When my daughter, Nee, was 9-years old, she started taking piano lessons. Within a few months, she had progressed significantly. She could read music and play with confidence. I loved to hear her tickling the ivories. It was literally music to my ears.
It wasn’t long before she had the confidence to play in front of an audience outside of our home. Her first shows were short performances at school and at church. Her biggest concert was a Christmas recital at convalescent home where she had an audience of about 20-30 people.
As I watched her play, I dreamed about her becoming the next Alicia Keys, Diana Krall, or Norah Jones. Unfortunately, my daughter had one weakness – her practice routine or lack thereof.
Eventually, she lost interest in the piano and moved on to other things. Although I was a bit disappointed, I didn’t force her to keep playing.
This year, Nee entered middle school and had to select an elective. To my surprise, she chose band. The school had an open house where kids could try each instrument. After playing a saxophone, trumpet and flute, my daughter finally settled on the clarinet.
“Are you going to practice regularly?” I asked her concerned that she would lose interest.
“Yes, Daddy,” she replied.
“Are you sure?” I said reminding her of the piano episode.
“I promise, I will practice,” she said.
“Okay,” I said. “We’ll get you a clarinet.”
When she first got her clarinet, her practices reminded me of the episode of “The Cosby Show” in which Vanessa tormented her family with her awful playing (I was also amazed that a clarinet only cost $245 in the 80s).
Thankful her playing has improved since then. In fact, she maintained the first chair position for the majority of the school year (she recently lost the position because she made a slight error during her testing). The best part is that she’s kept her promise to practice regularly (her losing her position motivated her to practice more).
The pinnacle of Nee’s musical journey came during her school’s Christmas concert. She and the rest of her Beginner Band class played in the high school auditorium to an audience of over 200 people. Although they weren’t Philharmonic caliber, they played their hearts out and I was amazed by how much they’ve learned in only three months.
After the show, I gave her a big hug and asked her about her experience.
“I had fun,” she said.
That’s all any dad could ask for.