Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Giving Ourselves a Gold Star

A little spring in our step

Thumbkin didn't have a good day. (Thumbs are not cheese to grate)

A safer grater and a hello kitty bandaid. Gifts of love. . . 

Practicing with Spinny Wheel

Living and Learning. 

Cabin Kitchen Plans

February 5, 4:00 Advancing Recital, SPTG, at MacPhail

The Kotrba Gang

So proud of these kiddos. 

There has been so much piano! We had our parent dessert party, a lovely afternoon spent with parents chit chatting about music and kids and life. The next weekend we had an actual Suzuki Association of the the Americas class at my house. Kathy Wood gave an Every Child Can class here last Sunday. That worked out perfectly since this is one of five criteria left for my teacher trainer approval. Another day spent talking about talent education with a mix of brand new teachers and teachers with experience. I never get tired of talking about this philosophy--I do believe that every child can learn and grow and play piano or violin or basketball if that is the heart's desire. More on that later. It felt good to have teacher training in my house. When the time is right, I think teachers are going to enjoy coming here and learning about Suzuki piano. 

Next we had chamber music at our house. A Friday night spent listening to young and old rehearse their pieces with violin and cello accompaniment. Because I have parents in my studio who are professional string players, we have started and continue a very special collaboration. Studio kids will have had three chances this year to play with an ensemble. The little ones start pretty deer in the headlights, that's for sure, but by six years old--they are cueing and breathing together and picking up on nuances from each other. It's pretty amazing how a short rehearsal can open up their ears. 

Next day. . . the Suzuki Piano Teachers's Guild Recitals for Advancing Pianists at the MacPhail Center for Music. We had two recitals with virtually typo free programs. . . One year ago, I blogged about some quality issues in these recitals. I'm so excited to say that our "audition" process, dramatically improved the level of preparation. We required that students submit a video of themselves playing the piece from memory, by December 15. There will always be an occasional stress induced panic attack up there. . . but everyone was well prepared and it let us focus on the musicality of the children. Kudos to everyone involved!  

Here are some video links to Calvin and Mary's performances:

This Thursday the Kotrbas are off to the People's Republic of Austin, Texas. For fun. Five days in my old stomping ground. We are staying, with the kids, (subtle difference) in the Renaissance Hotel where we spent our wedding night. We are going to see friends, and Doris, and maybe some boys in the band, and eat enough Tex Mex to kill a horse. This is our spring break, as school break is holy week this year we won't be making the pilgrimage to O'ahu. Every now and then I do have success with the iCal application and actually put the new event on as "mid-winter break." Good job, Sara. Gold star on knowing that by now you would be needing some sunshine. 

Back to the growth mindset. Y'all know by now, what a great fan I am of Carol Dweck. The growth mindset praises our love of learning and lifetime progress and celebrates everyone's potential. I'm totally subscribed. There's just one small precaution. 

Music and teaching are both disciplines with no ceiling. You could always practice more, polish more, learn more about kids, learn more about EVERYTHING! And you could love it. But are there ever moments when it's enough. When you are good enough? A good enough piano player? A good enough teacher? A good enough kid? And do we project this "a person could always do better" mentality unto our children and our students?  

Oh, it's a little rushed, oh there was that one note. . . oh, we're working on that wrist or those nail joints or that soft shoulder or WHATEVER!!!!  Can there be a moment when everything is good enough?

There are pieces built into the Suzuki repertoire that are purposefully easy. Doris taught me that sometimes, with those pieces we should just hear it, and put the gold star on it and turn the page. 

I tell the kids, the details of our pieces are like sprinkles and fancy stuff on our cupcakes. The cupcake was already good, but the frosting and the ice-cream and the glitter makes it even yummier. 

However, we do eventually have to eat the cupcake or it will rot. 

Today, I'm putting a gold star on my chart. I'm eating my cupcake as is. No further improvements necessary. And I'm going to try to give the people around me a gold star too. Do you know what happens when we let ourselves and those around us know that we are good enough--right here, right now? 

It's this love that bubbles up and holds it all--being good enough and also knowing that there is always room to grow. 

I'm gonna put my growth mindset on hold for just a weekend. It will be okay, stopping for awhile at Taco Cabana for a $3.00 margarita. 

We don't have fast food like this in Minnesota, or any good food really. . . . at least not like Austin. . .but maybe someday. . . Minnesota will be just as good as Texas. . . okay. . . stop. . . . stop.  

Minnesota, you get a gold star too. But don't stop working on your Tex-Mex restaurant choices--definite room for growth there. . . 

Have a good weekend.