Navon Hall was packed last night. The Jerusalem Conservatory Chamber Orchestra was hosting a group of young people who came with their parents to attend an open rehearsal. This activity is a collaboration of JAMD and an organization called College for All. Excellence seems to be a popular issue and I felt that I needed to relate to it and introduce some of my own views. I have done many similar events before: the audience sits with the orchestra and becomes part of the event but this time was special because it was a young orchestra. My discussion was held as much with the orchestra as with the guests. As always, I devoted a part of the rehearsal to a piece with a soloist. This time it was Beethoven’s Romance No.2, played by our concertmaster. Performing a work that involves a soloist allows me to talk about excellence, about being first among equals, about leadership and about the importance of the other parts, the parts that are not playing the melody and may not sound as interesting, but give the melody its meaning: they are the parts who make the melody shine. When I stopped for the first time, I asked our guests how they thought our soloist felt. I got all the answers I always get: proud, frightened, anxious, worthy, successful, a lot of responsibility and a few more. Just as I was about to continue rehearsing, a girl in the back raised her hand and said with a quiet and shy voice: “lonely”. There was a moment of silence, I was struck dumb. There was something shocking for me in the way she said it, especially considering she couldn’t be older than 12 years old. So a girl from the periphery who was admitted into this after- school program thanks to her qualifications, and this is what she feels like. I suspect that is what many gifted children feel. They feel lonely for many reasons: they spend much time on their own, thinking, reading, studying or practicing. In their regular environment, in school, they are the exception to the rule. They are different and still they are outliers and they get much attention, not a good way to become popular.
The rehearsal ended and the orchestra members were taking their applause and BRAVOS. After the rehearsal our young guests went for some activities with our students and the parents stayed with me. We talked about education, about creativity and about excellence but my thoughts were going back to the loneliness: Even when they are together, gifted young people differ so much form one another that they do not really act as group. “What can we do for them?” one parent asked. The only constructive thing that I can recommend is to change our terminology from a terminology of expectations to a terminology of belief. Instead of having expectations, we should just believe in them and instead of teaching them to expect of themselves we should encourage them to believe in themselves. When you expect, disappointment will eventually come. When you believe, you can cope with anything. Loneliness will never go away, but believing, they might have a little more courage to deal with it.
Watch this “Open Rehearsal”.
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