Monday, June 4, 2012

Guitar recital

We have just survived recital season around here and in all the preparations and planning it dawned on me that this wasn't just about getting a chance to see their progress in music and dance. There was a whole lot more that I was getting a chance to see. Tortuga has taken guitar for 2 1/2 years. Prior to this he had not been able to stick to any activity besides drawing. He could not consistently stay engaged with anything-not legos, not puzzles, not football, not basketball, nothing. As soon as something became a little challenging he quit (usually in a flurry of anger and frustration!) We took a different strategy with guitar.

We took lessons away just as he was enjoying it most (we had a legitimate reason since we were going to be gone for the summer) and asked him to demonstrate whether he really wanted to continue by practicing consistently on his own during one summer. At first he ignored the guitar and forgot much of what he had learned. As the time drew nearer for the Fall semester to begin he half-heartedly attempted to practice, continually asking how much practice would be enough for him to earn guitar back. Needless to say, he didn't practice enough and true to our word we did not re-enroll him. Something changed for him in that moment. He was mad. He raged. Then he took a different tactic. He asked for helped. He asked us how to convince us he really wanted to do this and get better. We reminded him we had already told him but would happily repeat ourselves. Then he asked for help putting a schedule together and "forcing" him to keep to the schedule. Over then next 4 months he consistently practiced and in January we enrolled him again. That was a year and a half ago and a few weeks ago he participated in his first recital.

He is a shy kid so we have never expected him to do the recitals but over the past year he has enjoyed playing at home for relatives and friends so when he decided he didn't want to do the December recital I agreed but insisted he do the Spring recital. He did and he was did a wonderful job. He was still shy and nervous but his performance was amazing. He had a poise and a confidence that I have NEVER seen before in him. He sounded good and his teacher introduced him by saying he was a wonderful student who always practiced and rapidly mastered anything he threw at him. No one has ever said that about Tortuga. In fact his experience is quite the opposite in pretty much everything he does. He always brags about how good he is at everything (which he isn't) and the minute he learns something new he is the best there ever was. This was different. Parents of other kids came up to him to complement him. A couple of other boys suggested they play music together and they spent their time backstage doing impromptu jam sessions.  He truly is good and he didn't have to brag about it. He gained a new confidence. We went out to lunch to celebrate his success and C. & I decided this was a good time for him to get a better guitar. We told him over lunch and C. took him to pick it out. His current one was a basic beginner's guitar that we initially rented then got a good deal on when we decided to buy it for him. We fully expected him to destroy or damage it so we had hedged our bets. The recital easily highlighted how ready he was for a better instrument. He has been so appreciative and delighted with his new guitar that we have crossed into new territory. We now have to tell him to stop practicing and he begs for extra time.

Thinking about this made me realize that sometimes we need recitals to clearly see and confirm that which we might have noticed but don't fully see with clear eyes until it is formally presented to us (and everyone else) to see, highlight and appreciate. He needed this recital but I think we needed it even more.


ohchicken said...

This brings me so much joy! I can't wait to hear him play again soon.

Lee said...

I am so glad for Tortuga! Music has been key for my Rob too, who like your son has always been on the shy side.

GB's Mom said...

What a pleasure to see him grow!

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