Andrew’s Piano Recital

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Andrew was invited to guest blog on Book Chic Club:

On Shyness

When I was six or seven, I took piano lessons once a week. Going to Mrs. Fossbenner’s house every Wednesday after school became a part of my life for five years. I didn’t mind going too much because I knew my teacher, and all I had to do was perform the pieces assigned the week before in front of a 70-plus-year-old Pennsylvania Dutch woman. If I played well, afterwards I would be allowed to select a piece of hard candy — usually with an oozy fruit center — from a bowl on the cubby by the door as I waited for my mom. No big deal.

Trauma only came once a year as Mrs. Fossbenner would organize a recital of all of her students for a showcase. I didn’t care that I fell somewhere in between the best and the worst. I didn’t mind that many of her students studied classical music while I gravitated toward theme songs from movies – think “Born Free” or “You Light Up My Life” or “Tomorrow.” What frightened me was having to play a piece in front of more than 200 people.

I suffered my worst moment of anxiety during my second year of recitals. Remembering how nervous I felt the first time around, I told my mother on the way to the concert that we needed to stop at the hospital because I was having a heart attack. Mom convinced me it was all in my head and somehow talked me into continuing on to the recital. I had no idea that my mom would share that story with Mrs. Fossbenner behind my back and that my teacher would use that anecdote as my introduction.

Everyone laughed. I died. And I distinctly remember looking around the room, pretending to search for this poor kid who didn’t want to perform, because I somehow thought if I didn’t go to the stage, we would simply move on.

When the laughter died down and my teacher stood up again and re-announced my name, I realized there was no way out. I rose from my seat and took to the stage. I sat down and adjusted the bench, refusing to look at my mother in the crowd. And I began to play – Vince Guaraldi’s theme music to “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Linus provided me with my security blanket that night.

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