Sunday, March 20, 2011

Blog Change & Brag Alert!

Here's the deal:  I realize this blog was started to allow our friends and family to follow along with our adoption journey.  Well, as of this past Thursday when I drove to the Social Security office with Certificate of Citizenship in hand and had Markos' official status of his Social Security number changed to that of "citizen", our adoption is now complete.  Therefore, the way I see it, there are 3 options: 
1) End the blog.
2) Only continue to post about Markos' adjustment and life with our family (which hardly seems fair when I have 2 other children!), or
3) Switch the entire blog focus over to being about our family as a whole.
Because I find that blogging is kind of fun, and it is a very easy way to share pictures and videos with our family and friends, and if I ever get inspired to start writing again, it will give me an avenue to do so, I figure that we'll go with Option #3.

Therefore, I bring you the first Brag About Mackenzie post!  :-)  If you were only here to read the adoption details, attempt to discern Ethiopia travel tips, or determine what you might be dealing with if you choose to adopt an older child, you might want to stop reading now.  If, however, you just like to read about other people's lives, families, kids and their accomplishments, read on!

Mackenzie is our oldest child.  She is super smart (as in, took the SATs as a 7th grader and scored higher than almost 60% of all college-bound Seniors in the state of PA); and she is very sweet (was just voted "Friendliest Student" by her 8th grade class for the yearbook).  She is also very quiet and shy, and, like her mom, HATES being in front of people or the center of attention.

Mackenzie started taking piano lessons in kindergarten.  She took for a few years, but then, due to a combination of dislike of practicing and a dislike of having to participate in recitals, she stopped taking lessons (much to her father's and my disappointment because she was very good and we loved that she was learning to play).  Thankfully, back in December, she decided that she wanted to start playing again.  We were thrilled.  Her previous instructor did not have any openings in her lesson schedule, so we found a new teacher.  Mackenzie is doing wonderfully and really enjoying playing again.  No longer do I have to nag at her to practice; Eric bought her a full-sized keyboard for her room so she was thrilled; and Mackenzie really likes the new teacher.

We made a deal when she started back - naively I said, "I really just want you to learn to play piano.  If you really, really do not want to participate in the recitals, we won't make you."  (honestly, I really didn't think that a lot of the teachers had recitals, so I didn't think it would be an issue.  Ha!)  So, we go to the new teacher's studio for the first lesson and after talking to the teacher and reading through all the materials she gave us, we discovered that she has not one, but two recitals a year AND she is a member of several different piano teachers' organizations and music organizations and therefore asks some of her students whom she thinks will do well, to participate in competitions throughout the year.  I was honest with her and told her of Mackenzie's dislike of performing in front of people and she assured us that she really tries to make sure that it's all very low-key and non-stressful.  (ummm...apparently, she doesn't know people who have a tremendous fear of  dislike being up in front of people like Mackenzie and I do).

Wouldn't you know that Mackenzie pretty much picked right back up where she left off with her lessons and, in less than a month, finished the lesson book that she was on and moved up to the next book.  So, her teacher asked her to consider participating in the Junior Festival held by the National Federation of Music Clubs and then tried to comfort her with the knowledge that, "well, you may as well, because our spring recital is the next day so you'll already have to learn two pieces to play for that the next day anyway".   (uh oh.)

Actually, I did honor my original proclamation and did tell Mackenzie that if she didn't want to do it that she didn't have to (although I might have urged her a LOT little to go ahead and do it).  I am happy to report that given her teacher's assurance that she would do very well and my encouragement (?) to go ahead and do it, she decided to participate in both. 

Yesterday, we drove to Westminster Presbyterian Church where she competed in the "solo piano" and "theory" competitions at the festival.  The theory portion was a written test on music theory.  For the solo piano portion, she had to memorize and play 2 pieces chosen from a list of acceptable pieces for her skill level and then she had to go into a room with a panel of 2 judges (neither of which was her piano teacher) and play the 2 pieces for them.  They then rate her in several areas and provide comments and feedback on her playing and give her a "rating".  Each rating is assigned a certain number of points, and as the students earn points through the years, they earn "Gold Cup" trophies of varying sizes.  The competition is only with themselves, for them to grow as musicians, NOT a competition against other musicians who are participating.

I went with Mackenzie to the festival and was allowed to go into the room with her.  I thought she did fantastic.  The first piece sounded perfect; the second piece had a very small error near the end, but it was not a glaring error at all and, being a non-musical person, I wasn't even certain it WAS an error, it sounded more to me like, 'hmmm, that sounded a little weird. I wonder if it was supposed to sound like that.'  She assured me that she was "horrible" and that "she messed up".  (yep - she got her perfectionism from me, too.  Poor thing.)

Today, we had her recital at Bethel Bible Church in Peters.

Mackenzie's recital

Thankfully, the instructor divides her students into two separate recitals so we don't have to sit through several hours of piano playing by a large number of students with a wide range of ability levels.  :-)
Kenzie did a great job again.  You can listen for yourself.

And, best of all, her teacher had the results of yesterday's festival already.  Mackenzie received the highest possible rating, "Superior", in both Theory and in Solo Piano, receiving the highest number of points possible for 2 events.  She only needs 5 more points to earn her first Gold Cup.

Kenzie receiving her "Superior" award certificates

OK, this proud momma is finished bragging about her daughter for the night.  (Although, in my defense, I was asked and did assure my mom and dad that I would record the recital for them to see, and besides, you didn't have to keep reading, YOU WERE WARNED!)

Mackenzie and Mrs. Priano relaxing after the recital

1 comment:

  1. Love that you chose option #3, although I caution you ... I made a similar proclamation (make it a family blog), and then we got "the call that changed it all" and were plunged back into the adoption world :)

    We just bought our oldest a piano for her 8th birthday. She's really musical and I'm so excited to get her started in lessons. Glad to know your daughter was able to pick right back up where she started.