Friday, May 12, 2006

Piano Lessons Recitals - A Family Tradition

Piano Recitals have come a long way since I first "had" to participate in them. Last night, we had the wonderful privilege of attending our grandchildren's first recital. They performed outstandingly! They didn't seem to be all that nervous about it either. They must have a wonderful piano teacher in Donna Miller. I already know they have great parents and all the "performing genes" from both sides of their family. I wouldn't say they were "hams" but they seemed to truly enjoy their solos and then sat for almost two hours and attentively listened to 30 other student's efforts. Amazing!

I tried to take some pictures, but the lighting and angles were not the best and I wouldn't want to put them in this post without their consent. Let's just say..."they did us proud"...both musically and visually. Stone was so cute. He was the youngest and first on the program with his rendition of "Winnie the Pooh". At the last minute he decided to not "sing along" with it and just "play it" because it "messed him up". I had the joy of hearing him practice with all the words and music at home. His little hands and voice just stretched to reach all the notes in time and rhythm. He has an inborn talent for music and "the dramatic"...I wonder why? ie. his dad, his mom and both sets of grandparents, I think. His haircut right now looks an awful lot like his dad's when he was that age, a bit long. Trevor took lessons for awhile and he says he doesn't remember any "recitals". I don't think Osborne Reager's son, his teacher, had any. Osborne, the local Claremont, piano-playing "curmudgeon" for so many years taught Brooks and Brett. He had some recitals at some of the "nicer homes" as I remember. Brett had to play his favorite then, "Mac the Knife". Brooks took off with his large hands and talent doing Racmoninoff(?). He had such a gift(s). He was given my mother's old piano but then hasn't been able to house it or move it. Clark or "a friend" has it now and I'm guessing it is in great disrepair. What a waste. Tragic, in my opinion.

Layla is such a "young lady" with such an early poise, intelligence and the soul of "a dancer". She was up sixth and played her choice, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (from Cinderella) her favorite Disney princess. She was so sweet in her demeanor. She had chosen a "special long dress" and lots of perfume. She listened and responded to so many of the other student's numbers. Her mother assured her that she could play many of the pieces. She is such a "perfectionist", again, just like someone else we know very well. She really cares about "doing her best" in everything...and she usually does. We are so proud of her...would that have anything to do with her being our "one and only first" grand daughter? We came down to their house early enough to go to her school and pick her up with her dad. It was "minimum day". She goes to a "distinguished school" and only has 19 kids in her class (third grade) We saw her written work on the bulletin boards, an essay and a "poem" "diamonte" She is so sharp and a "math sponge" to quote her teacher. Again, a very proud dad took us to see both Layla's and Stone's schools. We had been to Stone's Montesorri School before. Another "ideal setting" for early learning. Stone's approach is quite different though. To quote him, "My desk is next to the snack table." He's "all boy" and all over the place running and playing with his friends.

Not only have piano recitals changed from when Betty and I did them, schools have too...all for the better I think. We remember older women in their "old or overly perfumed parlors" giving out "animal stickers" and weekly assignments. I remember the achingly long "practicing" hour (20 mins.) everyday so I would get those "animal stickers" the next week. I remember a shaky older lady who had to demonstrate the next song to learn by playing it on her half of the bench sitting sideways and playing/looking "over her left shoulder" while I tried not to inhale her foul breath.
When I finally got a "really good" male teacher, he was across town and my mom was willing to drive me (just like she did for my "braces" at the clinic) And then he had to quit, military obligation I think. He was inspiring the way he could play with ease. I did learn how to read music enough to go on and follow my love of vocal music and sing in choirs, choruses, quartets etc. Thanks mom and dad for that gift of music. I know it was a sacrifice, especially financially on your part. I remember all the times my mom sat there with me (sometimes through my tears) trying to help me "plunk out" what was "so hard and exacting". What patience she had. I remember her going to the piano to play her favorite hymns and sing when she had a few minutes...usually she was always ready alittle early for some church function and would relax in this way. I remember my sister and I playing the "key guessing game" while she did the dishes. I would play a note and she would always guess it, as in "perfect pitch" as she dried or washed...I did the other half.

No, lessons and recitals have changed for the better, but the process and "family tradition" stays the same, alive and well with our wonderful kids and grandkids. Bravo! Bob!


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