Thursday, August 17, 2017

In the Wake of The 2017 National Fine Arts Competition

The best substitute for experience is being sixteen. ~Raymond Duncan

Teenagers are so complicated. They are sure they are right about everything about which they think they are right and they just do not know what they do not know, so they do not know when they might be wrong and they do not know that they are wrong until...they are there cornered in the inescapable reality of it. My daughter had such a reality check with the competition. The Princess realized immediately after watching a few teens play that she should have stepped up her game. There was really serious competition for her and that is when she confirmed (out loud, if you can believe that) what her father and I had been saying all along: she should have practiced more.

Now in fairness, it was not all her fault, but still it was also. She was acting on advice she was given by Guitar Guy, who told her that she would do better to not play the same piece she had done for the state competition. So, the Princess was determined not to play Mozart's Tarantella for the national competition and tried to learn another piece in time for it. She should have inquired further because she would have found out that all of the competitors played the same piece as they did for the state competitions. They do not expect them ever to try to learn another piece because there is barely enough time after the state competitions.

The Princess did it, but that was her second mistake. She did not really commit to practicing it enough to do it as well as she should have and could have. The real shame was that the Tarantella was her best piece ever, which showcases her very best strengths: nibble, quick fingers with crisp notes. The piece the Princess played is a good piece, but she just did not love to play it like she did the Tarantella, which is funny because she is not fond of Mozart in general and she just really plays Bach.

She was given one superior rating and two excellent ratings, hard to take when the girl had not received anything lower an superior for seven years. She was disappointed but not devastated. Of the 40 some competitors in classical piano, she fell in about halfway, which I thought was still rather good considering the circumstances, but she was hopeful she would be higher up. My husband, being there with her, was able to observe the competitors and most were older than she is and perhaps more experienced. I am still sure that she could have been in the top ten at least with the Tarantella, perhaps higher.

However, she learned something from that competition that will stick with her better than my reminding her to practice. She learned that if she wants to win a competition like that she will have to commit to it and seriously practice.

Last year at this time, I was working on boosting her self-confidence in the aftermath of the J-void incident. Playing at the restaurant helped a great deal. She has actually been paid to play the piano! That reinforced her self-worth, in her eyes. However, typical of teenagers, she then swung over into arrogance as in her mother did not know anything because she was good enough to earn money, which she would throw back at me whenever I would encourage her to learn more songs and to practice to be better for playing at the restaurant.

So, I have come to view this little reality tap back as maybe just what she needed and God provided, although it is hard to watch as a parent. I want her to succeed, of course, but I also want her to learn that she needs to go after the things she really wants, to be self-motivated. I want her to think well of herself but not to think everything she does is good enough, as if she does not need to try to improve. Those are very hard lessons to learn, but fine tuning is what God does.

The Princess wants to try again next year, which is a very good sign.

My Lord, I thought about all the parents who were mostly likely praying the same prayer for their children competing and I knew that there were going to be many more who would not place than there would be who did. I wanted my daughter to be one of the few, like all the parents. I do thank You for the lessons my daughter has learned from the experience and pray that You keep guiding her.


  1. Ouch. A hard one, that. Bet it's a different story next year!

    1. Yeah, one of those nail biting "I could see that one coming" things that I wish she did not have to go through, but I also see the value of the lesson. God is good.


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