|Calvin and Simon--duet partners|
|Calvin and the St. Olaf Piano Academy Gang|
|Calvin and Dr. McWilliams|
In the meantime, Calvin went back to St. Olaf again this year and a bunch of the same kids were there and that in and of itself adds tremendous value. Being with like-minded kids is inspiring. Dr. McWilliams addressed parents at the recital--he said sometimes at camps kids get into trouble. I'm reminiscing how I snuck out in cars to jazz clubs after hours at Birch Creek in Door County. These kids, he said apologetically, listened to Mahler this week. Oh no. . . .
The St. Olaf camp had classes in repertoire, healthy technique and ensemble playing. They also take notes for each other in daily masterclasses. Each student of course has individual lessons throughout the week. Last year I made Calvin videotape every lesson. This year as part of my transition to letting go, I didn't. If he cares, he will have to remember what the teacher said all on his own. That may seem obvious, but it's not so easy for me. For the record, he does care.
Visiting him in the dorms after a mid-week recital, it felt like visiting him in college. It's good to have these preparatory parental experiences. Sniff, sniff.
Here's the cool story.
One of the students, not one pictured, is an exiting senior, planning to attend St. Olaf in the Fall. I met his proud parents before the recital. They told me the story about how when he was about 15 his teacher told the parents, I could take Andrew through high school but I think it would be better for him to transfer to a college teacher, and here is one I recommend, my own teacher who teaches at Northwestern College. So the family makes the long drive every Saturday for the lesson and the home teacher keeps in touch and attends solo recitals of the kid's. We are not talking about the average successful piano kid here, this student was accepted to be a piano major at Oberlin, Northwestern and St. Olaf.
Because the parents were nice, then they asked about my family. I said I was a Suzuki piano teacher and that we had just returned from an institute at Beaver Creek, where my daughter attended the camp.
I was expecting the normal defense of Suzuki Piano--we are still educating the world about the Mother Tongue Approach and there are still many misconceptions about the kids and reading. Most people are still in the dark about how these pianists are so intuitive and well-rounded and play very expressively, as well as having really, really, beautiful hearts. And reading music.
Instead--the mother's face lit up. She said, our teacher was a Suzuki teacher. After her boy was well into collegiate repertoire, they made the decision with the teacher, and under the teacher's recommendation, to change teachers. Then she said--WE WENT TO BEAVER CREEK. We always worked with this one lady--she struggled for the name. On a whim I said--Doris Harrel? Again, her face lit up. Yes, Doris had worked with Andrew. They were thankful for Doris and the whole Suzuki experience and childhood relationship with their teacher and the community. Small world. We exchanged emails.
Saturday night Calvin and I went to the senior recital of a previous student of mine. Whose family I love. Who is an outstanding, above and beyond driven girl. Five years ago she did leave our studio to go to a contest winning teacher in town. Saturday night, I was very proud of her virtuosic and expressive performance. She is where she needed to be. Isn't it what we ultimately want--for our students to outgrow us? Even and especially our own kids? I can't take credit for Christina's technique or the doctoral level repertoire, but I'm taking credit for the love. We spent eight years together loving music.
I hugged her mom, and I hugged her grandparents and greeted the aunts and uncles. I know and love them all.
That's what we do. Love kids. Love music. In that order.
Christina will be a piano major at the University of Texas at Austin in the Fall. Small world.
Congratulations Calvin, and Andrew, and Christina!