This past weekend was band ISSMA instrumental contest, so my daughter and I (and her flute) spent most of the day there. She played, and I played piano for her and two others. Observations:
How is it possible to come up with so many beat up, apparently 100-year-old pianos in a single location?
Tween/teen fashion is going through an awkward and/or just plain ugly phase. Apparently it’s the current style for girls to wear spaghetti-strap dresses, even when the temperatures hover in the single digits. I saw many of them, and it’s not a style a lot of people can pull off effectively (me included). Any back fat or arms wider than twigs ruin the look. The funny thing is, just as I was thinking this, my daughter leaned over and shared essentially the same observation.
There are a lot of “accompanists” at contest. I put the term in quotes, because while I am an accompanist, I hope to never become an “accompanist.” These are usually middle-age women, moderately overweight with permed hair, who inevitably show up wearing polyester pants and a tightly buttoned blazer sporting a large musical note pin. They can be recognized by the large binders of music they tote around (or sometimes pull in little carts on wheels, if they’re really all that). They may have typed-up lists of the kids they play for (one even showed me her list, complete with her notations of the ribbons received by each). This event is deadly serious to them.
Trombonists produce a lot of spit. I mean, are they just spitting directly into the mouthpiece? Because I don’t think they could create more water on the floor coming out that spit valve if they did. After watching 4 in a row perform, I was just waiting for someone to walk up and wipe out in the big puddle of liquid on the floor. When it was my turn to play piano, I made darn sure to approach the piano from the other side.
I was listening to flutists (flautists?) play, not feeling too impressed, when finally one played who really knocked my socks off. I wasn’t expecting a lot: she was one of the unfortunate girls of the spaghetti straps. But then. She played in tune, had beautiful tone, was rhythmical, performed a really hard piece – she was great! Later, I ran into her in the hall and told her so. I think it’s important to compliment talent and hard work when we find it: I remember once during my high school performing days, the judge said, “Your teacher must be very good.” I told him I didn’t have a teacher, and he said, “Then you are very good!” The remark has stayed with me all these years.