dpyo.org/listen.html you can listen to the orchestra he was in. Click on the last song from the bottom, Slavonik Dance. I picture Archer loving it! Until you find something that works for you just keep encouraging and keep it fun.

Min | 8:21 AM

We LOVE the suzuki program! Q was only 2 when he started and he absolutely adored it!

That's What She Said | 10:37 AM

I don't have a suggestion since I don't live there, (and obviously you've received plenty) but I did want to just say that I saw this video in one of your previous posts and then watched it again this time and BOTH TIMES I can't get the "buh bum bum bum, buh bum bum bum, buh bum bum badadadadum bum bum" out of my head! I wake up in the night with it playing over and over and over! Oh man, hysterical. ;)

Anonymous | 11:13 AM

Becca,

I'm actually playing the Habanera from Carmen tonight with the opera I am playing with! (its the gala performance and some guests are singing famous selections in the middle of Die Fledermous.) I thought of Archer and wished he could be there to watch. Love love love! And good luck finding music programs for Arch! :)

your sis,
rachel

Anonymous | 11:16 AM

I'm gonna second-third-fourth-fifth the Waldorf thing...but what I really wanted to say was WOW. Your boy. When I see beautiful children like that I say to myself "ah, yet more proof that reincarnation is the real deal..." Don't you wonder who he was before? Lovely and amazing, he is!

Anonymous | 11:17 AM

My son is similarly disposed, though not as gifted; my advice is to contact the Music Teacher's Association of America and sign Archer up for Piano lessons. Piano skills develop both right and left lobes of the brain.

A word of caution: do not be afraid to drop the teacher if he or she does not meet your parenting style, but give it a little time first. Our teacher is not a natural nurturer, but I have no other choice for my area. In your area, there are so many options.

Consider Santa Monica (where Ziggy the trumpet teacher used to give lessons.) He had a whole following. One of my uncles took lessons from him.

Creative music lessons are not going to provide the encouragement he needs; He is highly gifted and that needs to be individualized. In your initial cost assessment of a plan of approach do not forget to include transportation in the cost as well as music books, cd's and other supplies.

We also use the website: Composers for Kids; there are scads of similiar websites. I cannot emphasize enough the difference between electronic instruction and personal instruction. Do not pursue one at the expense of the other. In the meanwhile, continue to play as much classical music as possible and continue to do everything you described in you rpost. I only wish we had taken our son's gift more seriously while he was younger. He's grown out of his love for practice and it is now primarily a discipline issue.

Cater to the enthusiasm now and you will save yourself and your son many tears of discouragment.

Sincerely,

Six Kids' Mom

foodiemama | 12:29 PM

why not violin or piano lessons? those start at 4 in most places. we have been consistently in group music classes since gus was 2 and love it. the teacher is great at all forms of music. it's in long beach though: http://www.jamminmusic-lb.com/

spicylikeginger | 1:27 PM

what impressed me the most that besides playing perfectly on each beat is that he knew when to play loud and when to play soft. most kids would have just banged away. yes, nurture this. i don't have any resources to offer; unfortunately. but yes, nurture this.

Anonymous | 4:36 PM

I also recommend suzuki. i started violin when i was 3 and i am now pursuing a career as a suzuki teacher... it really focuses on learning by ear at first as well. Also, its been around long enough now that there are A LOT of instruments that use the method. its not just for strings anymore.

also, i don't know much about this, but its worth checking out since its for younger aged children www.kindermusik.com

good luck from a music lover.

-LHB

The Grown Up Teenager | 7:02 PM

http://www.hollywoodacademyofmusic.com/index2.asp?pId=lessons

"Preschool Music Program
The preschool music program is a fun, group class for children ages 2-5, designed to teach the basics of music. All classes are 45 minutes once per week. The classes cover:

Movement and music
Learning to sing and listen
Making music with percussion instruments
Recognition of orchestral instruments
Rhythm
Melody
Elementary note recognition"

I'd try something like that. A lot of the things they focus on are things you're saying he's doing, so at least you know it wouldn't be all Pattycake and Elmo.

Aside from that, I'd suggest private lessons if you can find the right teacher. I had them as a kid (I can play...umm...piano/flute/clarinet/sax/drums/guitar) and always found them fun, if the teacher was the right one. But I'm Canadian, so I'm no help for names.

Best of luck though!

Bella | 7:51 PM

Such a wonderful gift he has.
Being in Vancouver, I don't know the music schools in your area. But I have to thank you for writing about Archer's speech.
I have a daughter who is just finishing kindergarten who is also having communication struggles, and after a year arguing with her school, bringing her to the doctor (ending in a clean bill of health) and a couple speech therapists. I felt like the only parent around with this problem who did not wanting to push her and make her natural curiousity for learning, into a grueling, scheduled, dull activity.
So thank you for this entry, it helps more than you know.

