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Practice makes pretty close to perfect

By Robin Dearing
It was just five months ago that Margaret started taking piano lessons. When her teacher told us in August that Margaret would be playing Christmas songs in the holiday recital held every year, we were skeptical. I remember snarking to Bill, "I can only imagine what that's going to sound like." But over these few months, Margaret has diligently practiced every day — some days she practiced with joy in her heart and others she played through tears of anger and frustration shooting deadly looks at her mean, old mom who shackled her to her keyboard until her lesson was complete. But I made one thing abundantly clear, piano lessons are her choice. If she doesn't want to take lessons, she doesn't have to. But if I'm gonna be shelling out my hard-earned cash, she was going to practice. Every time I've given her the ultimatum of "practice or no lessons," she always picks to practice. What I didn't realize when she began taking lessons was the amount of parental oversight that is involved. Not only has Margaret learned to read music and play the piano, but I've learned to read music and play the piano, despite the fact that I never touch the keys. I know the proper hand and finger placement, I know the names of the keys and I know the difference between quarter, whole and eighth notes. I've stood at the keyboard and helped guide her through her lessons for, on average, an hour a day, every day for the last five months .... phew, no wonder I'm tired. But it has been worth every minute. She is progressing so fast now that I can barely keep up. She keeps having to correct me when I'm trying to help her. I'm becoming useless to her — except for the constant stream of encouragement that Bill and I provide. So as December approached, Margaret began to play Christmas songs and I was amazed at the beauty of her playing. She and her teacher selected two solo pieces and one duet for her to perform in the recital. She played those songs over and over and over and she knew them well. But we were all a bit nervous on the day of her recital. Bill and I sat in the pews of the Methodist Church and awaited Margaret's first public performance. I could tell that she was scared. She'd had a bad experience with her singing solo in her kindergarden graduation and was a little gun shy. The students played in order of age with the youngest going first. Margaret is the youngest. She was dwarfed by the gleaming, black grand piano. I sat with baited breath as she sat down before the keys. If you are interested in seeing how she played, you can click here to see a video of her performance. (Oh, during Mar's second piece you'll see the reporter from Channel 5 News park herself right in front of Bill. So there's a couple seconds of the back of her head followed by some gripping video of the church's carpet before Bill got repositioned — it'll make you wonder why Bill didn't become a professional cameraman.)