Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Noah's Last Piano Recital

Last night was Noah's last piano recital. If I had to give my opinion on piano lessons before we had kids, I would have told you that they should have a decent grounding in piano, but then they should be allowed to quit or move to another instrument. That was before our little prodigy started plinking out Silent Night by ear at age 4.

Noah and Piano have been synonymous. Piano has been his life's passion. He could barely stand to be away from the piano for a day, and would rush in to begin playing as soon as we arrived home from any extended time away. We would have to arrange for a keyboard to be taken to my Mom's when we were visiting for more than a few days. He would claim the piano as his most prized possession. He got the highest marks in every competition he entered, and last year won 1st place in his age division at the state MMTA. I was keeping a resume for him; adding each accomplishment to it and keeping a folder of all his certificates. His music has been filling our home seemingly for always, and he has talent!

Noah's trophy and certificate for 1st place in the 8th grade division of the State MMTA

Then he turned 14. He asked if he could quit, to which I immediately replied, "no." Then he e-mailed his Dad. He used words like "hate" and "curse." Those words got my attention and I began to cave. I have always protected his interest in piano. I tried to never interrupt him for any other task while he was playing. I never (or nearly never) forced practice or made it a chore. I didn't let him enter competitions until he was older so no judge could squash his enthusiasm. We've traveled to state and local competitions, and endured many, many recitals.

So, we allowed him to make the decision to quit on the condition that he 1) listen to our long lecture and 2) listen to whatever his piano teacher had to say before making his decision. He did both, and contemplated his decision while hiking in the Appalachians (while I was home praying he would decide to continue). He came home and said that he decided to quit.

Is it my own dreams and hopes and assumptions being crushed that makes it hurt? Is it grief that an era in our life has passed, and sooner than I expected? Is it a reminder of how quickly my boy is growing up and making his own decisions? I have the nagging fear that we have made a colossal mistake for him. He's too young and immature to see how beneficial his piano career could be and how much more he has to learn. He's only got four more years of lessons. Just four. Shouldn't we have made him stick it out through this rough time for his own good? Don't we do many things that are uncomfortable, but are ultimately for his own good? Why did God give him such musical talent?

He is still playing the piano, but with much less frequency. His Dad brought home a thrift store guitar for him last night and he's been excitedly plinking away at that at every spare moment. It's bittersweet.

I guess time will only tell if we made the right decision. I guess most of parenting is like that.


Rochelle said...

I can feel your pain, I think about that all the time! I always felt like my mom and dad tried to influence me in a specific direction and I rebeled against it. I want to feel like I inspire my kids to be their best not like I push them to be what I think is best. I am sure, that he will choose the right direction for him, it sounds like you have raised him to follow his dreams.

Kim said...

Thanks for your encouragement! Hindsight and life experience is always a great tool to learn from. I know that a big part of what Noah is going through is asserting his independence and separating himself from us, as he should. But not having the life experience behind him, I wish he'd listen to ours! We made him promise that at some point in his future when he discovered that he regretted his decision to quit, he'd justify us by letting us know! ;-)