The nurse got her syringe in between her fingers, and was
preparing an antiseptic wipe.
“It doesn’t hurt that much, right?” My wife wanted some
“Oh, it hurts a lot.” The nurse was not cooperating.
“Well, at least my kids had it. So I should be able to take
it.” She forced a smile.
“Kids are tough, you know.” The nurse deadpanned. With that,
she pushed in the needle.
Yesterday was our piano recital. Usually it means my wife
and I get the camera and camcorder ready, and enjoy an evening of concert. The
littler kids start first, and then it’ll be the bigger kids. We encourage our
kids, congratulate other kids, and thank their teacher Rowena Arrieta. But this was not a usual piano recital.
During the intermission, a couple of parents bid me “good
luck”. I smiled, and thanked them. Yes, my name was on the program. I was to
play a four hand with my daughter. It’s a first for me, and a first for a
parent under Rowena’s tutelage.
I mentally prepared myself. It was a simple and short piece,
Barcarolle. And Rowena prepared us well enough that sometimes we even played
without any hitches.
I concentrated on the kids who were playing in front of us,
until the last minute. Then I turned on the camcorder mounted on a tripod, took
our music sheets, and followed my daughter upstage. I smiled, bowed, arranged
the piano benches for four hands, and set up our music. All was well.
We started playing on my cue. The first note I played
sounded overly harsh, partly due to my over correction for a
less-than-sensitive piano. I adjusted and we were off. Let the waves roll! I
felt in control.
Then it came all of a sudden. My right leg, the one
controlling the damper pedal, started to shake violently and uncontrollably. I
tried to calm myself. We had to play on. There was really nothing to worry
about, I told myself. Then I missed a pedal. Rowena could hear that, but most
of the people in the audience probably wouldn’t notice. We played on. Then my
right hand started to shake as well. Oh, that was bad—because now I started to
play wrong notes. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me.
I had stage frights before. I was never comfortable
speaking in public, and in junior high the speeches I wrote were made by a
class leader appointed by our teacher. When I worked in Atlanta, I voluntarily participated in a Dale
Carnegie training course for speeches, and joined a Toastmaster Club. Yet even
through all these events, my heart always pounded involuntarily whenever I
But that had changed over the years. Through practice, I
could now speak in front of dozens without any mental preparation. I spoke at
conferences, and taught kids from primary school to college. So when Rowena
asked me to play at the recital, I readily agreed.
Who would know that an adrenalin rush could roll me over
like a freight train when I thought I was mentally calm? I could not understand
nor control my body! Fortunately I was hiding behind my daughter, who soldiered
bravely on. I tried to keep pace with her.
It was a short piece; this was not by chance. At the end of
the piece were a few tremolos. That’s where my shaking hand did not hinder the
performance. Yeah! We smiled to each other, and got up to bow. Standing up
definitely helped my leg to calm down. Especially with all the flaws in my
playing, the applause was so very heartening.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was all R&R. A few
people told me that I played well. I thanked them politely. To a few that I
knew well, I told them about my shaking legs. And hands.
My daughter was incredulous about the experience—she saw it
up close. “Why were you shaking so crazily?”
Well, kids are tough. I am not.