Dining Room Compositions

My son is in piano lessons. When Buddy practices piano at home, he is usually struggling to learn a new piece. However, on days like today, when he has practiced enough so that his assigned pieces are memorized and he has very few mistakes, we turn our dining room into a stage that rivals Carnegie Hall or the Kennedy Center.

Buddy will set up his favorite toy Doggie Meh* as the conductor. Perched on top of the piano, Doggie Meh directs the show’s star pianist and musician, Buddy. Buddy also plays the role of lighting designer, choreographer, and artistic director. Using what he calls “color lights,” a gift he received from Santa last Christmas, and a strobe light that he bought with money he earned doing extra chores, Buddy sets the mood by carefully crafting his light design. Between pieces, he will coach me: “No Mama, not like that. Do this one,” mimicking my improvised movements. He tends to prefer my improvised ballet-esque moves more than my more modern and comedic movements. I do my best to be a good dancer and compositional improvisationalist as well as props master. I dance around the dining room and kitchen areas with various props (anything lying near or on the dining room table is fair game – backpacks, lunch boxes, utensils, the newspaper, etc), trying my best to capture the musicality of his short pieces as he practices his staccatos and legatos. Different movement qualities. Different music qualities. Mama and Buddy studying the same things. Staccato. Legato. Buoyant. Laughter. Frivolous movements. Nonsensical theatrical ideas. Our dining room, our home, becomes a true creative space. Buddy and I have a piano practice quite unlike any other. Piano practice becomes a blessing–allowing me to create and play and rehearse with my child all at one.

*Doggie Meh is featured in “Reflections” the MPA Project dance film.

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