Such fun! I hosted a soiree last Sunday afternoon. Four of my adult students participated, playing whatever they have been working on most recently. We gathered at 4:00. One participant was detained, so we gathered around the hors d'oevres and chatted it up a bit. Present so far: Phyllis, a brandie-new student to me, transferring from the credit department at the college to the non-credit department (less pressure); Olivia, a student of 3 years; Rob, whom I've been teaching for 5, maybe 6 years, his wife Katie, and Kerry, my newlywed daughter. The Rob and Olivia played at my last adult soiree, 2 years ago. None of us could believe it had been that long ago! All enjoyed sharing their stories, why they are taking lessons, how long they've been playing, what they enjoy playing. My daughter entered into the conversation as well, having played both the piano and the flute for a while when she was younger.
Jim and Frieda eventually joined us, at which point we moved to the piano to enjoy an informal performance. I volunteered to go first. This was new for me -- I do not perform in recitals. After my summer camp experience, I thought I should break the ice, as it were. I had played Confidence, one of Mendelssohn's Songs without Words, last summer, and dusted it off that morning. I introduced my piece, talked a bit about my summer experience, what I had done, what I had learned. Then I sat down and played. Not flawlessly, but well enough. One of my favorite quotes from Oprah magazine: "Strive for Excellence, not Perfection."
Phyllis volunteered to go next. She had just finished working on Bach's Minuet in D Major. She gave quite a good introduction, talked about Anna Magdelena Bach and her children, the Baroque era. Finally she talked herself down enough to play. She was nervous, but I insisted that she go on: we are not a discriminating audience, but a most appreciative group of fans. She started hesitantly, but played on, and received a great round of applause when she finished. She sat down and said she can now relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Her audience noted her well-rounded knowledge of her piece. Phyllis was happy to move out of the spotlight, which now shone on Rob.
Not to be outdone, Rob gave a brief history of the Beatles before facing the keyboard to play Here, There and Everywhere. I was very proud of his performance. He has been working on bringing out the melody, not rushing. He was very expressive. He, too, received a hearty round of applause. Katie, especially, was happy to hear him play -- he tends to practice when no one is home.
Jim was quick to volunteer next. Jim is my "youngest" student, in that he just started at the piano in June. We had worked about halfway through the lesson book, and he said he wanted to play more rock and roll. He wanted to play Layla! LOTS of notes, but he was determined. We worked on it for a few weeks, and he felt comfortable enough to play through the first verse. Jim has enviously long fingers -- he could play Clapton's chords with relative ease, but he stopped at the chorus! Didn't matter -- he did very well, and his wife, too, was especially proud of his performance. Everyone was impressed that such a rookie would tackle such a composition. Good job!
Okay, Olivia, it's your turn. She has been working on another Baroque piece, Minuet in F Major, by Haydn. She has worked hard on this one, and it showed. Her technique was admirable, her dynamics well-suited. She commented upon finishing that she forgot the repeats, but perhaps she just forgot that she played them.. She seemed more nervous toward the end than at the start, and any mishaps occurred in the last line. Nevertheless, she was spectacular. Another round of applause for a job well done.
Now we can party! I had prepared a limited array of appetizers, and wine, of course. I think everyone had a great time. We concluded the evening with hugs all around, and promises to get together again for another performance opportunity. I received my marching orders: a soiree next spring. I'm already looking forward to it!