Smile—It’s Your Turn to Practice

My children are taking music lessons. And would you believe they like to practice? (One even loves to practice!) They aren’t prodigies, but their study of music has become a delight for the whole family. Here are some reasons:

1. I’m ready when they are.

Often I see toddlers approach a piano and begin to pound on the keys wildly. Is that an expression of genuine interest? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s not hard to show them how to touch the keys gently. Soon they’ll be ready to learn where “middle C” is on the keyboard; then simple tunes like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” are just around the corner.

2. The Teacher can be friend or foe.

When the children are mature enough to handle formal music lessons, I look for someone who will be able to make the music lesson a high point of the week. Qualities I seek in a teacher are musicianship, friendliness, a kind and nurturing personality, creativity, and a sense of humor. It’s good to notice if the teacher’s students are progressing well for their age and experience. Getting others’ opinions is useful, but deep inside I can usually tell which personality my children will respond to. And I let those impressions count!

3. Practice time and me.

I sit down to practice with my children. I really do! Every day before school or play, each child in turn gets my undivided attention at the piano. In this way I can be certain that good habits of learning are being formed. Such habits can be applied, of course, to any aspect of their education.

When they make mistakes, I say, “Oops, try again!” or “Think once more” or “Can you fix that?” My approval comes with big smiles, gentle pats on the back, and sincere compliments: “Good for you!” “You did it!” “You’re doing great!” and “Aren’t you glad!” If a measure needs work, we drill; then when we’re finished I draw a small figure like a flower or animal in the corner of the music. The children think it is worth repeating five times to see what I’ll draw next.

4. Rewards make it fun!

A great fringe benefit to this practice scheme is that I get to “dream up” creative rewards for the children. Most are made from construction paper—an Indian who gets a feather in his headdress each time the child practices; a mountain climber who reaches a higher peak each day of practice; an ice cream cone that gets another scoop with each completed practice session. Sometimes I reward the children with a handful of popcorn to pop, a few seeds to plant, a swing around the room, or a quick game of basketball outside. Such rewards add a fun boost to our practice efforts.

5. Harvest the applause.

On Sunday, as part of our family time together, the children perform the pieces they have just mastered as well as those they are working hardest to learn. The sincere approval of dad and siblings is welcome and wonderful!

As I have followed these suggestions, I have seen my older children beginning to sense a genuine love of accomplishment. Their musical pieces are more interesting, and they are learning to practice them effectively. Soon I’ll be able to gradually withdraw from their practice sessions, though I’ll stay close enough to remain a constant source of encouragement and approval.

Learning to master a musical instrument doesn’t have to be drudgery, and with some imagination it can be a real joy. The children are choosing to spend some of their spare time at the piano these days. When I hear them, I smile! Marilou Dyreng Myers, Provo, Utah

Dry Milk Storage Tips

Nonfat dry milk, included in most home-storage programs, provides a well-balanced protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids (proteins) needed in the diet.

If nonfat dry milk is not stored properly, however—exposed to excessive temperature and humidity for long periods of time—it will darken in color. This indicates a chemical reaction involving milk sugar (lactose) and certain amino acids—among them lysine. When lysine reacts with lactose in nonfat dry milk, the lysine, an essential amino acid, becomes nutritionally unavailable.

Nonfat dry milk is a good storage food because of its low moisture and fat content. Recently scientists analyzed a nonfat dry milk sample which had been stored for twenty years; 70 percent of the lysine was still available. Subsequent feeding studies demonstrated that this old nonfat dry milk still promoted good growth in experimental animals.

In another study, an analysis of low moisture (2.8 percent) samples of nonfat dry milk showed no change in value after a two-year storage period, regardless of temperature. But milk powder with 5 to 7 percent moisture deteriorated within a matter of weeks. Hence, a low-moisture nonfat dry milk should be selected for long-term storage, and the product should preferably be stored under cool, dry conditions. Clayton S. Huber, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Food Storage: Where and How

Home storage should consist of a year’s supply of basic food, clothing, and, where possible, fuel. After this goal has been reached, emergency and expanded storage should begin.

People who are in mobile situations (such as the armed forces and school) or who have small homes with limited storage area should prepare as best they can for emergencies. Basic food items often can be stored in a rather limited space: closets, attics, space under beds, and even space made available by family or friends. It is wiser to have food storage sufficient for only a few weeks or months than to have no storage at all. The food storage program should be adapted to meet geographic and individual needs, but the following suggestions may:

1. The choice of storage foods depends on availability, nutritive value, cost, storage qualities, and other considerations. Store foods that the family is willing to eat. In times of stress, it may be difficult to eat unfamiliar or disliked foods.

2. Store a variety of foods, as no single food has all the essential nutrients in the correct proportions.

3. Store the highest quality or grade of food obtainable. For example, wheat should be cereal grade, double cleaned, at least 11 percent protein, and no more than 10 percent moisture.

4. Store foods in sturdy metal, plastic, or glass containers with tightly fitting lids. Sturdy wooden, straw, or earthenware containers may also be used, but a plastic bag liner would help protect the food from possible contamination.

5. Store foods in areas that permit easy access and allow control of temperature and humidity. (In general, cool temperatures prolong storage life and quality.) Not all storage items should be located in one area of the house; not all should be stored in one type of container.

6. To destroy insects that may infest grains, nuts, dried fruits, or other foods, place the food in temperatures of 0° F. (or below) for four days. As an alternative, the food may be sterilized by being heated at low temperature (around 200° F.) for about one hour, depending on the nature of the food. Spread the food on shallow pans so that the heat can penetrate easily. Stir the food occasionally to keep it from scorching. Dry ice kills most adult insects and larvae, but it probably will not destroy the eggs or pupae. Pour two inches of grain into the bottom of the container. Add dry ice; then fill with grain. Eight ounces of dry ice is recommended for one hundred pounds of grain, or one pound for each thirty gallons of stored grain. Seal the containers loosely for five to six hours; then seal them tightly.

7. Storage foods should be planned for and acquired according to an orderly and systematic plan. Food costs can be minimized by budgeting and shopping wisely. Borrowing money to acquire food storage is not a good idea.

8. Use stored foods on a regular basis to maintain quality and minimize waste. Maintain a food inventory and replace items as they are used.

9. Specific information regarding appropriate foods and optimal storage conditions in given localities should be obtained from local universities or government agencies.

The above suggestions are adapted from Essentials of Home Production & Storage, a booklet published by the Church. Order the booklet through your ward or branch leadership; or send 35¢ and the booklet title and stock number (PGWE1125) to the Salt Lake City Distribution Center, 1999 West 1700 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84104. Make checks payable to “Corporation of the President.”

[photos] Photography by Jon T. Lockwood