The other day, my wife, in-laws and I attended a piano recital in which our eight year old twins were first-time participants. There were about 15 students -- all were beginners or advanced beginners. For me, it was very interesting to observe the behaviors of the kids and the parents and I started thinking back to the old days of coaching. I started having flashbacks to my first diving meet as well as the first diving meets of my former divers.
It was like deja vu -- different arena; different participants; different activity -- SAME RESULT.
What do I mean? Well first, the parents (myself included) were more nervous than the kids. They wanted so badly for their child to do well and to have a positive experience. They all had video cameras to record the moment -- even at the expense of they themselves missing it "live" while they fumbled with their camcorders. As expected, most of the kids were nervous too as this would be the first time they performed in front of a crowd of people -- most of whom they had never met.
The order of performers was printed in a program -- much the same way a dive order is posted at a diving meet. I could tell my kids were getting more and more nervous (and excited) with each passing performance knowing that they would soon hear their name called and have to walk to the front, bow to the audience, and then take their seat on the freshly polished piano bench in front of the Baby Grand Piano to play their two 15 second songs.
A lump formed in my throat as I watched them sit motionless for a few seconds, then take a deep breath, and then play what they had practiced many times before. As with diving, when you practice your dives over and over again, all usually goes well and according to plan and this was their end result too!!
At the conclusion of their performances, they each closed their books, bowed to the crowd and with a huge smile on their face, excitedly walked back to where the family was sitting. We were all beaming with pride and joy. We gave them a hug and congratulated them on a job well done. Not surprisingly, each of them whispered in my ear -- "I was not nervous at all, Dad!" YEAH, RIGHT!