listening…

Dear friends

I’m here at Son2 piano lesson. His teacher feels he has great finger technique, and he’s definitely more natural than I ever was as a child. But… 

Son2 is 9 years old. And trying to get a nine year old son to practice is tough, unless he’s in the mood, which most of the time he isn’t.  

Son2 struggles with reading the notes or at least remembering them and currently has the attitude that as long as he can play the piece, reading the music is secondary.  Last night I gave him some notes quizzes to encourage him, but it began and ended with tears, Son2’s.   Son1, who was doing Chemistry revision, said did I really need to put Son2 through this?  I took Son1 out of violin lessons when he reached the age of no practice (around 9 years), and my dear husband feels that was a mistake, so I’ve made it quite clear that Son2 will continue unless Son2 declares to his teacher, grandma and father that he wants to give up.  Is that too tough?  

As I recall, at nine years old, one, generally, has little experience but you feel like you can do everything and anything given the chance – be a pilot, be a train driver, be a famous dancer/ singer/ actor.  But you don’t know what it takes to get there, i.e. the self discipline to practice, the humility to learn. 

So I’m listening to the scales, listening to the notes, listening to the teacher, listening to Son2 struggling and achieving!  It may be difficult right now but one day you will appreciate the self discipline that you will develop 🙂

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hymn humour…

Dear friends

Today there was an awkward, but funny, moment in sacrament meeting.  

While the bread is broken before being blessed and passed to the congregation, a hymn is sung by the congregation – the sacrament hymn.  These are some of the more reverent hymns, leading our thoughts to the Saviour Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, the bread and water being emblems of His gift, and how we show our renewed commitment to follow Him.

Today, the sacrament hymn was number 173 in the hymn book ‘While of these emblems we partake’.  On the facing page lay #174, ‘While of these emblems we partake’.  Same lyrics, different tune.  

If only the missionaries were not the chorister and organist.  If only our 80+ years organist was playing the organ today. If only the Bishopric realised the mistake. If only the whole congregation were more musically literate. If only our congregation knew the tune to hymn 173…

So many if only’s… The result, after the first verse the congregational singing fell to an all time low volume…  there was some recovery by end of the final fourth verse.  I didn’t hear anyone speak of it afterwards – it was so shockingly bad, I think we were collectively too embarrassed!!

This is how it should sound. Enjoy!!

spring is back!

Dear friends
This weekend is Easter #Hallelujah and the clocks spring forward so we are heading into long, long evenings.  We have virtually 7 months of British Summer Time… it’s almost ridiculous to me that Greenwich Meridian is based in the UK, given most of the year we spend in BST!  Anyway, spring it is – grog spawn has been seen in ponds, daffodils are blooming everywhere, pumps are replacing boots, and Son2 left (abandoned!) his jumper at school!  We’ve had the school Easter concert – a great, stirring rendition of Bring him home from Les Miserables by the school concert band (not featuring Daur1 on flute who has been committed to revision sessions) and the Glee (interesting!) version of Homeward bound by the student led A Capella choir, featuring Daur2 singing alto. 
And today is my last full day in the office until early April – I have to go in next week to get a new, long awaited, laptop, but that will be the morning only.  And I think tomorrow we have a cinema trip planned – Batman vs Superman and Kung Fu Panda 3!  And I really must do some Christmas preparations!!  🙂

out of touch… today’s music

Dear friends

While preparing lunch yesterday, I heard Daur2 humming/ singing:

La, la, da, da,…
Father, Father, Father help us
La, la,… guidance from above
La, la, la, la…
Where is the love…

Me: Is that a church song?  There are lots of LDS youth music tracks produced each year.
Daur2: (laughing) No! It’s Black Eyed Peas, Where is the love – but I don’t know all the words.  I’ll find the lyrics for you.
Later… in the evening…
Me: What was that song by Red Hot Chili Peppers?
Daur2: (laughing even harder) Black Eyed Peas!!

Having read the full lyrics,  I’m looking forward to hearing the song!!  🙂

a musical assignment

Dear friends

When I was around 8 or 9 years old, I really wanted to play the piano.  I was already learning the tenor horn at school but I absolutely became desperate to learn piano.  I received a small electronic organ for Christmas but I must have continued to pester my Mother, or my Mum decided that a child playing piano was a great thing, because on my 10th birthday I received piano lessons which my Mother continued to pay for for the next several years… I think until I moved away to university.  Sadly, we could never afford more than my two octave keyboard, and I was never that diligent in practising…
The first opportunity I had to live with a piano came several years later when I served as a missionary.  I was in Lancaster, Lancashire, and our house had a piano, and of course, a church song books.  The hymns were tricky but the children’s song book… So over the following couple of months, I spent time on our free day playing piano and became fairly competent at a few pieces. 
After my mission, I had a flat mate with an old piano who left it when moving out to make room for my dear husband.  We kept the piano for the first flat move but with children and subsequent moves it got left in a large unfurnished two bed with a moisture problem!
Several years and two more children later, we decided to put together some Christmas gift vouchers the children had received and buy a Yamaha keyboard – 5 octaves.  I recall Son1 was not too keen on a family keyboard taking the place of more wooden train tracks.  He still remembers that!
So here we are, Daur2 is learning piano, Son2 will hopefully start piano lessons at school this term, and I often have a nagging feeling that I’m not using my musical talent…
Flash forward to last Sunday and after church meetings the choir director is in the hall getting support and I hear her call out – I need someone to play piano.  In a moment of generosity I admit I can, enough to play the melody, in fact all four parts but not at the same time (I’ve never truly mastered playing more than one key with each hand!).  Then, out of nowhere, my dear mother states – oh yes, Vanessa can play, did piano lessons for years! And I’m thinking – please don’t big it up too much.  Sister Choir Director thrusts some sheet music into my hands and asks:

