Coach

Over the years I have had the opportunity to coach a lot of teen-aged chamber music groups.  I enjoy teaching chamber music because the whole performance is reliant on the ability of the group to work as a team.  I don’t think I am a very good technical teacher, but I do think I’m pretty good at fostering camaraderie between a group of kids. 

As a rule, I like coaching chamber music, but every once in awhile you get a group that is just trouble.  Maybe one of the kids isn’t as good as the others, maybe they are playing a piece that’s way too hard, or maybe one of the kids is just a bad seed.  These groups can be excruciating, and watching the performance can be terrifying.  It is never fun to sit and listen, praying to baby Jesus that the group can just make it through the piece without stopping. (They always make it.)

One of the funny things about teenagers (particularly girls) is that you never know what to expect in terms of their reaction to the performance.  My all time favorite reaction came a few years ago.  I was coaching a group that was playing a piece that was WAY to hard for them, they had major trouble getting along, and they had a pretty toxic member.  It was the perfect storm of unpleasant.  The concert was……well, it was successful in that they didn’t have to stop, but they really didn’t do any of the things we had worked so hard on, and it was a pretty rocky ride. 

I went backstage fully expecting tears, and finger pointing, and surliness all around.  The first member of the group I encountered was the fifteen-year-old second violinist.  Her face was flush with emotion and drama, and I instinctively reached out to console her, about to offer my very best "Hey, nobody’s perf" speeches.   She looked up at me, eyes flashing and cheeks burning, and breathlessly said, "That.  Was so.  Awesome." 

Heh.  Yes, it was.

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3 Responses to “Coach”


  1. 2 Mom November 9, 2007 at 12:06 am

    That was really interesting. I’ve always wondered how it is for you to be in the coach shoes. I’m enjoying NaBloPoMo!

  2. 3 courtney November 9, 2007 at 12:14 am

    I second Shalini: Sequoia. If you come to Sequoia, you can have this type of experience EVERY DAY!!!


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