Tonight as I took Archer to his piano lesson in my university's music department, we passed through a lobby full of undergraduates in long dresses, heels, and incongruous winter jackets against the cold rain outside. They clumped in excited gaggles outside of the recital hall, a few breaking off every so often to run after some forgotten item or person. Soon they'd be herded into a rehearsal space to make final preparations for their choir concert.
After Archer's lesson, his teacher mentioned that the end of term recital would be coming up for him, too. He has three pieces to memorize. Immediately that brought back memories of last year's recital; it was a watershed moment for me, seeing how Archer could concentrate and perform under pressure.
And of course it reminds me of the many, many recitals in my childhood. There were choral performances galore, and those I loved. Piano recitals, not so much. The individual pressure was less to my liking; the nakedness of the performance and the complexity of the task intimidated me. I was more confident as a singer, less nervous about making mistakes -- certain, in fact, that I would not -- and had a lot more fun making music with my voice.
As an adult I'm more accustomed to individual performances, and more confident that I can pull off a success even when I'm going it alone. So now I'm nervous for the child I used to be. We've tried to raise kids who believe in their own abilities implicitly. I hope they take pleasure in stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park when they get their chance.