Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Well, What, and Now What

Well? (“Tell me about the experience”)
What? (“What was one really great moment in it? What did you nail?”)
Now What? (“What will you do differently next time?”)
were the three questions I used in the last few days as we again wait for the U.S. Postal Service to deliver our results. These are the same key questions I ask myself about almost everything I do, from performance, Sunday’s worship music, my seminars, salsa making to pottery class. I wrote them on the whiteboard so they could think about them.

I think the post mortem of any event is worth the time. What were my expectations going into the event? Were they realistic? So many situations in my life are grand experiments in some way. I love the idea of begin able to discard a bad idea, make a good idea better. And, what if I come up with a BEST ever idea? OOoooh.

I record each student for the next few months as they get their end of the year pieces polished. Until last month, I used cassette tapes and microphones hanging from the ceiling. It worked, don't laugh. I love the sound of my Steinway. I have been thinking about that experience. A great moment is capturing that singular moment in time, a capsule of who they were. Another great moment is giving a student their cassette tape at their graduation party. It holds all of their best work from each year, from the time they started with me through their senior recital repertoire. The Moms usually cry and play it at the party. Some didn't know that I had been recording them since they were five. It can be so emotional to hear their very first single note little piece and know that they just performed a concerto last week.

The downsides of the current mode of operation are that the technology is antiquated, the sound quality is poor, and there are a lot of families out there that don't have cassette players anymore! I have a keyboard that can record. It will not include a cough, a doorbell, the dog next door, or a telephone interruption that made my recordings unique. It will not have the static "CHSSSSSSS" of air over the mikes or the click of the record button. Alas, it will also not have an opportunity to hear the student's young voices introducing their pieces. Or telling the dumb joke. Some of the students actually love the microphone part the most; they pose, sing, and want to hold it.

So, why have I waited so long to move forward? My fear of technology is a large reason. I'm rather technology challenged. It means learning a new way, making some mistakes. It takes time that I could be practicing.

I think it is time to do things differently. I'm going to take the plunge and record to a computer this year. I think I may still only make a CD of their best work as a gift to them at graduation, which means storing it differently. But I'm really starting to look forward to giving a CD for a gift - a token of the hard work they've done through the years, that will sound terrific long in the future.

(The red knuckles of rhubarb peeking through dirt today)


  1. What a wonderful gift! Congrats on the rhubarb knuckles!

  2. Rhubarb is something that I do not like and can see why you have it for your knuckles. Yes a cd will be a great gift for them. They will probably keep it forever. It will be a part of them.

  3. Take the plunge, by all means. It'll be fun!

  4. Yes, definitely go for it. We used to do everything with a Sony minidisk, & when that went kaput, we sprung for a Boss digital workstation-- in our case, not having a laptop or a computer for the music room it seemed the way to go. I think you'll enjoy it & so will your students. We record a handful of Eberle's best piano students & it's a real draw.


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