Daughter Alex started tooting the French horn in fourth grade. It took two years but she finally mastered “Happy Birthday.” Son Chris opted for the bassoon in fifth grade. I’m not sure he ever mastered a song. Both kids turned in their instruments long before entering high school.
But happily they maintained an appreciation for music. We always had the stereo playing, usually John Denver albums or the soundtrack to “Cats.” I took them to Broadway musicals (when tickets cost $35), and urged them to sing in the church choir. Today it’s fun to see them encourage their children musically … with quite different results, I might add.
Maddie’s Spring orchestra recital featured 100 fifth graders sitting in a large semi-circle on the auditorium stage. Some kids waved frantically at their parents, others fidgeted or poked the person in front of them with a violin bow. Maddie sat in the front row, as first clarinet, so it was easy to see her discretely scan the audience looking for Mom or Dad.
The lights dimmed. The audience hushed. IPhone cameras went aloft. The female conductor crossed the stage, raised her baton — which, OMG, was a light saber — and led the band in a thumping version of the theme from “Star Wars.” Applause!
Later that same evening, I watched grandson Max tote his saxophone onto the stage with the high school orchestra. Then the red-headed freshman completely disappeared behind the trumpet section. If I stood up, I could almost spot the top of his head, but the people behind me didn’t appreciate that. So I just listened and got goosebumps as that talented group of kids played Frank Erickson’s “Gaelic Ballad.” Applause!
Spring recital road trip to New York City!
The Princes of Park Avenue started Suzuki violin lessons several years ago. Suzuki is a Japanese word that, I’m quite sure, translates to “atonal and unnatural screeches guaranteed to induce severe migraines which, over time, hopefully, begin to sound like a melody.” That has indeed happened.
I’m not sure what age young Wolfgang was when he mastered his first minuet, but six-year-old Henry nailed Bach’s “Minuet 1” on his 17-inch-long violin. Then, older brother Miles crushed his “Gavotte” by P. Martini. (Fifteen more performances by other Suzuki-ites had me salivating for a martini.)
Throughout their school years, these kids will learn math, science, history, computers, languages, you name it. But I’m especially happy that music is part of their lives. Plato wrote, “Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education.” Whether they’re listening to Katie Perry, Juju on That Beat or Lin Manuel-Miranda, music expands and enhances their world.
Maybe someday one of my Grands will write songs like their Grandpa Bob. Mr. Wonderful took piano lessons for a few months when he was nine, then stopped because they interfered with baseball. But he never gave up singing, playing piano or guitar, or writing songs. Music underscores his life.
So here is his Spring recital — an encore from last Memorial Day, but one I hope you enjoy as we celebrate this special holiday.
Just copy this link, paste it onto your browser, and savor the music. (Or just highlight the link.)