Friday, January 23, 2009

Who Exactly is in Control here?

The Festival is tomorrow. There is a certain tension that seems to reside just under my tongue until tomorrow night at 6:00 p.m. The teaching is over for now-advice good, bad, or untaken. I have hovered, pressured, shrugged and laughed them to their best potential at this location. We have erased extra marks, made some editorial ones, numbered our measures and tried the pieces on all the pianos we could find. To top it all off, I made (not purchased) the 3 dozen cookies each teach brings to the snack table.

Tomorrow I will sit at the registration table, smiling broadly and welcoming, pointing to the coat room, directing them to their rooms, excited when they come back believing they played well, commiserating when they forgot something, offering them a cookie and juice to offset the adrenaline crash that inevitably comes in the car on the way home. I can feed judges Subway sandwiches and diet Cokes, watch my fellow teachers interact with their students and feel the same faster breathing. It's a small event for some, life challenging for others. "Am I any good? In comparison to what, to whom?

The parts I can't control are usually the most rewarding. The Minnesota weather has promised another twenty below and windchill obstacle. Pianos were tuned, chairs were set. The students promised get sleep, fix the last few memory or other spots, bring their music. They will wear appropriate apparel, whatever that means to them and their families. They vowed to play musically, be a good listener, be courteous to the adjudicator and take a bow when they were finished. Their parents will be on time, not compare them to their siblings, not relive their own musical terrors or highlights. They will allow them to bloom on their terms. Grandparents increase the pleasure and the pressure.

And so goes the Festival. Some stumble, some decide this was their last, or their best, a student heard something beautiful in the middle, or controlled something that has eluded them. It's going to be a day that prepares them for bigger events. Someday they will give a presentation, make a speech, take a vow. And when they're finished? They may have a nagging desire for a cookie and some juice.

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