Saturday, October 06, 2007

We won!

To put some context to it, you need to understand a little about my kids' attitude to competition. They are beyond being non-competitive. They are in fact quite anti-competitive. Noah refused to play soccer this year because the games are competitive and, while the winning and losing with his team during the previous season was something that he could pretty much choose to ignore, he found it very very difficult to watch his team-mates get all riled up over wins and losses. Erin has thus far chosen to totally avoid auditions and competitive music festivals. All the kids have a tendency to turn family games into co-operative endeavours rather than win-lose situations. Our Suzuki group classes often involve activities and exercises that nurture peer support and absolutely discourage any comparative, competitive focus. At home we've had long discussions about awards and recognition programs and the ethics and value (or not) of awards -- and it's clear their anti-competitiveness runs deep.

Last night six of the most advanced local Suzuki students (my three plus three others) plus my mom and I performed as part of the "Voices for Hospice" fund-raiser event in our area. Unlike most such concerts, ours isn't totally or mostly choral. Being a rural community with a population of a thousand or so depending on how you count, an event such as this requires contributions from lots of different performers. The community choir (including Erin) sang three numbers to open the event, but the bulk of the concert was made of of a series of small ensemble or solo acts. The Suzuki string group was the final such act. The music was terrific and all very appropriate to the occasion -- contemplative, beautiful, mildly spiritual in mood, though not overly sombre. There was Fauré, Satie, Elgar, some wistful folk songs, spirituals, flute, cello and piano contributions.

But we had the kids. They played a lovely three-part arrangement of "Londonderry Air" (Danny Boy) and then the old stand-by, Pachelbel's Canon in D. The group wore their white and black attire and played with obvious affection and joy. They blended beautifully, with dynamics and phrasing and a mature, robust sound. I think it's the best they've ever played. And the audience loved them. Two bows, a bit of a standing ovation, and many many enthusiastic comments and compliments afterwards.

After the reception, we headed home. The kids are always especially boisterous and witty after a performance, especially a successful fun one like this. They spilled out of the van and into the living room, where their dad was waiting.

"How'd it go?" he asked.

"Really well," said one kid.

"We won," said another, giggling.

"Yeah, we won!" the others agreed, laughing. I couldn't help it. I laughed too, shaking my head. Yup, they did win, they sure did.

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