After dinner was done and the gifts were all opened last night at my family Christmas gathering, we took a few minutes to make some music. We began with a carol sing-along, accompanied by my Supremely Gifted Musical Sister at Mom’s piano. In anticipation of our annual musical moment, I brought my violin along imagining that I might take the opportunity to share a couple of my songs, since my family has been so very supportive of my playing. I brought my music for Oh Holy Night, and SGMS came prepared with the Suzuki Book Two piano accompaniment book I sent her back in September.
First up we played the Bouree, by Handel. SGMS told me a while back that she had played that piece over and over for a friend at his students’ recital one time, so she’s pretty familiar with it. Next was Oh Holy Night, onto which my sister had taken a few minutes to transpose accompaniment chords while we were opening gifts. We played Paganini’s Witch’s Dance, and then, at Michael’s request, I played Perpetual Motion, the piece he thinks I play best.
After my beginner squeaks and fits and starts, we were graced with the amazing vocal talents of SGMS and her three oldest daughters, my nieces. They sang in perfect four-part harmony, and then SGMS returned to the piano to accompany her two oldest as they sang a complex and lovely duet from the musical Wicked. I’m very impressed by my nieces – they participate in local children’s choirs, and they are very active in making music at their church as well. The oldest two are also involved in musical theatre. Since I don’t get to see their performances, it was a real joy to get the chance to hear them sing.
The audience mostly disbanded, and SGMS and I decided to keep at it; we played through the rest of the Book Two songs, including my newest, the Gavotte that’s continuing to challenge me. It was an immense treat to play with her – she has many years of experience accompanying and teaching people of all levels. Not only is she great at it, but it’s quite meaningful for me to get to play with her. We never really shared music much growing up – it was her domain – and I’m thrilled to now be sharing one of her most fundamental passions with her.
I’m so glad I was able to play for the family. I did learn that what I can do in my living room is not at all indicative of what I can do in other people’s living rooms! Happily, I couldn’t have picked a more forgiving first audience, but I still think next time I’ll try to be better prepared. Overall, the experience confirmed what I already knew – that I have a loving and supportive bunch of folks in Wichita rooting for me, and that I truly love playing this instrument.
Later in the evening, my brother-in-law (also supremely musically gifted) encouraged me to find some people in Chicago to play with. He says it really helps take your playing to new levels. I think he’s right, and I also think it would just be lots of fun.
Thanks for reading.