Fiona has been on a bit musical plateau with violin this fall. We were without lessons from mid-August until the second week of October and that got things off to a slow start. When we got back she easily polished up the first Seitz Concerto movement from Book 4 and while she was given permission to get started on the next one several times, she just didn’t seem enthused about moving ahead.

I do worry about the musical and intellectual demands of a 5-year-old working at this level, so I would never want to “assign” new repertoire to her. I’ve always waited until she’s really feeling ready for a new challenge before helping her move ahead. And she seemed happy just to percolate away at her current repertoire level. Instead this fall she’s been working hard at learning orchestra music and honing her sight-reading skills — and of course she’s been busy diving into piano lessons, reading novels and starting new challenging stuff in math. She finally launched into the next piece a couple of weeks ago and learned most of it, but then sort of set it aside as she prepared for this weekend’s recital.

She was going to perform the Bach Bourrée at the end of Book 3. A week ago she told me quite cheerfully that she was a little worried about playing it badly. Since she was playing fine, I told her that and did my best to reassure her, telling her she’d have lots of rehearsal time and would probably feel less worried after she’d had a chance to play with the accompanist. The first rehearsal went pretty well, so I figured she’d feel better. The only difficulty she’d had was with remembering the final repeat before the ‘da capo.’ The final rehearsal she had some of the same difficulties. The piece has four separate repeats, plus a final ‘da capo’ of the first two sections, this time without repeats. And it’s five minutes long. It’s quite normal for the repeats to be a bit of a problem. She seemed little “tryish”1 but otherwise fine.

Most of the time she’s outgoing, a delighted and enthusiastic performer with very high standards for herself but a resilient roll-with-the-punches kind of attitude. Maybe she was overtired from piano recital the night before. Maybe her perfectionism is looming closer to the surface as she gets older and more intellectually sophisticated. Maybe whatever violin aimlessness she’s had this fall was at the root of it. But when it came time to stand up and perform, she was sure she was going to forget repeats and somehow that wasn’t acceptable. Her chin started quivering about 8 bars in and by the time she began the repeat of the first section she was starting to cry. I scooped her up and out of the performance space. She hugged me and asked “do I have to play?” Well of course not! I hugged her back plenty.

Later she said she was a little disappointed that she had not played. She would have loved to have played something “without nasty repeats.” (If only we’d known how she’d been feeling about this — there were plenty of other things she could have played!) But it was okay. She knew she’d made the right choice at the time. There will be plenty of other recitals, and she’s already looking forward to them.

So the video above is of her rehearsal, not her aborted performance. You can see where her “repeat worries” were already looming. But I think you can still get a sense of how she’s playing these days. I’m sure that when she’s ready her “zoom” will return.

1 tryish adj. trī-ish
The state of being highly focused on an outcome and susceptible to potential frustration.

Fiona’s Bourrée

3 thoughts on “Fiona’s Bourrée

  • November 25, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Fiona,

    It is wonderful that you listened to your heart! This is the most important and you did it great!
    How wonderful that you have also a lovely Mama who is there for you!

    Lovely hug to both of you,
    from G.

  • November 27, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I do sympathise with Fiona – the repeats in Suzuki Piano Book 1 were definitely most difficult thing of all for my daughter to master, by a long way. At age 4/5 she just couldn’t hold on to the varied patterns of repeats in all the pieces, especially when there were slight variations in the section endings – I used to dread the perpetual loops where she would play the first ending of a section over and over so that she never made it on to the next section.

    I did end up wondering whether the value of the repeats justified the frustration it caused my child!

  • November 30, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I am completely blown away and astounded at your superbly extreme talent Fiona!!


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