The Dormouse has been taking private piano lessons for a little under a year and we love her teacher. I'm pretty sure I would say that about anyone who was willing to come to the house to teach her. I did a brief stint of providing music therapy services in people's homes and driving from one client's house at one end of town to another at the opposite end of town in the hottest part of the year back in the day and I hated it with a red, hot, burning passion, (but maybe that's just because it was 112 degrees and I had no air conditioning in my car). That being said, I now understand why all the parents of my clients liked it so well; having someone come to your house and not having to schlep your kid to an outside place, especially when you have more than one kid is A-to-the-W-to-the-E-SOME! You can totally be in your bathrobe until 9:14 and just duck into the bedroom to throw on some sweats when you see the piano teacher drive up at 9:15. No fighting with a two year old to get in the car, no yelling "I don't care if you want to wear your bathing suit out in December, you must put on clothing nowhurrywe'reGONNABELAAAATE!" No, the only yelling required in this situation is just the occasional, "You need to focus on your lesson, dear," from the other room when you hear her start to tell Mr. Piano Teacher how you can tell the difference between the boy cat and the girl cat because of The Spot.

I'll tell you a secret though. If this piano teacher ever decided he was only going to teach lessons only out of a studio, I'd totally follow him there. He's a very good teacher of young children and has been really great with The Dormouse. His philosophy is one of teaching kids to love music and not so much making them into performing monkeys that get yelled at when they miss a note, which is exactly what I was looking for when I searched through so many teachers before finding him. So it'd be worth it to drive to where he is for lessons each week, but I don't let him know that. No, no. Whenever he talks about maybe changing his business model and not driving around to homes and wonders aloud if he'll lose students this way all I do is tsk my tongue and say, "Well... it IS super-convenient to have you come here..." and trail off muttering something about the Other Child and how hard it is to get her in the car.

Last week a woman I know at church who also teaches piano sent around a flier about a piano recital she was holding. It was mainly for her own students, but since she was going to hold it at the church building, she decided to make it into a church event and invite any young person in the congregation who wanted to play something to participate as well. The Dormouse couldn't wait to get her some o' that performing in public! where people could see her! and give her attention! action, so we signed up.

Now, I think we all know that a children's recital of any kind is only interesting for the two-and-a-half minutes it takes to actually see your own kid play. After that, you're just biding your time until it's over or you can sneak out. Unless your kid is last, in which case, by the time you get to the money shot, everyone else has gone and your kid is playing to an empty room and you are pissed at everyone who has left before the end. This woman knew that as well, so she didn't create a written program. She hung ornaments on a tree and every kid who played a piece then had to go choose an ornament from the tree afterward. That ornament had the number of the next piece on the program. Pretty ingenious, if you don't count the fact that there were forty pieces, FORTY. (She let all those who wanted to - and that was most of them - play two pieces. This way they wouldn't leave after they played their one piece; they'd have to stick around and listen to at least some of the others.) Add to that the fact that many of those pieces were contemporary tunes that the kids played right out of the song book. There's not a problem with that until you realize that the Theme from Twilight and Stairway to Heaven each have something like NINETY verses and the kids are playing the piano with no singing, so they're pretty much just playing the same thing over and over... second verse, same as the first. A little bit louder and a little bit worse!

This is all just my subtle way of telling you that this event was LONG. Like three hours long. That's long for me and I'm someone who's been performing and concert-going for most of my mumblesomething years on this earth. I can't even begin to describe to describe how long it is when you're seven.

I don't know why, as I watched parents tap away on their phones, organize their purses, pull out nail clippers to catch up on their personal grooming tasks then reach over and begin clipping their kids' nails, etc., but Alice don't play that and I insisted that the girls try to at least learn some appropriate concert etiquette as both an audience member and a performer: Dress nicely. Be quiet. Listen respectfully to the people who are playing because they will listen respectfully to you. Take off the Sherlock Holmes hat and the mittens hanging from the ends of your coat sleeves while you are playing your piece. Acknowledge the applause rather than skulking off the stage when you are finished. Wait until you are home for that pedicure you've been putting off.

It was a lot of waiting around and she was restless but for the most part The Dormouse did great. The Caterpillar, well, she didn't get a nap that day, so she was great for about fifteen minutes. Then she could. not. be. contained. any further. I was hoping they'd call The Dormouse's number early and then one of us could just take The Caterpillar out in the hallway, but The Dormouse ended up being one of the last five songs to play. So
the LONG was made even LONGER due to the fact that I was desperately trying not to miss The Dormouse's performance should her name be called. Her piece was super short and she was only playing one, so I didn't want to be out in the hall with The Caterpillar when her number was picked or I'd miss it entirely. But I was also trying to keep The Caterpillar from making too much noise and ruining it for everyone else. Two of the three hours, I just stood in the back of the hall with The Caterpillar, shushing her whenever she made a peep. For awhile, just running circles around Momma was enough to keep her interested, and when I say that, I mean it literally:

She did this for a good twenty minutes before she she was so dizzy she started falling down every couple steps and couldn't figure out why. Eventually she tired of that and went about the good work of pulling a giant rack of chairs down on her head and putting her hands all over all the refreshments waiting in the back. BUT SHE DID IT QUIETLY, DAMMIT. And yes, I did manage to send out a few tweets during the event, but at least *I* did it from the bathroom like a respectable person. Ahem.

The Dormouse eventually did get to play and she was great. It's not the longest song in the world, but it's the first piece she ever learned that had a recognizable tune to it and she played it perfectly.

See that bow at the end? I reminded her to do that after kid #3 sullenly stomped back to his seat without so much as looking up at the folks politely clapping. She was super excited and when I showed her her name in the program, gasped. GASPED. Like something out of a Victorian novel. One older boy, who was really quite good for his age, took the time to come over and tell her she did a good job and I think she was a little starstruck. I'm surprised she didn't swoon and declare she had the vapors.

So I guess it was worth it in the end.

Just don't expect me to get behind a voluntary recital again any time soon.