I love to see crossed off lines in any list I write – tasks that have been completed – visible evidence of progress. And when larger projects with their lists of lists have been completed, there is a sense of real satisfaction.
This week I had already crossed off a number of little tasks from my list, but the biggest task was the end of year concert for SDMS. Shirley District Music School is a government backed scheme to provide reduced rate music lessons for pupils from (currently) seven local schools. I’ve been its director for the past 13 years. I must admit I was a little tense leading up to the event. It wasn’t that this end of year concert was in itself harder than other years, it was that it marked the end of an era for me and for the school. I was handing over the reins and wanted to finish well, so there could be a smooth transition to the school’s next iteration and for its new director taking over.
As I sat in the final concert, I was delighted at all the performances of the children across the range of instruments. As each one came to the stage I wondered, with the rest of the audience, how they would do. Would they be nervous and lose their place? Would they remember where to start playing? Would they be happy at the end with their performance?
The ending is so important. When clapping starts and the performers do a nice bow to acknowledge their audience, there is a sense that all the hard work has paid off. The pupil and tutor glance briefly at each other with a smile that beams: “We did it!” like a remote ‘high five’.
Afterwards I wondered how many went home ready to go through all that hard work again just to get that feeling of performing their music and finishing it well. I often hear that a good performance has had that effect.
Not one of the performances in this concert fell apart or came to a standstill necessitating a restart, and I was so proud of tutors and pupils alike. But I have seen it happen in past concerts that a restarted performance when it finally reaches the end gets extra applause as the audience acknowledges the determination of the performer to carry through and finish what they started.
Starting something is good, but finishing well is even better because it takes time, patience, grit and determination to get there. And that is something worth celebrating.