Josie and Ava are members of a Symphony.
This is their second year. The Symphony is made up of four divisions, with Division IV being the most junior, and Division I is made up primarily of 8th and 9th graders, the highest level of the Symphony. They hold chair auditions three times a year.
The girls jumped right up to Division III from the beginning and we were all amazed. Since then, with each audition for a new seat, they’ve moved up. I warned them that this is highly unusual, and that they should be prepared for moving down at some point. After all, they’ve observed this happening to many others in the group. This year, they made it to Division II, Violin I, and I told them that this is quite an accomplishment, that they ought to be proud and keep working hard.
The girls auditioned. When I asked how it went, Josie was quite confident that she did well. Ava was less sure, “I messed up on a few measures. But I think I did OK.” It turns out that Josie jumped many seats up. Ava moved down about 15 chairs. This was traumatic for her. This was her first “fail” (although I didn’t see it that way). For a week, she slumped and was sad. She mentioned a viola player who did the same thing: he was 2nd chair and fell to second to last. “Mom, I noticed this boy, he fell many seats and he used to sit really tall. He was proud and now, he has terrible posture. He is always frowning and he doesn’t look like he wants to be there.” I asked her, “And what do you think of that?” “I think it’s sad.” A few weeks passed. “Mom, remember that viola player I told you about?” “Yes.” “Well, I noticed he’s still slumped and depressed. I even wonder if he’ll quit.” I expected her to tell me how she was going to cheer him up. I thought she would share with me her plan.
“I’ve decided that I don’t deserve to sit where I’m sitting. I messed up in the audition, but I’m better than 22nd chair. I’ve decided that no matter what happens, no matter where I’m sitting, I will sit as if I am sitting where I DESERVE to sit.”
I was blown away. This is something I learned late in life: Disregard what others think of me and hold my head up high. She’s only ten years old. How did she know this?
“Wow Ava, I am very proud of you. That is amazing that you came up with that on your own.”
“Well, this boy, he’s very good too and he shouldn’t let it affect him this way.”
Yet another life lesson learned through their serious violin practice.