Last weekend, my oldest, M, performed in his first concert with The School of Rock. The School of Rock is a music center where kids can take lessons in various instruments (in a rock music-based program) and also choose to perform in the school’s seasonal concerts. M started bass guitar lessons last year, and signed up to perform in a 2-show concert featuring music by “The Who” that was put on by the school last weekend. (By the way, how grateful was I that he chose The Who? Love their music.)
Let me start by saying that if The School of Rock had been around in my day, I might have stuck with the guitar (or clarinet, although the clarinet doesn’t show up in rock music much. Sax? Maybe. But clarinet? Not so much). I took guitar lessons for over a year and barely made it past learning notes and strumming. When my teacher did start teaching songs, they were songs that we sang in Sunday School. In kindergarten. No joke. I guess that was what $2 per lesson bought you in 1978. Not surprisingly, I completely lost interest in the guitar after a while.
The School of Rock does it right. Having the kids learn songs right away and learn songs they like keeps the interest level high. It also seems that learning the different notes as part of whole songs, as opposed to in a vacuum, gives the kids a real sense of how music – of any type – comes together as a piece. M plays the violin, as well, and his teacher has taught him some classical pieces on the bass, like “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” to show how a great piece of music can transcend genres. Needless to say, M loves everything about The School of Rock.
After spending 4 hours a week at lessons and rehearsals for the past 4 months preparing for the show, M was prepared, excited and ready for his big day. That is, until Friday morning – the morning of his first show – when he woke up not excited, but terrified. I certainly couldn’t blame him for being nervous – the concert was held on a real stage in a local music café with a good-sized audience– the real deal. When I was 11, I don’t think I could have handled it. I knew he would do a great job, and yet totally related to how nervous he felt. The great thing (OK, one of the many great things) about M is that he does not back out of things. If he signs up to do something, he sees it through, regardless of whether he wants to or not. So, he did his best to manage his nerves throughout the day, and before he knew it, it was Showtime.
The show went great. He not only did a great job, but more importantly, he had a blast doing it. It was awesome to see the excitement and thrill in his face as he came off of the stage after performing. Sheer joy, and oh, so proud! He even has his first groupie- Auntie Colby – who, along with her fabulous boyfriend, braved a freak snowstorm to come down for the show. By the time his second show rolled around on Saturday, it was as if he had been doing it for years – no nerves at all.
After watching him progress from nerves, to sheer terror, to elation, I was reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote – “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I don’t think I have the stomach (or time) to attack something that terrifies me every single day, but this weekend was a good reminder of how rising to a challenge and taking on something that scares you usually results in a huge payoff in terms of joy, pride and confidence.
For me, the fear of failure is the most terrifying thing I can encounter (short of anything that would result in bodily harm or rejection by loved ones), so taking on work projects that are out of my comfort zone, signing up for new activities and competing in different types of sports and races are scary challenges for me. I’m grateful for this reminder of how blissful the payoff for meeting these challenges can be. With that, I’m off to add some terrifying things to my to-do list.