What makes you happy when you walk in the door – the joyous barks of your devoted canine, the delicious smell of dinner cooking? I’ve never had a dog, and I’m the cook in the house, so for me, Akemi’s practicing makes my homecoming. As soon as I get out of the car, the sounds of her violin telegraph so many reassuring messages to me: she’s home, she’s hard at work, she’s making great progress.
She was a latch-key kid in high school. Between university events and directing academic programs with evening classes, it is not unusual for me to get home after 9 pm. I always have considered myself fortunate and blessed to have had such a self-directed daughter, one who held to solid study and practice habits developed at tender ages. Not many other teenagers would have done so well with so much unsupervised time. But whenever I got home, I would find she had gotten an amazing amount done (although with her Poly and Colburn double lives, 9 pm was merely midpoint of all that she still had to do each night).
After my piano and I moved out of Peralta Hills, my parents have said many times over the years that they missed hearing me practice. Whenever Akemi is away, I know exactly what they meant. Since she’s gone off to college, I may not hear her play for a few months at a time, which makes hearing her practice even more of a treat.
This past week as she has been home on spring break, I’ve gotten to hear her work on her concerto, the Tchaikovsky, and her solo spring recital pieces: the Bach b minor partita, the Mozart E-flat major sonata (K. 302), the second Martinu sonata, the second Brahms sonata in A major. At last night’s run-through for the Mugemancuro family, I told her I thought Mr. Buswell’s concept of Baroque playing is really jelling in her (he is a Bach expert), and that the Martinu is her kind of piece. I’m hoping she will be willing to keep the Brahms in her repertoire and give me time to learn it once my piano returns. On that bucket list I didn’t think I had, I’d like to add playing this Brahms with her.
Her spring break week has gone by all too quickly, jammed with Tufts school projects, a paper for her NEC grad-level music history class, the usual student-home tasks of a haircut, finally getting new glasses, and so forth. Between shepherding around an accreditation review team at work for a lot of the week and my mother landing back in the hospital, my schedule did not turn out to be very conducive for spending much time with her. We had to trade off some of our fun things planned, but still managed an evening with homemade cardamom rolls (even better than cinnamon), Thai food at Saladang Song, specialty “juicy” dumplings at Din Tai Fung, cheeseburgers at In-N-Out, and even a new adventure with Polish food. If nothing else, she is returning to Boston tonight with a SoCal food fix.
My Akemi-practice fix now will have to last for the next several weeks until I travel to Boston for her recital. The big room will sound empty and hollow again, and the walk in from the garage will return to just not being the same. For a few months.
P.S. This has become one of her favorite places to practice: an upstairs bedroom in the Green family compound in Falmouth, with a view of the bay between Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.