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  • Writer's picturePat Clark

Reflections After the Dance Recital

After a year of COVID social isolation, I now have my double vaccine and I am back in grandmother mode. I was able to go to my middle granddaughter’s dance recital this year. Yes, I had my grandmother proud face on. It was delightful.

Every child in the dance school, from the very youngest to the high school seniors, was eligible to participate. Size, shape, expertise did not matter, they were all included if they wanted to be.

The 3-year-olds, in their colorful tutus, could barely keep their little bodies moving with the music. They were wide-eyed just being in front of a full audience of family and friends. One little girl waved furiously to the audience, but I don’t think I saw a smile. They were too intent on listening to the music and trying to remember their steps to think about smiling. (They reminded me of some of us dulcimer players when we play out in public - too intent to smile.)

Slowly, as the age of the children increased, I could see the development of coordination, rhythm, gracefulness, and joy. I could see how those simple baby steps, over time led to more intricate steps. The older kids danced with smooth moves and easy transitions.

In spite of the hard work, there were still glitches to overcome. At one point my granddaughter, Mia, lost a shoe. She just gracefully kicked it aside, and continued dancing in one shoe, without missing a beat - and with a smile on her face.

The pride the dancers had at the end of the evening was magnificent to behold. They had worked hard, learned to function as a group, developed their skill, and received admiration and applause for their efforts.

I think the transition from duckling to beautiful swan occurs in many educational settings. For sure it happens in the dulcimer community. The “newbies,” if they stick with it, learn to play first simple, but later more intricate music. At the top of the music learning pyramid is playing with others and performing the music in multiple parts, in the correct timing, and with artistic expression. It really is much easier to play solo, but it is not nearly as rewarding as participating in a group of your peers.

The dulcimer playing world is just now awakening after our long year in isolation due to COVID 19. Many folks did not touch their instruments while isolated. Others took advantage of the many learning opportunities offered on ZOOM (including the Saturday Send in the Music digital jam). The missing piece in all of our online learning events was playing with others.

Like the littlest dancers, many of us will recover our skills faster if we have a grand goal to shoot for. The non-profit, Performing Arts Educators, just may have something to help us recover faster. They have planned an opportunity for Large Dulcimer Ensembles to play on the the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville Tennessee next April. Keep your eye out for more detailed information about this adventure. I know, I am going. I want a chance to play lovely music on a great stage with my friends. We don’t stop needing the celebrations just because we are older. We actually may need them more to keep us vibrant and excited with our lives.

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