Went to hear my five-year-old granddaughter Grace sing last Sunday afternoon. She takes lessons at a small music school in St. Paul that’s funded in part by the state. You aren’t likely to find a future Isaac Perlman or Beverly Sills there (although you never know), just a lot of earnest-looking kids who want to sing or play the piano or tenor sax or trumpet or clarinet or violin or acoustic guitar. They don’t have a big auditorium and don’t need one. The recital was in a large room with the stage one step up. There was a program but they didn’t seem to follow it very closely; I think if the kid looked ready, they just sent him up.
Gracie has a soft little voice but sings rather loud, and when she looks into the future, I’m pretty sure she sees a star. She had to introduce herself and say the name of her song, “Lullaby of Broadway,” which she sang with hand motions and great composure, until about the last minute. Then she wasn’t smiling anymore, and you could see the tears sliding down her cheeks, although her voice only wavered a little bit. She finished the song and jumped into the arms of her mother (who by that time had stood up from her chair in the first row), and buried her face in mom’s neck.
And because Grace is the youngest student in the school, and because she was adorable in her hot pink leggings and hot pink shoes, and most of all because she was brave, of course the audience erupted when she finished. At which point the emcee had to stop and get me a tissue, and then offer a tissue to anyone else who might need one (no one did), before moving on to a boy tackling Handel’s “Sarabande” on the piano (or maybe it was the clarinet, I sort of lost focus).
I guess you’d say it was one of those moments. Never in my life will I get out of my head the image of Gracie’s face, singing away with a tear about to drop off her chin.