The Page Turner

It's called The Green Room. It's big. The kids looked really tiny. The girls were wearing fancy dresses. Jacob was wearing a seersucker suit. Beyond adorable.


It was my student's Mother's Day recital. Somehow, though the room is big and they are tiny, the children played like real musicians. They bowed and smiled and even enjoyed themselves. There were challenges: a forgotten chord or two, a bra strap slipping slowly down an almost teenager's arm while she played something fast and flashy, a teacher (that would be me) who had a little trouble remember the first section of an accompaniment to a piece that she wrote a two weeks ago. (So many notes in this head by now.)

They were wonderful. Such an array of personalities.

After the student recital, I played a recital with my friend, the soprano Julia Hunt Nielsen. She was glorious. I was just fine. Together we were pretty spectacular. There is something to be said for just making the music myself instead of always trying to get someone else to do it. I love to teach, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it's nice to get rid of the middle man and just play. No nerves any more. Don't have time for any of that nonsense. Enjoy the music and the chance to share it. Life is too short for anything else.

This was the first time my daughter, Evie, was able to turn pages for me for a recital. She's ten now and quite a seasoned performer herself. The San Francisco Girls Chorus will do that to a girl. It felt like a rite of passage: I'd never let myself hope that she would be such a fine a musician that she could turn pages not only for songs (the lyrics help keep track of where you are) but for a Russian etude by Liapounov. Lots of very black notes flying by like lightning. It was impressive. The page turning, I mean.

If you're feeling like a guilty pleasure, try watching the movie The Page Turner. It's a 2006 French film about a young girl -- just about Evie's age, who becomes obsessed with a concert pianist, infiltrates her life and ruins her career. It's a revenge movie about a ten-year-girl. No, I am not worried about Evie and me.  There's room for both us both. But I'll be extra nice to her, just in case.


Kudos to Iliana, age five, who apparently performed under duress. (She ended up in the Emergency Room with a 104 degree fever and pneumonia.) The things we do for art.

Mrs. Miller

"Hello. This is Mrs. Miller. I am cancelling my son's lesson for this Tuesday afternoon. I found someone closer."

A bit abrupt, but I do believe in finding the best teacher in the most convenient location. I often try to talk my students out of driving so far to work with me. It doesn't work, but I do try.

Here's the weird part: This message was on my machine when I was returned from five days at the Music Teachers of California convention. I hadn't spoken to anyone named Mrs. Miller before I left. There were no other messages from Mrs. Miller. She didn't leave a number, so I couldn't even consider phoning back which, I must admit, I probably wouldn't have.  After all, she was cancelling a non-existent lesson - at least in my book.

A few hours later the phone rang.


"Hello. This is Mrs. Miller. I'm calling to cancel my son's lessons for Tuesday afternoon because I found someone closer."

"Ahhh, Mrs. Miller. I'm very glad that you've found a teacher who's conveniently located for you, but I've never spoken with you before."

"Yes we did. We set up this lesson for Tuesday, but I found someone closer."

"I understand that you found someone closer, but you must have spoken to someone else because we have never spoken before."


"Yes. Really. We have never spoken before, but I certainly wish your son every success with his new teacher."

"Oh. OK."

Whew.  I suppose that it's admirable that she wanted to be sure to cancel a lesson that she (thought) she had scheduled, but I would actually prefer a parent who knew who I was and thought I was conveniently located.