This last Saturday the 14th of May I attended a piano recital. I am blessed with a job where I can bend my hours around important events like this and was able to break away for a short while. I arrived with just minutes before the start time and children were still warming up. After a warm greeting and prayer by the instructor the recital began.
I think that there is an expected format to determine the order of students at a recital. The newest and youngest students went first. Most of the early pieces were simple songs out of piano textbooks. The little pieces lasted only half a minute with the child determinedly traipsing through it. The young boys often pounded a steady fortissimo. Others brushed the keys like an artist. Soon I noticed the same thing at the end of every performance. Sometimes there was a smile. But always at the end the child sighed or showed some visible relaxation at the end.
James Harriot who wrote All Creatures Great and Small and several subsequent novels wrote a chapter about his son’s piano recital where he describes it as an anxious torment that the parents suffer collectively. As much as I love his writing and that work in particular I completely disagree with his assessment. I’m sure several parents were anxious watching their children. Maybe it’s my experience of years of piano recitals that helped me or maybe I was nervous but it was drowned in the pride I felt in the kid’s performances. I think we have a great piano teacher. One of the reasons is that each of the children showed joy in what they did. If you saw that you couldn’t help but feel proud of them. Sure mistakes were made. But every child felt joy, even if it only came out in the relaxed sigh at the end.
My 12 year old daughter played a piece after her first year of lessons. Here was when I tried to stifle my unrealistic feelings that I have the sweetest little girl in the world. I was very proud of her.
Soon the tone of the recital changed. We were not listening to easy pieces composed for beginners. Now there were students who choose more difficult works. Finally there were two pieces left to play. My son, Harrison came up and played a sonata. I cannot measure the awe and pride I had then. I can only marvel at how easy he makes music look. Last of all another young man came up and played his violin while Harrison accompanied him. It was the best piece of music I had ever heard at a recital.
I drove back to work shortly after the recital ended feeling high on the blessings that God gives me. I hope each parent felt the joy we all shared that day.