Superior | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Monday, March 03, 2008


With all the music festivals Joel and I have been involved with this past little bit, I forgot to mention what is quite possibly the very most important music festival: The Southern Utah String Festival.

Neither Joel nor I were involved in it, but Bria participated. I think I've mentioned here how difficult it has been in the past for her to play her violin in front of audiences. She must be heavily bribed to even consider it, and even then, there are generally a lot of tears and performance procrastination (telling whomever is in charge that she will not go when she is slated, but when she feels ready, which is never till the very end and even then she sometimes refuses) involved.

I have tried to delve into her psyche and really understand what scares her so much. She tells us that she doesn't like people to look at her and she especially hates when they clap for her. She loves to play the violin, but she doesn't like anyone to ever tell her she is a good player or did a great job. This means that she has inherited the worst performance traits of both of her parents. Joel used to worry that someone would notice him and it scared him to death as a child. He refused to go to school for this reason. He did not take up an instrument until he was 11 years old, so by the time he was performing publicly, he was largely over that little issue. And me? Well, I don't like to receive compliments about my performances. I don't mind applause, but it makes me pretty uncomfortable to hear people tell me how much they liked it or how well I did or whatever. In fact, I usually try to sneak out of the venue as quickly as possible. Like Joel, as I have gotten older and matured I have learned to be more gracious about such things, but I have never quite learned to actually enjoy them.

So, Saturday was the string festival, and we have been practicing hard and beginning the bribes (she was to earn an entire bucket of her own ice cream). On Thursday, while we were practicing and she was throwing a fit about having to introduce herself and her selections because she didn't want anyone to hear her, she had an epiphany. I told her that worrying about it was the hardest was even harder than actually doing it. She thought about that for a minute and told me that she wouldn't worry about it anymore and that she wasn't going to cry or complain. She said she wanted it to be fun and that she didn't want to make other kids feel nervous because she was upset. And she was true to her word. The next morning during practice there were no complaints. She happily (and loudly) introduced herself and she played wonderfully.

On Saturday, she was very stoic. I know she was incredibly nervous inside, and that she was putting heroic effort into not showing it on the outside. When it was her turn, she introduced herself extremely quietly and she played. She didn't smile, she looked at me (I was accompanying her on the piano) the entire time and she didn't play nearly as well as she is capable of playing (partly because she wasn't watching her bow and partly because she was scared silly), but she got through it. She earned her second Superior mark, which means that next year if she receives a Superior she will have earned her first gold cup. Very exciting stuff, folks.

I haven't seen the judging sheets yet, as those are first given to the teachers, but I am excited to see what they say. But really, I don't care much. She did it, she got through it, she played as well as she could despite her tremendous anxiety. And for that I am one proud mama.


  1. It's hard to know, for me, when to push and when not to. What a blessing that Bria came around to this all on her own.

    Hannah - - my little Hannah HATES to do things in front of people, but she has so many talents. We pushed a little - - that back fired - - so we decided to let her run the show. She has burst out of her shell ALL on her little own self. What do ya know???!!! She's got that performer gene in her, just like her Mama!

  2. Wow, I almost fell out of my chair when I read this. I spent my formative years playing the piano, and I've done countless recitals, Festivals, Guild auditions, and competitions. And I've never been able to get over my hatred of applause/praise! All throughout my childhood and teen years, I absolutely refused to practice when my parents were home, because I didn't want them to comment. I hated playing "unfinished" pieces for people, and when it came time for the recital (or whatever), I hated performing! Even now, when I'm only playing for pleasure, I don't like practicing when my fiancée is around! It's a weird thing. You must have a very remarkable daughter, since she was able to work through this on her own, and at such a young age. I've certainly never quite figured it out, even as an adult! Congrats to you both! (And if you have any tips or advice, please share!) :)

  3. Sometimes we do compliments all around the table -- everyone says something nice about the person. Half of the reason we do it is to think of nice things, and the other half is to learn to take a compliment (which I a completely awful at). Learning how to just say "thank you".

  4. I'm thinking when I have so much to think about, like my breathe support, my sternum, my feet, my text etc. etc. I get more nervous than just singing for the enjoyment of it. Silly, but true. Bria, my darling favorite grandchild number one, you make me smile when you play my favorite instrument, I love to hear it, but even better you are playing it for me. Clap Clap Clap Clap

  5. I admire her for getting up and doing it. I took eight years of piano, I just HATED playing in front of people. One day my mom said, "What's the point of playing if no one can enjoy it?" So I quit! And now I know what NEVER to say to my kids. How old do they recommend kids being before picking up the violin?

  6. That is so exciting for her as well as you. I realize how much organization and sacrifice it takes on your part as well.
    Ryanna has an opposite problem from Bria where she LOVES to be in front of the crowd and watch them so much that her eyes watch all of the people and not her bow or strings.
    Wonderful accomplishment for her to be able to be mature enough to have such a great attitude about it. All of it is exciting!

  7. I absolutely HATED piano festivals and competitions and guild and. . .

    Well - when I was a freshman or sophomore, a group of us ended up coming to USU on scholarship for piano camp. A week on our own. In the dorms. With classes all day every day. Ending with a HUGE concert where we played solos and a "monster" piece with 3-7 other people.

    I learned then that pretty much everyone I knew felt that same way. And we all survived.

    I'm proud of Bria for making such a grown-up effort!

  8. YEAY Bria! That is so brave of her.

  9. I can appreciate your words of wisdom...worrying about it takes more time and energy..before you know it's over and you've moved on to something else...good food for thought as I prepare myself for a delivery and a new baby!
    P.S_ Way to go Bria!

  10. I'm so impressed that she is already performing (and probably extremely talented) at her age. We are thinking about starting Jayden in piano this year, and he seems so young to me to do that, but here she is performing superiorly!

  11. Yay Bria!!! That trait is so very much from Joel. It really makes me laugh-he would stress himself out to the point of throwing up, be it performances, dates etc. Anyway, you already knew that. I'm so proud of her!

  12. Congrats to Bria on going through with it, and on the Superior. I remember just bawling after my first flute recital. I was terribly shy, and always shook when I was nervous. I was so nervous and shaky that I could hardly play and had to restart the piece. My mom was in charge and couldn't be with me, but my teacher was there to give me a hug.