Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Proud Day

On this past Sunday afternoon my younger son, Gregory, had his senior recital as a saxophone performance major at CU. He's closing in on a double degree: a bachelor of science degree in computer science in the College of Engineering and a bachelor of music degree in jazz studies in the College of Music. Sunday was the culminating event of his undergraduate years as music student. He played three of his own original compositions - "Light the Way," "Morning Dew," and "Valencia" - as well as "If I Should Lose You" by Ralph Rainger, "26-2" by John Coltrane, "Very Early" by Bill Evans, and "Dat Dere," by Bobby Timmons, accompanied by a wonderfully talented band of fellow students on piano, bass, drums, and trumpet.

The small chamber music hall at the Imig Music Building was filled with our family, his classmates, his first piano teacher (who has forgiven him for falling in love with saxophone instead), and friends of mine from my writing group, the philosophy department, and our church. A reception followed where I provided a spread of fancy cheeses and crackers, a beautiful veggie tray, and my signature ginger snap cookies and cream cheese brownies, as requested by the star of the program.

As a parent it's impossible not to remember those crucial life-shaping moments where it all began. Gregory's father took both boys to the end-of-year jazz band concert at Fairview High School when Gregory was in third grade and Christopher was in sixth grade. As soon as Fairview's stellar top jazz band, Jazz I, took the stage, and Gregory heard that first saxophone solo, that was it for him.

I rented him a saxophone, found him a teacher, and took him to his first lesson. There I watched him learn how to assemble his instrument and play his first notes. I asked his teacher, Dave Camp, how much he wanted Gregory to practice. Dave shrugged. "As much as he wants." Then he told Gregory, "But the one who practices the most wins."

So much practicing. So much time in the car driving to lessons up in Lafayette (where I would sit at my favorite coffee shop writing lists of my goals and dreams in my special little notebook while I waited for the lesson to finish). So much time in the car driving down to practices and performances for the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and at the jazz club Dazzle. So many middle school and high school jazz band concerts. Hearing Gregory play his own saxophone solos once he joined Fairview's Jazz I as a sophomore. Then jazz combo and jazz ensemble concerts at CU.

And then, watching him come out on stage Sunday afternoon, still looking to me hardly different from the little boy he was at that first lesson, but now so poised, so professional, so accomplished in doing what he loves.

May it always be so.

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