I know Songbird is winding down her musical-performance-laden holiday season, probably with great relief. And even though I know it's "part of her job" - this time of year is very stressful for her. She has so many performances and children to coordinate; I honestly don't know how she keeps her sanity.
The other night, her high school, middle school, and special performance choral groups held a stirring Christmas concert. I always "tear up" during these concerts, and not just because my darling daughter is part of the group (bonus points if you can find her in this photo). Music is such a huge part of my life, and the ability to hear young voices spread the joy of song with such enthusiasm is a precious gift. This year, she again invited me to accompany her high school choir on the piano; it is truly an honor to be a part of such a powerful musical experience.
It is on these nights that I see the payoff for Songbird. Right before any performance, she is trying her best to organize large groups of rowdy, excited young men and women, whose butterflies are making them more frenzied than usual. But DURING the performance, her face lights up. I have accompanied her choral groups in the past, and my vantage point from behind the piano allows me to see her every expression. She is constantly smiling, revelling in every nuance of the music. Her jubilation further infuses her choir, and they respond in kind. It is as if every day of the past 3 1/2 months has been leading up to this moment of bliss, and she is soaking up the rapture. I'm not sure there is a participant, parent or audience member who feels the same radiant ecstasy as she. Not only has she given the lifelong gift of knowledge and music to her students but has created a moment of intangible beauty for everyone present. It is the true "paycheck" for her work during the year.
I wish I could capture the radiance of these nights, place them carefully in a box, for her to open anytime she is feeling down. I know she will always have the memories, but nothing can compare to those moments on stage, listening to the fruits of her labor pour forth from the hearts and souls of her young students.