Saturday, August 29, 2009

Too good.

Agh, you know your blog posts are exciting when your husband greets you with
"Hey, I really liked your post about the orchestra thing today!"
Me (possibly being deliberately obtuse): "Orchestra? What are you talking about?"
(Of course, I know damn well what he's talking about, but like hell am I going to let him call a band an orchestra.)
Him (looking all cute and hey! But I READ your blog and I even remembered what it was about!): "Oh, the kids' thing you went to this morning."
Me: "Ohhhhhh. You mean the BAAAAND."
And our good friend sits across the table looking just a little confused by the elaborate charade of "Honey I cared enough to read your blog" being enacted.
UNTIL darling husband: "But I was a little surprised when I checked in and read all about this marmalade painting and thought hee hee hee, that's pretty funny and awesome, and then, I realised you were writing about me, and went "HEY!""
I could only raise my eyebrows. That's what you get for besmirching benches with marmalade. You have been warned.

Today has been...a day.
This morning was great.
*Bach A Minor Concerto,
then a
*pretwinkler and her big sister - whose fifty day challenges are paying off.
*A Gossec-Gavotter who is playing with beautiful tone and starting to read pitch :)
*Vivaldi A Minor II mvt which led to exploration of pos. changes and how note-reading needs to expand to accommodate IInd, IIIrd, IVth -fluent reading.
* The BUMMER lesson. This is what happens when eleven-year-olds think they'd like to play violin because their friend plays it and THEY sound really cool and playing the keyboard is such hard work (well, ANYTHING is hard work when you don't practise)... tears and no practice.
I have to remind myself that this is a life lesson. No, I will not 'fire' her from lessons. Age nearly-13 is a good time to start taking responsibility for choices. I can't force you to practise, I can only show you what happens when you do (or don't). And she is going to have to own her choice not to continue, because this is a great place for the blame game of "So and so LET me give up" or "My teacher wouldn't let me keep going..." Nah-UH.  I am not into this. It's just tough love.
And then there was...
* The lesson of a nicely-prepared concert piece and moving forwards.

Friday, August 28, 2009


This morning: a music class excursion.
Cast: many under- threes and their parent(s), about thirty five yr 7 & 8 students, myself and my bestie, suzukisinger.
Location: the high school we completed vce at ... eleven years ago.
Plot: littlies attending band performance; a bit of enrichment/excursion.

First words from head of music: "They're a bit...little! Ok, we probably need to rethink this."
Suzukisinger: "Nope, we'll be fine. You just go with what you've planned."

And they really were. There's something delightful about 2yos spontaneously clapping and patting knees in rhythm. Of course all the parents were happy to march in a circle and pretend to be cats, and each instrument was represented by a student giving a little demonstration and solo.

These are the people who change the world. The parents who will take their 18 mth old to a concert and participate joyfully.

The teachers who say "Thank YOU for coming; these kids get such a buzz out of it and it's really good for them."- while recognizing the value of attending performance for such littlies.

The high school kids who will patiently untangle little fingers from instruments and then say "You press this bit and I'll blow and make the sound."

And the children who have this exposure from such an early age, supported and cared for with hope and consideration.

These are the days it's great to be a teacher.


I really really, REALLY hate it when my husband leaves indiscernible smears of marmalade on the bench. And then I waltz along, book in hand, and dump book beside toaster as I blithely manufacture breakfast, only to pick up said book and discover it, and I, and suddenly my coffee cup, and MAGICALLY my plate of toast are all covered in invisible, dust-gathering, skin-pinching film that is the joy of marmalade. Everywhere but my toast.

I should mention that ants also love marmalade. Especially when some thoughtful soul has already liberated form in the jar and encouraged them to make anty, swirly patterns. Seriously. Don't fingerpaint with marmalade!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I have an award!

