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Last night my living room was packed with kids and their parents, all smiling, all happy to be there, and all ready to hear the kids share their music. It started out the way you might think, rather serious and quiet and nerve-wrackingly formal! I explained about putting names in a hat and how anyone, student of mine or not, was welcome to play piano, whatever the caliber. I asked for a volunteer to go first, a hand shot up and we were off. After she’d played she picked a name from the basket and my newest little student came up. He has had two lessons yet sat down to play “The Pecking Hen”, a challenging exercise in hitting each white key in succession all the way down the keyboard. The crowd went wild.

Besides the prepared pieces of my students, a friend of a student, a nine-year old girl who doesn’t take piano lessons anywhere got up and played a one-finger rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. A mom and her daughter did “Heart and Soul” and called over to me after quite a few rounds, “How do we stop??” Kids came up in twos and played two different songs at the same time as a ‘duet’ because we let them.

It was an unconventional concert but it was low pressure and high fun. My student who declined to participate last year agreed reluctantly this year on the strength of the stories of last time, and ended up being one of the ones to return to the piano two more times to show what she could do. Her parents and I were delighted to see that she stretched herself by playing a piece she hadn’t planned on. The setting was right for risking it. The praise and recognition were genuine and supportive and easy to get if you stepped up to the piano and tried something new. One girl even suggested she play “Over the River and Through the Woods” while others sang, so an impromptu choir emerged to cap off the evening.

What a great night. What a fulfilling experience to teach kids to play music and then have them share it with the rest of us just for the fun of it. Low pressure, high fun. Thanks everybody.

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