I’ve been remembering back to something when I was a child. I used to have piano lessons, half an hour twice a week. Two ladies were business partners and Wink and I went one day to one and one to the other. Neither of us ever did that well, to be honest. We were more dutiful than enthusiastic. Wink stopped her lessons before me, probably because I’m stubborn. Not stubborn enough to work hard, just enough to not stop.
Anyway, what I was remembering was a time I was given a new book of exam pieces, just before a holiday. I hated piano exams. I didn’t mind theory exams in the least and got top marks in several of them, never less than 96 out of 99, but I was so shy that the practical exams were a nightmare. This exam book – it was probably the Easter holidays, I can’t remember, but it can’t have been as long as the summer – there was one piece I rather liked and I practised a lot. I got quite keen and played all of them, but I was note-perfect in this one by my next lesson. And I played it and waited for comments – I played too fast. That was all she said. I didn’t care much after that, I did get through the exam eventually, scraping through as usual, but I had lost my enthusiasm.
Friends of ours have a daughter of Ro’s age, and they decided to take her from the local high school for the 6th form and send her to the girls’ private school in Norwich (which Weeza attended) as they thought she’d get higher grades at A level with the extra push of a very ambitious school. The first time I saw them after she’d started, I asked how it was going. “It’s marvellous,” my friend said. “The first work she handed in, it was marked and given back and she was told ‘You’re not going to get A grades with this.'” “Was that all?” I wondered. Indeed, it seems that this was the gist of the initial feedback. My friend was very impressed. I wasn’t. “But how about being given some positive feedback? Just being told it isn’t up to standard isn’t very helpful, especially with a girl who’s just joined the school and doesn’t know what style or form of homework the school wants. How does she know how to improve – and surely some of it was good, why not mention that?” Her daughter was appreciative. That was just her reaction, she said, she had felt discouraged and embarrassed. My friend hadn’t thought about it that way, but she could see what I meant.
I have two letters to write. I won’t do them tonight, though I probably should make a start. But they are both ones that have to be done right. I won’t send them the day I write them, in any case. I don’t draft blog posts, but I do letters. I know some people who dash off over-hasty emails, and that can really cause bad feeling. In fact, it’s because one has (to someone else, although I was sent a copy of it; I think that ‘reply to all’ is inappropriate if you’re going to be sarcastic) that I am going to write. I’m hoping to oil a few wheels.
The other letter is an awkward one that no one on the PCC wants to have to write, so they’ve roped me in. Hm.