Anonymous | 11:12 PM

You should check out the Early Childhood section of the colburn school.

Also check out the schools affiliated with the Music Center downtown. The following link lists schools that have a program affiliated with them. You can also contact them for advice.

http://www.musiccenter.org/education/members.html

Also, check out http://socalmusicschool.com/index.php
It looks like they provide instruction to kids of all ages and are part of the STAR program which LAUSD uses. They would be able to tell you what schools are involved for future reference.

A word about IEPs. While it might be worth pursuing music therapy, it may be hard to actually get it. If it is not a resourse they normally provide or if the district doesn't have the funds, you may be out of luck. That being said, bring it up with your program coordinator, they should know which schools offer music enrichment and may be able to get Archer into a public pre-school or kindergarten that offers a stronger music program. Some of the schools in LAUSD even have a grant that allows all of the kids enrolled there to be a part of the (usually pricey) STAR program.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 12:13 AM

You are all amazing. Thank you. We're looking into Suzuki teachers for piano/violin. (He says he wants to play the violin so we'll try that first and see, although, because we have a piano in our house and Hal knows how to play, we might want to do piano lessons as well, we'll see what we can afford.)

But thank you, thank you. I've of course heard of Suzuki but don't know anyone who teaches/sends their kids so I had no IDEA how awesome it truly is!

So stoked to get this going! Thank you for being so generous with your knowledge and contacts!

Karen ~ | 7:21 AM

Everyone has left such great ideas and links - I have one which may be able to help you pay for all this! Check out the Davidson Institute for talent development. They offer a lot of free consultations and they have financial assistance for talent-development activities. Wonderful people who truly "get" talent like Archer's.
http://www.davidsongifted.org/youngscholars/

And keep us all updated with what happens! We all clearly want to see Archer grow!!!

Anonymous | 7:45 AM

I think you are doing everything perfectly. How you know to do this, at your young age, just shows more amazing things about you.

The most important thing you can do is just love him the way he is. That is who he is made to be. As long as he loves himself, the rest will carry forth.

I think too many children sense that they cause embarrassment to their parents, or their parents aren't as proud of them as they would be of other children. Sad to say, but true.

We are parents of a quirky, individualistic 12 yr old that we decided to homeschool in the middle of 4th grade. Too many years of "specialized evaluation" requested by teachers: and all the evaluators came up with the same thing: "gifted, talented child not on autism spectrum. VERY HAPPY WITH WHO HE IS."

So, who has the problem? The teachers in the classroom, or my son?

He has been home over a year now and is blossoming. We go in any direction he wants to go in: right now, it's origami and music composition. I called the local college, and they put a msg up looking for a student teacher interested in hours with one on one "free composition" with my son. The student comes to our house, and they play with the piano, and notes.

IT HAS BEEN GREAT.

Good luck to you, and Archer was born to the right set of parents. Let your Archer Flag fly, Archer!!

Studio222 Photography | 9:11 AM

That's so amazing! I just made Nate sit and watch it because Nate is a drummer and he always get's all glassy-eyed watching kids pick up drumsticks. I am so excited for Archer and all that the future holds for him! I wish I knew an answer for you but we don't have kids so I"m kind of outside of that world. I'm sure though that you'll find something perfect!

Candace | 10:17 AM

Sound like you have a very special child. He loves his little sister and music. It is so nice to see parents supporting their children's interests and differences, and not trying to conform them. Bravo!

Anonymous | 4:14 PM

Hey - we have a similar issue with our talented daughter who is 6. She is already writing songs and performing in singing recitals.I greatly identify with what you say about Archer, although the Aspergers dx she has been given doesn't bother me. I love having a kid that is not "cookie cutter" you know! We relish it.

I'm the blogger you met in Orange County (although the blog went by wayside when I recently found myself pregnant by surprise at age 40). Anyway, I have a great place for my girl but it is in Orange County - but might be worth the drive for you now and then. We have a singing teacher who teaches real music to babes (not kid music) and gives them forums to perform and also records music. She is a Grammy winning songwriter and sooo talented. For example, my girl has been working on Earth Wind and Fire songs, etc. You can look at her website www.melodymakersnb.com for inspiration. She wrote Janet Jackson's Let's Wait Awhile. She teaches several groups for kids age 3-6 but also gives private lessons.

Drop me a line if you need more info.

Also there are tons of "music camps" in LA and OC that cater to age 4-7 that you could try out in summer. They teach them music, drama, art. We've gained so much from that.

