Saturday, May 31, 2008

Surviving the Suzuki Concert

We had a Suzuki violin concert this week and when we came home, I just crashed on the couch! We've had rehearsals since last week, which required me to leave work at 3:30 (had to walk out of meetings), pick her up from one school and shuttle to another.

Last year in Kindergarten, her role in the concert was minimal, more of a demonstration. She doesn't even recall going to rehearsals. Also, during the concert last year Annika was extremely unfocused, looking around at everyone, missing her cues. We were quite frustrated.

As I said in a previous post, the difference between Kindergarten and First Grade is huge. This year, she had Twinkle variations and 3 songs under her belt. We were given a 4th song to learn, but not for the concert. I decided we would focus on refining the 3 songs. The other boy in her class, Andrew, is very good and picked up the 4th song.

A Suzuki concert is based on the Suzuki philosophy . They start with the advanced songs and continue to the beginner songs. They announce each song and whoever can play those songs will go to the stage.

In the parking lot, I saw two boys (1st and 3rd grade) getting out of their car. The older boy was hanging off the station wagon and trying to climb to the roof . (Since I don't have a boy, I don't get this urge they have to climb vehicles. I remember Annika at 3 giving her friend a bizarre look when he was climbing a car - what is wrong with you?) I felt a little bad for the mom who was trying to lock the car, balance the violins and pull these two boys off her car in the middle of the street.

On stage, these two boys were brilliant! The younger one walked around as if the violin was part of him. They both played at least 1-2 years ahead of their peers. They really were talented and serious when it came to music.

Anyway, at the previous night's rehearsal, the teacher asked Andrew (the classmate who knew the 4th song) to play on stage with the group. When they announced the 3rd song, Annika walked up to the stage. She was very excited and proud walking up there. Then she realized no one else walked up with her. She was distracted and worried, so she played badly.

I was feeling for her, and also blaming myself -- we should've practiced more, why didn't I teach her the 4th song, how can I make practices more interesting, why don't I leave work early so we have more time, I'm not supportive and loving enough during practices (I yell, threaten, beg, plead).

That night, Annika and I practiced a lot. She wanted to learn the 4th song so she could play it on stage the next day. I told her we could try it, but she won't be allowed to play on stage. Since the class stands on risers to perform, she stood on a stepstool at home.

The evening of the show was hectic and a lot of rushing to be there by 6:40. Unfortunately, family called that morning to say they couldn't make it for various reasons, though they were there in spirit. My husband was an hour away at a meeting. I was the cheering section.

Annika looked very pretty in a lavender spring dress and purple nailpolish ("Isn't it beautiful?" she said breathlessly). Once we got there, I had her warm up to the songs. One of the songs, she practiced in pieces, not completely. I had a flashback to my junior year in high school. I had to recite a French poem for a language competition. I kept rehearsing it in pieces, not completely. When the moment arrived, I stammered and forgot the poem. It was horribly humiliating and the biggest public speaking lesson of my life.

I told Annika to play the song in entirety. My mantra to her is "the more you practice, the better you are." She argued and said she didn't want to do that. I let her go. I have to, right?

The evening opened with one of the principals announcing she was a Suzuki parent, too. "I remember when my son was in 1st and 2nd grade and learning the cello. I used to hit the book on the floor so I wouldn't hit him! I know that's not the way to teach, but it was so hard. I must've done something right since he played all the way through high school and now is at L. College."

So it's not just me?

As we waited, Annika was bouncing and squirming in her seat. She whispered excitedly her stomach was in knots. When the 4th song came, she whispered that Andrew did not go and he was going to walk with her! However, she told me she noticed some other kids had walked up alone, too. So either way, she was fine. She needed that boost of confidence.

She was excellent! She wasn't distracted by the audience, played in step with everyone and really did her best. My husband arrived during the Twinkle finale, which has the children strolling and playing their violins. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. We all had punch and refreshments afterwards.

Do you see why I came home and crashed on the couch with a glass of wine?


ZenDenizen said...

Glad her concert went well!

On an unrelated note, I found one of your poems in the Sulekha compilation this weekend :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, so you're the one who bought it.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. I keep asking, is it all worth it ? torturing ourselves and the kids ?:)
Please tell me, it is and why ?