May 30, 2002 - Thursday
Harry made me so proud this evening. We went to a concert and he listened, he liked it, and, perhaps most important, he sat as quietly as I could have expected from a two-year old for more than 15 minutes.
Every now and then, perhaps in a some sort of series I have yet to understand, our little local library presents free chamber music concerts in a small gallery room off to the side of the main building. There's hardly room there for more than a couple dozen chairs, maybe three dozen tops, so as concerts there are necessarily a step toward informality compared to concert hall performances. They are open to the public and, since I've been thinking about finding an opportunity to introduce Harry to concerts for a while, tonight seemed like a good one to try. After all, Harry's said before that he wanted to go when his mother and I have been to concerts at other places, although he doesn't really know to what, and he's shown a legitimate interest in music. Still, having a two-year old sit still for any length of time in an otherwise quiet place is a huge gamble.
We really got a little lucky, I guess. Harry protested upon entering the confined and I suppose intimidating space of the little gallery (it was the same small room he hadn't like before), so I set up a couple of chairs right outside. That was just fine because the performers were still straight ahead and easily in view for us. What's more, a little inevitable movement from a squirming boy wasn't going to be a problem for anyone in the room listening.
I had talked with Harry beforehand and again once we arrived about the need to be quiet and he did a fantastic job. Sure, he wiggled a little and started to talk a few times, but it took little more than a finger to my lips to keep him in check. The ensemble was to play three pieces: a Beethoven sextet for strings & two horns, a Shostakovich string octet, and a Brahms Clarinet Quintet. Harry would have liked the clarinet (his grandpa plays one), but that wasn't going to happen. I was thinking if he got through two of the three movements of the Beethoven he'd have done well. The first movement was almost effortless for Harry, save the excitement and desire to talk about it. The second movement might have been more trouble, but his mother, walking around with Jeremy by that time, found the post-concert snacks and filled a plastic cup with fresh blueberries for Harry. That gave him all the secondary focus he needed. Indeed, the third movement came and concluded and Harry wanted to hear more. He wanted more blueberries, too, and it's a little hard to know which was his primary desire. But, we got Harry more blueberries and let him listen to the beginning of the Shostakovich.
We left in the middle of the piece and that wasn't really a good precedent, but the Shostakovich was effectively one long single movement and Harry was fidgeting more and more. Better to leave with success, I thought, and Harry, after pointing out they were playing more, strolled happily through the library bouncing the remaining blueberries in the cup. When we got outside I asked if he liked the Beethoven. He said in a cheerful voice, "I liked the Beethoven." It was a very good start.