Sunday, February 8, 2009

An Adult Performs

I judged a Festival yesterday. The last "contestant" of the day was an adult! I should not be shocked. I teach adults. They are some of my treasured students. I have sent adults to the festivals to learn how to play in front of critical audience, to handle those nerves, to get to another level of playing. There are many great reasons to participate. But I had never critiqued an adult student.

Do you know how many adults have whispered to me that they used to take music lessons? Many wish that they had "kept with it". Many hated it. Many have the Nun and Ruler story. This is a public apology for any of you who went through that. Some remember secretly going to their lesson for the candy, the stickers or to pet the dog. A few went to the "little old lady next door" for lessons regardless of her teaching ability. Some can still play for parties or Christmas. Does one of these describe you?

Many felt that it was important to give that musical gift to their children, or that when the kids are grown, the bills are paid, the time is right, they may take lessons again. I can't wait to see them here!

Adults at the festival don't have to memorize their two pieces. I'm so glad. Most of us have enough on our minds. I have come to think about her presence at the festival a lot since yesterday. She chose two intermediate pieces; she chose slacks and a nice sweater. She didn't clip her nails. She played cautiously and correctly, and she DID IT! I told her how excited I was to see her and hear her and celebrate this moment with her. I think I critiqued her graciously, with hope of a faster tempo on one piece someday. How lyrically she played her Sunflowers, a full deep melodic line sang above the rest of the field. I wonder how she felt about the experience.

Performing at a critiqued event is not for everyone. Some want to enjoy music for their sake, a stress relief, a time of meditation, a moment of grace. I do not know if it was her choice to perform yesterday or if she was coaxed, coached, cajoled into it. I only hope she feels proud and invigorated.

I know how I feel when I'm learning something new and then putting it out there. I am taking pottery classes intermittently. 6 weeks of doing something new, exciting, intimidating and foreign to my hands. It is so humbling. There are master artists East and West of me on the wheel that encourage, tilt their head askew, and comment that this may be my best pot yet. Oh my, I created a, ah, a something. I imagine that is what all students feel in any art. I created, I learned something about the art, and something about myself. There is such beauty in that for me.

This is my favorite piece to date. Why? It feels good in my hands, the glazing is fun to see where the white ran into the blue, but the best reason is because it perfectly holds a bag of peanut M&M's.


  1. Ah-Oh, need a snack but apparently I must go practice first. Neat blog.

  2. Yes, learning for learning's sake is an adult gift to ones self. Chocolate will cure just about anything.

  3. Cristofori's great success was in solving, without any prior example, the fundamental mechanical problem of piano design: the hammer must strike the string, but not remain in contact with it (as a tangent remains in contact with a clavichord string) because this would damp the sound. Moreover, the hammer must return to its rest position without bouncing violently, and it must be possible to repeat a note rapidly. Cristofori's piano action served as a model for the many different approaches to piano actions that followed. While Cristofori's early instruments were made with thin strings and were much quieter than the modern piano, compared to the clavichord (the only previous keyboard instrument capable of minutely controlled dynamic nuance through the keyboard) they were considerably louder and had more sustaining power.
    piano lessons

  4. Gururaj, absolutely true, and rather random. Please don't advertise here anymore though, thank you.


Who's been to Visit?