I spent a lot of time at piano recitals this weekend. A LOT of time. And as I watched the performers, both young and old, I realized that I enjoy watching the parents of the students on stage more than I do the student themselves! And it became clear to me that most parents fall into one of the following categories:
1. The “Wow… Look What My DNA Can Do!” Parents
These parents are admittedly my favourite. They are thrilled when their child stands up out of their chair to walk to the stage. They’re tickled with joy when their child announces their piece. They glow with pride as their child performs. They almost pee themselves with excitement when their child remembers to bow. These parents come to recitals adorned with three cameras, a video camera, and iPhone, desperate to capture every last second of their child’s recital experience. They bring not only Grandma and Grandpa but the neighbour, his gardener and the lady who served them coffee that morning. They are full of hugs and kisses when their child returns to her seat and they remain flushed with pleasure for the entire recital.
2. The “Oh. He Had That Perfect at Home.” Parent
These parents are the ones standing at the back of the room mouthing the words as their child introduces his piece. They sit grasping the sides of their chair with white knuckles as their child performs. Nothing can distract these parents as they sit rigid, seeming to send “don’t embarrass me” vibes in their child’s direction. When their child’s piece is over, they allow themselves a brief smile of pleasure and offer a quick pat on the back as their child returns to sit beside them.
3. The “As Long as You Had Fun!” Parent
These parents are the cause of many of my post-recital migraines. They arrive late, forget their child’s music books and usually bring along a few of the (noisy) children they are babysitting that day. Their child asks you five minutes before going on stage “What piece am I playing again?”. Their child then stumbles through an awkward rendition of a piece you’ve spent months on, and instead of bowing, does a quick break-dance on stage as his family hoots and hollers from the back. Recitals are no big deal, and they happily race off to a dance recital they have booked that evening.
Proud Parent Moments Matter…
As I watched my 5 year old daughter, Lexi, last night at one of our studio’s piano recitals playing “Gallop Pony” with her teacher, I realized that I am definitely a category 1 parent… with maybe a touch of category 3. Sure she forgot that those dotted half notes are 3 beats and not 2 (and we spent a lot of time on those!)… but she was my girl up there playing the piano… and she was enjoying it.
And it was quite clear to me in that moment that that’s what recitals are all about. Because no matter how well your piano students perform, that performance lasts only minutes. But the Proud Parent Moments you have had a large hand in creating will be life-long.
In what category do the majority of your piano studio parents fall? Have you observed a different “category” of recital parent? Leave your comments below.