Tuesday, May 03, 2005

My Budding Pianist

This was not Nyssa's first experience with music; that was with the toy piano and her Elton John glasses. Here, at one year of age she tries her hand at the big piano. Don't you just love the concentration, the tongue stuck tight to her upper lip? Thursday she has to play in front of the music faculty at Sewanee. If she concentrates like this she'll be great. I wish I could be there for this one.

I have heard her recitals many times. For a mom, they were times of great stress, much breath holding and turning blue, especially if the piece exceeded four minutes in length. I pass out after four minutes of breath holding. As a mom you want your child to be pleased with their performance, not be overwhelmed with nerves and to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. But I had to sit there and remind myself to breath. I always tried to sit in the balcony both to film the event and to keep her from seeing my nerves.

She started piano in kindergarten. Her teacher for many years was a lovely lady who had never had a pupil start in kindergarten, before they knew how to read. Nyssa hopped in the car that first Friday of kindergarten and said, "Mom! Guess what!" As the pessimist I am, my first thought was, "Oh! No! She's been expelled from school the first week!" Bad momma. But I said, "What?" And while sweeping her arm for dramatic effect she said, "Mrs. King came and got me for a piano lesson and it was w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l! We have to go buy a piano this weekend so I can practice!" Thus began her piano life.

Sorry Nys, but moms have to brag a little. She played the offertory in church for the first time when she was six, just before starting first grade. It was a medley of songs including Go Tell It On The Mountain, Stand Up For Jesus and Onward Christian Soldiers. I sat with her to turn the pages and she was so little you could only see a part of her head above the little wall by the piano.

I want her to know that I have always been impressed by her lack of nerves. Right before a recital she will go through the pieces, get up and say "No sweat." I could never do that. I got out of more recitals than I played in. Had the measles for one. Moved to a different state two weeks before another. But the third, I was stuck. My piece was "Tales from the Vienna Woods" in three movements. I had to have it memorized and I did but, I was supposed to take the music so the teacher could follow along and I forgot mine. I remember being so nervous and wanting desperately for it to be over. I got up, played and sat down. I was quite pleased with myself and thought "boy that was easier than I expected and shorter too." When I got home and looked at the music, I discovered why. I had played the first movement and somehow managed to change keys and without missing a beat went straight to the last movement. I left out the middle part all together, two pages worth! No wonder it was fast! More than likely my tempo was quite fast as well. Nyssa is not plagued with those kinds of nerves. Thank goodness.

To Nyssa: So, on Thursday, I will be thinking of you. Good luck. You'll do great I'm sure! Make them wish you weren't transferring out.
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