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John Allison

Old guy at the spring recital

February 13, 2008 at 11:22 PM

I am a bit terrified at the moment as my teacher has moved me into Suzuki 2 and stated that my articulation and tone is great! I practice alot and I take this seriously and I'm flattered but I am my own worst critic. That being said, she want's me to perform in the spring recital. She assures me that I won't stand out like a roach in the punch bowl, but here's the deal. It's a Suzuki recital, and while I'm not going to be the only adult, there is a pleasant thirty something woman that is about the same level as myself, there still will be primarily very small children. I have never met them, as my teacher provides private lessons for me. But this recital will be mostly for them, I assume.

I'm forty six, 6'5" and have a gray beard. I can just picture that amongst the little ankle biters. Talk about a roach floating in the punch bowl. I wonder what it will look like from the audience perspective.

So.... should I do this thing? Suck up the anxiety and peform in the spring recital? I can come up with a plethora of excuses why I shouldn't. But I trust my teacher, and If she thinks I should be there...

What do y'all think?

From Roy Sonne
Posted on February 13, 2008 at 11:52 PM
Hi John,
I would urge you to play on the recital for several reasons.
First of all, playing on student recitals is an important part of our education as violinists. You will learn and grow from the experience of preparing for it, and playing under pressure.
Also you will learn and grow on an ongoing basis, as part of a community of violin students who are on the path together and learning from and supporting each other.
Also, as an adult student among a group of young kids, you are in an honored position -- one that speaks very well for you. Young kids are in a learning and growing mode. Most adults, to a greater or lesser degree leave the learning mode and close themselves off from it. You are demonstrating to yourself and to the world that you are still there along with those champion learners -- the 6, 7 and 8 year olds.
In addition to all the above, you'll probably make some nice new friends among the parents.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 12:21 AM
what the hell are you worrying about?
My good friend the composer Daniel Forro is in his mid fifities. He started in a koto class with teeny tots and plays in cocnerts with them to , presumably the utter bemusment of all the Japanese mothers in attendence...
From Karin Lin
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 12:37 AM
Everything Roy said and more!

I have always LOVED seeing adults perform among youngsters, both when I was a youngster myself and now that I'm getting a bit on in years (don't have the gray beard yet :) ). It shows a lot of courage and humility to get up there and present yourself, and that's just wonderful for kids to see. Plus, I consider the performance experience (and everything leading up to it) as an essential part of violin reason I left my former teacher was that she didn't have any performance opportunities for her students. I think you'll find that it adds a new dimension to your practicing and your attitude toward the instrument. Go for it!

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 1:24 AM
They're gonna love you!
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 2:03 AM
Can you sit on the floor or a very low chair so that you don't stand out so much?
From sharelle taylor
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 10:21 AM
As a pretty brave and ambitious adult learner there is NO WAY I would do it. My first, no hang on it was the second, teacher was suzuki and wanted me to do her class recitals. NO WAY.
My current teacher has enough wherewithall to recognise that adult learners are constantly battling their own internal critic, and for many reasons will not benefit from early exposure in a recital where the audience is predominantly parents waiting to see their progeny.
We have adults only recital nights, very soical, lots of food, beer, stuff like that, and eventually every one is encouraged to get up and play. and if you stuff up the first time because of nerves or forgetting or wahtever, then you can get up again when you feel up to it.
I and a couple of others take it pretty seriously and prepare for it, others probably don't but they still give lots of great encouragement to those that do.
Talk to your adult colleague, get something more useful organised.
I've seen suzuki recitals many times: kid gets up, kid to varying degrees of stereotypy gets through their number, nerves not apparent, and off they go; next up. there just isnt the opportunity to have another shot at it.
Adults who are only just getting the hang of the instrument, regardless of their prior experience getting up in front of people, are self concious, self critical, and will have put far more preparation and thought into their performance than the kids, and i think that they / we deserve to have an appropriate opportunity to develop that side of our playing.

Is this a rant? sorry...

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 10:50 AM
As the parent of an 8-yo, I'd love to see an adult at a recital like that. One of the things I love about the community orchestra that I play in is the range of ages. Our oldest member, a 2nd violinist, is over 90. The youngest right now is the concerto soloist, she's 13.

On the other hand, as an adult student myself (I'm 42), I sympathize with many of Sharelle's points. My teacher was just talking to me about recital opportunities this week and she has 3 other adult students besides me and her suggestion was that the 4 of us adults have a recital together. One of them is a beginner, I'm a "re-beginner" after a long break to go to grad school and have kids. I don't know about the other two. But I do think that regardless of level there is a different dynamic at an adult recital.

From John Allison
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 2:20 PM
As I trust and respect my teacher, as well as the talent that has responded to this blog, I'm going to give my best performance at the spring recital. Funny how as adults we can put so much anxiety on what as a youth would be a fun adventure!

I'll let y'all know how it went. Thanks again.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 14, 2008 at 4:26 PM
That's great John! Go for it! But don't get caught up in the erroneous assumption that performance anxiety is a uniquely adult neurosis, caused by "overthinking," "impatience," "perfectionism," or whatever other annoying cultural assumptions there may be floating around about adult students.

Many kids suffer from performance anxiety too--and you often don't see them, because they are made invisible by a culture that (in my opinion) overvalues and overemphasizes performing children, in many venues. I have a lot *less* performance anxiety now as an adult than I did back then; much more of a feeling of confidence and of nothing to lose. I think it'll be a great experience for you!

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on February 15, 2008 at 10:58 AM
The gray beard is going to give you away. Dye it brown.
From PM Chu
Posted on February 15, 2008 at 3:35 PM
John, go for it. I'm in the same boat as you, only that I've only started a little over a month ago. At first, I said no immediately, but I thought about it, shared my thoughts here on the blog (see my older blog), people here encouraged me to do it! I'm now actually quite excited about it, but I do worry that I'm gonna stick out like a sore thumb. Oh well, so be it. Good luck! Let us know what you're gonna play?
From Jeremy Easterling
Posted on February 15, 2008 at 4:12 PM
I know from the passion that you have for the Violin you will be great.

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