It's often said that the first impression is the most important. Regardless of what you're dealing with, this statement is very accurate. The past two nights I have been helping at an instrument drive recruiting fifth-graders to join orchestra in sixth grade. It was my job to demonstrate and let them try the cello. Honestly, after a full day of work, it takes a little extra energy and effort to get kids excited. Nonetheless as an educator, it is my responsibility to dig deep for that little extra effort to create a positive experience for them and make a good first impression. The result? 35 kids interested in playing the cello! Not committed yet, but certainly interested. If you think that's not many, let me fill you in on the rest of the interest. Violin-35, Viola-35, Bass-7. I would say, the impression that was made was pretty good!
I will say however, there was a first impression that was made on me by a kid that tried out the cello tonight. She came in, having no idea what she wanted to play but her plan was to try ALL of the band and orchestra instruments. She came in wearing a Royal blue sweater (blue is my favorite color), with a huge smile on her face, and she greeted me on her way in! "Wow, what a proactive kid" I thought. We chatted a little, I played for her, then we sized her up for the correct cello. She was so receptive to what I had to say and with what I played for her (The Swan, from Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals") that I was very impressed. She told me that she would come back if she had questions for me, so she moved along to the next room.
As the night was winding down, I see the same friendly, bubbly face come into my room again. Her mother says, "I got a happy blonde wanting to try the cello again!" After going through every band and orchestra instrument she needed to "sit behind the cello again because it made her feel good", she expressed. She then plays the instrument again and proceeds to nod her head saying, "yes, this is it, I wanna play cello!" They ended up going to the instrument rental agent, reserving her a cello for the beginning of the summer, and asked about lessons. I know this because as her mother was filling out the rental contract, the kid snuck over to my room to fill me in and to play the cello for a 3rd time! This time, she flat out said , "I LOVE THE CELLO"!! I was so happy this kid was able to find the right instrument and the excitement this kid showed me is one that I'll never forget.
The point is, since I was tired from teaching all day I could've easily shown the instrument without enthusiasm. For starters that wouldn't be cool, because I was hired to do this. If that wasn't enough, I had a responsibility to show the child how exciting and fun music and specifically the cello, could be. Though she made an informed decision because she tried all the instruments out, I truly feel the first impression I made on her was also a factor in her decision. Had I been grumpy, grouchy, or unfriendly I can safely say I wouldn't be writing this. The lesson that was reinforced tonight was that a little effort goes a long way. Sure I might be beating you down with cliches, but it's necessary to mention because tonight's extra effort may have created a life-long musician. Had I not put on the extra effort, we may have turned her completely away from music.
So are First Impressions important? You tell me.