I’ve found that lately the best motivation to get Eleanor to practice her recital pieces is to let her play with the plastic busts of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff that I found at the thrift store.
If she plays her little arrangements of “Sonata Pathetique” or “Vocalise” a few times, the statues come down and give her kisses. If she practices more, Eleanor gets to scratch the composers on the head and I make them moan with pleasure. When she practices very well, then Beeth & Rach “go crazy” — I make them dance across the keyboard, up and down Eleanor’s arms and around her head while making Daffy Duck-style whoops. Eleanor loves it. And we play it again.
Disrespectful, you say? Maybe, but I think Sergei and Ludwig would be DARN HAPPY to know that little girls of the 21st century are still learning and playing their music, and to heck with what happens to a little plastic statue.
All the hard work paid off yesterday at her recital. Our main focus in the past week was to get Eleanor to keep playing to the end, regardless of whether she freezes or makes a mistake or whatever. For those of you who don’t play an instrument, please understand that this is very difficult to do. A lot of adults can’t help stopping to correct themselves. Learning to ignore errors and keep going is a skill of supreme confidence that usually only comes with the self-flagellation that is repeat public performances.
Anyway, the strategy was successful — in her performance, Eleanor totally froze during her solo piece, BUT after an excruciatingly long pause, she eventually pulled herself together enough to come to some kind of finish. Whew!
The second piece she played was a duet that I performed with her. Did she make mistakes? Yes, but you can’t tell — she just skipped over them and kept going. Yay!
You want to see it? It’s only 3 1/2 minutes long: