Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Morning and This Afternoon

Voice lesson this morning. Once again I got lectured about trying to sing Gretchen over the summer without breaking it down piece by piece. Layers, layers, layers. She said she totally understands wanting it NOW but it just doesn't work that way. She kept invoking the advice from one of HER voice teachers when she was younger - apparently she too was impatient and wanted perfection.

We did some fun vocal exercises. First we worked through that low-end passagio, where my voice breaks, to smooth it out. Then we did a scale up and down - do, re, mi, fa, so, la, so, fa, mi, re, do - but focusing on keeping it all on one plane and also doing a crescendo for each note so the entire run is a crescendo. So imagine a mini crescendo between each note and then one long one over top, and we did it on a vowel rather than solfege. Then we reviewed the parts of Gretchen we had done before. In the middle of that, there was this CLANK from the window. My lesson is on the 2nd floor. We look and there's some dude washing the window. The entire rest of the lesson he was there, moving his ladder over a few feet at a time. It was like having an audience. Well, sort of. I doubt he was paying attention. So anyway we did the IPA and rhythm for the last part, and the notes, but ran out of time before we could put it together. I'll practice all the layers this week and will maybe possibly attempt to put it together before next Saturday if I feel like I have each piece down. She was very picky with pronunciation. I have to let go of my "I can't pronounce this" attitude and just do it. She also pushed the yoga thing again, and together we did some brief exercises at the start of the lesson. I'm sure there was more I wanted to write about the lesson but no doubt my brain is waiting for me to publish the post before releasing that information.

Alex's music class was supposed to be at the same time. Unfortunately, not enough people registered for the class so they canceled this week. If no one else signs up this week, the class will be canceled. The class meets with a different teacher at a different location on Friday afternoons. So much for arranging my voice lesson to coincide with Alex's music class. Here's the email I got from his teacher after I wrote to her about the class being canceled:

The minimum requirement for classes is 4 students. Last season they allowed us to have 3. I am told that a class of two will not run. The joy of making music with others (through ensemble, games) just does not happen if the group is too small. If one is absent...well, you get my drift. Ideally, I would love a class of at least 5 students who are NEVER absent.

Are there still openings in the Saturday classes at the conservatory? I know we have classes running there as well and the teachers are excellent! Also, Alex has a beautiful voice. Have you thought about the children's choir? I do not know what the age requirements are. You would have to call the conservatory.

This particular teacher has been so fabulously receptive to Alex's particular sensory challenges. She spoke with his child study team and was arranging to come visit his kindergarten class to observe. She incorporated sensory breaks into her lessons after seeing me do them with Alex before class. For example, one of the things we do when
Alex is feeling a bit overwhelmed is to make the room bigger or the door wider by pushing. So she saw me have him push on the wall before class to help him settle down and be comfortable with himself. The following week she brought laminated hand cutouts that she taped to the wall, a set for each child. During the lesson when she felt she was losing them she had them push on the hands on the wall. There were only three children in the class last year - perfect for him. So she's done all this reasearch (which will of course still come in handy for her) and we arranged my voice lesson to coincide with the class, and now her class is canceled. Oh well. Maybe someone else will sign up. Otherwise I'll switch him to a Friday afternoon session with a different teacher. All the teachers there are great.

So this morning, since he didn't have music class, Husband brought Alex to a martial arts class that someone recommended to us. Turns out two of his classmates (meaning, similarly
challenged) take the class. There were 5 kids total. Alex loved it. He thrives in a structured environment, and the martial arts class with its discipline and routines are perfect for him. He also has low muscle tone (so he's sort of floppy... hard to explain...) and has a hard time knowing where he is in space - other reasons martial arts will help him. I was thinking I'd wait until he was 6, but this class of 5 year olds looks great.

So that was this morning.

This afternoon we went to the Italian-American Festival. There was free opera!! And rides!! And yummy food!!

The free opera was from Boheme Opera Company. Yeah that website is a bit outdated. They did arias and duets - all Italian, of course, by Italian composers. We didn't go last year but we were there the year before and saw the performance. They did the exact same program and had the exact same singers. Ok, whatever, no big deal. But there IS a story, because, isn't there always? Two years ago we went with another couple who have a son Alex's age. So the boys were 3 at the time. The program opened then, as it did today, with the overture from Barbiere. Ok wait let me back up a second. The setting - it's outside. It was $2 to get in. Everyone is sitting on the grass. There are loudspeakers around reminding people to buy a 50/50 ticket. You can hear the loud music from the carnival rides. Ok so the music started and the boys got up and began dancing on the grass right in front of the stage. They pretended to conduct the orchestra. They mostly danced. The continued to dance SILENTLY throughout the performance. Then there was a brief intermission. The Husbands took the boys to the bathroom so it was just us moms sitting there. This older woman with a volunteer tag on approached us and told us to please stop the boys from dancing because..."these singers study very hard and the dancing is very distracting to them." I was looking at her like, are you insane? The singers are looking out over the crowd at a Ferris wheel and competing with loud rock music. So anyway through clenched teeth we apologized, blah blah blah. When the guys came back we told them what this old biddy had told us, and we moved to the side of the stage for the rest of the performance. But I was in high dudgeon. No one tells my opera-loving 3 year old son that he can't dance to the music at a free outdoor family event. So after the performance I approached one of the singers and apologized if the boys were distracting - I told her what the woman had said. She was appalled and said that they LOVED seeing the boys dancing and enjoying the music. The next day I emailed the general director of the opera company to tell him how much we enjoyed the performance, but it was marred by a representative of the opera company chastising us for allowing the boys to dance. Well he was APPALLED beyond belief. He apologized up, down, backwards and sideways, and then invited us to attend the final dress rehearsal of their next performance. We ended up not going because it was POURING with rain that day, but there you have it.

So today I could see the soprano with whom I had spoken two years ago looking at me like, "I know her, how do I know her?" And I know I've seen the director of the company around town - he must come to the performances of the other local opera company or something. He also said hello like he knew me and had that puzzled look like, "How do I know her?" I wasn't about to launch into an explanation, "Oh, I'm the one who complained when a member of your Board of Directors told my 3 year old son to stop dancing..." They'll just have to keep on wondering.

The performance was good but we had to leave during the break because Alex had had enough. He went on 4 rides: the Ferris wheel, two swings (one much bigger than the other!) and the funhouse.

And the food - WOW. We had fried calamari, a giant fried rice-ball and on the way out we hit one of the bakeries for a box of sfogliatelle, pasticiotto and cannoli. And that's what I had for dinner. My stomach still hurts.

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