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Students could use a bit of Cheney’s ‘chutzpah’

Yesterday I read the ‘Quote of the Day’ in The New York Times. Vice President Dick Cheney was responding to a question about what ‘they’ would do if the assorted advisory committees in Washington (or Congress) pull the plug on additional support for the escalation in Iraq. ‘That won’t stop us,’ he said.
Wow. I want that kind of belief system. That kind of chutzpah. I want to be able to stand up in front of a crowd and hold forth with the assurance that I am on the right track and all of you aren’t.
We’re talking about confidence here. Major and undiluted confidence in your abilities to pull off whatever it is you are attempting to implode on other people.
I think I have stumbled onto the answer that I must give to my piano students when they ask, ‘But whyyyyyy do I have to play in a recital?’ I will tell them that a piano recital is the first step toward building the self-assurance as exemplified by our nation’s leaders.
I will gift them with these guidelines to performance success in their early public appearances.
1. Decide what piece you are going to play. It doesn’t really matter if you aren’t up to the level of proficiency that this piece demands or that you didn’t have time to research anything about the composer or historical period. You just need to like the sound of it.
2. Commence performing. If you aren’t doing well, just keep going. If you have to, start over. If someone tries to help, ignore them.
3. If things get really hairy, give up and jump to the end if you can. Make up an ending. Even start a whole different piece if you think that will divert your listeners.
4. The Exit. This is all important. Do not make eye contact with the audience. (We wouldn’t want any of this to be personal.) Smile broadly and act like you hung the moon. Accept the applause as your due. If the applause sounds half-hearted, add waves and pats on the back of assorted audience members.
5. Post Performance. Accept all accolades from family and friends as a given. If someone outside this circle attempts to imply that you were unprepared or downright lousy, attack them. They are not knowledgeable about music and what it takes to play the piano. They are not privy to the intricacies of musical performance. What’s wrong with them … are they deaf?
6. Go home and plan the next performance opportunity. Being the center of attention becomes addictive.
Playing piano for an adoring public is a lovely experience and the lessons learned while doing it are applicable in so many ways.
Yes, kids, you can begin to climb the ladder of commercial, political and personal success by just getting shoved out on the stage of life and careening your way through all those notes.
Just one slight warning: There may be those who insist on recording your performances and then examining the accuracy of your extraordinary renditions. Assuming they have a legal imperative to do this ‘ for example, if they are taxpayers or they elected you or something like that ‘ then you may need to come up with an encore that gets you out of the public eye in a big hurry. Sort of like regime change.

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