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Year Three, Day 31: A Pleasant Way to Go

Last night's piano recital was a huge success! Best ever!

I say this each time, and each time I mean it!

I have a nice system that really helps things run smoothly.

Especially since I had 48 students performing!!

Thankfully, I also had a stellar office staff person at the music center that I usually work with at these events.  He is very supportive and calm. He has worked with me numerous times before, so he knows the ropes.  We are a great team.

I had several moments last night, when I had to wipe away tears.  I really live for these recitals.  I strive to make recitals comfortable and fun for all of my students.

I have had many compliments from family and friends of students.  They are amazed that my students willingly go up on stage. Some of them leap on stage with joy!

I am constantly amazed myself!

I have done something right in my life!  Many memories have been made at my student recitals.

However, some students suffer performance anxiety no matter how supportive and kind I am. One of my female students, a middle schooler, was almost in tears after her performance. She did very well. She tackled a difficult piece ("Secret" by Jay Chou).  But she had a few false starts. She had memorized her piece and did not bring the sheet music up to the piano. I sat by her and whispered, "It's ok. You can start again."  She fumbled a bit and then finally with a big sigh, went back to the beginning and played almost flawlessly to the end. And with much passion!

That is why I seek. Mistakes are inevitable.  And meaningless. It's the passion, the feeling we ourselves feel that we transmit through our playing to the audience.  It's what makes music an art, instead of just sound.

I comforted her after the performance. I told her I had suffered from extreme shyness my whole life. Most of my time in elementary school, I did not say one single word!  I trembled and got sick to my stomach if I was asked to speak in public, or play the piano in a recital!

I told her the only way to overcome, was to perform frequently. She nodded through the tears. I wished her a happy summer as she shuffled out the door. I wish I could take away her pain. I hope my compassion touched her. I hope she develops confidence in herself.

God knows, I have struggled with this my whole life. I still do.  But I force myself to speak in public and perform. I still get nervous, but it is not so debilitating. And I am always glad I faced the challenge when it is done. My biggest challenge is not to obsess about the mistakes later. But to focus on what I did well.

Last night, I facilitated a huge performance. 47 students performed on piano. 1 sang.  With me accompanying on piano. A jazz standard. ("Round Midnight" by Thelonius Monk).  I can't believe I played from a jazz lead sheet! I hope my student wants to perform again.  He has a magnificent big voice, but he had gotten injured the week before. We could have used more practice.  I know, don't look back with regret!

I had three middle school boys perform improvisational blues. I played the harmony, and they improvised on a blues scale. They rocked! They created as they played. On the spot!

I can't say I had a favorite performer last night. As I sat beside each student, flashbacks of our time together in their lessons, appeared in my mind.  I smiled with pride with each performance.  And I had little tugs at my heart, thinking how our lives had crossed for awhile, but I would not always be a part of their lives. Just in their memories.  It was especially moving for me to sit by my very own mother as she very seriously played "When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along"!

She is always a hit!

The last performer of the evening played an Etude in E Major, Opus 10, #3, by Chopin. A beautiful, lyrical, and quite difficult piece.  Played by a young man who is entering his senior year in high school in the fall. He has been studying with me since he was about 8.  So, I have been teaching him weekly for 8 years.  He is going to Japan this summer.  His parents gave me a lovely card and a contribution for my car (to visit my daughter and new grandbaby in the Washington).  They also told me that he will no longer be taking piano lessons. I instantly felt tears well up. He was on swim team and in jazz band at school (he also played bass).  He simply had too many obligations. I nodded in understanding and looked up at him (he is MUCH taller than me now!). He smiled sadly.  My heart wanted to burst.  We had come so far in lessons. As a little boy, he was rather reluctant. Never spoke much. I didn't think he liked piano. I was surprised he continued. I think at the urgings of his mother. But over the years, he started talking. He became one of my best students. Still rather quiet, but we had incredible lessons where he asked intelligent questions and actually did what I asked him with never a complaint.  I was quite sad.  Sometimes when a student quits, it is for the best.  If their heart is not in it, it is a relief. I enjoy all the time spent with all my students. But this one hurt.

I will get over it.  I am glad that my work has meaning. I am glad that I care about my students. These recitals I give, validate myself as a teacher. And a good person. Mostly to me.

I am inspired.  I really can't ever imagine retiring from teaching. I will probably be one of those little old lady teachers, who falls asleep in her piano teacher chair. And never wakes up.

I can't think of a more pleasant way to go!

Speaking of which, I need to go practice! I am leading an alto sectional this evening. I have the week off from teaching.

I need it. I am so tired.

After the recital, I actually broke my no food after 8:00 p.m. rule. I went out for Mexican food. I ate slowly and relived the evening.  I thought of every single student and smiled.

I thanked God for giving me a purpose. I believe this is why I was created. To teach.

And on that note, I wish you a very happy Monday!

Talk to you tomorrow.  Back to exercise and healthy eating! I will do my stats tomorrow instead of today.  Most tired am I!




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