Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Name is Not Maria Von Trapp

We had another family recital this past weekend. And by family recital, I mean it was a recital set up by the girls' Suzuki Association for family groups to perform together. Last year, preparing for this recital made me want to pull out my hair. I don't know why I thought it would be any different this year.

Oh wait. It was different. This year I didn't want to pull out my hair, I wanted to shoot myself in the head.

The girls preparing for last year's recital. I only took this photo because they were being featured in our music association's newsletter that month as well. No photo from this year. Sorry!

First, here is a lovely iPhone video of how it went. Just to remind myself that my labors are not without fruit, and that perhaps it was a good thing that I didn't succumb to the desire to shoot myself in the head. And to show off my beautiful, talented, and brilliant daughters, of course.

Oh wait. My videography skills are so bad that I thought I pressed record. And then I didn't. And when I thought I pressed the button to stop recording, I started recording. So I recorded the applause. And my pants. And random moments of the rest of the recital that are not my children.

But if I *did* have a video of the actual performance, it would be good. Because they performed wonderfully.

I did bribe my children to play it for me at home after I realized my videography fail. It isn't the actual performance, they all look like ragamuffins after playing outside, and it is less perfectly played than it was at the recital, but it will have to do.

One might watch that video and think that such magical moments occur on a regular basis when my children pick up their instruments. One might think about how nice it would be to have a family performing group. One might even wish that their own children were part of such a trio. I know this because I have seen such sibling groups perform and had these fairy tale thoughts myself. I know this because I was actually excited for the first family recital last year because I could finally bring this idealistic dream of mine to fruition!

And then I found out the truth.

The truth is that it is impossible to get three sisters to be simultaneously cooperative. It is impossible to find them all focused and ready to practice together. (It may even be impossible to interest them in practicing and/or actually learning their own part before practicing with the group.) When you finally have them all in the same room, ready to play, one of them will inevitably need to use the bathroom, tell a joke, or yell at her sister.

You will say things like "stop doing that with your bow," "do not play your sister's violin," "stop doing that with your bow," "turn around and face the piano," "can we please start already?" and "I SAID to stop doing that with your BOW!"

The teenaged, more advanced musician, will say things like "you aren't keeping the tempo--don't you ever use a metronome?" and "if she keeps playing it that fast my bow is seriously going to light on fire! I have SIXTEENTH notes!"

The middle daughter, who enjoys playing the class clown more than she does the piano, will suddenly begin barking during the introduction and then fall over in a fit of giggles while simultaneously assuring me that she will not do that in the actual recital. Then she starts again, but decides it will be more fun to sing the accompaniment than to actually play it.

The youngest daughter will stoically try to play perfectly, and will be successful most of the time, even as her sisters are falling apart around her. She will be temporarily tempted to use her bow as a weapon, and when she has to use the bathroom her sister will hide it from her, but she miraculously stays somewhat focused.

After more than an hour of disastrous practicing on the night before the recital, you tell them this is it. This is their last chance to do it right, and if they can't do it, you will have to send in your resignation as their mother because clearly you are a gigantic failure.

After they finally calm down from the last volley of sarcasm, laughter, insults, and tears  they finally start the piece for the 2,385th time. (Seriously, only sisters can manage such incredible emotional roller coasters within only a few seconds.) ("You came in early!" "No I didn't! You came in LATE!" "You don't have a stinkin' brain!" "Yes I do!--I mean, no I DON'T! I have a nice smelling brain!")

And the 2,385th time seems to be the charm. You sit in the corner of the room, holding your breath and try to hide your smile as it all seems to be going so well.

And then, during the final grand pauza, the dog decides to ring her bells and everyone dissolves into laughter.

So close. So very close. And definitely time to stop trying for the night. We'll get through tomorrow's recital and then we will NEVER ATTEMPT THIS AGAIN.

But the next day at the recital? Well, you inexplicably decide it was all totally worth it and begin planning a piece for next year.

Because you still think it would be nice to be the Von Trapp Family.

PS After talking to multiple friends at the family recital, I learned that this experience is pretty universal. Next time you see a family group perform together, just know that there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears spent in getting ready for that performance (mostly tears, but probably a lot of blood, too). And then realize what an amazing person Maria Von Trapp must have been, because...blood.

Do you have little musicians too? You might also like:
Scales Before Screens
5 Tips to Help Your Children Practice
10 Reasons Your Child Isn't Practicing
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. What? No LOwe family? So sad... I had high hopes for you.

  2. Ok-- so I know it's random to post a comment on a three year old post. But I really like your ideas here and wonder if you remember some of the things you put in the "bored bucket"? I plan to do this, but I'm having trouble thinking of ideas.

  3. Took me back in time to our family - these are the moments we love and laugh about later in life.

  4. I always wanted to do a recital like that! But I'm an only child and have no talent for music. Sigh.

  5. Hi Tina,
    The bucket just happens to be sitting here on the shelf above my desk with sticks still are some of the ideas:

    Various jobs around the house that don't need to be done often, but would be nice to have done (organize junk drawer, organize the tupperware cupboard,clean out the magazine bin, etc.)
    Pack a picnic for you and your dolls and eat in the backyard
    Do an art project/Write a story
    blow bubbles
    Make a dinner menu for next week (my daughters love this one!)
    Invite a friend over
    Prepare a Family Home Evening Lesson (or, if you're not LDS, plan a family game night?)
    Write a thank you note
    Do 3 math pages (I get them summer workbooks)
    Bake cookies
    Do a craft project (I keep 5-6 craft projects hidden from them so they can do them during bored moments)
    Go to the park
    Sidewalk Chalk
    And so forth.

    I hope that helps! I think I will do a blog post about more bored ideas...thanks for giving me the impetus to do so!

  6. I think if you had know the truth, you might not have wanted to do such a thing. Really. The grass is always greener!

  7. You are right. And I usually laugh about them right away. It might take the kids a little longer. They are still mad at me for making them do the recital in the first place!

  8. Does anyone really know who they are? Besides me and you? ;)

  9. Lara, this brought back memories of my childhood, of my kids and now my grandkids - they just love to pull our strings and then in the end it always - somehow comes together and amazes you because you really thought they were not listening or prepared. I enjoyed your video - so cute....

  10. that's really funny about recording the pants... just wait until one of them is older and more serious and you want a video to send to some music camp/college/whatever and then someone's cell phone rings in the middle of the concert, or drops something... cause well. yep, that's what happens to us.

  11. I do think they secretly enjoy playing together. It is always amazing how well it comes together when it's the final hour!

  12. I think I shouldn't be in charge of recording anything important! But it sounds like it happens to everyone and the colleges and music camps understand. Though I don't think they'll get any scholarships based on applause and my pants. ;-)

  13. LOL We are not very musical in our family, however my kids are heavily involved in a drama club, and we run into all the same things with getting them to practice together. When it all finally comes together though, it is magical. You may not have any hair left...but it is magical! ;)

  14. I just found this post via Pinterest. My daughter is 8 and going into 3rd! So thankful for your suggestions; she's been choosing from a list but I'm always looking for more titles that are age appropriate and just challenging enough!

  15. Hi Dawn,

    This year I have another daughter who is going into 3rd grade, if you're interested in seeing her summer reading list for this year you can read that here:

    Thanks for stopping by! :)