I spent last Friday night at the Evening Street Elementary Talent Show. Two of my daughters had signed up to participate in the talent show and thus our evening plans were set. My daughters were both going to play the piano for their talent. Some students sing, others dance, there was a dramatic reading, two young ladies played their violins, the performances are very eclectic and they span many different ability levels.
PTA parent volunteer, and accomplished professional musician, Rob Mottice organizes and produces the show (that’s Rob’s back in the picture above). As part of his responsibilities he has each student try out for the show. The try-outs have little to do with actual ability but much more to do with screening acts for appropriateness, showing commitment, and troubleshooting issues. Thus, at Evening Street if you want to perform, you’ll get to perform.
My own daughters have what I would call “middle of the road, normal, elementary school talent.” Meaning, they take one piano lesson a week and they practice the required amount. Not much more, and not much less. Unfortunately for them, their dear ole dad can’t read music, carry a note or even pretend to understand music, and thus we did not pass down great musical or performance genetics. And, at Evening Street, some of the students who will perform are like serious child prodigy’s. A few students played and sang original songs on the piano or on their guitar. Amazing!
So, earlier last week I was having a passing conversation with Board of Education member, Jennifer Best. In that conversation I was expressing my frustration as a parent that my daughters had signed up to perform on Friday night, but that they were not putting in the necessary work to practice, and therefore I was convinced they would embarrass themselves horribly. (Obviously, the embarrassment would be a natural consequence, but as a parent it’s never easy to determine when to allow natural consequences and when to push so that they can be avoided.) Having been a Worthington parent Jennifer understood, but decided not to wade into my internal debate. What she did do, blew me away…..
Instead of worrying about piano practice, Jennifer proceeded to get a twinkle in her eye and describe to me in precise detail the night she and her sister sang in the 6th grade talent show as students at Evening Street. Over 30 years has passed since that evening and Jennifer could describe where they stood, what they sang, and she even remembered the words to the song. It was awesome. An event that passes in just a few short hours to me as an adult had left a lifetime memory for Jennifer. We didn’t discuss it, but I surmise that one of the reasons that Jennifer donates thousands of hours of her time as a school board member is to insure that Worthington students today have experiences like she herself was able to have.
I appreciate the fact that volunteers like Rob make the talent show happen. I’m certain that 30 plus years from now someone will be telling the story of the song they sang in the talent show. That someone will have grown up and may be a community leader like Jennifer. School is about all sorts of lessons. Talent show’s provide lessons on performance, courage and confidence. In my house I was attempting for the show to provide lessons on practice, determination and the pay-off for hard work.
In the end there was no embarrassment for my girls on Friday night, although I don’t expect any calls from American Idol. In 30 years no one may know what American Idol is/was. But they may remember their performance in the elementary talent show. Good stuff!