It's that time of year again. Coming to the close of the school year, the weather is clearing, and it's a rare few who want to stay inside practicing the piano. Hence the early Spring Recital. Too much competition with spring sports, field trips and finals, not to mention the longer, warmer days, if we put it off any later in the season.
We had our recital this past Sunday, and were blessed to have had a lousy weather day. Cold and cloudy led to rain, and a full audience for whom to perform. For the past ten years, I have had the honor of holding my recital in St. Anne's Church in Annapolis. I tell my kids it's Stop #1 on the Historic Annapolis Tour, so they need to play really well -- you never know who might be walking through the church. (I remember one Sunday a few years back when Dan Rather wandered in.) In order to prepare for their performance, I offer one lesson at the church a few weeks before the event. The acoustics of the church are phenomenal! The music resounds, and can be a bit overwhelming , especially for the younger musicians. In addition, every piano "plays" a little different. The feel is different, the action is stiffer or softer, the pedal tighter. It's always good for the kids to experience all of this, the feel, the sound, the space, before the actual event.
This year our practice day was the Saturday before Palm Sunday. The Flower Guild was hard at work stripping the palms for the next day services; there was a lot of commotion in the church that day. And what a good opportunity for the performers. Instead of playing in my home studio for me and the dog, they actually had an audience! They were able to work out some of the willies that morning, (and the ladies of the Flower Guild appreciated the entertainment!).
Come recital day, everyone was well prepared. These young musicians had practiced, and hard! I had challenged each of them with music a bit beyond their level, and each rose to the occasion. We began the program with the most novice; she started lessons just 2 months ago. At the other end of the spectrum, Stairway to Heaven, performed by 2 sisters, on piano and recorder, was the perfect closing piece. I think the most poignant performance, however, occurred after the formal recital. My youngest student, just barely 5 years old, was scheduled early in the program. His extended family, unfortunately, arrived late and missed hearing him. After all the commotion at the conclusion of the program, he sat down at the keyboard, his entire family, parents, grandparents,siblings, gathered around the piano and he played his 3 pieces for them. They were so proud of him and he just glowed in all the attention. What a heart-warming sight!
It's funny. I get so worked up, worrying about my introduction. But the folks in the seats are not there for me; they want to hear their children perform. I kept my comments to a minimum and all went well. Now we're into the last month of the piano year. New this year, I have given each student a piece of music to teach to themselves, as I explained, to practice as if I am sitting next to them every day. They seem to appreciate the confidence I have in them. We'll have a soiree at the end of May to show off what they've taught themselves, and to celebrate all their accomplishments this past year. Should be another fun event.