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The realities of competition

By Robin Dearing
She hurried toward me with a look of disappointment on her face. She crawled on to my lap and whispered, "I'm glad that is over." Me, too. Saturday, Margaret participated in her first piano sonatina competition. She was required to memorize all three movements of the sonatina and perform them in front of three judges and an audience of contestants and their families. The children were grouped by age. Margaret was in the youngest group which had over 20 competitors. I was amazed at the caliber of performances by these children. Since Margaret begun taking piano lessons last August, we've been impressed by her progress — thanks to the tried method her experienced teacher uses and to the hours that we've spent in front of her keyboard. Margaret and I worked so hard getting her sonatina memorized, but I was still worried for her. With the hectic schedule that we keep, it never seems like we have enough time to properly prepare for anything. Saturday morning we ran though the piece a couple more times and then tried to focus her attention away from being nervous. We got ready and dashed to the competition venue. When it was Margaret's turn, she looked so little climbing up on to the piano bench all by herself, then sitting, hands in her lap. After a few seconds, she positioned her hands and she began to play. She was playing very well. The first movement went just fine. Somewhere in the middle of the second movement she got a little lost, but was quickly able to get back on track without appearing visibly flustered. She soared through her third movement without a problem and then she was done. I was so happy for her. She prepared and performed a complicated musical arrangement with grace. I felt her frustration knowing that her mistake in the second movement meant that she had no chance of placing in any of the three levels. We told her over and over again that it didn't matter that she didn't place. What did matter is that she did it and did a fine job. Mar%20Tori.jpg As much as we meant it, I knew that it did matter to her. She wanted to be good enough to place well. So I told her that this year was just a practice run and that next year we'd be better prepared and next year we were going to knock 'em dead. Here's to next year!