This past Friday my oldest daughter auditioned for the Region Philharmonic Orchestra. She has been studying cello for the past 5 years. Last year she auditioned for the Region String Orchestra begrudgingly with out practicing and made the 13th chair out of 60 auditioners. The orchestra takes the first 14 chairs and the 15th becomes the alternate. After her weeks of whining and crying about not wanting to audition she now changed the focus of her whining and crying to “I can’t believe I was second to last! Next year I am actually going to practice so I can get a higher seat.” Well, she wasn’t really second to last. She was 13th out of 60. She was second to last of the kids who actually made it. It was a great experience and in the end she was thrilled, proud and felt honored to have had the chance to participate. This year, after another year of honors orchestra she was set to audition for the Philharmonic Orchestra, two steps up from the String Orchestra. This was also the year that we felt it was time to invest in her own instrument. She has been renting a cello from the school district up until now. As the date of auditions grew closer I would remind her, “I know you are practicing at school, but you really need to spend time practicing your region pieces at home on your own instrument, especially if you are going to audition on your cello.” She always had a reason she was too busy, she was going to get to it, don’t worry mom. I understand busy, I do. Most of us do. Mom of three, full time job, part time job in real estate…I get it.
Back to this past Friday. She did indeed audition. She was nervous, but she knew the music. To me, she sounded wonderful. But in the end, when the seats were rewarded she sat in seat number 15. Seat number 15 is that of an alternate. Unless something happens to one of the players in the first 14 seats, she will not participate this year in the Region orchestra. Yes, she was absolutely devastated. Believe me, we all were. This is a kid who wants to earn a scholarship in college for cello, as well as tennis, as well as academics. All fantastic goals, and as her parents we encourage her and support her in any way we can.
After getting a little perspective on this disappointment, as a parent I am a little grateful for this blow. Reagan does have a natural talent for cello, tennis and her studies. We are all blessed with individual gifts, and those are some of hers. But she tends to rely on natural talent. She didn’t put the work in that other kids did. It is important to learn, and the earlier the better, that you can come up with a number of excuses, but they don’t change the results or outcomes. So in our quiet discussion I asked her, “How many times did you practice your cello at home?” Her reply, “none” I just looked at her and said, ” Well my dear, natural talent will get you just so far….about as far as an alternate. If you want to hone your craft and become the best you can be, that requires work. The kids who put in the work are sitting in seats 1-14. So, you have to decide yourself, because I cannot decide for you and I certainly cannot put in the work for you, but are you going to be happy with being an alternate? Or are you going to put in the work to hone your craft and become the best you can be?”
Her response, “I better get working.”