When I was 13, I played my first real piano recital. I had done some smaller ones before at the beginner level when I was younger. This time I was playing a “serious” piece by Beethoven and many of the kids in the line-up were older and had ambitions of going on to Julliard or majoring in music in college. I had prepared for the recital and could play the piece by heart, but when it was my turn I played a few bars and then I froze. I couldn’t remember the piece. My teacher had to come up to the piano, sit down beside me with the sheet music and coach me through it in front of everyone. I was mortified and I quit. I am not sure if quitting was the right decision, but my heart didn’t seem to be in it at the time and I moved on with my life.
Fast forward 35-years and now its my kids’ turn. Both of them had entered their schools Evening of the Arts recital where the kids have to choose a music or dance composition, perform before a panel and if selected they get to participate. My daughter and two other girlsÂ choreographedÂ a dance number to a One Direction song and did great.
My son last to go. His choice? Firework by Katy Perry on sax.
He had played the song in front of friends and family a couple of times and was pretty comfortable with it. Just like I was prior to my recital. But the few hours before the show his stomach was in knots and so was mine.
Seeing how nervous he was and the anxiety he had built up while practicing before the show took me right back to that place in 1977 when I was a nervous wreck and I froze. As a parent the emotions are “please Lord let him perform, let him be free of his fear and just play his heart out”.
Well he nailed it!! Â The audience went nuts after his performance. When the headmaster got up to address the school after the performance he asked the crowd to “give it up” again for my son.
Fear and quitting are interesting things that should be confronted and examined every day if you are going to live a fulfilled life. I can’t say what would have happened to me if I would have stuck with piano and pushed myself through The Dip as Seth Godin coined it. I decided to guit taking piano lessons at 13 and pivot. I played in a band in college and found that I actually liked playing again. I am now enjoying life as a husband, father, entrepreneur and lover of music.
If I can do anything for me kids, it would be to continue to provideÂ positiveÂ reinforcement, to get them to face their fears and to help them understand that the decision to power through the dip or pivot is perfectly normal.