The Recital

Want to see the widest possible array of human emotions within the space of an hour? Attend a children’s music recital.

This afternoon we were in the audience of our 37th recital (Oldest had ten years of piano and five of viola, Middle has had eight years of voice, and The Boy is on his 6th year of voice. At two to four recitals per year each, it starts adding up). Surrounding us were a wide array of sizes, shapes, and ages of children, each of whom had been working for months to memorize a piano, guitar, or vocal solo of their choosing for this special day.

There are skinny little boys with their bony ankles sticking out below their highwater dress pants. Chubby little girls in shiny black shoes and lacy dresses. Tall, willowy teenagers. Awkward, uncomfortable middle schoolers. Some doing all they could to avoid catching the eye of anyone else in the room. Some peering out confidently as they sang. Some who raced so fast on and off the stage they forgot their closing bow.

And then there are the parents. Sitting on the edge of their folding chairs, holding their breath as their little darlings play or sing that same song they’ve been hearing from the living room for the past six months. Hanging on to every note, willing their children to move on to the next one. Dying a million deaths when the mistake comes – the heart stops until the little one thinks it through, covers, and moves on. A collective yet silent sigh of relief hovers in the air as every parent in the room nearly faints from the stress -we all know the next big flub could come from our own little darling.

I’ve been through it all, over and over and over again. There was the year our oldest played a Scott Joplin rag and got so incredibly lost her teacher asked her to come back the next week to a second recital for another try. There was the time The Boy mixed up the words in his art song, and sang that “two lovers stood on a tree.” And there have been many times when our three acquitted themselves beautifully.

At this point in her vocal “career” (it’s actually just a beloved hobby for her), Middle Sister is the oldest in our teacher’s studio. Sort of the big sister/role model for all the other girls who aspire to one day make all-state choir or get a “1” rating at the state solo and ensemble contest. Being naturally of a nurturing and empathetic disposition, she played her part beautifully today. Several young ladies repeatedly caught her eye as they sang and were noticeably reassured by our daughter’s encouraging and attentive smile. She went out of her way to compliment the younger musicians afterward. She was gracious and modest as many parents and younger girls complimented her.

And we all went home, emotionally spent.

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