Friday, October 30, 2009

How a Little Witch Overcame Her Fear


We all have it.  Some of us are afraid of snakes or spiders.  Some are afraid of heights.  Some people have a fear of flying in airplanes, riding in roller-coasters, or swimming in the ocean.

I am afraid of losing things and talking on the telephone (thank heavens for modern advances like e-mail and texting!).

Bria has a fairly large collection of personal fears.  It's just the way she came to this earth.  As her mother, it has been the source of much frustration and sadness as I watch her struggle with these things, but also the source of much joy as I watch her slowly overcome them.

One of Bria's biggest fears is playing her violin in front of people.  I know that stage fright is probably a fairly normal condition among children, but Bria's goes a bit further than that.  A few years ago, at her second recital, she wasn't just scared, she was paralyzed.  She had actually played just fine at her first recital, but when the applause came, she just looked around at the audience, completely shocked.  To this day she wishes we could request that nobody clap for her, because, for some reason, that is what upsets her the most about performing.

Anyway, I have blogged many times about Bria working through her fears and playing in recitals and competitions, usually being heavily bribed by us.  She had a recital this past week, and this time, I told her we are through with bribes.  When she is asked to play in a recital or at church or for a competition, she needs to just do it, and the satisfaction of conquering a little bit of her terror and doing well despite stage fright would be her reward.

She definitely dragged her heels, and tried to get out of this recital.  It was a Halloween recital, so that added another layer of scariness to her, because she doesn't like people to look at her, and she felt that if she wore a costume, people would think she looked stupid.  She was also nervous about which song she would play, so instead of doing something she has recently learned, she chose a piece she learned about a year and a half ago:  Witches' Dance by Paganini.  She figured it went well with the Halloween theme, and she does love to play it--it's a fun song.

Her Ginormica costume that we finally broke down and ordered off the internet hadn't come yet, so she decided to dress as a witch.  Unfortunately, as soon as she stood up to play, she realized that she couldn't wear the hat because it would get in the way of the bow.  So she was embarrassed about having to take it off in front of everyone.


But she played.

And she played flawlessly, as usual.  Her teacher was a little shocked, since she's never heard her play in a recital yet, and she always plays better in performance than she does in lessons.  Maybe her nerves help her somehow?  Anyway, she played wonderfully, despite the fact that she usually looks like she's being tortured up there with her refusal to smile and all.

After she was finished, she came back to where we were sitting and decided to stand behind us so she could see the next performers better.  She put her hat back on, which surprised me because she had refused to wear it for most of the night.

I glanced up at her at one point and saw this:

Proud little witch

My heart filled with pride and joy yet again for my little girl who had conquered just a little more of her performance anxiety.  The look happiness on her face is enough to convince me that I made the right decision in not bribing her this time.  She would never admit it, but I know she was genuinely thrilled with herself that night.

As well she should be.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. I did not do so well in piano recitals. Maybe I just needed a witches hat!

  2. Good parenting!!! What an accomplishment for her, too - it definitely had to mean more to her in the end!

  3. I always did better at piano recitals than I did at lessons. It was definitely the nerves.

    Yay for Bria!

  4. Ah-I remember hearing my brothers play Witches Dance. One of my favorites:)

    When I used to have piano recitals I would just walk up there and tell myself there was no one in the room that could perform better than me right then(it took me till about jr. high to get to this point). It may not have always been true-but it definitely helped me all through my performance years.

  5. AND, she is wearing the dress amah bought her for her recitals! She looks and is beautiful, fears and all! I'm so proud of her!!

  6. You've read about my problems with losing things! And I have a pathologic fear of talking on the telephone.

    But here's where I can relate to Bria. I'm totally paralyzed with stage fright when I have to perform. Once, when I was in 6th grade, I forgot my piece in the middle, and I was so mortified, I actually sneaked out a side door and walked home. The door was locked, so I crawled in my bedroom window and hid there, so I wouldn't have to face anyone.

    Another time, I'd been working on a Beethoven concerto for a year and a half. Had all 28 pages memorized, and had two master classes with Grant Johannesen. And then just drew a blank in the middle of the competition. A part I could play in my sleep...gone. That was so traumatizing I quit playing the piano completely for a year and a half. And decided to major in art instead. Where, once a piece is perfect, you frame it and hang it on your wall. No performance anxiety there!

    In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise. I don't think I was ever meant to be a performer.

  7. Oh my...I have tears. I so understand the fear thing. That is so....ME. I think Bria and I would be good friends. Unfortunately, I've never gotten over my stage fright with cello! I play...and I play through the fear, but it's not often pretty.

  8. I have to teach RS once a month....I hate it. Standing up there talking....I could puke. After the lesson is over I feel such a feeling of accomplishment and joy!

    I am proud of your darling little witch! She has come along ways! I love the photo of her and her smile! She is a pretty YW!

  9. Congratulations, Bria! I know you wouldn't want me to clap out loud for you (so I won't tell you that I am!), so I'll just send you lots of smiles!

  10. Wow, good for her - facing her fears and even enjoying herself in the process! Good job, Bria!

  11. That. is a great entry. It's so nice to see that we might be helping our kids a bit, almost as much as they help us.
    Can't wait to see the ginormica costume.
    And you fear talking on the phone?
    You are a freak. fyi.

  12. You are doing a great job raising that beautiful girl. She will be successful at anything she tries in her life, I just know it!

  13. That is wonderful! Good for Bria. What a darling girl she is. Great Post Lara.

  14. Is it possible to smile while playing the violin? My husband always ends up making weird faces.

  15. How wonderful for her! I am thrilled! I know how hard fears are to overcome and I know how hard it is to see your children scared. And she looks simply beautiful in that picture.

  16. Yeah, whatever, Charrette! You are SO good!

    Yay for Bria! And can I just say how much I love her little freckles? :)

  17. I have no talents that are used to perform in front of others so alas, I cannot relate. *sheepish look* But I do understand fear. It takes a lot to face down a fear and I am very, very proud of your daughter for being able to do that. I'm proud of you for teaching her how. It's a lot easier to do it when you know that someone's behind you.

  18. Bria and Sophie are similar in this as well. I'm always surprised by how hard it is for her to perform in front of people, as she seems to be larger than life in every way and just meant for the stage! I love the smile on Bria's face. Worth 1000 words!

  19. Sweet, sweet Bria.
    Kanoa also came to the earth with bucketfulls of fears. But, I think it makes them such interesting people also.

    I am so proud of Bria for playing and wearing her witch hat! Yay!!

  20. Beautiful! I'm so proud of her! I wish I could have been there! I miss you guys so much!!!