Back in December, my daughter participated in her first piano and singing recital with great enthusiasm. It was a chance for her to shine among her peers and to be ignored by the majority of the audience who were too busy with their smart phones or chatting in small groups to actually sit and listen to any child but their own. Despite the chaos, Reina and her mates enjoyed the event and we got to finally hear her sing her duet.
When her piano instructor informed Reina of the annual piano competition in June, and asked if she wanted to take part, I suspect Reina said yes without even thinking about it. Until the event, I only knew two things about it: it involved our daughter playing the piano and her parents shelling out RMB 380 for the privilege.
On the day of the event, we hailed a cab just as the rain began to fall during a spectacular electrical storm. Fortune smiled on us since the driver knew the exact location of the hotel hosting the event. Despite being told to arrive precisely at 2:30pm for her turn, I anticipated a crowded room and long lines of children waiting for their chance make a mark. As the organizers ushered us upstairs, we passed girls wearing long white dresses and boys sporting suits with bow ties. Defying convention, our daughter had chosen a casual pink and blue dress and her favorite Crocs. I could hear the notes from a piano drifting down the hallway as we were instructed to sit for a few minutes in the foyer. One clipboard carrying young woman conversed with my wife in Chinese. Despite a rule that only one parent can enter the competition room, we would both be allowed to watch (sometimes its good to look different).
After five minutes, Reina was called and we stepped into a room big enough for one white grand piano, three judges, and maybe twenty of our friends if we had brought any. Without warning, my girl marched in front of the judges, introduced herself and the piece she was performing. She sat at the piano and, after a beat, began playing the song I had struggled for weeks to get her to practice at home. Meanwhile, I was rushing to get my camera ready and filming. I am well versed in the dance my camera and I must perform to capture a live show, but I had no idea the show was happening so rapidly. I missed her intro, but managed to capture her entire song for posterity. Good thing I’m quick because in under a minute, she stopped playing, thanked the judges, and politely awaited their critique.
The results won’t be in for a week, but Savvy and I figure Reina took about one minute of the judges’ time. Costing us RMB6 per second. I guess that is the price one must pay for an audience that listens intently.
Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks (Flickr)