Good luck! And just keep exposing him to all types of music. That is the best! Missy

cassiopeia | 9:35 AM

i'm a newbie here. not a mom. unfortunately i can't be of any help on the music department, as i'm in (and from) portugal. but i must say that i LOVE these photos. yes, you have lovely kids, but these are sooo strong i can't take my eyes off them. especially the first and the last (oh my, the last one!). he is so serene, so grown up it amazes me. really. i just had to share.

Christina | 1:36 PM

I too have noticed that my 10 month old little boy is obsessed with music. It's kinda of great because I used to play music obsessively to my belly every day until he was born. I played everything from Bach to Metallica.

The freaky thing is now, music is the only thing that will calm him. He could be hysterical and as long as I put on some music, he is quiet instantly. I never heard about those Syndromes that you mentioned but now im a little scared that the docs might think that about my son.Hes only 10 months so its still early to tell about his speech patterns. Im glad you gave me the heads up so that I wont be blind sided by their bullshit stereotypes.

I always hoped to have a child who loved music as much as my husband and I do. I sing and he plays piano, guitar and also sings. Now we have an amazing little boy who appears to be a music lover as well. How wonderful!

Good luck on your quest to find the perfect place for him. how lucky he is to have parents like you and Hal who recognize and are eager to nourish his talents.

Christina
www.takebackyourtable.com

Amy | 10:12 AM

Music therapists might have groups of high-functioning kids he could have a lot of fun with. They tend to focus on individual needs and it could be fabulous.

Outside that, definitely voice and piano lessons from a teacher who understands little kids and won't pressure. No matter what instrument(s) he chooses to pursue later, they will lay a great foundation. It's also important to make sure his voice isn't trained incorrectly, which can harm that beautiful talent he has!

Good luck - it's not easy but it's totally worth it. Kudos to you for listening to him and what he wants to do!

the weirdgirl | 9:09 PM

I can't add much that hasn't already been said except that I wouldn't worry too much about Archer being with older kids, if he ends up in a group. Gifted children often crave the company of older kids. And the older kids are often really nice with the younger ones! (Really, I'm finding that labels and counter-productive mind-sets are much more common in adults, you know what I mean?) Since Archer is so focused about music I doubt sitting still would be a problem for him. Good luck!

Lola | 7:20 PM

i think the violin is a great first string choice. There is much prep and a natural discipline that comes with learning it that it will benefit future string instruments played. Case in point, my 9 year old started on violin in grade 1 and now, just finishing grade 3 she has picked up the electric guitar and wants to explore on her own this summer: )I LOVE it! Arcade Fire girl who plays 5 instruments in one set, here we come!
BTW sounds like ARCHER would totally thrive in a Montessori environment:)

Diane | 11:30 PM

PBS is airing a NOVA special Tuesday, June 30th at 8PM (LA TIME) called "Musical Minds," about music and the mind. Dr. Oliver Sacks was on the Daily Show tonight pitching it and I thought of you and Archer's lovely musical mind.

Diane | 10:38 PM

Here's the synopsis of the show. You can check listings at pbs.org - it's playing all week. The book sounds interesting, too:
Musical Minds
Music's affect on the brain is explored via four case studies from neurologist Oliver Sacks' book "Musicophilia" and MRI visualizations of Sacks' own brain responding to classical pieces, including Bach's Mass in B Minor.

Rebecca | 2:54 PM

http://www.eleosarts.com/

Two of my friends teach there--Rebecca and Alexander Tseitlin.

And yes, yes, yes, encourage this gift! Can't wait to read about what Archer conquers next!

Mamacita | 12:24 AM

Somehow I completely missed this post! Your description of Archer reminds me so much of my father. My father was always more in touch with music than anything else. As the son of an aerospace engineer, his parents had high academic standards, but much to my grandparents' chagrin my father cared far more about music. He always loved music, but the 50s were not necessarily the most nurturing time for parenting, particularly for a guy interested in something so "girly." My dad majored in music in college and graduated from an incredible music program with a 4.0 and went on to get his M.M. and is now an operatic vocal coach. The same guy who still can't spell to save his butt can speak 8 different languages and was singing solo on stage with Beverly Sills at 25! Archer is soooo lucky to have parents who embrace his love of music. I think it is so wonderful that Archer has found music and I really love that you are focusing on this and encouraging it. I don't know about music schools on the West Coast, but drop me a line sometime if you want to know the skinny on boys choirs on the East Coast or in Europe! Also, as a vocalist and harpist myself, I am continually impressed with Archer's intonation clarity! What an amazing gift!

Wain | 11:41 PM

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Barbara

http://keyboardpiano.net

Lady | 7:34 PM

I can't get this post out of my head.

Follow up???