To Practice or Not to Practice

There are times when parents have to push their kids outside of their comfort zone.  Subway Dude has always been confident.  New situations are exciting to him.  The Fashionista is a little more cautious.  We often have to talk her through things.  She needs encouragement.

Here in Erie County, music students in grades 5-12 have several opportunities throughout the year to play solos in front of judges.  The students receive comments and scores on their performances.  Their scores can earn a them a spot in select ensembles.

SD has played solos in the past.  He is not a diligent student who practices much at all.  I ALWAYS encourage him to bring his bassoon home.  I’ve even tried nagging.  Honestly, there is only so much I can do.  He brings his instrument home over vacations and practices.  He brings it home before these solos and practices.

This year, SD is in the select ensemble at the high school.  In the select ensemble there is a requirement for all of the students to play a solo at least once during the year at these festivals.  In the past, it’s always been a “Mom Requirement”.

SD thought he had signed up to play in May, however he was actually signed up for the January audition.  Somewhere along the way, he missed the memo and he missed the January audition. He now has to play in May.

On the other hand, TF brings her practice sheet home every day.  Until last month, she practiced in the living room.  Then IB broke a $30 pair of her mallets.  Ouch.  Now she practices in her room.  She also practices piano every day.

TF played her solo on a Saturday in January.  The following Monday she was shocked to learn that she made it into All County Orchestra.  After she burst into tears, and they were not tears of joy, she perked up saying, “Well, obviously there has been some error.  I am not good enough to have made it into All County.”


TF was dreading the experience.  Dreading, but not losing sleep over it.  That’s a step in the right direction for this girl.

She practiced her parts.  Even at the last minute, she found out she had a part on one piece she hadn’t rehearsed.  She worked even harder.

Maybe it wasn't fun with confetti and noise makers, but she said it was fun.

TF went to her the first rehearsal yesterday.  When I picked her up last night I said, “So, you had fun, right?”  I was thrilled when she said, “Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I really did have a lot of fun!”

They had another rehearsal this morning.  The concert was this afternoon.  SD had to work.  TM was flying the friendly skies.  It was just me and IB there to support the lovely Fashionista.

As usual, she had pulled together a smashing outfit.  Yes, it was the required black and white, but TF can make any ensemble look special.  I was cracking up when a friend called out to her as we walked in for the concert.  When they met up, TF commented on how cute her friend looked.  Her friend made some polite comment back.  TF replied, “What?  I look terrible.”  It was almost like the old, “What?  This old thing?  Oh, I just threw it on”.  Even IB said, “What?  Who looks terrible?”, not believing his ears.

IB and I made our way to an aisle seat, in case we needed a quick getaway.  IB is usually well behaved at concerts, but I am never sure.  It was nerve wracking being a single parent at an event that is being recorded.

IB was a true gentleman.  Yes, he did “help” conduct from his seat a few times.  I figured if he wasn’t making any noise, it was a-okay with me.  People around us were probably fooled into thinking he was a really cute little brother.  I didn’t really look around to see.

We enjoyed a performance by the SATB Junior High group.  That’s the Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass Chorus.  Earlier in the afternoon the SSA Chorus performed. The SATB group was amazing.  The dynamics, the diction, the musicality, the expressive singing, the phrasing.  It was beautiful.  IB was entranced.

Next we heard the Junior High Orchestra.  Halfway through IB turned to me, in a most dramatic way and stage whispers, “Okay, I’ve had enough.  I want to go now!”

Another dramatic turn by IB and I am presented with his ear.  I whisper, “No, honey.  We have two more pieces to go.”

Dramatic turn to me, “No!  I’ve had enough! I want to go NOW!”

Again, the ear.  “Listen, TF still has to play the cymbals.”


“The cymbals.  TF told me she is playing the cymbals.  She plays them really fast at the end of the piece.”

“Oh, okay.”

Whew!  Disaster averted.  I pulled some paper and a pen out for IB.  He “wrote” until the last piece.  The minute the cymbals crashed, his head whipped around and he stood up, looking for his sister.

It was a great concert.  TF was glad it was over.  She doesn’t want to audition next year, but she knows it’s probably a “Mom Requirement”.

If she makes it next year, she hopes she can play with the Orchestra again.  She said the Orchestra is way more fun than the Band.  SD told her to try out for the Chorus.  He advised her that “You hardly have to practice at all for the Chorus ahead of time!”  TF scoffed, “Yeah, this coming from you, who never practices at all anyway!”

–Running Girl


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jennifer on March 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Awesome job, TF!!
    The whole practicing thing is such an issue, isn’t it? I find my 3rd grade son to be a mini version of your SD, as far as time logged. He is playing the string bass this year; it takes up half of his bedroom, and goes primarily untouched. He glides through his lessons like nobody’s business.
    I also appreciate your anxiety over being at a “taped” concert with a youngun’. I leave concerts with my 3 year old and head to the showers, because I am usually a sweaty mess… Nerves!!!
    Congrats again.


  2. Posted by Gail on March 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

    I love that she said the orchestra was “way more fun” than the band! They really did play a great selection of music. And the group sounded fantastic. Congrats.


  3. Posted by Eileen on March 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Go go go TF!!!!! And good for you, Running Girl, for trying to make your bassoon player practice. I just don’t think there are that many kids that practice by themselves without being “nudged”.

    And Gail…low blow about orchestra vs. band. Low blow.


  4. Posted by lisa on March 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Yay for TF! She reminds me of someone!


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