January 2007

Concerto Competition: 1.5 hours and counting...

January 12, 2007 08:59

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.

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