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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: The next generation

© Another Day in the Country

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been in California. My grandson’s spring break from school coincided with Easter weekend, which also was his 10th birthday. Well, I just had to be there!

His Dad had offered to take off time from work and the two of them would go to Disneyland but my grandson said, “I’d rather Baba would come out.” So, that cinched the deal and I headed for the Napa Valley.

The first day I was there, Dagfinnr’s elementary school had a talent show. It turned out to be the highlight of my visit.

Several weeks before, he’d come home and announced, “I signed up for the talent show at school. I already tried out.”

His mother was shocked. This is her child? The child who in Kindergarten sat with folded arms and refused to do a thing while his classmates sang at a school program? Now in fourth grade, he’s volunteering to play the piano without any parental coaxing? She was rather surprised.

When his father got home that evening, Dagfinnr said, “I want to play that song from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ at the beginning of the movie. Can you help me find the music, Dad?”

Well, Dad found the music for the prelude, in a sufficiently simplified version, and Dagfinnr’s piano teacher began helping him learn the piece.

I’d heard him practicing once when I called my daughter on the phone.

“Who is playing the piano?” I asked.

When she told me it was Dagfinnr, I was rather surprised. He loves playing the piano, which is a shock in itself for me because his mother never did, and the playing sounded pretty advanced.

“He’s going to play this for the school talent show,” she said, “If you come a day or two early for spring break, you can be here for the show.”

I learned to play the piano when I was a child. I got good enough to accompany the hymns at church on occasion, but I always hated playing in public. In fact, at times it made me so nervous that one time I panicked and couldn’t even read the music. I was already in college when this happened. So, you can imagine my inner trepidation for this child who was about to perform.

In the Korean household where my son-in-law grew up, it was always bribery that got a child to perform. There was also immense pressure to learn and excel at a certain pace, all of which has been missing from my grandson’s introduction to music.

“We’ve taken a different approach,” my son-in-law grinned rather sheepishly. “We’ll see if it works.”

Our young performer had a little trepidation the morning of the talent show when he was practicing before school.

“I don’t know if I’ll remember it all,” he said to his Mom. She assured him that all would be well.

“You’ve got it all memorized, just remember to bow at the end,” she added laughing.

“Do I really need to bow?” he wondered.

That evening we came to the school gym extra early so that we could save 11 seats on the front row. A whole bunch of Korean relatives were showing up for this school program. The pressure was on.

I was nervous; Dagfinnr was calm. He was second on the show’s line-up.

We heard him run through some scales before everything began. He was behind the curtain waiting for his turn. I sat on a folding chair hoping and praying he would do well. This was the first time he’d opted for a performance, and a solo performance, at that. If this didn’t go well, it would be harder to put himself out there in the public eye the next time. There were 11 family members waiting expectantly on the front row. Talk about pressure.

Then his name was called. This almost-10-year-old came out, sat down at the piano, took a deep breath (while I held mine), and began to play.

The song was beautiful. He even bowed at the end.

His father hadn’t done it at that age. His mother hadn’t done it. For sure, his grandmother hadn’t been able to do it.

But he did it! We all cheered! Never underestimate the next generation!

Last modified May 4, 2017

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