Sometimes the students were chosen according to their age—the Young Performer’s Recital was strictly for talented beginners. It was their chance to shine rather than being lost among a studio’s advanced students. Sometimes it was all about their music—the Parade of American Music featured students playing or singing the music of American composers. If his best piece that year was Mozart’s Rondo in D, that particular student was ineligible.
Sometimes a panel of judges chose the students based on their performances in a recent competition. The year we had five chosen for the Student Day Honors Recital was a banner year for us. To have one or two chosen from a group of over two hundred students from a dozen studios was a good showing. Five was almost unheard of.
At the receptions after these events, we teachers always enjoyed basking in our students’ successes. We mined each other for teaching strategies and resources. The experience exposed us to more crowd-pleasing music we could use with our own students, and our students to teachable moments we could discuss at the next lesson. They could see for themselves why I insisted on such picky things as not taking your fanny off the seat until your hands left the keys when a student from another studio stood up without doing so, looking as if someone had glued her fingers to the ivory. They could hear why long fingernails were verboten when it sounded like someone was trying to tap dance to Debussy and Haydn. It also worked wonders for parental attitudes—suddenly they appreciated things they had before viewed as silly.
My favorite moments after these recitals came when people approached me with these words: “I can always tell which ones are yours.” It wasn’t because they played or sang particularly well—every student at these recitals did that—but not every student performed well. We spent hours on things like how to approach or leave the piano, how to hold a pose over a final note, what to do in a memory lapse, how a singer should hold the mood until the accompaniment stops, and especially how to bow. It’s one thing to know your piece; it’s another to be able to present a polished performance of it to an audience.
Sometimes I imagine God as the teacher watching our performances. He knows we can do it. I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Phil 4:13. He gave His Son to show us how. …because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you might follow in his steps, 1 Pet 2:21. I don’t think it is out of line to think of the angels saying to Him, “I can always tell which ones are yours.” Isn’t that the picture we get in Job 1? Perhaps not literally, but in essence if nothing else.
If life is one big recital, we should learn from the performances of others—what to do, what not to do, why some of the picky things we have always heard are important after all. We should learn from our own mistakes as well—why do I always miss the same note?! Your daily practice should take of that.
God is in the audience. What He wants to hear more than anything is, “I can always tell which ones are yours.”
By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10