West High School Choir concert last night. Julia had a solo in the Freshman Choir’s rendition of Sia’s Rainbow.
There is backstory.
Julia has choir class every day. We, the indomitable Anthony Cao and I, worked very intentionally helping Julia with appropriate choir behavior, that is, standing still, watching him and singing, not talking. Julia and I have done a standing meditation since November to find out what her body does when it is still and lots of reminders (and lots of praise) for the other points.
Mr. Cao is the coolest! He is that teacher who is beloved by students and parents. He works the kids hard and has high expectations for all his students. Ironically, we started the year ‘closed’ out of choir and I was told by special ed that Julia couldn’t join Dressed to Trill, the small lunch time singing group she sings with. Her behavior during concerts has varied from tolerable (spending most of her choir’s time on stage fixing her dress or shoes, talking to her neighbors, etc.) to last night’s “almost as appropriate as her peers.” She engaged in all of the songs, tried to do all of the simple choreography and paid attention.
Just before spring break, Mr. Cao told me that he might try to orchestrate Sia’s Rainbow for the choir. Julia had come into class singing it every day for a long time. I have no doubt about this since she sings the song constantly at home and listens to 4 different versions of it on itunes. According to Mr. Cao, other kids in choir class had taken to joining in with Julia as they came into class.
And so, he orchestrated. And the choir practiced. When Julia got home from school yesterday, she told me she had a solo in the song. I’m not sure when she found out. I asked her if she was nervous and she said, “a little” which is pretty aware for her.
It was very wonderful to watch her! Her tone and rhythm were excellent. She had a wonderful time up there and demonstrated a presence that was not there a year ago. And what impressed me as much as her singing was her ability to walk back to her place when the solo was over. I’m sure it was practiced. That is a big gain!
The pictures above were taken by Dave Giroux. He and his wife, Anne, are parents of one of Julia’s long time classmates. I was sooo happy that Anne sent me the pictures this morning. I took the ones I’m posting below and they are pretty bad even with substantial editing. iPad pictures do have limitations or I have much more to learn.
One more thing, looking at Mr. Cao in the picture, no doubt of his support and encouragement. I have no doubt that he would say he supported Julia as much as he supported any of his students, and the sweet testimonials from seniors last night attests to what he gives to all of his students. Still, looking at the picture bring tears to my eyes again.
Julia had a wonderful night. She was cheered when she finished which was sweet and wonderful for her. One of the girls gave her flowers. It might have been a senior to was given the flowers because she is a senior. Julia also sang with Dressed to Trill, the lunchtime singing group Julia goes to on Mondays. She did her best with them that she has ever done and I appreciate those young women who work without much supervision and have made allowances for Julia. She did a rhythm ‘shush’ on one of the songs and was pretty much spot on.
I talked before the concert with parents that I knew from when Julia was in grammar school. Their daughter is a typical student on grade level although she could use help in math which she doesn’t get in school. The mom, a teacher herself, talked about making the most of what was good and letting some of the rest just go by. Just letting anything go has not been my style this year and in most ways I don’t regret it. Julia would not have had last night if I let choir and Trills go, and I had no foreknowledge that those activities would grow her so much. There is a lesson in both letting some things go and in pursuing activities beyond initial denials. Once again, it is the Serenity Prayer and the biggest challenge remains the “wisdom to know the difference.”