June 18, 2005 - Saturday
Here's Jeremy taking the stage at the Indian Hill Music School for his cello recital. And there's his 1/10 sized cello in the background next to the bottom edge his teacher's full sized one. It's been a little hard to tell how excited or nervous Jeremy has been leading up to this, although nervousness is probably something he doesn't yet understand. He's always smiled when we've talked about it, so I've been reasonably comfortable that it's something he was looking forward to. Of course, he fell asleep in the car on the 18 minute car ride to the recital, so he surely wasn't overwhelmed with excitement or anxiety. Mostly, I'm sure he really didn't know what was going to happen, although I think he understood that he was going to play his cello on the stage he had seen at the cello concert in February and that we had looked at often as we walked around the music school during Harry's drum lesson.
Jeremy was the second of eleven cello and violin students to play at this afternoon's recital and his performance was the shortest. Of course, Jeremy was the shortest student, too, and clearly the youngest by at least 3 or 4 years. He played a duet with his teacher, Kate. It was one verse of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with Kate plucking the melody and Jeremy playing a basso continuo monotone on the D string. It started out pretty well. Heck, Jeremy's still learning about rhythms and playing steadily and the outcome here was really not much in doubt. This performance was more about getting up on a stage with his cello and seeing what would happen. And in that respect it was a little tenuous.
He acted shy as soon as he sat down with his cello, forgetting his good cello feet and slouching behind his cello. Kate reminded him where to put his fingers and he quickly found his way to play his part. He played right along at first and kept going, more or less, until the end, more or less as expected. The interesting part was that about half way through Jeremy got this blank, deer-in-the-headlights expression on his face to the extent that I was even a little worried for him. Fortunately, the piece wasn't long enough for things to get too uncomfortable. And the applause would surely, and did, bring him back.
He smiled, but his shy , recoiling, hand-between his thighs manner brought appropriate chuckles from the audience as he walked off the stage. I actually thought for a moment that he might need to use the bathroom, but he was just being a three-year-old and we went back to our seats to listen to the other cello students.
Right away Jeremy seemed happy with his "performance" and that, of course, is all that can possibly matter from doing something like this. A few people have made comments about how all the great musicians start young and, OK sure, but I honestly don't care about that at all. This indulgence with music lessons isn't about creating virtuosi, but rather instilling confidence of self, pride, and maybe a vocabulary for music. If these lessons and experiences help do that, then they have been a success as far as I'm concerned. Of course, if they keep playing music long enough to get to a proficiency when they can simply enjoy it, that would be great.
I've been playing cello music while the kids are falling asleep for the last several weeks and it's something that Jeremy seems to like and he often asks for it directly. It started with just the Suzuki cello CD with variations on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Jeremy pronounces that "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stah-ee"), but his mother and I kind of got sick of it and if he doesn't specify that I'll often play Yo-Yo- Ma's Bach Cello Suites or other cello recordings I've been collecting over the last couple of months, just to mix it up. But, if I ask, Jeremy will always say he wants Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
So, this past Wednesday night when Jeremy asked for cello music and I kind of half seriously, more self-indulgently, asked, "do you want to hear Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Bach?" I fully expected him to choose the former. And that would certainly be appropriate since it is what he would play in his recital.
Surprisingly, he asked, "what's Bach?"
"Oh, the Bach is what we hear Erin playing in the lesson with Kate right after yours. Did you want to hear that?"
"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." No surprise.
On Thursday it was similar.
"Can I have some cello music?"
"Sure, Jeremy, did you want Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Bach?" I'd have been happy to play Twinkle Twinkle all week to subliminally get him ready for the recital.
"Bach," he answered with a grin.
"Can I have some cello music?"
Then without even my asking, "I want Bach."
Heck, if that's all the cello lessons get, they are already a success.