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Karen Allendoerfer

Learning to like performing . . . maybe

October 1, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Last month my daughter and I played at the Belmont Farmers Market. She saw another girl a few weeks earlier, a couple of years older than she, and wondered if she could do that. She was also motivated by the idea of earning a gift certificate, which the vendors surrounding the market will give to performers.

It was a good goal to have over the summer, when school was out and there were no lessons. Her friend, who played the viola last year, decided to quit the viola in favor of the clarinet, so we were on our own. We were working on the Mel Bay's Easiest Fiddling Book, recommended by Laurie Niles in this thread. I wrote a couple of B parts for me to play along as well, one to "On the Road to Boston" and one to "Home Sweet Home." We learned 7 or 8 pieces, and put them in order, and listened to them every night on the CD.

Then the performance, originally scheduled for July, was rained out and I rescheduled it for August. It was hard to keep the momentum going for another month. We learned a few more pieces and went ahead in the EE2000 book. Then the day finally arrived. A friend, whom I met through the Arlington Philharmonic Society, agreed to come and record us with his nice recording equipment (I posted his recording of me playing the viola solo in a previous blog. It makes a big difference.) So, the day dawned with beautiful weather, and we were all set.

We got there, got out our music, and my daughter got really scared. We played can-can together, and got through it just barely. She was having a fight-or-flight response, and it looked like flight was winning. Unfortunately, I've been there myself. And the next up on the program was "Yellow Rose of Texas," her solo. She refused to play it. So I suggested we play it together.

I'm really proud of how she did this. She's clearly nervous, but she's working hard to overcome that. And after that, it was a lot better. We played everything that we planned to. This is her "swing version" of Liza Jane (she added a syncopation rhythm that isn't written in the music and said that "it sounds much better that way"):

And here is the finale, "Home Sweet Home," in which I show my composing skills on the B part, and my "playing through even when the music blows off the stand" skills.

She was very happy, smiling from ear to ear, when she was finished, and said she wants to do it again next summer.

Then I gave her a break from practicing as a reward for a couple of weeks. But now it's started again in school, and appears to be more serious than last year. Her teacher is asking for a daily practice log, initialed by a parent. At least now she knows the drill.

And so does "her daughter," Grace:


From Tom Holzman
Posted on October 1, 2008 at 12:46 PM
Good going, Mom!
From al ku
Posted on October 1, 2008 at 2:39 PM
that is an absolutely wonderful experience..bring smiles on my face:)

must be quite scary to be in that environment for her, with all the background noise, without the comfort of the living room acoustics, etc, but she kept her tempo, kept the tone clear and clean and almost managed to break into a smile at the end in one clip...it is getting there! :)

karen, with your prof career commitment, then your own playing and orchestra duties,,,how do you manage to have time to help her out with violin???

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on October 1, 2008 at 3:25 PM
Al, that's a good question. Unfortunately, the answer is often, I don't. That break I gave her was as much for me as for her--the beginning of the school year is so crazy. I'm not sure how we're going to fit in the supervised daily practicing again. In the summer we did it in the morning, now we'll probably go back to the evening after dinner.

Tonight I have rehearsal myself and won't be home until after she's in bed. That's why I can't drive myself too crazy about missing a day here or there.

I really liked what you wrote on one of the other threads about how you want your kids to learn something through music. I think it's highly unlikely my daughter has the temperament or talent to become a professional musician (although she could surprise me--I won't rule it out). She has learned, however, that you do get better when you practice consistently, and that you can't just practice (or do your homework, or whatever) when you feel like it.

And she's learned that you can improve if you make an effort. Both she and some of her friends seem a little prone to getting discouraged easily. She'll try something once, it'll be horrible, and she'll want to just quit. But if you can make it through that initial stage, there are rewards on the other side.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on October 1, 2008 at 4:33 PM
Aww, that was just precious! Especially liked the "There's No Place Like Home" piece. Had to chuckle when the music blew off. That's what potato chip clips are for! : )

And I love the comments you made in the response above this. Great life-skill observations (that I will eternally struggle to instill in my unwilling son).

From al ku
Posted on October 1, 2008 at 10:13 PM
i think you are doing a great job with your kid, karen, considering the circumstances. it seems that you never give up introducing violin to her which to her will be a lesson by itself when she looks back later, like it may take some effort building a bond between the generation, not easily established, making it more precious and meaningful between the 2 of you as time goes on.

i think for some kids, esp girls, it may take a while for them to come out of the shell, so to speak. with time and exposure, the more she gets to feel comfortable with herself, with her place/role in the world, with her skills/better habits dealing with unknowns and fears, the more expressive she may become through violin. by then, she will have her techniques already in place and will have you to be thankful,,,

rock on!

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 2, 2008 at 7:15 AM
Your daughter did a great job. Even though she was nervous, she played beautifully. A mother-daughter performance like that is really special. I'm glad you have videos that you will cherish.

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