Friday, October 25, 2013

Dear Daughter Triumph

Dear Daughter Triumph,

There is nothing more rewarding for parents than to experience their children's accomplishments.  At some point in our lives, our achievement becomes that of our children's.  You, as it turns out, are one of those defining moments in my life that really show how proud I am of my little musicians.


Music recitals are designed to showcase a student's work and celebrate one's musical progress.  Of course, they require a lot of discipline and practice.  They also come with a lot of nerves and jitters.  Preparing for a recital is hard work.  Playing solo on stage is daunting.  Watching it all happen on the sidelines as parents is incredibly humbling.

DD began working on her most recent recital piece--the second violin part of the Bach Double--at the end of the last school year.  She worked on it all through the summer and into the fall.  This Double Violin Concerto is one of Bach's most famous work.  It is a spectacular duet, played by two violins, intertwining music so brilliantly that listeners easily swoon to the upbeat rhythm and beautiful notes.

It is, of course, lovely music until my own daughter has to play it, solo, on the stage.

Then it is time to sweat bullets.

You may recall DD's last recital mishap.  She lived through it, learned from it, and moved on.  Her Mama tried to follow her lead, but stumbled on the fact that this is a piece of music that spans five long pages.  Just the thought of her memorizing the music is enough to turn all of my hair gray.  So I did what I could to help her, and tried my darnedest not to turn this experience into a pressurized cooker.  We worked it, instead, in a slow cooker.  Slow and steady.  Simmering and stewing.

Then, less than two weeks before the recital, her teacher announced that he would accompany her and play the first violin portion, along with the usual piano accompaniment.  That's coordinating three instruments for a piece that is almost five minutes long.  Um, OMG!  But we persisted and kept with it, listening to the music, counting the beats, matching the parts.

However, as Life likes to throw us curve balls, something just had to interrupt this well-crafted plan.  That slow cooker had to unexpectedly shut off!  DD's school had a grade-wide camping trip days before the recital, where I wouldn't see or talk to her for 2.5 days, and she wouldn't touch her violin for that same length of time.  Can simmering and stewing continue without electricity?

Whether I liked it or not, I had to let go of it all.  I wanted her to enjoy her trip, soak in the bonding experience with all her friends, and just not have to think about the recital for a few days.  Maybe this last minute retreat into the woods would be just the thing for her after all the hard work and practice.  Maybe.

We got in one rehearsal with both violin parts and the piano accompanist just before her camping trip.  One.  They ran through the piece twice.  That was it, and that was what I had to ride on for the next five days until the recital.  Um, yeah.  But her teacher decided that it would be okay for her to use the music during the recital, which came as a great relief for me.  There would be very little chance for DD to have an unexpected brain freeze.  Whew.

On the day DD came back from camp, I was ecstatic to see her.  I was subbing that day, but my class had PE outdoors just as the buses pulled up.  I went excitedly to see DD, who, upon seeing me, was more excited to tell me that a fire alarm went off as her roommate was in the shower.  When I saw her, I was totally taken aback because as I watched her talk, it seemed to me like she grew an entire month older in 2.5 days.  I kid you not.  Her facial features seemed more defined, there was a worldly sparkle in her eyes, and I swear she was an inch taller than when she left.

Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me, but there's no denying my little girl is growing up, fast.

She's growing up so fast that she can take the challenge of playing the Bach Double with her teacher on stage, stay composed, and remain seemingly relaxed as she shuffled from one end of the five pages on the double music stands to the other.  She's worked so hard to hold up her portion of the piece to the first violin as well as the piano.  She's developed a craft of her own to stay focused, finish the piece, and reveal a beautiful smile and respectfully acknowledge both her accompanists.  She's continuing to make us, her lucky parents, so very proud.

After the recital, I admitted to her that up until her performance, I had probably heard enough Bach Double for the rest of my life, since she's likely played it hundreds of times.  I'd say at least a thousand, she replied.  (You see, exaggeration runs in the family.)  But after that recital, I think I can listen to it infinitely--at least the version that DD played.  But I'll always miss the first few notes, as both Dear Husband and I missed recording the beginning by a split second, him on video and I on audio, cuz we were both holding our breaths while fumbling with technology.

I am my daughter's biggest fan.  I proudly admit that I sit glued to the computer watching her play this piece, over and over, again and again.  I see more than the stoic and concentrated look on her face: I see her determination, her perseverance, and her courage.  I see flashbacks of all the hours and minutes we spent on this piece.  I see that she was more ready for this performance than I ever gave her credit for.  I see that she will be a more accomplished musician than I could ever be.

And then I feel my heart swell.

I managed--after outsmarting many blogging/technology obstacles--to get the audio recording for my own indulgence your enjoyment.  DD begins with the second violin part to the piece, and you will hear the first violin part join in at a higher pitch.  DD's part generally plays the lower pitch, and is at times harder to hear because of it, but you'll hear it.  You'll hear how she shined; you'll hear how she triumphed.  Just press play on the youtube link below to hear her play Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, BWV, 1043, 1st Mvt., Violin II, by J. S. Bach:

And while we're at it, may I also share DS's piece, The Hunter's Chorus, by C. M. v Weber?  Again, press play on the youtube link below:

Neither of my kiddos played perfectly, but they interpreted the music well.  They played it the way the pieces were intended to be played.  Couldn't you hear all that hunting going on in DS's piece?  Oh, yes, time to wrap this up before this Mama gets too carried away...


So, Dear Daughter Triumph, you are proof that hard work pays off--specifically, on my part.  I cannot help but feel terrible for my insufficient support during DD's preparation for the last recital because I was helping DS with his easier piece.  Being a Suzuki parent is both difficult and rewarding; sometimes we have to learn things the hard way.  The kiddos have moved onto holiday music for the holiday group concert, and they couldn't be more excited, as they think playing familiar music is!  And this Suzuki Mama is learning those song as well, since DD will be playing harmony for the first time, which she interprets as having been "promoted."  Hey, so long as they enjoy playing the violin.

There must be something about that violin.  I think that love runs in the family, too. 



  1. You probably didn't share the video because of privacy reasons but I would have loved to see the video in order to truly enjoy their performances. That said, I could feel your "proud mama" just beaming through this post and I can relate. J doesn't play an instrument yet but he wrote the number "3" last week and I cried out of pride. So yea, you must have been that but times 1000. Congrats to both your kids!

  2. I'm glad she came back and "killed it" - I'm not a music expert, but it sounded excellent to me :) I can relate to the tiring of hearing the music during practice...we're going through that with my son's french horn. But with practice comes skill.