My six year old, Leif, very rarely gets nervous. He is one of those rare creatures who is always looking for the next audience, be it an audience who appreciates a good pun, fart joke or perhaps a rendition of one of his favourite Justin Bieber songs. He also has very little tolerance for performances not up to his high six year old standards. This lead to two related events where I, once again, did not live up to his expectations.
For the last year I have been taking classical guitar lessons. This is not a ‘mommy needs out of the house’ hobby, I actually really love music (although mommy does need out of the house). My guitar teacher is a very acceptable teacher: 70 year old man, who is quite hard of hearing and also sports a severe cul-de-sac hair cut. The hair cut has little bearing on my learning, but the hearing problem may have something to do with my lagging progress. The other problem with these guitar lessons is that I am his oldest student...by at least 15 years (I’m 25). Twice a year I am required to participate in recitals. This is normal; anyone who wants to play music in front of people expects, well, to play in front of people. However, most adults don’t expect their performances to be sandwiched between the 8 year old piano student and 6 year old guitar student.
Christ Belongs in Church
For my first recital, I refused to tell any of my family or friends the exact date or time of the recital, convinced my husband to take an overtime shift at work, and figured that Leif would be a great audience. Remember though: Great audiences also have critics. Please note this recital was a Christmas themed event held at a Lutheran Church.
So, I get tuned up, we get situated and start listening to painful performances from these kids, their beaming parents either videotaping or sitting at the edge of their seats like they’re watching the next Beethoven.
(Believe me, not one of these kids has a hope in hell. I seriously doubt any of them will even be the next Sanjaya, and that’s saying something. This led me to question myself as a parent during this time: Do I applaud when Leif churns out crap too? I’m not for breaking a child’s spirit, but really – some of these performances were awful).
So, my turn rolls around after an 8 year old pounds out something that was supposed to be Silent Night on a piano that did no harm to anyone before that night. I nervously walk up on stage, sit down and play a respectable classical version of We Three Kings. Until the last note. The last note of this song is one which should ring through a crisp winter’s eve, whereas mine sounded something like the donkey that was likely braying over Jesus during his birth. Not good.
What was worse: when my trucker’s mouth took over. “CHRIST!” I thought I muttered.
What was worse: when I tried to hit the note again. 3 TIMES.
Realizing the time to give up, I stand up, take a bow, and avoid eye contact with the very, very unimpressed faces of the parents staring at me, all the while catching this on their video cameras to be immortalized for the rest of their children's lives.
After the recital, my guitar teacher came over, patted my hand and gave me some pretty good advice.
“Colleen, you did a good job. Next time, please don’t swear in church while you’re beside a microphone”. Thanks – I thought you were deaf.
Leif also had some good advice for me that night on the way home.
“Mom, you did good, but do you know how you could do better? Don’t make mistakes. Music always sounds better when you don’t make mistakes”.
Note to Kindergarten Teacher Re: Leif’s language in class
I received your note regarding Leif’s usage of the word ‘Christ’ in class. We have decided to praise the Lord at every occasion, and have suggested he do the same. I realize that you may not have been aware that we are a religious family, considering we have never been to church, but that is beside the issue. I apologize if you feel that the context in which he’s using the word indicates that it is profane, however I feel that you are infringing on his religious freedom and ask you to cease immediately.
Christ be with you
Don’t Be Nervous
The spring recital started very much the same as the Christmas recital. Unfortunately, it ended similarly as well.
Sitting beside me, and getting a little fidgety Leif turned to me.
“Mom, are you nervous?”
“Um, no...Well...I wasn’t...” I am starting to question myself.
“Well, I would be. I would be really nervous”. He’s looking me dead in the eye now, and I am really wondering if I should be doing this.
“Oh, really? Why?”
“Well, look at all these people. They might laugh at you if you mess up. They might not clap. They might even boo. That would be bad. I would be nervous. But don’t worry, I’ll always love you”.
And now, it’s my turn to play. Walking up, I am sweating like a hog, from parts of my body that don’t normally sweat. I am shaking like an underfed Chihuahua and I am staring at all the familiar frowning faces from the aforementioned Christmas debacle.
Needless to say, I did not play well and dragged Leif out as soon as I was finished.
Email from Guitar teacher Re: Spring Recital
I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye after the recital. I noticed you ran out quite quickly. Hope everything’s okay.
PS: You may want to get your perspiration problem checked out. I was quite concerned when I noticed you using your sheet music to wipe your forehead.