I cannot let the week end without noting Julia’s doings.
When bad things happen it is easy to dwell on them, to obsess, to perseverate, to take the moment of the undesired happening and stretch it thin to see all of the possible consequences. I do all of that. And, close to relentlessly, worry. And I am quite the expert at that.
But when good things happen, I find I breathe them in and then let them flutter away. Sometimes I don’t even note them. Sometimes I note them, even write about them and then quickly forget them. I expect that this is a common phenomenon that needs changing. At least, in my life.
Julia had her first recital with her Berklee cello teacher on Sunday. She played Minute No. 3 by JS Bach, the fourth piece in the Suzuki 2 book. The first half is in first position; after the repeat, the second half switches from first to second positions. This piece has been a challenge for her. She has gotten through it with repeats close to perfectly, but not consistently. Sometimes the second position trips her up, sometimes the bowing. Added to this, she played it as a duet with another student on the piano. They practiced on two Saturdays during her lesson. Last Saturday during lesson, I sat with Julia as she played, and Miles, the teacher, sat with the piano player. To say it was a work in progress was quite generous.
Still, this piece represents an incredible effort on her part.
Julia was not very nervous for performance. She never is. This might be a delightful trait. However, she is not compelled by performance. Even practicing with the other student, when she had some trouble with her bow hold, she stopped to fix it. In the middle of the piece. During the concert, there were two students who did this sort of thing. One messed up and announced that he was starting again; the other paused and then picked up in the middle of her piece. When I asked Julia about the two musicians later, she said it was not a good idea to stop but it didn’t really bother her.
I have attempted to work on what might be my obsession about performance—never stop, never start again, the show must go on! I have tried counting through the piece and to continue when Julia stops, forcing her to catch up in some way. Well, that doesn’t really replicate what it feels like to play with another person. Working on this walks a fine line between instilling the idea of performance perfection and being very relaxed when she plays.
Accepting that the duet would probably not be perfect, we all dove in. I sat beside Julia, counting softly (she needed to be in control of the time and my counting meant she would not slow down), reminding her of the repeats (which she may or may not have needed) and miming the bowing (which is of great help to her) . Miles sat beside the piano player. I have no idea what he did for him, but Miles and I could see each other in case signaling was necessary.
It went off okay! Julia played pretty well, got through the whole piece with a few bowing mistakes and a few sour notes in second position. She was proud of herself although she hardly took a bow (we had not rehearsed a bow). She was positive about the experience as we drove away and said she would be willing try playing with the piano player again in the future.
Again, it is this time. Had there been no covid, Julia would have been playing in recitals at least once or twice a year. She did that when she was younger. The skills she gained in those past exercises were very rusty or possibly completely forgotten. It was so good that she decided to try again, even if it felt like a first time.
After the recital, we went to Cheshire’s with the aim of helping them do some work on the house to get ready for the shower. While Cheshire, Justin’s mom and I painted a room, Julia carted bundles from the first to the second floor and then helped Justin’s dad put the crib together. There have been plenty of times when Julia has gone to Cheshire’s house and disappeared into her phone and I was quite pleased that she was willing to work as hard as she did.
And then yesterday, Julia had her first official volunteer shift at the library. I didn’t know until the afternoon that during her Tuesday trip to the library, that started as a way to get her out of the classroom building, Julia asked to do some work and was allowed to. Thus, Thursday was not exactly her first day working. It was her first official day!
I drove her to the Library where she met her aide and went into the Library. Later, her aide reported in an email:
The library went great this morning! She signed in independently, put on her volunteer badge and got to work. Julia decided to work in the “Teen Section” and I attached pictures of her work below! When I told her it was time to leave she asked why she needed to leave and explained that “I really like working here” and “I need to do this for my job experience.” It was incredible and she even wanted to check out a book.
When they returned to the school building, Julia finished the cupcakes she had begun the day before by making frosting and frosting her cakes. She very happily gave them out to her comrades and saved one for me.
When I picked her up at the end of the school day, she confirmed what her aide had written and we went to spend time with her art mentor.
So, that’s it. I could pick apart all the good behaviors even more than I have, but suffice it to say that Julia had a good week—Sunday through Thursday—and hopefully today will be a good day as well!