I sat nervously on my little blue stool, looked out at my preschool class and was pleased to see them eagerly looking back at me. I was the only musician in the class, and this was my first time performing in front of everyone else. At all of our other little class performances; Valentine's Day songs, Halloween dances, and Thanksgiving shows, I would spend hours practicing my little tunes in front of the mirror. But for some reason, when I got on stage, I wouldn't say a word. I just stood, smiled, and watched everyone else. It was like I forgot to sing, but I had always regretted not singing the songs with everyone else.
As I picked up my bow, I excitedly held out an arm to Mom as she handed me my first cello. I felt a tiny wave of confidence as I got in position. I was ready to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Well, sort of. I was feeling pretty confident. Ish. Feet apart, thumb bent, bow on the string. I made a small scratch and played my squeaky first line. My friends, sitting on the rainbow squared carpet, shot up their hands to their ears to block the sound. I looked at them in astonishment, embarrassed I had done something wrong, when really, I hadn't. I self-consciously drew back, and I shyly became softer.
I realized that I might not have been as cool as I thought I was. How could I share my music again?
Tears welled up in my 3-year-old eyes, and I stopped playing. I tried to hide behind my small cello, but I wasn't successful, as it was a 1/16th size. "Kalia, come with me," Mom said soothingly. I followed her into the other room. I couldn't believe it! What had I done wrong! I must have been terrible. I wanted to go back to standing behind everyone else, silently smiling. "It's ok dear." Mom assured me. "The other kids were just surprised at how loud it was. You were playing great, but they just haven't heard someone play a cello before." Even I was startled by how loud a sound my cello made in the small carpeted playroom filled with kids.
I could hear the teacher in the other room telling the others to not be so rude. That was embarrassing. I slowed down my crying, and Mom wiped my tears. I took a deep breath, and I could smell the rosin on the strings below me. I stood up taller again, shakily repositioned the instrument in my hands, and saw Mrs. Amy looking towards Mom and I.
Still shaky, I walked as confidently as I could towards her and back into the other room. Something happened to me in that moment. I realized that I could play at my own volume. It could be bad, but I would have to make that choice. I would play my cello, loud and clear, and I wasn't going to care whether or not my audience cheered or booed. I. Would. Not. Cry. Anymore.
I sat once again on my little blue stool, and stared at the same group of faces, on the same comforting rug. I placed my bow on my string, and I played. The entire song. Loud and proud. I watched Peter hesitate to put his hands to his ears, but I smiled at him and went right on playing. I performed every note with satisfaction. As Twinkle ended, I stood up and bowed. It might not have been the best twinkle in the world, but at that moment, I didn't really care.
On that day I realized that the feeling of finishing something like that was the best feeling in the world. Nowadays, being my somewhat introverted self, when I am nervous about performing, or scared to give my school presentation, I remember how good it feels to be finished, and for people to know what you have to say. Sometimes the best ideas come from the quiet person in the back of the room. It's good to listen most of the time, but sometimes, you have to be the one to share. That little blue stool has never been so nerve-wrecking since that preschool Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Even though I was just a little star, I could twinkle like no one expected.