I discovered, for the first time, back in February when Madeleine competed in her first piano competition, the nervousness it is possible to feel on behalf of your child. I remember, pretty vividly, the music competitions and recitals of my own youth. I remember the racing heart, the sweating palms and the anxious, sick-like feeling that grew until the time of my performance arrived. But as soon as those years were over they were soon forgotten.
Until Madeleine started taking piano lessons last fall. And now all those feelings-- the racing heart, the sweating palms and the anxious, sick-like feeling-- are back. I felt them this past February and I felt them, even more, tonight.
Tonight Madeleine had her first piano recital. In February, at her piano competition, she played in front of a single judge, a stranger. Tonight she played in front of her peers and all their parents. It was a friendly group, but for a seven-year-old, intimidating.
It was with no argument that she warmed up and rehearsed one last time before walking down the street to her piano teacher's home, where the recital was held.
And it was with no small amount of anxious nerves that Madeleine dutifully posed for pictures. First, her true emotion, annoyance with the photo session, is made clear.
And then, almost manically, she begins to laugh. Wisely I realize this is as good as it will get. Snap, snap!
Moments after this we arrive at the recital site. We sit amongst the other proud moms and dads, Madeleine on the other side of the living room with the other students, the two groups divided by the shiny black grand piano. Madeleine chews on her cheeks. She squirms in her seat. She makes weird faces at us and looks more and more nervous every second. As she squirms and chews and wiggles I feel more and more nervous. Will she be OK? Will she remember what she's supposed to play? These are the thoughts running through my head.
A seventh grade student finishes her Bach piece. Now Madeleine, with a brief introduction from her teacher, stands up and makes her way to the piano. She won't look at the audience. At all. But she sits, regally, and begins to play. As she plays she grows more and more confident and as she plays the songs as correctly and well as she is able my nervousness abates as, I have to imagine, did hers.