Over the weekend, after months of prepping, my ten-year-old son accompanied a large group of children on the piano for the first time. Mr. Bigshot has rolled his eyes at me for weeks as I talked about this milestone in piano playing.
“I got this. It’s no big deal,” he said over and over again.
He may have successfully practice the song several times with the children, but performance-time is a whole different beast. Nothing I said seemed to make a dent, so I gave up trying to help him understand how the I-got-this attitude might change once every eye in the room was on him. I left him with the best words of advice I’d been given the first time I tried to accompany anyone. “If you mess up, just keep going. You can’t go back and fix the mistake, the singers will have already moved on.”
Even with that advice my first time accompanying anyone was a complete disaster. The further into the song I went the more my fingers shook. It wasn’t that I hadn’t practiced—I hadn’t realized how nervous I would be. Unable to control the emotion, my fingers no longer worked like they should. It was such a horrible experience it took me years before I dared accompany anyone again, which is why I bugged my son to death on the subject. I figured my words would somehow help him deal with those mistakes he might make better than I did.
The day of the performance he sat down next to me at the piano, his eyes as big as saucers. “I’m not sure I can do this.”
Finally, he understood what I’d been trying to say, but now was not the time for I told you so. I wrapped my arm around his shoulder. “Yes you can. Just remember, no matter what happens, forge ahead.” And he did, doing a much better job at his first time accompanying than I did. I’m grateful too. Disastrous first experiences really kill the confidence.