When I was nine, I announced to my family that I wanted to play the piano because I was a star in the making and would be just like Debbie Gibson tickling the ivories in her I Get Lost in Your Eyes video. But my mom burst my MTV dreams when she pulled her flute out of storage and explained if I was playing an instrument, this was it. Lame. Wait, can I play “Hanging Tough” on this thing?
For two weeks I was totally consumed with my new musical career. By week three, that old flute lost it’s luster and by week four, I got into a scuffle with my older brother and wacked him with the flute. He got a huge egg on his arm, my flute was dented, and my music career was canceled short.
It’s OK because I lack any sort of natural music ability. Although when I sing Taylor Swift songs in the car, I totally kill it.
In a moment of deja vu, my son announced, after several episodes of Little Einsteins, he needed to play the piano. Right away I started reading all sorts of research on the benefits of piano lessons for young children: higher math scores, improved coordination, and even increases in critical thinking abilities, but it would take his first piano recital to show me what I had missed in all the research.
The stars aligned last summer when we inherited a beautiful piano from a family friend. Please note the awesome bed head on piano delivery day
After his first lesson, I learned a valuable lesson about what happens when your kid starts playing an instrument: it’s just as much a commitment on the parents part (read: the mom) because you have to practice every day with your kids.
My budding piano man never complained when I pulled him away from his toys to practice. However, on the weeks I was a bad piano mom and didn’t make him practice, I would sit anxiously and full of guilt in the waiting room during his lessons because I knew it was my fault he was struggling on a new song. Even on those rough days, he still walked out with a huge smile on his face.
When it came time for his first recital, he picked his own song and within a few weeks had it memorized. But let’s get real here, the kid is five which means on recital day ANYTHING could happen.
He could go out there and rock his entire song. He could get up there and refuse to play. He could get up that morning and refuse to wear pants.
As his mom, it’s my duty to be a huge ball of nerves for him on any special event. It’s also my job to keep that crazy underwraps and not barf up my breakfast: fail. Is this what I can expect for every performance, game, recital, or speech my kids ever give? Me trying not to barf before their big moment?
So he got up to play and I held my breath while he started playing those familiar notes.
And then he lost his place and I panicked for him. What probably took a whole ten seconds felt like a sweaty, nauseous eternity to me. I shot his teacher a worried glance hoping she would run over and rescue him, but she didn’t. Immediately I started sweating and looking at him and the piano and his teacher and then at my husband. Should I go up there? Would that help or hurt? OK, I’m counting to ten and then I’m going up there. As if my husband knew my illogical thoughts, he placed his hand in my lap, a gentle restraint.
And then this happened. He started playing again, finished his song, and then something I didn’t plan on: pride. So much pride in himself.
When I thought about his piano lessons, I thought about how this would help him in the future as he made his way through school and standardized tests. I never once thought about the present and what would end up being the most worthwhile outcome of piano.
That feeling he had the moment he was done
The pride. All the pride in himself.
So in all my worrying, stressing and attempts to not vomit at the recital, I never imagined that boy’s face at the end. So lesson learned. Yes, piano may help him on his fractions homework in a few years and will probably help him get a few dates with the ladies in dozen years (barf),but for right now, I’m just basking in the glow of this face