Monday, December 12, 2005

Planet Claire Blackdogred, my 12 and a half year old daughter, had her Fall recital yesterday. Her piano teacher has two recitals each year. The second one is always solo. The first, in the Fall semester, is a duet with a string player; the piano teacher's bestfriend and bitterest rival is a string teacher. The piano teacher calls her business Herlastname Studios, the string teacher calls her business Herlastname Studios. D, the piano teacher, just bought a house and had a large, fabulously beautiful and tasteful studio/performance mini-hall addition added. It is bigger, by about 10%, than the addition the string teacher put on her house three years ago.

They match up students of roughly equal ability as well as they can from the rosters they have available, trying, when possible, to get similar ages and genders. In drawing up the order of performers they reasonably rank them in order of ability. In six years I've watched Planet go from one of the first to, now, second to last, though I hasten to add that the piano teacher had a large graduating class last Spring so Planet's rank is partially due to attrition. Planet and a sweet kid named Leah played a piece called "Sarabande" by somebody named Bohn (mit eine umlaut, I guessing) and aced it.

Afterwards, I was approached by the piano teacher, the string teacher, and the parents of Leah, all of whom urged me to commit Planet to a competition for duets later this coming Spring. They hadn't ask Planet first whether or not SHE would be interested before asking ME to commit her to the competition. When I asked Leah's parents whether they had asked THEIR daughter before enlisting her, the father said, No, no, why would I? Both teachers and both parents were clearly annoyed that I would even consider asking my child her opinion before committing her to something she may or may not have any interest in and may, in fact, have an active disinterest in doing. "She's not still playing soccer, is she?" sniffed the violin teacher.

Planet is not a prodigy, but she's talented and composed and has great technique (so I'm told). The piano teacher has told me often that Planet could possibly, with dedication and practice and the eschewing of a normal teenage life, make a very fine living as an accompanist. Her soccer coach says that with dedication and practice and the eschewing of a normal teenage life, Planet could possibly get herself a college scholarship as an attacking midfielder. The piano teacher wants her to quit soccer, the soccer coach wants her to quit piano, Planet doesn't want to quit either. I know this because I asked her.

Planet has been told that she WILL be taking piano lessons until she graduates high school. I don't want her to be like me, another one of a gegazillion who wishes as an adult they hadn't stopped playing as an adolescent. And there's the whole discipline and keeping teenagers occupied thingee. And she's genuinely talented, so I want to keep her engaged as much as possible when she doesn't want to be engaged so she can be ready to be good if and when she decides she wants to pursue music professionally. Which will be her call. I'll handle the teachers and coaches.

For Your Pleasure:

Love Tractor (from 1989) - "I Broke My Saw"

Laura Viers - "Fire Snakes"

Afro Cuban All Stars - "Amor Verdadero"


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