On Wednesday night, 2 years of internal (with the amount of parental involvement) and external struggle (with my children’s practice time) with the Suzuki method culminated in a wonderful evening for our family. Despite constantly complaining about practicing, fighting with me about suggestions I make during the practice, and tantrums thrown after the practice, Micah always agrees to whatever his teacher asks him. In this case, he wanted to play solos in the upcoming music festival and also to do the Royal Conservatory introductory exam in June. To prepare for these events, there was a solo recital for all the kids to get some practice playing their pieces.
As I wrote before, this whole violin thing was Micah’s idea but it has been my job to ensure the follow through. It is an expensive activity and I am motivated by this, so I insist we practice to get the most out of the lessons. I have at times been completely horrified by the amount of parental involvement but also thrilled by the nurturing nature of the method. I also liked that the concerts involve playing in an ensemble NOT alone (I.e. way less pressure and stress). So I was somewhat alarmed listening to our teacher describing the Music Festival and the exam to Micah and asking if he would like to participate. I was also alarmed to hear him say he would like to do all of it.
I will explain: this is all about me. All I could hear was how much more work it will be for me to make sure he learns his new solo pieces, and all of the exam pieces and can play them well by himself! Also, I should probably reveal that I am someone who only agreed to piano lessons under the following condition: I would not play in festivals, exams, or recitals. The idea of performing all by myself was too much to bear.
Back to Micah and the violin. So yes, we learned the solo pieces and we ramped up the practicing (also the bribing: concert time fortunately corresponds to mini-egg time). He really did well, we only had minor meltdowns and no real fights during our practice sessions.
Micah was ready, more or less for the solo recital.
Then last week, our teacher asks if Ariel would also like to play in the solo concert. Whoa!!! She is 3! She just started lessons in September. She can only play 4 notes, it is not even a song! Well, it turns out our teacher wanted another little one to demonstrate her ability to play 4 notes. I agreed, with NO idea about whether or not Ariel would do it (I can never predict what she will do).
Wednesday arrived, and with it a low level of anxiety that gradually built up inside of me to a high level over the course of the day. By suppertime, I was a nervous wreck. I was determined for my children to not know this, as I really believe that children often don’t know they should be nervous until we cue them. We were late getting to the recital, which added to my extreme nerves. The kids got tuned, we filed into the hall.
Ariel immediately tried to take up 2 seats herself (in a room packed with people and not enough seats). She and Tim got into it, with him threatening to take her home without performing. Then suddenly her name was called and it was her turn.
She walked up to the front with her violin, placed it carefully, and played her 4 notes. She replaced her violin in “rest” position, took her bow, and walked back to her seat. I couldn’t believe it, she was perfect. You couldn’t tell that she had been fighting with her dad just seconds before her performance. One down…
Micah’s turn. He was going to play 2 fiddle tunes with piano accompaniment, something he had only done twice before. His name was called and he walked up and played his pieces beautifully. In fact, it was probably the best he had ever played them. I almost cried with pride (and also relief if I am honest with myself).
Whew…they did it. Then I wondered why I was nervous. I mean, I didn’t care how they did. I would have been full of pride no matter how they performed. What a waste of energy!
That night I told Micah we would celebrate all of his hard work and his wonderful performance. He asked me why we would celebrate, after all he was only playing his violin.
Huh? Does he not know that it is a big deal to play in front of a roomful of people? Or does it really not make him nervous. Either way, who cares! For now it seems, I have managed to not pass on my anxiety about performing. I hope I can keep that up. It would appear that there is a lot more performed in my children’s future.
Now on to preparing for the festival….