Monday, February 6, 2017

Thursday Musical Rookies

Learning something new is exciting and keeps our brains active and happy. I've been working on my new website. It's not live yet, but I'm very excited because I think it's going to be a central resource for my own students and I hope that it can be a resource for other Suzuki parents and teachers as well. It's going to have it's own pedagogy blog--leaving this blog for the same thing I mostly write about--my own family and life experiences. Working on the website scratches an itch I have--to make something creative and useful. I have help--I secured a company in Roseville--and the gentlemen got it all set up so that I could go in and add photos and change the text and rearrange things, and I am learning the system and it's super fun for me. I can't wait to unveil it to you.

Meanwhile. . .the Kotrba family keeps busy. This weekend Calvin performed on one of the Thursday Musical Recitals. Here is a link to the Thursday Musical Scholarship Competition web page. This seems like a very good contest to me, for our first contest. The participants all play on one of 12 or so  public recitals. They actually share their music with real listeners. Then they have the contest in March and then there is a recital where the winners again, actually play. The contest participants receive written feedback on their private contest performance. I'm pretty impressed so far. There were eight students on the recital at University Lutheran Church of Hope, including two violins, one viola, three pianists, one tenor, and one French horn player, God bless his soul.

Because we are programmed to compare, even though we know we shouldn't, I immediately determined that I was a much better French horn player than this kid, though he was very good. Then the announcer told us that tall kid with the red bow tie was actually competing in the Jr. High category. Dang. This is why we shouldn't go there.

While I'm at not comparing, I'll just add that Calvin is competing against pianists who are practicing a lot. A lot. And they have been practicing a lot for a long time. That's all I'm going to say.

There is always a bigger pond.

I didn't jump into that bigger pond until college and then in fits and starts. Like I said, I was a pretty kickin' horn player, playing first chair in the Quad City Youth Orchestra etc. etc. etc. best your high school has seen etc. etc. etc. Then you go off to college and the horn players have all studied with Chicago Symphony players. Then you go to a different college and your teacher is a CSO player. It only gets worse the older you get. Same for piano. . . there really is very little hope of ever feeling good about yourself in this field. Nod, nod, wink, wink.

Unless. . . you can have a non-dualistic mentality. It can't be that those players are so much better than me, I must suck. Or I'm the best. That doesn't work either. It's got to be. . . those players are more experienced. They have practiced more They are very committed. They really, really love it. They know how to work.

We have to simultaneously love where we are at right now (or where our kids are at) while we respect and admire those that go ahead of us. That's how we stay on the same team. That's how we acknowledge our God given gifts that we take and use to the extent that we decide, on a moment by moment basis. Our talent--our future and the total picture of who we are, and who our kids are, is the result of all the big and little decisions that we make along the way.

Wayne Barrington, the CSO horn teacher, God rest his mean little soul, used to tell me (and Casey, you will remember this). . .  cue the tone of voice. . . "Gerber. They make baby food. They do one thing and they do it right." This, in response to me playing piano and jazz piano and French horn. He was probably right--it's probably better to focus on one instrument. But, I'm pretty happy I had all those experiences and they make up who I am, just as percussion ensemble and snare line and accompanying the cherubs and being a really great big brother will make up who Calvin is.

The moral of the story, what I'm trying to say is, DON'T GO THERE.

Love your kids. Help them love music. Let them swim in the right pond at the right time. And help them remember who they are.

Here is a link to Calvin's performance, I've loved watching him learn this piece, the first piece he's working on with Paul that I have never performed or taught. I love watching him grow and I love seeing what he has to say through this piece.  Enjoy.

Link to Calvin's Liszt

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