Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Many sound better than one

So, we got to attend the recorder concert this morning. It was...interesting. We are VERY grateful for the music education in a public school. And as bad as one airy, whistle-y recorder can sound in the hands of a 10-year old, I have to admit that dozens of them playing together actually sound pretty good! The concert started with all the kids playing the first level song: hot cross buns. Then they continued playing songs up the next higher level, and some kids would drop out because they had not learned that song yet. So, song by song, fewer and fewer kids played.

Teddy was in the front row of the stage, with 3 more rows of children sitting behind him, all with heads down looking at their music sheets on the floor. The more advanced students were on the floor in front of the stage. Teddy played proudly, and looked great! Until the moment when he was not able to play the song. Then he looked frustrated and embarrassed.

While I felt a little bad for Teddy when they got to the level above him, part of me is glad that he has a chance to learn the natural consequence of not practicing. And we, his parents, got a reminder that at age 10, he still needs more support at home to remember these things, instead of letting him slip away into video land as soon as his other homework is done.

But Teddy wasn't the only one. I saw several of his classmates go through the same emotional roller coaster. One boy sitting in the front row had only learned the first song. He looked so proud and excited during that song. Then he sat, glum and ashamed, for the whole rest of the concert. I felt bad for him, and wished the teacher had paid more attention to the seating order. Then again, what would the alternative have been? Make all the poorer players sit toward the back of the stage, so their parents could not see them at all, even for the one song they did know how to play? I can't say I have a good answer.

OK, so this is the part where I reveal some of my own childhood angst. I took violin lessons in elementary school. And I was terrible. I am not exaggerating. I do not have a good sense of tune, and I think the only reason I was allowed the violin (I had to audition for it in 3rd grade), is that my Asian face in the all white school just "looked" Suzuki method to the instructor. I bet I looked adorable holding that 3/4 violin! BUT, when I tried to practice at home, my mother would actually yell for me to stop because she couldn't stand the noise. Any of you who have ever tried a violin--well, it does NOT sound pretty in the early days. Very screechy and painful to the ear. Anyway, I spent lot of time at concerts with the violin on my knee because I had lost my place *again* and could not "hear" where the rest of the players were. I was really embarrassed by this, and quit by 6th grade. So, maybe I am a wee bit sensitive to this whole thing.

So, not entirely sure what my point is with this you are wondering too? It was a lovely concert, Teddy played the songs he had learned well, and we are proud of him for that. And he is motivated to keep playing and practicing, even after this. So I guess it was all fine, then, despite my mixed emotions.

One indisputable bright spot at the end: Teddy wanted me to take his picture at the concert, and I only had my cell phone (no camera--bad mommy!), so it's not a great shot. He was eager for me to take a picture of the boy next to him too, whom I did not know. This classmate's parents had not made it to the concert, and he wanted us to memorialize it for him to take home. Now that really does make me proud!

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