A few years ago, Brent told us: "Giving me piano lessons was kind of like throwing money down the drain."
I gave him an unqualified, "No, it wasn't!" And I still believe that, even though he probably hasn't touched a piano since he left the confines of Mrs. Trinkle's piano studio at her Preston farm house. He draws the same conclusion about his few years of mother-imposed voice lessons. (Wasn't I a mean mother, trying to instill a little music appreciation in my children?)
|1997 piano recital - Jill and Brent with Mrs. Dorothy Trinkle, their piano teacher.|
Sometimes I wonder why I continue accompanying at school. I especially wonder it on days like this one when we are at the Heart of the Plains League middle school music festival, and my nerves kick in. We'll be at the school by 6:30 and on the bus by 6:45 AM for the trip to Burrton.A 2007 Harris Interactive Poll of working adults indicated that music education impacted five skill areas: ability to work toward common goals, striving for excellence in group settings, disciplined approach to solving problems, creative problem solving and flexibility in work situations.
Harris Interactive Poll, 2007
This is my 18th year accompanying for Stafford Schools. I don't have nearly as many accompaniments to play this year. But, for this Type A personality perfectionist, I still want to do my very best to accompany the students who've made the commitment to music this year. I certainly would prefer not to have an unintentional reenactment of "Bull in a China Shop."
I love music. That's why I do it. I certainly have no illusions that I am the most competent accompanist around. The paycheck I open each month doesn't come close to covering the gas it takes to drive to town, the interruption to the day or the investment of practice time at home that is never covered by a time sheet. So I look at my time at school as community service and a way to share my love of music with others.
Music isn't really about black notes on a white page. It isn't just about breathing correctly (though it certainly helps). You can know the right fingering to play a "C" or "D" on a trumpet or clarinet and still not truly make music.
True music is found in the crescendos and decrescendos. It's found in the pianissimo and the double forte. It's found in telling the story through song.
And, even if those middle school musicians some day think that their time practicing for a solo was like throwing time straight down the drain, I hope they'll remember a piano player beside them who cared about them and cared about the music.
Won't you say a little prayer for our middle school musicians today? (And one for Mr. Westbrook and me would be nice, too. Thanks, friends!)
|Marc Chagall stained glass windows at the Art Institute of Chicago|
Play the music, not the instrument.