My son is 10, soon to be 11. His school provides a music class in which the students are introduced to the piano. My son loves it. Every evening he finds his way to our keyboard and pecks out familiar tunes. He’s pretty good, too.
As part of the class, the teacher provides an opportunity for the kids to perform for the parents. And so, we, the proud parents, file into the school and find seats on the risers of the music room. A piano is pointed toward the crowd like a loaded gun. And believe me, some of these kids use it like a weapon.
The youth file in. Nervous little rows of children find seats and await their turn. One at a time they make their way to the piano. They stand beside the big black instrument and introduce themselves and the music they are about to play. Most of the kids are so intimidated that you can’t even hear their names. When they find the seat behind the keys, they are timid and shy. Others just want it to be over and play so fast and hard that you are unable to recognize any of the notes or the song they are playing.
As a hobby I keep lists and I couldn’t help but start a list of the songs these kids were tickling from the ivories, one agonizing finger at a time. On one hand, I was surprised by the variety. On the other hand, I was not surprised by the repetition. Below is my list and the number of times each piece was played.
1 time each: Bingo, Scooby-Doo Theme, Bridal March, Star Spangled Banner, Any Dream Will Do, Lean on Me, Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, Snake Charmer, A Spoon Full of Sugar, and Puff the Magic Dragon
2 times: Chop Sticks
Be Our Guest (from Beauty & the Beast)
3 times: This Land is Your Land
4 times: The Lion Sleeps Tonight
It’s A Small World
America The Beautiful
6 times: Star Wars
7 times: Ode to Joy
I am happy to report that Beethoven’s work stood the test of time and the 5th grade music class. But I will admit that Star Wars was a very close second and actually led the pack for a while.
My son, Ben played two classics. He offered the moving rendition of Puff the Magic Dragon and rounded out his performance with a soulful interpretation of Ode to Joy. I thought it was the best version of the day.
The music aside, which is easy to do, I did have one other observation during my time in the miniture seats of the music room for 10 year olds: These kids are very flexible. Throughout the concert, each kid nearly broke their necks looking over their shoulders to see if their mother, father, grandmother, or aunt was watching. With their mouths contorted, their arms flailing, their eyebrows in deep furrows, they made every effort to find their supporters. And when contact was made the relief on their innocent faces was obvious. Smiles spread wide. Nervous guestures and waves followed. It was repeated by nearly every kid in the room. It was worth the price of admission.