Thomas and Sophia play their instruments in a fine youth orchestra. They started last year and Thomas was two weeks away from his second performance when he was diagnosed. One of his big goals way back at the beginning of all this was to make it to that concert. He didn’t. The day of the concert, Mark and I slipped out of the hospital to go hear Sophia play while my sister stayed with Thomas. He was bummed. They played an excerpt from the movie, Sherlock Holmes, which he loved and he dearly wanted to hear it performed. By the spring concert, he was playing again with his friends and we were so proud of his perseverance through his treatment.
Another year has begun and his orchestra just had seating auditions this week. In an orchestra, the best player gets first chair and then the second best gets second chair, etc… The music was sent out at the beginning of August but with my stellar organizational skills the music wasn’t printed out for the kids until a couple of weeks ago. Sophia diligently got to work on her excerpts; Thomas kept meaning to practice but didn’t. Sophia’s teacher helped her with fingerings and coached her while Thomas still hadn’t even looked at his parts. Finally, last Tuesday I scolded him for not practicing them. He was supposed to practice Tuesday because I knew he was probably going to feel awful after chemo. I can’t remember what happened last Tuesday but he didn’t practice yet again. Chemo came and went and he was out-of-order for more days.
Monday rolled around and I urged him to practice. “Thomas, your auditions are tomorrow night. Don’t you think you should at least run through the music?” Maybe I didn’t quite say it that nicely. You get the idea. He informed me he was fine with being last chair in his section because by the next concert he would be up to his old playing. I agreed that was fine but I reminded him that he had to at least try to play the parts assigned. He looked through things and I helped him count. Tuesday he played again and then figured it was acceptable.
My friend took them to their auditions and filled me in on the rest of the evening. She said her girls and Sophia were frantically practicing when they arrived while Thomas lay on the floor, reading his book. He calmly took his viola out of the case and played a bit and then went in and played his audition. The girls came out of their auditions greatly distressed at all the mistakes they had made while Thomas figured it was what it was. I don’t think he gave it another thought and went back to worrying about important things like when he was going to play Risk again or listen to The Piano Guys (a recent obsession). Tonight he received an email listing him as second chair and he couldn’t have been happier. The highest chair he sat in last year was fourth. He said, “Well, next time I don’t plan on practicing any sooner and I am going to read a book!” I am not sure about the practicing part but he definitely realized that worry and stress do not aid a good performance. Aiming for last chair freed him up to play his best. Hooray for Thomas!
P.S. Sophia did just great too, especially since this was her first audition in the bigger orchestra. She came out in fifth chair and felt good about being able to watch those in front of her.