Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kai’s First Piano Recital

It is a testament to Kai’s overall progress that my wife and I decided to let him perform in a piano recital. But it speaks to how far he still needs to go that we were very nervous about how it would turn out.

Kai has been taking piano lessons for over four years now. When we first decided to sign him up for lessons, I think my wife was hoping that he would turn out to be a piano prodigy. At that point in Kai’s development, with his struggles in behavior and school, I think she was hoping to find something that he would be particularly good at.

Alas, Kai did not possess extraordinary talents at playing the piano. And in the subsequent months and years, there were several times when my wife wanted to stop the lessons as Kai too often resisted practicing, gave his instructor a difficult time, or just goofed around instead of playing nicely. I didn’t want to see him quit; not because I thought he could ever become a virtuoso, but because I hate to see him quit at anything.

With a little encouragement from me, but mostly from rebuilding her own resolve, my wife pressed forward each time with teaching Kai how to play the piano. The teacher came over once a week and patiently taught Kai how to play. But I have no doubt that my wife’s persistence and instruction during the week was just as much of the reason for Kai’s progress.

Two years ago, Kai’s teacher held a recital for his students. At that time, we did not want to take the risk of signing him up to perform. But we nervously attended with Kai so we all could see what it was like.

At that recital, we weren’t sure how long Kai would sit still so we talked to him about proper behavior, and then grabbed a seat near the back in case we needed to make a quick getaway.

Almost immediately as the first child started to play, Kai started to fuss.

“I can’t see!”

I tried to shush him but he persisted. When that child finished playing, we got up out of our seats and found an open area near the front, off to the side, where we could sit on the floor and clearly see the performer.

And there we sat where Kai politely, well, mostly, watched the performers. He had done okay watching. Perhaps one day he would play.

This year, his teacher asked if we would like Kai to perform in the recital. Hmm, could he handle the pressure? Would some little thing set him off and cause a public meltdown?

We decided to go for it.

He chose one of his favorite songs to play, Night of the Tarantella.

The practices in the past couple of weeks gave us more cause for concern. My wife was constantly pointing out the things he needed to do better.

“The first part is staccato; you have to play with more force.”

“Don’t play too fast.”

“Don’t forget to press the pedal.”

“Hold the last note for five seconds.”

Kai doesn’t take criticism well. He gets angry when anyone points out something he is doing incorrectly. And so, these practices have been stressful. And as a result, our stress about what would happen at the recital grew as well.

The day of the recital finally arrived.

This morning, Kai was grumpy at his ice skating class, complaining that his ankle was hurting. When he came home, he barely said much to his grandmother who telephoned. He later got upset when he thought he lost a piece to a new game he got for his birthday.

All the makings of a disaster were in place.

After lunch, we drove to the site of the recital and got there a few minutes early. Kai got a chance to try out the keys and pedals of the unfamiliar piano.

He would be the fourth performer. Kai sat nicely as he listened to the first three kids.

And then it was his turn…

He did well. Ha, he even held that last note!

My wife and I simultaneously breathed a huge sigh of relief and beamed big smiles.

Great job, Kai! We are very proud.


  1. Awesome...great job! That was really good, everyone involved should feel proud!

    1. Genvana, our immediate reaction was both relief and pride, but now that the pressure is over, we are definitely very proud. Thanks!

  2. He did wonderfully! I'm glad you included the video so we could enjoy it, too! :)

    1. Betsy, we had to take a video for all the grandparents and other relatives who could not be there. Glad you enjoyed it, too. :)

  3. Very good Kai! Competition brings out the best in people. A chance to show others the accumulation of one's effort is a great motivator. Once a child learns the exhilaration of performing, he wants to repeat it...and apply it to other areas. Good job Kai! Never stop improving...that is the key to happiness in life!

    1. Shiroi, Kai can play well, but so often he does not. So it was wonderful that he gave one of his better performances today. It is funny that this boy who has anxiety about the littlest things sometimes did not appear to feel any stress from having to perform in front of an audience today. Hopefully this experience will provide extra motivation for him.

  4. Hi did a beautiful job! I really enjoyed getting to see him perform. It's interesting it didn't make him anxious. I've noted that with my older son, who has many fears, but performing in public has never been one them. Give him my congratulations!

    1. Suzanne, that is very interesting that your son is similar to Kai in that way. Does your son have an outgoing personality? Kai is afraid of storms, water in his face, and a hundred other things, but apparently not in getting up in front of people. Thanks!


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