Wow, that's really similar to "I have a stalker" or "I have in inconvenient allergy to the Association I pay lots of money to be part of" Bitter and twisted, I know, I know.
But, thanks to the lovely Matthew over at Resurrected Ramblings, I have an award!
Now, this is an award which comes with a duty... 
The Premium MeMe Award  
requires that you list 7 of the personality traits exhibited by your writing.
1. I'm a little OCD. This should be apparent from my daily posts. Well, more that they are daily, with something approaching religious fervour.
2. I'm a pack rat. I hate letting go of books that I know I will reread if they just take up floor space long enough. Yup, floor space. We ran out of shelves long ago. 
3. I'm AWESOME at procrastinating. Blogging is the procrastinator's best friend. Reading everybody else's blogs, thinking of witty things to say, wondering why I can't write like THAT PERSON OVER THERE, yes YOU... GREAT way to waste invest time. 
4. I think I overthink stuff. Possibly that's a certain indication that I do. I like to think about ALL the options before  going back to the first one and saying "Aha! Of course!" (Otherwise I stay awake at nights thinking of all the things I might have done/said/made/bought/eaten instead. Actually, nothing can keep me awake.)
5. Did I mention I'm a little passionate? This has good sides (I love it, I REALLY LOVE it) and bad (OMG, shoot me now, this is oh so terrible I'm going to DIE). 
6. Impulsive. Yep, I know this doesn't typically go with being an overthinker, but hey. A few years ago a friend and I decided to set up a business. We had a registered business name and website by four o'clock that afternoon and started our classes about four weeks later. 
7. Ummmmm..... has to be a personality trait... exhibited by my writing... maybe a little manic? Some of my days everything has to be done a million miles an hour; other days I'm happy to sit with a cup of coffee and let time float by. And I think that is reflected in my writing; maniacally detailed minutes vs. the broad sweep of a day in a sentence. 
And we're done.  
Well, I'm done. 
And I welcome contributions and corrections. 
(Correct know you want to!)
Who gets it next? Hands up!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I've arrived safely at my 1.3 hours away destination despite storm warnings and really gusty winds. I drove the whole way here with my mobile phone nestled between my thighs, DARING someone to ring and say "Oh, so sorry, lecture's cancelled!" because OF COURSE no-one lives more than twenty minutes out of the city and that kind of notice would be fine for everyone... Gee, can you tell I feel a little bitter about my location?

So anyway, I'm here. My course book lists the essay as "A written paper on the detailed study and analysis of the development of technique through the Suzuki teaching repertoire."

Now, hopefully tonight will spend a little time addressing exactly what this means... Bow technique? Left hand- intonation, posture, shifting, vibrato? Musicality and performance skills? There are just so many possibilities and they all share common ground. Invariably when you begin work to develop one ability you will do so either to the detriment or gain of another.

Secondly, ought we approach this idea of development from a purely pedegogical or philosophical perspective?
Philosophically, we're reminded to teach busy busy stop stop (twinkle variation A) with Vivaldi A Minor or Bach D Minor in mind; twinkle theme thinking about the Mozart A Major Concerto.
Pedagogically, every piece in the Suzuki books is there for a reason; has a technical focus and and irrefutable teaching point which warrants inclusion. And yes, the order does matter, as pieces build in complexity and range. Vitali Chaconne is not post- book ten for nothing.
So, can I just make a really long list? Here are all the pieces. Here are the teaching points for each piece. In this, piece a, we recapitulate x and preview y, while focussing on z.
Technique q is developed in the following pieces from a simple level of ability (i.e. crossing a single string with a stopped bow) to a more complex level of ability (crossing several strings with stopped bow) to a very developed level of ability (crossing several strings mid-legato stroke).

This is not going to be a short essay.

Feel free to join in.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I have a stalker.

My stalker:

lol just a totally random fact coz im so full of randomness :)
i saw you today walking out of a...'s driveway this afternoon,
(i feel like a creepy stalker saying that lol)
but i actually see you driving quite alot lol.
anyway i like your beanie :)

My reply:
Oh, you're such a creepy stalker. Tankz. I like my beanie too. Keeps my head dry when rain suddenly buckets down from nowhere. And I do spend a ridiculous amount of time driving. When I'm not teaching. I could get a job teaching people to drive...? Nah.

This is what happens when you live surrounded by ballet ... students/girls/teenagers/whatever. You get it.  Imagine if I ever tried to have an affair (not that I would, my husband is wonderful and my mac compensates for his (few) shortcomings, but still)!

