Here's how our day unfolded:
Alex had his state solo competition yesterday. His time slot was 9:30, and he does not like to sleep in hotels. So we got up early (EARLY!! Are there no limits to a mother's love??) and headed over to Central Washington University for the big event.
Now, as a bit of background, Alex chose this piece for his solo around the beginning of last summer. We have heard this played for months now. Sometimes more pleasant that other times. Even when something is pleasant, there comes a time when it's just enough. For him and us. He played it well at regionals, still a rough version of what it was to be, but an aggressive piece that still needed a lot of refining. He got it going really well, then it started to fall apart a couple weeks ago. There was one section that was just a mess. Enough of a mess that Brad actually called his teacher and told him we were worried. Brad got a pep talk, Alex got a pep talk, and away he went. He worked it out. WORKED it.
So we arrived on Saturday, bickering as usual about where to park and which street to turn on. I saw it as a good deflection from any nerves. Alex saw it as annoying. He was cool as a cucumber. He was so calm and collected that I began to worry that he wasn't focused, that he was a bit too casual. But that's just him. Me? Huh-uh.
We listened to a few other bassoonists, then Alex went and listened to his friend. On the inside I'm screaming "FOCUS ON YOURSELF!!!", but on the outside I wanted him to prep however he needed. He got warmed up while I listened to more bassoonists. And the competition was tough. I, in all honesty, was not feeling super confident about how Alex would do. Finally, his turn.
Waiting for the clock to strike precisely 9:30 so he can tune and go!
And that kid brought it. He was about a minute into his 7 minute solo when my stomach started knotting. I was thinking, "He's totally on! He's doing it!" And then I wanted him so badly to nail all the difficult parts that come at the very end. I was breathing for him when he couldn't breathe. I was keeping the tempo for him, I was praying like crazy in my head. Flawless? Of course not. Great when it needed to be? Yep.
Alex's teacher was not able to be at the event this year, so he had given direct orders to call him as soon as he was done and let him know how it went. So he called right when he was done and told him he felt really good about it.
Last year he scored all 2's at state. We were hoping for at least one 1, knowing that would be a better showing. And an hour later when we picked up his score sheets? Three 1's! Wonderful, encouraging comments. Constructive while being very complimentary.
We were so ecstatic at the scores. What a successful day! Alex was feeling so good. Another call to his teacher to report the scores. All the kids that get an overall score of 1 are then ranked, with top 3 being placed. We knew that technically that meant Alex could place, but when his teacher asked him if he thought he would Alex said, "Oh, no. I listened to a lot of the others, and there's no way."
Then it was off to lunch: Mexican, of course. Over steak fajitas (TWO HOURS after he had performed, mind you), Alex said, "I can't wait to pick out the piece I'm going to play next year." Please. While I love to plan ahead, I told him to just soak in today. We needed to just sit in it awhile before rushing off to the next thing.
We went back to the campus and listened to a couple of his friends perform.
Before we left for home, we decided to go see who made top three, mostly curious if one obnoxiously annoying gal had made it. She was a piece of work without any music. But that's another story. As we made our way to the posted sheets, I was squinting to see the names and had to get pretty close. My eyes slipped down and I saw "Olympia High School". I was puzzled, because Alex was the only bassoon entry from Olympia High School. Then I looked over at the name, and gasped. There he was. Listed in the top three right along side a young man that Alex respects so much and loves listening to. To say we were all stunned is an understatement. I cried. Alex grabbed his phone again and called his teacher to let him know he was top three. Such a thrilling moment.
So then of course we had to stay for the evening awards ceremony. Alex placed third, as we figured by seeing the other two in the top three. Again, to just be listed on the same paper as those others was an immense honor.
And incredible day. So very much work went into preparing for that. Hours upon hours of practicing. Working it out. Hours upon hours with his teacher, figuring out how to work it out. Hours with his accompanist, figuring out how to work well together to showcase it. Practicing when he wanted to. Practicing when he didn't feel like it. Staying teachable. Seeking out tips and advice from those who know so much more. And it all came together at just the right time!
And as we rehashed it on the way home, here's what we came up with. If he never saw a score sheet after his performance, we would have left very happy. He played it well, and there was great satisfaction in doing what he came to do. And then he got the great scores, and that was enough. And then he got top three???? Amazed.
Finally home, exhausted and oh-so-happy. This is my little bassoonist: 3rd place in the State of Washington for 2010-2011!
This was one of the many fun moments sprinkled through the day:
We had stepped to the end of a hallway to have a "What did he say???" conversation after Alex spent a couple moments talking with one of the adjudicators after he found out he was top three. We glanced over at the sign on the door:
Yeah. He'd like that lab.
That's a whole lotta words in this post. I'm a whole lotta proud of this boy.