We’re back from our annual trip to visit family in Kansas – this year we took my father-in-law along, which was a special treat. He enjoyed getting to meet my nieces and nephews, my in-laws, and my two grandmothers, with whom he’s developed a bit of a correspondence concerning their maladies over the past couple of years. The last time he was in Wichita was over 15 years ago, though he’s seen my parents and sisters here in Chicago since. Our big family gathering for gifts enlarged to include him, and my grandmothers were both present – a memorable year indeed.
After the mountain of gifts had been scaled, my younger nieces and nephews put on a Christmas show. They retreated to a bedroom to rehearse, then emerged with a program, my twelve-year-old niece serving as emcee. With singing and piano, from Hot Cross Buns to Good King Wenceslas, they all shined in turn.
We took a break for sweets, then I tuned up and my sister played mom’s piano while I played my violin. We reprised our O Holy Night from years past, and then played Ashokan Farewell – she sight-read the musical score I brought along perfectly. I was tickled to be able to play the song for my family – it was my second-oldest niece who last year suggested I give it a try. She told me that she had picked out the tune by ear on her violin.
The night before Michael and I left, my sister and I played again – she has the Book Two accompaniment volume from Suzuki I sent her a couple of years ago, so we trotted out some of those songs, many of which are getting quite rusty on me! Notably, we played the Boccherini Minuet, which I’ve kept practicing all along, and then I played the Book Three finale solo – a Bach bourree. I’m not up to performing any of the Book Four concertos yet, but I did dangle the concerto carrot for next year.
The violin-dabbling niece I mentioned above is really a singer – she and her older sister finished off the family music-making that night with a couple of their recent show tunes. The older sister is on a vocal music scholarship at college, and she also sings with the Wichita Grand Opera. The other, still in high school, has been busy playing lead roles in all the musical productions their school and a local youth musical theatre group puts on. Neither apple has fallen far from the parents’ musical tree.
Playing with my sister is great – she’s a total pro, and can roll with any punches my bow throws her way. I treasure the opportunity, and wish we could play together more often. But the gig’s rarity also makes for a lovely annual Christmas gift.
Thanks for reading.