Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where ya been?

Got a couple of pokes over the past couple o' days basically berating me for not posting. Sorry 'bout that. Had my sis and Mom in visiting. Sis stayed a short time, Mom a little longer. Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a vacation for either of them. It's weird when you get visitors during your "regular" life - i.e. I am not on vacation but just slumping through your basic week where kids go to school and I juggle the schedule.

This week was especially interesting. Sunday (mother's day) was baseball, where, thankfully, the Reds were victorious. Felt badly for the moms on the other team. At the age of 12 the loss of a baseball game can have serious ramifications to the general demeanor of said 12 year old for the remainder of the day. We were graced by a happy child basking in the glow of sweet victory. It was grand. The day started with the boys making me breakfast in bed - since they're not allowed use the oven breakfast consisted of cold cereal and milk, but it did come replete with hot tea. Which, in my morning routine is the liquid sent from the Gods. Good deal.

The rest of the week was spent seeing all things musical. Tuesday night the big girls went to see Wicked at the Orpheum. Damn fine show all around. Wednesday and Thursday brought the boys' Spring concerts - damn fine shows as well, but on an entirely different standard of musicality.

The middle school concert lasted from 7:00 until 9:30. Yup. That's 2.5 hours. And while I deeply and truly appreciate the gold standard of the music program at the SF School - - is it really necessary for each class to play an entire CDs worth of songs on orff instruments? (Note - Orff instruments are tone bar instruments - sort of like a whole slew of wooden xylophones ranging tiny to big...) If I had kids in each middle school grade I would have been rapt and engaged through the entire 2.5 hours. Reality is that I have one 6th grader who goes on FIRST. Once he's off the stage, these concerts do lose a little in the way of excitement.

H went on Thursday night. Blessedly, the concert was slightly truncated and lasted only two solid hours. It goes without saying that kids are momentously cuter at this age. What's not fun about watching a bunch of 6 year old children being musical??

Interestingly, over the two nights of performances it was fascinating to watch each class perform in succession. It gives you an amazing visual trip through the waning enthusiasm and increased self awareness that accompanies growing older. The first through third graders are just so damn happy to be there. They bound up on stage, they smile, they wave, they wiggle unselfconsciously - in a nutshell these guys are THRILLED! The fourth graders take a little more time getting up on the stage, they smile frequently (but not quite as broadly), they take pride in the "perfection" of the performance yet still are fairly accepting of the mistakes that they make. Using the same nutshell, they are EXCITED. Next come the 5th graders. Moving ever more slowly, smiling a bit, but you can tell that they are now thinking, "I'm up here playing this instrument, but people are reeeaallly watching me AND they are making judgements about how I am doing and how I look." 5th grade is clearly the grade where you make the realization that the external world may not be the warm cocoon that you thought it was in 4th grade. Nutshell analogy: They are middling happy to be there.

This brings us to the middle school. Not but a smattering of smiles - but the execution is significantly improved. At this point they believe that they are being honestly assessed by the crowd for their ability to implement the assigned pieces. Their classmates are appraising each other. Their parents are surveying their skill. And, the girls are wondering if their hair is right and the red t-shirt is the right shade. It's hell up there in pre-teen land. But, from a audience member's perspective - the music is more complex and these kids for the most part have been playing these little wooden instruments for the past 10 years. They've really got some skill.

In the end, my Mom waded through the concerts, and the week, with true grandmother skill. She smiled and said it was fabulous. That's what grandmothers are for....

No comments: