Akemi’s violin teacher walked in the NEC room just as I was unfurling a tablecloth I had brought from home for the post-recital reception. “Ah, a mother’s touch,” said Mr. Buswell. His gesture took in the flowers from Akemi’s roommate, which I arranged in a vase before we transported them on the Boston “T.” I told Mr. Buswell that I had the reception prep drill down after 10 years of serving cookies and Martinelli’s at Colburn and helping backstage as orchestra parent manager. He astutely commented, “You must miss it.”
Yes, it’s good to have things like ironing and gathering up refreshments to help your child on performance day, because at that point, that’s all you can do. You can silently and fervently pray and hold your breath during the tough parts, but the music is all up to her.
Fortunately for the nervous systems of her teachers and mother, Akemi has been an extraordinarily reliable performer. The transition from a pre-college or “prep” environment to a conservatory, though, is a tough one, for all students – having to adjust to the lack of practice performances, the paucity of rehearsal time with the pianist, the juggle of learning so much repertoire in so short a time. Her NEC freshman and sophomore recitals were exercises in getting used to a different definition of preparedness. This time, her prep seemed in a groove.
This junior year recital program suited her well: sonatas by Mozart, Martinů, and Brahms, and a Bach partita. And however she managed it, she went into this recital having had a very good lesson, and she came out of this recital deserving to feel very good about it. I was amazed at how much her pieces had come together even more so since she was home just a few weeks ago on spring break.
A number of her Cambridge University Ward friends were good to come, as well as fellow double-degree classmates and other students from Mr. Buswell’s studio. Henry and Linda, our Boston “family,” made it, as well. Almost 29 years ago to the day, Linda was my matron of honor – I could not have looked into the future that day and imagined that I’d have a daughter in college in Boston and that Linda would be our local support team. Akemi, and I, were blessed to have so much love in that room to help celebrate another year of her musical accomplishments.
The next morning, she did not rest on any laurels. After a breakfast of her favorite homemade cinnamon rolls, Akemi was on to finishing projects for her Tufts classes. She still has to stay focused on this program for another week for the really important performance, what NEC calls the year-end “promotional” (“juries” at other conservatories) when she plays for the entire violin faculty. After the promotional, then she can be on to new pieces.
All too quickly, my turn-around visit in Boston, with glimpses of spring flowers standing sturdy in stiff, cold wind, was over. I came back to my own academic year-end press of deadlines before commencement, and can’t avoid feeling behind this week. But the most important priority last week was to get to be violin mom again, and marvel at the musician which Akemi has become.