Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Music, Sweet Music

Hello everyone,

It's time for yet another installment of the famous update. We have just been plugging along with normal life. Last Monday I started doing a music class for Jared and Camryn and the 3 boys (between ages 3 and 7) of my old college roomate, Jacki, who lives about 30 minutes away. I figured that the only way I would ever get around to teaching music to my own kids would be if I knew someone else was going to show up on my doorstep. We decided to do it as a trade: I would teach a music class and then she would do some fun activities with the kids (she was an early childhood major in college and used to do a small preschool out of her home). We had a very rousing first class. The kids enjoyed it, but by the end of music class they were so worked up that after reading a story and a very short attempt at making pizzas out of felt that we just sent them outside to play. Then Jacki and I happily discussed paint colors while they played on the play structure, ending the day as an overall success.

On Monday afternoon, I got a phone call asking me if I could sub at the piano (instead of singing) at one of the upcoming choir rehearsals for the Portland Mormon choir. I agreed to it, but then read in an email that the Thursday rehearsal would be with the orchestra instead, so I was off the hook. On Monday night, I got a phone call from one of the singers in the choir asking if I could play for her to sing a solo at a stake RS enrichment night as a plug for the choir. I agreed to do it, even though we would just have enough time to run through it a few times before the performance and I would not have a copy of the music beforehand. So on Tuesday evening, Dave raced in from work, I rushed out the door with a tupperware of hastily packed dinner in hand, and I off I went for an evening of musical adventure. The rehearsal went fine and the piece wasn't too hard, except that it had a lot of tricky accidentals and the measures were REALLY long so it was hard to keep track of whether a note was still sharped or not. The performance was OK, but definitely not my best. Sometimes I really wish that I could preface performances with a disclaimer.

After our brief rehearsal/performance, I went back out to the car, finished my baked potato and drove to my choir rehearsal. I got there fairly early and went to sit in my section when I noticed the director looking at me funny. I went up and asked him, "Did you ask me to play for Thursday night's rehearsal or for the one tonight?" It turns out that I was confused and it was for TONIGHT that he had asked me to play. No problem, I guess. So I sat down and madly tried to scan my way through it before the rehearsal began. No problem, it's only Beethoven's 9th and I'm just trying to reproduce an entire orchestra. But as everyone knows, the key to playing orchestral reductions is to liberally leave things out. Unfortunately, with the way the music was written, it was very difficult to pick and choose what to leave out on the spot. To make matters worse, it was FAST. So I took a deep breath and prepared to bash and blunder my way through Beethoven's 9th. I asked the director which sections we were going to rehearse. He told me and then said, "Oh, I forgot to tell you. After we're done rehearsing these sections, the director of the Willamette Falls Symphony is going to come and we're going to do a complete run-through with him." Better and better. I did my best and gave a noble effort, but I just sounded crappy. To make it worse, I had a very hard time following the director. Maybe I just didn't have much peripheral vision left open for use, but I just couldn't follow his beat. Finally he stopped and said, "Let's try it again and this time can you leave out some more notes so we can go faster?" "I would love to leave out more notes, believe me," I replied. What can I say? It was a humiliating experience. A few minutes later, during a pause, one of the co-directors came up and said to me, "You were very kind for not walking out on the spot when he said that. You were following him just fine: he was just conducting it slow." That made me feel a little better. After that, the orchestra conductor came. I made it through the experience alive, but I don't think I made a fabulous impression on him. I wanted to hold up a sign that said, "I really can play the piano! I'm really not a musical idiot! I have never played this music before in my life!", but, alas, some things cannot be. At the end of the rehearsal, they did not even acknowledge that I played, let alone that I was basically doing it on the spot (Was it really that bad?). I went home from my rehearsal and made Dave listen to me rant for 30 minutes until I felt sufficiently calmed to go to bed.

Wednesday was a much more calming night. Dave and I decided to relax by watching a little bit of TV. We flipped through the channels and Dave selected "Futureweapons," an exciting show where they talk about how great it feels to ride in a huge truck through the desert with the capacity to blow up a small city. After I vetoed this exciting program, he switched to "The Man Whose Arms Exploded," a touching retelling of the story of a man's battle with steroids. At this point I hijacked the remote control. I found a suspense thriller called, "The Healing Gardens of New York." Two minutes into it Dave decided he couldn't stand all the suspense, so we switched to "Design to Sell" where we learned that you can't sell a house with a 3'x1' gash in the wood floor. We finally gave up and watched "American Idol" on our DVR. (If you ever wondered why it's so popular, now you know.)

I now have valid proof, once and for all, that having children decreases your brain cells. My mom flew in to visit on Thursday. On the way home from the airport I took her- of course- to that most famous Portland tourist attraction, Bob's Red Mill. After happily perusing the aisles, selecting some new grains, replenishing my supply of steel-cut oats (my new breakfast fetish), and picking out wheat rolls and yogurt pretzels to take home with me, I went to the check out, purchased my selections (along with whole-wheat peanut butter cookies for the kids) and went home. It wasn't until later that night when I was trying to locate my pretzels and dinner rolls that I realized that something was wrong. Apparently, after purchasing my selections, I obliviously took the peanut-butter cookies and kids to the car, leaving my other purchases behind in their sack at the cash register. So we were obliged to return to Bob's Red Mill a few days later to claim the bag of purchases that I forgot (which they were kind enough to put on hold for me when I called and told them that I was the scatterbrained woman who had left them there).

After two days of continuous house cleaning- so my mom would have an accurate view of how our house looks on a day-to-day basis- we were ready for her arrival. Despite not getting the floor mopped or the sink scrubbed, I was still late leaving to the airport in my haste to clean whatever I could at the last minute. We picked Camryn up early from preschool and headed off to Portland where we, at a random time of the afternoon, hit heavy traffic and so were even more late. Despite our tardiness in picking her up, my mom was still happy to see us. We have spent the last few days with exciting tours of downtown Sherwood, a trip to the park, the requisite trip to Mudpuddles toy store and a drive past the famous Hopkins Elementary School. Saturday we branched out by exploring some huge Portland fabric stores and returning to Bob's Red Mill for the long lost bag. We have continued our exciting adventures with a tour of the YMCA, looking at local model homes, a grand clearance sale spree at the mall and just generally being lazy. It has been a great trip!

Today at the mall Jared insisted that he wanted to use his "dollars" that he had saved up to buy a "puppy box" of See's chocolates for Valentine's Day. He carried a plastic ikea box full of pennies and other loose change all through the mall (dropping it all on the floor twice) until we got to See's. It turns out that he only had $1.55, so he promised to do jobs to earn the remaining money, so we'll see how that goes.... Hopefully we can replace his current approach: "Mom, I need to earn more money, so I'm going to look for it all around the house."

Tonight I had yet another choir rehearsal and managed to get hopelessly lost on the way to Oregon City, between missing the exit and turning the wrong way twice (you know it's bad when you see a sign that says, "You are now exiting the Urban Growth Boundary" as you head down a two-lane highway through the middle of nowhere). After a scenic tour of Gladstone and a beautiful pitch-black trip up Mt. Pleasant, I arrived at my rehearsal 45 minutes late. I did still get to have some rehearsal time before heading home again for a delicious dinner of cold cereal.

Hope you all are having a great week. Love,


Quotes of the week:

Jared: A diamond is really a rhombus.
Jared: I'm hungrier than you think I am.
Camryn: I'm going to sit here and think about how we should fix our stereo. (Jared broke the headphone jack: half of the headphone plug is permanently stuck in.)

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