Erin has fallen in love with the Sibelius Romance Op. 24 No. 9. She heard it played by a fellow student during the summer. It's a significant step up in difficulty for her. While she has a precocious ability to play quick, bright baroque and classical pieces, the Sibelius is stretching her ability to play chordal passages. It's a piece with a virtuoso-style Rachmaninoffesque middle secttion, and boy, does she power up on our new grand piano!
We're hosting a dessert recital this weekend, partly because she wants a chance to play this piece. Dessert recitals are a tradition we started about 5 years ago. I insituted them one summer in lieu of Suzuki group classes, but they were so popular they've resurfaced in many different incarnations over the years. The basic idea is that one family invites other families with music students over for a musical potluck at their home. The food is generally finger food of some sort, usually dessertish stuff. Everyone is expected to bring a musical offering and a food offering to share. Parents who play an instrument are expected to play, as are their children.
We all get together to perform first. We sit on the floor in whatever room is chosen, and everyone plays one piece. Normal recital standards are not adhered to -- this is very fun and very casual, and teacher approval is NOT required. Students sometimes play pieces they "aren't supposed to have learned yet" or modified versions of old favourites, or duets with their parents or friends, or fiddle tunes or compositions. The hosting child always plays first, and then spins a bottle to decide who goes next. Each performer spins the bottle to choose the next until everyone has played. Some students have two instruments, so they play twice. At the end, we play "requests" from the Suzuki repertoire, and it always makes me feel wonderful to realize that when our little community of Suzuki violinists is together, they want to play their favourite pieces together. Even if the parents are looking longingly at the coffee and desserts, a couple of kids are sure to say "hey, we have to play Witches' Dance!"
And then we eat and socialize and play and laugh and chat. The social end of it is probably the most valuable part of the evening. Music is the excuse that brings us together, we play and enjoy that, but the fun and food afterwards are what cure the mortar of our musical community into something strong and stable.