Learning lessons from my teenage son

My son's rosin coated instrument

My son's rosin coated instrument

This summer has come to a close, after the first day of school for my kids has come to a close. I’m always a bit excited to have time the uninterrupted time to work, but sad too, as each new school year reminds me of how fast they are growing up. It’s a good, but bittersweet day. For now I will remain uber grateful of how healthy and strong they are… I don’t take that lightly.

This year is also significant because I have learned a great lesson from my 16 year old son. He plays violin in his school’s orchestra. The school has 3 orchestras, levels noted as A, B and C. All freshman start in level C, then audition into B and then A. While they are all fabulous orchestras, A is top notch, and there aren’t many high schools in the country with similar talent, direction and commitment to the quality of music these kids perform. We are lucky to be a part of this amazing public school program.

Last spring, my son auditioned for A Orchestra. He did not make the cut. I was not too surprised because throughout the year he did what he needed to get by, but did not commit to working hard and improving like he needed to to nail this audition. (This is where the lesson starts for me. In my art practice I have always drawn and painted, but have not fully committed to improving and exceeding. And, much like my son, I get disappointed when my peers get selected for shows, or their art sells, or they are recognized for an outstanding piece of work. But, the only thing separating me from them is my lack of commitment to practice and improvement. But I digress...)

After his failed attempt, my son asked the orchestra director if he could have a second chance and redo his audition. The director agreed and set a tentative time of two months out. Peter accepted this and set to work. He practiced nearly everyday, (except for times we were out of town), listened to various recordings of the music he chose to play, practiced many different scales, and techniques and sought out individual instruction. In addition he felt that he needed to perform in front of people so he sought out places to play in public to work on his performing confidence

As the two month time came to a close, he then had to communicate with not one but two directors (as there was a change of hands in the lead orchestra director) and set a time to audition for both of them. After that, he sent a thank-you for the opportunity to try again and waited for a response. I am happy to say his hard work paid off. He was accepted into the A Orchestra! He is extremely proud and so am I. I am beyond pleased he has made it into this top notch group, but honestly I am more proud that he accepted a challenge to improve, stayed committed, worked hard even when it didn’t feel like he was getting any where, and carried out the correspondence before and after with grace. 

So much to learn here. With my son as example I am more committed than every on a daily art practice, sharing it with friends far and wide, and taking the challenge of submitting for shows, setting up a shop and putting myself out there. Hard work always pays off in big and small ways. So does asking and communicating with kindness and hope. I look forward to working hard and sharing the process and success with you!