Why I Love Vincent
Vincent is a junior at my daughter's high school and a very talented clarinetist. He's smart, he's friendly, he's talented. I met him once, and we spoke for five minutes, but I love the kid.
My daughter only likes him--and that's even though Vincent has changed her life.
It's like this. Way back in September, Vincent the first clarinetist who helped the music teacher place young musicians in the band, made her fourth chair, first row. That was big for my little freshmen. She had to climb over a lot of upper classmen to get to that chair.
Next, Vincent suggested to Adella she'd have a good chance at making the northwest regional band if only she'd try out. So she got the Rose etudes and worked her fingers to the bone and even took private lessons for a few weeks and tried out. It was no small thing to play before two pale, unsmiling women who checked this and crossed out that and said next to nothing for 15 minutes. She didn't make the band, though she would like to have, but she was OK with it.
That's because Vincent, who mentioned that his private music teacher is the principal of a music magnet school and the second clarinet for the New Haven Symphony, said in passing that he had been practicing the same etudes for the past year. He wasn't bragging; he wasn't showing off. There's nothing puffed up about this kid. He was just telling us how it was. He was being a friend.
She put her month alongside his year and suddenly the dots connected themselves: hard work gets you there. A little hard work got her playing far better than she had just a month before. A little more and a little more.....
And the next thing I know, I'm buying a purple tenor sax for my daughter because her private music teacher, who calls the clarinet the black agony stick, told her she could do it and she would love it.
Which takes us to today, when Adella played my favorite--"Michael Row that Boat Ashore"--and "Happy Birthday" to me on the purple behemoth that is about the same size and weight that she is. That's three days after the thing arrived in the mail.
I love Vincent for showing Adella she should believe in herself and the value of her hard work because he did. He got her to see herself as a musician. She respects him as a smart kid with talent and as a nice person. Smart, talented, nice: equally important qualities that change lives.
The current lore in education says kids learn best when they learn from each other. That's true when they have something to offer each other, which is not all the time. When they do, though, it's a beautiful thing.