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 part...it 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.