Today, my 8 year old had her first piano recital at the Merit School of Music. It wasn’t exactly a recital, though. It was kind of a competition. She had to play in front of two judges who took notes and graded her. Then, they will let her teacher know how she is doing. There was also an audience that we were not expecting. I thought that might throw her for a loop. It didn’t. She was confident and happy even though I was pretty sure she had not really memorized her second piece. My daughter is hardly a virtuoso (many of the other kids at this recital definitely were). She doesn’t really take her lessons or practicing very seriously. She sometimes crys that she does not want to play anymore. But, then hours later, I catch her at the piano playing for fun. She is not particularly motivated by her teacher’s approval or her disapproval. She just kind of plays when she wants and doesn’t when she doesn’t want (which I think is just fine for an 8 year old). She was actually supposed to play one of her pieces last year at the same event, but never bothered to memorize it so her teacher pulled it and her from the competition. But, today, her teacher and she thought she was ready. And she was.
She was definitely not the best. She made mistakes and I was right that she still had not completely memorized her second song. Yet, she was cheerful and excited and confident. She marched right up to the front of the room without hesitation when they called her name. She smiled at the judges and the crowd. They asked her if she wanted to warm up with some scales. She was the only kid who said “no” (I am not even sure if she knows what a scale is). She played her best and was not fazed by her mistakes. At the end of her two songs rather than taking a bow like some of the more polished kids did, she stretched both arms up in the air and yawned right in front of the judges. Was it relief? Nerves? Stress? Probably not. She was just up late last night (to hang out with me playing guitar) and up early this morning (for a fantastic Purim Carnival) and she saw no real reason to hide the fact that she was tired. Then, she skipped back to sit with me and watch the other kids.
I am so proud of my daughter. She will most likely never be a fabulous musician. I doubt she will get a piano scholarship to a prestigious university. She may not even continue to play piano in the future (I quit when I was about 12). But, today showed me that she will try almost anything and has no fear. She does not get down on herself when she makes mistakes. She just takes it in stride. She does not see limitations. She sees opportunities. She will try anything even if she is not the best. In some ways she is a lot like me, but in most ways she is a lot better.