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Sean Gillia

Concerto Competition: 1.5 hours and counting...

January 12, 2007 at 3:59 PM

Not my competition, of course.

My 11-year-old daughter plays in her school's concerto competition at 1PM today, and right now I'm killing time in my office about 20 blocks away in midtown. There will be a panel of five judges, but it's also open to the public, so I'll be there. I'll head over in an hour or so. Unfortunately, there's no taping allowed.

She's worked hard, so I hope she has a good performance. Regardless of the outcome, I'm proud of her, and the preparation has, I believe, made her a better musician.

Her goal -- and I know she really means it, despite its mind-numbing overuse by athletes and performers -- is to have fun. Winning is a long shot, and not something we discuss really, since it's a school-wide competition (meaning third graders through high schoolers up through 11th grade) and includes all instruments. There are some seriously talented young musicians in that crowd. Three winners will play their concertos with an orchestra in Merkin Hall in February. Should be fun. Since it's such a small school (15 per grade), everyone knows everyone, and they are in general mutually supportive. Actually, they're raucous in their applause and cheering for their fellow students in performance -- sometimes it's ear piercing. The music director tried to temper this at a concert in December, to no avail.

Actually, writing that made me remember the music director's letter home regarding evaluation etiquette this past fall. After stating that parents weren't allowed to be anyhere near the evaluations, she added "It's no fun finding a parent hiding in a closet." For the record, it wasn't me.

My adventures in violinland? Although I've yet to play a concerto, my lessons continue, I'm improving, and I'm having fun. At Tuesday's lesson, I was starting a new Wohlfahrt etude (59, bk1)and we spoke about the difference between D# and Eb. I got what he was saying, intellectually, but I was initially skeptical that I would have the ability to hear the difference. I thought it would be too subtle. What a pleasant surprise to find that the difference between the two is readily audible, not terribly subtle at all, understandable, and actually repeatable. Whew!

I do like practicing. I like the way time disappears in chunks when I'm working on something. I didn't learn how to play violin by watching my daughter's lessons, but I have learned from her and her teachers how to practice in ways I wouldn't have known how to do otherwise.

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 5:16 PM
You're a good music parent. Good luck to your daughter in her concerto competition.
From Karin Lin
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 6:55 PM
Does your daughter play violin too? What concerto is she auditioning with? Best of luck to her; it sounds like a supportive environment so I'm sure she'll at least achieve her goal of having fun.
From Linda Lerskier
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 8:23 PM
I'm sure your daughter will enjoy herself! There should be more parents like you. ;) Your support is like... glowing. In fact, I could see it that night I was behind you guys. So that's what it was.
From Sean Gillia
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 8:51 PM
Thanks, all. Appreciate the kind words. Not sure I deserve them. Hopefully sometimes.

I just got back to my office (it's about 4PM). The competition, at least today's final leg of it, was a lot of fun. My daughter was extremely pleased with her performance -- as was I. She played the Haydn G Major (cadenzas by Grumiaux).

No word on the winners (apparently, we'll get a phone call) and frankly, I haven't a clue who's taking top honors. Heck, I don't even know what the criteria are, particularly when it comes to other instruments.

From Sean Gillia
Posted on January 13, 2007 at 12:17 AM
We got the phone call. The judges have not completed their deliberations (apparently, one of them had to go teach before they had reached their decisions) and we'll find out on Sunday evening. Is that a good thing or bad thing or a meaningless thing. Who knows. Ah, the glorious suspense of it all.
From Man Wong
Posted on January 13, 2007 at 4:50 AM
That's all really great to hear, Sean. Sounds like you're a model music parent, and your little girl is very blessed for that. I need to be more patient w/ the kids myself. Hopefully, if nothing else, all our kids know and feel our love and concern for them even if we're not always perfectly supportive or encouraging. :-) And of course, one hopes that they enjoy the music and the experience and that their lives are greatly enriched by it all regardless of how far they may advance.

Anyway, keep us updated on your daughter's progress (as well as your own). And take good care...

God bless!


From Sean Gillia
Posted on January 13, 2007 at 3:07 PM
Thanks, Man. As a parent, I'm just muddling through, and frankly, I make a lot of mistakes, some of which I eventually learn from. As for supporting my kids after performances, evaluations, and competitions -- that much I've pretty much got down. In other areas, well...not so much.
From John Chew
Posted on January 16, 2007 at 1:58 AM
It is amazing how supportive of your daughter. She's really lucky. Children learning the violin need so much support from their parents. I hope the concerto competition was a good experience for her (win or lose). How are your own violin studies coming along? My Bartok is really coming into her own. I've blogged a lot on SW lately if you want to read about my most recent experiences with the violin

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