It was exactly a year ago when Austin returned from the dress rehearsal for The Frederick String Initiative's annual Winter Recital. I remember standing at the sink putting a few plates into the dishwasher. "Mom, I have some issues with the timing - just in a few spots," he said as he looked down to the floor and slowly lowered his viola case. "I'm not sure if I'll be able to play the concerto tomorrow."
"Not play?" I swallowed hard as I tried to hide my feelings. This was to be the first concerto - a major thing for any aspiring student musician. In my mind, I pictured Austin at age seven holding his first little 1/2 size violin playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Thoughts of all the practices, time, and money invested ran through my mind. In our household, it was a 'given' that you perform in recitals.
Austin's instructor, renowned violin and viola teacher, William Stapp, helped him tremendously with the specific technical nuances necessary for strings players. He and his wife, Astrid Walscott Stapp, an accomplished harpist, teach at their lovely studio in the Catoctin Mountain area of Frederick County. We switched to their studio several years ago, and felt that it was a good move for our music goals. Will's professionalism combined with his warm, likeable and approachable style was definitely a great fit for our family, and I absolutely loved taking Austin to lessons each week, never feeling it to be a burden.
Back to the kitchen....
I called Will on the phone, and he specifically outlined exactly how Austin should practice up until the recital. I remember hearing the Suzuki CD, #14 song, Concerto in G Major Allegro, play dozens of times in the background while Austin tried to refine the piece.
Here's the neat part: The next day, Will coordinated the afternoon so that Austin could come in an hour-and-a-half early to work with the accompanist. That evening at around 5:30, Austin performed Telemann's Concerto in G Major expertly.
I share this because sometimes in homeschooling, things get hard, and we want to quit, or our kids want to quit. But I encourage you to take the challenge to press on even when things aren't going exactly as planned.
Similar to our timing dilemma, when it comes to teaching at home, we need to identify any problems, then, with courage and God's help, continue on. Whatever the issue -- whether it's overcoming our own fear of entering new, uncharted territory such as starting the first year of homeschooling or navigating the tumultuous high school years, we must persevere even when things get difficult. I realize that the sheer magnitude and difficulty of teaching well can sometimes be overwhelming. But, again, take courage and keep on!
...Once the recital was over, we lingered and enjoyed refreshments with the instructors and all the students, parents and friends. The afternoon ended beautifully, like a crescendo that resolved. That was Austin's last recital of his homeschooling years, and I'll never forget it. It was a great life lesson -- thanks to G.P. Telemann and William Stapp.