I remember first grade more vividly than other school years. Where Kindergarten was full of play, first grade was serious business…or at least it seemed that way to me. I missed my mother. Some days I cried. Embarrassment over being weepy made me cry even more. I was an anxious first grader. But I cheered up at music time. We’d gather around the piano in Mrs. Schwartz’s classroom and sing our hearts out. Rounds of “Row, Row Row Your Boat,” and “This Land is Your Land,” “My Grandfather’s Clock.” I’d sing all the way home. This week I went back to first grade. Nine times. I visited eight elementary schools in southern California as part of a grant secured by The Carpenter Center for the Arts. The kids seemed to really enjoy to learn how the piano worked, what it sounded like, how I played it and its history. They had a zillion questions. Their curiosity reminded me how amazing the 6-7 year old brain is: full of wonder.
Steinway & Sons was gracious enough to send me 1000 sheets of stickers to give out to the kids. Some of them say “Future Steinway Artist” on them. You never know.
Today, on my last day of the residency program, all 1055 kids took a field trip to the beautiful performing arts center and I performed an hour-long concert for them on the beautiful Steinway grand. I will cherish their enthusiasm and kindness always.