And this after an evening of domestic goddessing (a.k.a. making cheese scones).
Denounced as a beanie-wearing pedestrian. Sigh.

Recently reading...

For the last few days I've been hooked by Christo Tsolkias' The Slap, which has sucked me in on many levels... not least being the impressive amount of infidelity and recreational drug use which apparently happens every day in suburban Melbourne.

Either my friends are amazingly conservative (doubtful) or incredibly good at keeping secrets (HIGHLY doubtful), but I just don't think the host of our last bbq was high on an E and floated down on a bong and a snitched Valium a few hours later.

I could, of course, be entirely wrong.

Still, the book was interesting going and will probably endure another few days being towed about as I read it again. (Yes, I read books repetitively; otherwise I'd never get anything done for being in want of a new book to read...ok, that sounds a little paradoxical).

(Chuck Palahniuk) also sits in my recently-read pile; it took a little more deciphering than Tsolkias, being reasonably unstructured and ungrammatical; in a couple of places I had to stop and read aloud with shifting emphasis to try to make sense of the lexicon; I got there, but it's not for the faint-hearted (although there's nothing terribly queasy-making in there, unlike Haunted). And now? Well, over breakfast I started to reread Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. It's good prose, a legitimate and authentic voice. What else should I be chasing?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Spontaneous tripodding

Because the hubs and I are spontaneous suburbanites who like to experience madness and toy with the frenetic energy of overscheduling, we planned a quiet Sunday night in. Keyword: planned.

"Just take the sweet potato soup out of the freezer and I'll bake some scones or rolls or something to have with. It'll be great."

After dancing to a live band for four hours last night, a pyjama-clad mental health day... Lovely.

But then hubs returned from the Sunday-papers-and-bacon run and I discovered a Tripod gig for $27 at Trades Hall. Starting in a scant three hours. You know, sometimes you just have to take a shower and catch the show.

So we've teed up a couple of friends and are now sitting in heinously uncomfortable foldout chairs. The guy behind just made a snarky remark about "So, the new thing is coming to shows to text people-" when I fixed him with my scary eyeliner and snarked back, "Or even to blog about people" and he subsided into "I guess the next time I'm saying something rude I'll say it quietly." And then we laughed, and had a nice little discussion on the merits and pitfalls of live feedback as it pertains to movies and media. (And tradespeople, which I quite like. In my industry all the work I'm happy to accept comes from word-of-mouth and that's the way I like it. They know what to expect, I can have high expectations. Works for everyone.)

Hubs says that in the not-too-distant future we will be able to rank our friends' opinions based on our trust and how similar we feel their perceptions to be to our own. I think we already do a fair bit of that outside of rss feeds, but not being much of a geek, what do I know?

Anyway, the show's been brilliant (and fricking CHEAP). If you're in Melbourne before August 30th, go see the lovely boys of Tripod. They're funny, musically divine, and one is still single. They may not be beautiful in the same way as Christina Aguilera (their sentiment) but they obligingly signed my postcard, I snaffled a setlist and even some sheet music (shhh, don't tell!). And our friends enjoyed the gig too. Chinatown was tempting, but soup and scones... on the couch... in pyjamas... my inner slob (and my outer one) can't resist.

Besides, Tuesday night is the first REAL lecture (don't get me started on the real first lecture) of Intermediate training. Driving to Camberwell instead of ballet is not a thing I anticipate with joy. Neither is the lecture.

Couldn't we all just be trusted to do our own research, perform some field studies, and generally work together? No, that sounds far too easy. Let's complicate with bureaucracy and over-individuation, complete with a highly developed sense of superego.

I should probably stop ranting now and think of potential essay topics. Or maybe just close my eyes and think of soup on the couch wearing pyjamas. That's me pyjama-clad, not the soup or the couch. Much better.

This will be short.
Had group lesson. It was awesome.
Have newbie. She needs a 1/32nd size violin.
Ballet was ...pretty good.
Wendy's 50th had a band and my shoes need resoling now. LOTS of spinny goodness. I may have photos from R. at some stage. He only took 400.