No Shooters for the Piano Player

My favorite thing about spring is the kids’ piano recital. All the practicing, all the hours sitting in the car playing solitaire on my iPhone during the lessons, all the scrambling to find the music every Tuesday. It’s all worth it when you get to the recital and see that your child’s name is spelled correctly and he’s not the first one to play.

I’m the only one who feels this way. My kids prefer a life threatening allergy attack to the spring recital. My daughter gets really nervous and complainy in the days leading up it, and my son didn’t even participate this year. I don’t know why the kids dread recitals so much. I think they’re lovely.

Piano recitals have come a long way from the Sunday afternoons in a church filled with dresses, hair bows and flowers. Either that or it’s true what they say - that everything in Florida has a little bit of raunch in it. Last weekend’s recital was in an Irish pub, where we were able to actually order beers, if we had been brave enough. I kept saying to my husband, “It feels weird to be in here and not drinking. Don’t you think we should order at least a draught?”

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon,” he said, looking at me over his iPhone, where he was busy getting caught up on email in between performances.

“Still.”

My kids have had lots of different kinds of piano teachers. Prodigies who went to Julliard at 16, a banjo player who wanted to tack on some teaching hours and ran out of banjo students (although how that could happen, I’ve no idea), old school bats who pushed the kids’ little fingers onto the correct keys, and everything in between. Mr. Cupcake was perhaps my favorite. He came to our house to give lessons and about 12 minutes into the lesson would say, “Scootch over,” and sit down and play jazz. I’m not sure how much the kids learned, but I certainly looked forward to Tuesdays.

We’ve had recitals in the teacher’s living room, in the music school, and lots and lots of churches. None can compare with the recitals of my own piano teacher. When I was very small, I took piano lessons from Ruth Ann Lawrence, who lived down the street from me on School Street. She was my sister Kathy’s friend, so she must’ve been in high school at the time. But she had creativity coming out of her pores. She ended up getting married and having about 13 kids, so I can only hope her creativity was put to good use and not wasted on color coding the lunch boxes.

Ruth Ann’s recitals always had a theme. One year it was a sing-along with her old aunt. I think everyone played a song from World War II that her aunt knew the words to.

But the recital I remember the most was the Mary Poppins theme. All the students played a song from Mary Poppins, which was all the rage that year. Ruth Ann got her relatives to act out the parts of the movie and when a song would come up, one of the piano students would get up and sit down at the piano and play the song. I can still remember her uncle sitting on top of a tall ladder that was set up in the corner, magically recreating the floating Uncle Albert.

At last weekend’s recital, things were almost as creative. Some of the students played songs they had arranged themselves, there were some vocalists, three electric guitar players, and then the Friday Night Jam Band played. Afterward there was free food.

All that and beer. Piano recitals don’t get much better.

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