Monday, April 16, 2007

Classical Gas

This is not a ranting post, it’s a bragging one. If there were an American Idol competition for teenaged flautists, my daughter would win. Not in the way that Sanjaya is winning with his Colgate smile and 70’s teen idol hair, but in the Kelly Clarkson way. On talent.

Saturday morning Middle Daughter (The Treblemaker) competed in a solo and ensemble competition. She had to play two selections of her choice and sit in front a panel of three almost too critical judges who award them either Gold, Silver or Bronze medals based on their combined scores on both pieces. There is also a quite elusive Perfect medal. At this particular competition, they are hard to come by.

Since you don’t know my daughter, you should know that the Perfect medal is the only medal she is interested in winning. My little “Treblemaker” is strong-willed, determined to be the best and will put the work in to get there. She’s also just naive enough to believe that since she is the best flute player in her school, she is probably the best on the planet. Oh, to be 14 again.

In Treblemaker’s Symphonic Band, she is first chair flute and has an ongoing rivalry with the flautist in second chair. Second chair wants the first chair, but Treblemaker outscores her every time there is a test. Several months ago, my daughter broke her wrist and was very worried that she wouldn’t be able to play. When she went to school, second chair flautist jumped up and sat in Treblemaker’s first chair, saying something terribly catty like “since you can’t play, the chair is mine”. To this I say, thank God I’m not 14 anymore.

Treblemaker told Second Chair to get her ass out of the chair (living up to her Treblemaker nickname) and managed to figure out a way to balance the flute on her cast and play.

Anyway, back to the story.

Treblemaker stood in front of the judges and announced that she was playing Veracini’s “Sonata No. 1” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of The Bumblebee”. These are both extremely difficult concert-level pieces and the judges kind of stared at her the way Simon does when he can’t believe what he just heard and is at a loss for words. These are not pieces you would normally hear in a Jr. High School aged competition.

We had the option of hiring a professional pianist to accompany her, which we did. Despite my paying him and several rehearsals, he was unable to play the Veracini piece without errors and he was afraid he would screw up her performance. He hired someone else to play the part and had that pianist’s performance recorded to a CD. Thankfully, the judges agreed this was acceptable under the circumstances.

Middle Daughter put the flute to her lips, closed her eyes, took a breath and spilled out an interpretation of “Flight of The Bumblebee” that rivaled any professional recording I had ever heard. No one said anything until they asked her start the next piece. Sonata No. 1 was really just as brilliant. The judges looked at each other and feverishly began writing notes on the score sheets. The Treblemaker and I were told to wait outside the room for the judge’s results.

She was anxious, but I wasn’t. My daughter doesn’t just play the flute, she plays music. There’s a difference. There are a lot of people who technically play an instrument well. There aren’t as many people who play that well and feel the music. You see this all the time on American Idol. Vocally, the singers might sound alright as far as hitting the actual notes, but they are disconnected from the music. You don’t feel anything when they sing. It’s just notes.

When the door opened, the judge came out looking forlorn and said that the consensus was that they couldn’t give her a Perfect medal. She looked as though she was going to bust into tears and then he smiled and said they couldn’t give her a single Perfect medal, because they were giving her TWO of them.

As she screeched and jumped up and down in the hallway, the judge approached me and said he was a music instructor at the University of Illinois and this summer they are having some sort of music immersion program and while he knows The Treblemaker is only in 8th grade, he would like her to go and she could attend based on his invitation.

She had one more Flute Duet Competition later that day, that unfortunately, I had to miss. Treblemaker and the other girl didn’t have much practice time and she expected to kind of bomb that one. She called me when it was over to pick her up.

Figuring she’d be disappointed with that last performance, I thought I would cheer her up. When she got in the car I said “Woooo Hooooo, not only are you fabulous, you have TWO perfect medals”.

She smiled and corrected me. “No, Mom, I have three.”

I burst into tears. WOW! She may be my little Treblemaker, but she totally rocks!


Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

Jessica Morris said...

awww! Good for her!!! that is something to be SO proud of!!