Back in March the boys participated in the annual Junior Piano Festival held at UNLV. We do this every year. With their teacher their choose two songs and over a couple months they polish & perfect the piece for a performance on which they are judged.
Their performances weren't as good as they would have wanted, but they still played beautifully and pulled out Superior rankings.
This was Payton's 3rd year performing at festival and his 3rd year getting Superior which means that he will get his gold trophy! (You have to earn 15 points to get the gold trophy. Each superior rank is worth 5 points.)
Conner is also 4 for 4 on Superior rankings. Typically they are assigned to perform in a music classroom on an upright piano. But somehow Conner had the amazing opportunity to perform his pieces in the Don Rando concert hall on a beautiful Steinway piano. It was so so cool.
We walked into the concert hall and it was just us, Conner, a piano, and 2 judges at a table up front. They gave him the go-ahead and Conner launched into his first song - Samoan Fire Dance. He was playing perfectly and powerfully. To watch him on stage, on this gorgeous piano, and the sound just filling the space of the music hall . . . it was pretty thrilling & moving. And that's not just the mom in me talking. One of the judges (who was not taking notes on the piece - just observing) turned around to me with a big smile and thumbs up. For a long time we have told Conner that he had to take piano lessons until he knew how to play 50 hymns. Due to his reluctance at starting another year of piano lessons and having accomplished the required task of learning 50 hymns, we told him that this could be his last year of piano lessons if he wanted.
But as I sat there listening to him and his wonderful talent my heart swelled and I became sure of one thing -- he cannot stop taking lessons! There is just too much talent and potential there. BUT. We had already turned the decision to him. And as much as I ranted & raved over his performance, his talent, and what he could do with it . . . . He said, "I'll think about it." A second passed, and he answered with a laugh, "no".
But, I'm so proud of my boys and all their efforts to keep up with piano and all that they have learned!
Earlier this week the boys had their spring piano recital. (And it should be noted that this event was probably the last time I will have used my old DSLR - the picture quality is about to go up a few notches!)
They both played their festival pieces and did great!
There was a bit of teasing toward Conner as we reminded him of his performance fail from last year. He had played beautifully at festival but for some reason the night of the recital he drew a blank in the middle of one of his songs and could not go on. It was super embarrassing for him. So in an effort to be prepared and avoid the same mistakes of last year, I insisted that he bring his music as a backup. He performed towards the end of the recital and I could see him stretching his fingers, wiping the palms of his hands on his pants over and over again in preparation. When it was his turn to perform he walked up to the stand, set his music on the choir bench behind the piano, sat down to play, and did a wonderful job.
Another student played one of his songs earlier in the program. That was really interesting because their performances could not have been more different! Hers, light & gentle . . . Conners, powerful & dynamic. In my opinion, his was much more entertaining. :)
Their piano teacher always writes the program starting from youngest and ending with the oldest. Conner is now 4th from from last. Their teacher also does a tribute to the graduating seniors which is a fun, special moment where she reminisces on their time in lessons together (always gets teary), shares a mini biography of the student, including their accomplishments, and shares their future plans. It's a pretty fun moment.
After the recital Scott and I ganged up on Conner and said, you know if you stick with this YOU could be the one standing up for that Senior tribute which is pretty cool! And check it out, you're so close from being at the top of the piano class! I think we caught him at the right moment, after a successful performance, with a plateful of cookies & cupcakes in his hand and we might, MIGHT have convinced him to continue on with piano.
Payton also had his PROUD moment of receiving his gold trophy. He was so so happy. Seriously. Before the recital he spotted the trophies sitting on a table and just stood there, stroking the gold.
A winning night for everyone.