Monday, March 7, 2005

Bach to Bach with "Beautiful!"

Well, folks, it's yet another day closer to the birthday of the great J.S. Bach. Before I continue with the daily Bach postings, I want to congratulate Taylor, a kid in our church, on getting a "Superior" in a regional piano festival this past weekend. He doesn't read this blog so it doesn't make the least bit of sense to congratulate him here, but still, it's so thrilling to think that Taylor got a "Superior." For his own sake. Anything less than "Superior" in a music festival can sometimes work a number on your ego and self-confidence. And when your ego and self-confidence are bruised, you're less likely to enjoy piano, and maybe a little less likely to stick with it for the rest of your life.

Today's Bach post is a reprint of a previous post, one that I wrote last August. Why? Well, it's about those dreaded piano festivals. And it's about Bach. And I'm a wreck this morning and don't have it in me to write something original.

So, I apologize in advance to those faithful readers who have already read "Beautiful!" And to those of you who are new: Enjoy!


"Beautiful!" (originally posted August 11, 2004)


That's what my pianner teacher wrote as her assessment when I played the Bach Sinfonia today at my pianner lesson.

Beautiful! I done went and played that dad-burned Bach beautiful-ly!

Now, let me 'splain sump'n here. People who know me know that I, on occasion, have indeed played beautifully. Not braggin', just statin' a fact. But Bach's a feller that I have avoided like the plague for much of my pianner-playin' life. OK, so I avoided the feller's music, not the feller himself.

Here's why:

When I was a wee little punkin' of a girl, not knee-high to a grasshopper, my pianner teacher would put all us students in pianner festivals and what-not. Basically, this meant stressin' over ... um, I mean preparin' ... a couple of pieces of music appropriate to our respective levels. I hated to practice when I was little, so I always made these festival stress ... I mean preparations ... a whole lot more trouble than they shoulda been. You know, I was one of them students who wouldn't practice and wouldn't practice and wouldn't practice then suddenly would practice like crazy to have the pieces ready in time. And they were always ready, might I add. (I'm pattin' myself on the back right about now.)

An' then, for the festival, all the little pianner students in the gret stet of Lou-zee-ana would descend on Ella Shoe and go into little rooms in the esteemed MVSIC AND DRAMATIC ARTS building and play for a judge.

Now, I don't know 'bout you, but there are two things I love most 'bout playin' pianner:

1. Playin' fer myself
2. Playin' fer other folks

There is one thing I most certainly do NOT love 'bout playin' pianner:

1. Playin' fer one other person, 'specially when that person is (1) better than you and (2) hidin' behind a stupid clipboard on which to mark every dumb mistake you make, and it don't matter if you played it perfectly at home yesterday or not. An' you don't git points for learnin' it in flat under two weeks.

Despite my dislike for these here festivals, I usually earned myself a "Superior" ratin', which was the A-1 highest ratin' there was, thank you very much. If you got a "Excellent," that meant you did "so-so." If you got a "Good," well then, buddy, maybe you're playin' the wrong instrument. 'Least that's how I saw it, as a seven-year-ole.

'Cept for that dad-burned Bach Festival. It was all Bach, nothin' but Bach. I think it was in December every year, though I could be wrong. I prob'ly blocked it out of my memory, kinda like you do with nightmares.

Every year I'd stress ... I mean, prepare ... fer the dreaded Bach Festival. I didn't like Bach so much as a kid. OK, well, I liked some of the Minuets and I loved sump'n called "Musette in D," but there was this one called "Bourree" that I just could not stand, no way, no how. I had to play it for the Bach Festival one year.

I think I played in that Bach Festival for four years. Or five. And do you know what?

They kep' givin' me a "Excellent." Ev'ry year. Even though I was the best pianner player there.

Well, maybe I wasn't near the best (sheesh, I was only a kid), but those "Excellents" sure do a number on your pianner-playin' self-esteem.

I don't know why I got "Excellents." One judge wrote I played too robot-o like, an' another said I played too emotional-like. Cain't have it both ways, judges. An' if I'm too emotional, well, I cain't he'p it if I was born to play Beethoven. Sheesh.

Or heck, maybe all that last-minute learnin' just didn't cut it. (I know, I know, I know, all you pianner teachers are noddin' with vehemence right now, thinkin', "yep, that's it, you annoying little pianner student brat who never practiced," but what do you know.)

But I just sort of accepted that I'd never be more than "so-so" at playin' Bach.

And I put Bach's music on my black list and avoided it like the plague for many a year. And when I did hafta learn Bach, I struggled an' fought with it 'till I got to where I could play it "so-so," an' then I'd plumb give up.

(I'm a "all-or-nothin'" kinda girl, as they say.)

So it was a big ole deal when my pianner teacher wrote "Beautiful!" in my pianner notebook today. Done brought a li'l ole smile to my face.

But I sure am glad she didn't write "Excellent."


oceanskies79 said...

Those words from music teachers will surely put a smile onto any student's face.

Waterfall said...

Pei Yun: Yep! Even when the student is a grown up! :)

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