Monday, May 22, 2017

Student Musician


This weekend my oldest son once again shook off his nerves and took the stage.

Nathan's had two and a half years learning major chords and allegro speeds and not to look at his fingers while stretching them to sixths. In the past I have written performance posts about how Nathan's anxiety melts through his fingers and comes out in impressive sound. While I could spin a tale about Nathan's experience at his fourth recital, that's his story. Today I have my own.

As his mom, there's a good chance I will always think Nathan is good at what he does, but what I want to share today has nothing to do with being his parent. I have played beside so many people, including several beginner band students in church. The thing about playing with someone who may not have as much experience is that you must let them set the pace. You obviously can't leave your partner in the dust. A duet is not two separate sounds, but a melding of noise that produces something better. That's how I approached our recital duet when Nathan asked me to accompany him.

When we first tried the song together, I was floored. While we were playing, Nathan kept one ear to the piano and another to me. He listened for my breath and struck the keys at the exact millisecond I exhaled. He held notes when I stumbled over mine, his sound rose with the emotion of the piece, and his fingers found every chord while his eyes scanned the notes. He asked me to play one section a different way, and we tweaked it until it felt right to him.

Once we got it down, I wandered into the kitchen and tried to explain what I felt to Jonathan. Nathan was no longer playing music, he was feeling music, and he was working with me to make our audience feel it, too.

I was discussing music with Nathan as a colleague, not a teacher.

At Friday night's performance, he played perfectly while I stumbled over a few notes. He also played a solo performance that sent chills down my arms, and a duet with another student a few years older than him.

The recital lasted two hours, but I still wanted an encore when it was over {it did help that Nora was asleep by then}. It was surreal to watch a fifth-grader belt Johnny Cash, then have a young girl take us to church while her fingers flew and her booming voice bounced off the back wall, followed by a preschooler who played classic nursery rhymes without thinking twice. Being in audience to this group had me floating on air.

I know these kids aren't just lesson-takers. They're all musicians, and I am so proud to say that Nathan has every right to hold that title.

It doesn't make sense to talk about the recital without sharing a little footage,
so click below to hear two of Nathan's songs. Enjoy and have a lovely Monday, friends!




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