Copyright © 2015 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.
Alice and I have been practicing French Horn on and off since the beginning of school. A typical practice session is mouthpiece buzzing, long tones, then some attempt by me to get her to do lip slurs, then Valve Simon Says. Although I have succeeded in improving her long tones (well, long tone, really since there’s only one), I have yet to find the right recipe to get her to change pitch. Smiles, frowns, moue (kissy face), vowels (ooo, eee, aaa): nothing has worked for her.
Tonight was the winter band concert. She plays in the 6th grade band which has 91 kids. Ninety one. That’s a very big group, akin to the size of a symphony orchestra.
The school arranged to have an aide help Alice get her seat, but after that, it was all on her.
Alice had a rough afternoon. It was very difficult for her to attend to the task at hand and I was having a great deal of difficulty imagining her succeeding this evening when she would be tired on top of the rest. I let the aide know what I had seen and then gave Alice a final encouragement (“I can’t wait to see you do a good job tonight!” “OK, daddy!”).
I took my seat, well away from the stage (if Alice sees a family member, she’ll perseverate) and silently recited the parent’s prayer:
Please let nothing go wrong.
And if something does go wrong,
Please let it not be my kid.
Alice attended mostly – there were some people close to the stage that she wanted to wave/talk to. Alice brought the horn to her lips at appropriate times. I have no idea if she was making any sound at all since she was surrounded by the immense wall of sound coming from 90 other beginning players. So, yay?
Her band director should be canonized, though. 91 kids. Wow.