My plan was to be at the recital hall at 5 pm, an hour early, to: meet with the videographer; meet with my friend who always prints up the programs and makes the seating tags for the students; give instructions to another friend who was coming along with me to help out by escorting the students to and from the rehearsal room to warm up; and to to warm up a bit myself and hopefully have a few peaceful moments to "get in the zone" before my students began arriving.
However the best-laid plans of mice, men, and piano teachers often take a detour. Just after I'd picked up my friend I received a text from a student's parent that there'd been a family emergency - a minor one it turned out to be, thankfully - and though one of the parents hoped to make it in time for the performance the student was at the moment without a ride to the recital.
I drove over to the student's house to pick them up.
When I arrived at the recital hall half an hour later than I'd planned to arrive I saw that the two pianos I'd be using for duets with my youngest students were no longer side by side,
As the students began arriving and heading to the warm-up room, a spacious area filled with electric practice pianos with headphones so that the students could practice in peace, as they were doing in the photos below from our last recital,
Some of the students wanted to practice in the hall on the performance piano. Others couldn't practice in the rehearsal room but didn't want to practice in the recital hall, which was now filing up with the audience. Finally I just said, "Whatever!" and let the students warm up wherever they wanted to, or not warm up.
But I did take each of the little ones with whom I was dueting and had them sit at one piano while I sat at the other so that we could have a quick try-out on this piano configuration. Turned out that none of them were tall enough to see me over the music rack, which meant that I couldn't give them a sign or a whisper when to start playing. I tried calling out, "1, 2, ready, go!" and that worked pretty well, though for a couple of students I opted to sit next to them on the bench and play my part on the same piano.
I thought it must be close to performance time, though in fact I didn't know what time it was because I'd set my watch down somewhere in the building and now couldn't find it. But most of the students and audience were in their seats, the students looking ready to go and, I thought, a tad anxious.
When I went back to the the rehearsal room to round up the last of the practicers and get them into their seats I asked one of the parents in the room if it was close to 6 o'clock yet. The parent informed me that 6 o'clock had come and gone. My heart started pounding. Oh, please, get us all through this, I prayed to the patron saint of nervous piano players, whoever that might be.
As soon as all the students were in their seats I stepped onto the stage. I pulled in a deep breath, and while I stood there welcoming our audience, I felt as if a calm had suddenly overtaken the chaos of a few moments before.
Or maybe, in retrospect, it wasn't the recital hall that had been in chaos, only my ever-anxious heart.
"The Beat That My Heart Skipped", http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0411270/