Last night, she conducted her first 8th Grade Holiday Choir Concert.
Cassie and I live together. Therefore, I’ve seen the amount of preparation that was required to put this 1-hour concert together. Throughout the last few months, Cassie had to:
- Select and purchase songs.
- Teach the songs to her choir students.
- Incorporate the use of instruments into the songs.
- Incorporate and teach choreography.
- Design matching T-shirts for the concert.
- Raise money to have the T-shirts printed.
- Get props.
- Make holiday decorations.
- Create and print the Holiday Concert programs.
- Correspond with parents that could bring refreshments.
- Correspond with custodians to set up seating for over 100 people.
- Correspond with the school media center to borrow a video camera.
- And so on, and so on — I’m certain I left things out.
My point is that Cassie had a large number of responsibilities that needed attention in order to ensure the concert would be a success. She committed months of work to the event and in my opinion (and the general opinion of the parents and faculty who attended) the concert was an enormous success.
Cassie, on the other hand, was upset over the performance. After all of the songs were sung, the pictures were taken, the refreshments were eaten, and the guests had taken their leave, Cassie’s mood changed drastically. She was visibly upset as we cleaned up the cafeteria and packed everything into her car. Once we were on the road, I asked her what was wrong.
She immediately broke down. Suddenly she was talking so fast I could barely understand her. She voiced everything that was bothering her rapid-fire:
I’m mad that my students were doing exactly what I told them not to do and the concert started late because students wouldn’t stop talking and the girls in the alto section couldn’t stop giggling and students weren’t watching me and they were fidgeting during songs and some were talking between songs and the altos weren’t loud enough and some students didn’t even show up and that messed up the choreography of the dance moves and they were so much better during rehearsal…
Whenever I could get a word in, I encouraged her:
The concert was a success, hun. It looked like everyone there had a good time, hun. Most performances always start a few minutes later than the actual start time — I’m sure the audience expected it, hun. I thought the students sang very well, hun. It’s clear they practiced a lot for this, hun. I think the only reason you can even see any flaws is because you led them through every rehearsal. Remember that everyone else was seeing the concert for the first time. Plus the parents are all going to enjoy themselves and be proud of their kids no matter what happens.
Once her anxiety settled down, we drove in silence for a while. The more I thought about all she had said, the more I sympathized with her. I know that when you work really hard for something, you build up an expectation of how successful you want it to be. When its success will be a representation of your own success, you put even more pressure on yourself to get it right.
The thing is, when it comes to nitpicking tiny flaws in the actual outcome, you are your own worst enemy. In other words, your toughest critic is often yourself.
Cassie, I enjoyed the concert. So did the parents and faculty. So did your family members who came out to support you. You worked hard, and you got it right — so don’t be so hard on yourself.
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