If you have ever performed in a talent show, concert, or recital, you know how much stress it can be. And if it’s scary for adults, imagine how terribly frightening it must be for a child. They take piano lessons, practice their little hearts out, and then do what few adults will agree to do – perform.
That’s the subject of Alison McGhee’s picture book, Song of Middle C, illustrated by Scott Menchin, and published by Candlewick Press. It is about a little girl preparing for her first piano recital. The poor kid works her heart out committing the music to memory, and prepares in every way she can imagine, including bowing in front of the mirror and wearing her lucky underwear!
Then when she gets up to play, she freezes – the whole piece erased from her mind. She sweats, she worries, and she nearly panics.
Perhaps the story would have come to a rough ending if the girl didn’t have such a fantastic piano teacher, who taught her to not be concerned about length of time, to recognize the value of middle C, and to use her imagination. With these tools, the little girl finds that the music itself can carry her through – even if the music she plays isn’t the music she planned!
One of the unique things about this book is that it goes into the more enjoyable parts of music. Rather than simply following the typical pattern of ‘learn your sheet music and then play it right,’ Alison McGhee illustrates the value and power of improvisation, and how music itself can be the guide in deciding how to play and what to play. This is a great lesson to learn – and the earlier a person can learn it the better, because when your memory fails you on stage, your emotions are still in tact (though seared slightly!), and can guide you to still make beautiful music. Music is a thing of the heart, and Song of Middle C demonstrates that well.
Song of Middle C is a fun read, and a must have for parents with young children in piano lessons. It will help them prepare for their own recital, and teach them the power of music itself when guided by the imagination.
Learn more about Song of Middle C at http://candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=Title&mode=book&isbn=0763630136&pix=n