Can you play this?
With some practice!

I respond. And that’s it! I don’t even recognise the hymn – but it’s not like it’s in C major so that’s a plus, I think.  On telling my dear children on the way to the car, Daur1 asks, and when are you going to find time to practice that!?  Mmm… a good point me thinks!! This post has taken the best part of 3 days to write.

It’s nearly the middle of the weeks, four full days till next Sunday, and I’ve yet to touch the keyboard but I have done some air piano :). Maybe Sister Choir Director is planning on the hymn being sung a capella and only needs the melody played to learn the hymn… doesn’t everyone dream of doing a piano recital… I’ll update you on what happens…

“Uptown Funk”

Dear friends,
What is this music phenomenon?
This evening my dear husband called me from the kitchen to hear our dear children “serenade” him with this song (Mark Robson ft. Bruno Mars)!! I still can’t work out how our youngest (son), at seven years old knows the lyrics – they play it at school in dance club!
I first heard this song on the radio a few months back when our eldest son stated:

It’s from this century!

or words to that effect, to which I thought, oh, very clever!  I have no idea what the lyrics are, I can only pick up some words when I hear the children sing them.  I’m sure there’s something not good about it and our eldest son has said there’s at least one swear word and he didn’t think it would be played at the dance at the church youth convention in the summer.  Mmmm…

And it continues on, both Obama’s on YT singing, dancing, and then our youngest daughter found this… Alex Boye cover version. Alex used to be in London when we first got married so we know him a little – he’s LDS, so we noted how ‘liquor’ became ‘cool aid’ (forgive me if I’ve spelt that wrong).  So, I expect that this piece of music will continue for a long time.

We’re now wondering how many of the wards (church units) will use it in the road shows later this year!!  And this is where we need to make good, better and best choices! I’m not going to say to behave all self righteous and say I won’t listen to it because I like the tune, I like to dance, I’ve not heard the Lord’s name in vain, and, quite frankly, I have no idea what the lyrics mean.  However, I’m not silly – I’ve never been able to listen to Ricky Martin’s La Vida Loca once our Primary Music Leader picked apart the lyrics for the children to see and learn one Sunday in music time many years ago! – so I will endeavour to discover the meaning of the lyrics, if there’s any, and if I discover it’s all about dodgy stuff – drugs, being unchaste etc – then I will have to explain to the children why they shouldn’t really embrace it!! I’ve got to do it!!

memories

Dear friends, what triggers memories for you?  The strongest memory trigger for me is music. I hear a piece of music, a song, and I am instantly taken back to a time and place far from my present circumstances. Allow me to share a few.

Van Morrison ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ – it came on the radio as a dear friend drove us to the temple in a Range Rover (that’s important because it’s one of my favourite cars and she’d managed to borrow one for the day 🙂 ) to be sealed, that means married not till ‘death do us part’ but, potentially (depending on our faithfulness) for eternity. Our friend made a comment that it was for my new husband, for us.

Kool & the Gang ‘Celebration’ – will always take me back to youth dances, in the first year after I was baptised.  I was 17 and loved the activities and dances but they were also awkward because I was the new girl, everyone had been friends for ever (it seemed) and I had little in common with my peers.  I spent most of the dances with the adult leaders who did speak with me and encouraged me.

Elton John ‘I’m Still Standing’ – I’m 14 or 15 years old and ready to face the world.  I loved the summer of this song – not for anything I did, I’m sure we would have done nothing spectacular as we never went on holidays.  But I must have been in upper secondary school,  I’d chosen my subjects, which included Engineering Drawing and I’d abandoned Biology 🙂 I knew what I was doing, what I wanted to be, how to get there and I knew I could get there. I was quietly very confident of my course in life, more than many in my friendship group.

I understand the role the Comforter has in helping us remember, John 14 v 26

… the Holy Ghost … shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance …

This is primarily referring, I think, to learning our Saviour’s teachings but I feel we need to remember events in our personal lives, they can give us courage and hope.

The point of all this is that I’m thinking of introducing a regular memory slot.  This will help me in my goal for ‘The Quiet Ones’ – if you don’t know what I’m talking about you need to read my ‘writing it down’ post from last week.