bear - ingn.1 the manner in which one comports oneself; 2 the act, power, or time of bringing forth offspring or fruit; 3 a machine part in which another part turns [a journal ~]; 4pl. comprehension of one's position, environment, or situation; 5 the act of moving while supporting the weight of something [the ~ of the cross].
This morning I followed a link from Deep Glamour in a post about sprezzatura to this clip of Viviana Durante dancing the lead of Aurora in "Sleeping Beauty." (Embedding disabled, but it's worth a view -- the control and balance and precision is amazing. It's been a long time since I've seen a ballet in person, and watching the clip made me remember how much I enjoyed going to the Dayton [OH] Ballet as a child and teenager).
The kids arrived and watched over my shoulder, and so I showed them numerous other clips. Mary Jane in particular was entranced by the ballerinas.
Every once in a while, an afternoon spent surfing YouTube randomly with the kids is a lot of fun, and why not count it as part of the school day? We usually come across at least one thing that's quirky and very cool.
Today it was this clip of a Russian children's choir. They sing two songs. The second is okay, but the first one -- "Katuschia", lyrics and translation are here -- amazed the children (and me) so much that we had to watch it at least five times. My kids love to watch clips of children performing, they love to hear people singing in exotic foreign languages, they love fancy costumes -- it's perfect:
Something about the exuberance of the children in the chorus really got to me!
I've had the kids continuously enrolled in Music Together classes since Milo was a baby; we haven't missed a quarter. I'm not very musical, and so I prefer to outsource music education. The children really love it, or at least they do from ages 2 to 4. Mary Jane sings the songs all the time, changing the words to suit herself as she goes about her day. Milo's five now and his interest is starting to flag. He wants to be like his big brother, and sit outside the studio and work on math problems while MJ and I are in the music class.
But Milo seems to have developed a different interest. Lately at Hannah's house you will find him sitting at the piano -- not pounding on the keys, but picking out little one- and two-finger melodies of his own. I have a few school recorders in my cabinet, and I gave him one a few months ago; he very much enjoyed trying to play it. I taped over some of the holes so he could easily play a simple melody and he learned it quickly and was pleased with himself.
What's this? Interest?
I don't know, but I suppose it's time to give him a chance to find out.
I'm not about to buy a piano -- no room for it. Instead, I was able to find a local teacher who would give him lessons on the soprano recorder, an instrument which I very much like for the slacker home school because it is inexpensive, portable, accessible, and does not really require very gentle handling. So that is one of our summer projects: finding out if Milo is interested in formal instrument lessons.
Oscar was a little bit appalled that I would offer something to Milo that I never offered him. "Oscar," I pointed out, "you never asked to play an instrument, and you've never shown any particular interest. I taught you a little bit of recorder when you were five, too." He had to admit that when he was five he didn't want to practice or take lessons.
This decision highlights three aspects of my teaching style, I think.
(1) My philosophy about musical instruments: Everybody should have a little bit of instrumental instruction whether they're interested or not, but we can wait until the interest appears or until high school. Instrumental education is too expensive to waste on a child who doesn't want it, except as needed for developing the basic musical literacy that every high school graduate should have.
(2) My philosophy about teaching multiple children: You can't give all your children identical educations, even if that was a good idea (which I doubt). It's okay, therefore, to dole out certain opportunities to the child who's most likely to appreciate them. In other words, I don't have to deny Milo instrument lessons at age five just because Oscar didn't seem interested in lessons at age five. And I don't have to enroll Oscar in lessons just because Milo's getting them (though if Milo's experience really gets Oscar interested, I'll consider it).
(3) My determination not to overschedule us. Because during the summer while Milo's taking recorder lessons at MacPhail, I'm suspending the preschool Music Together class. In some ways it's hard! Mary Jane really loves the class, she has clearly learned and developed a repertoire of real musical skill, and I hate to take it away from her even for a quarter. But I know it won't seriously damage her, I know I want to give Milo a chance to try out instrument lessons, and I work really hard to keep our family activities from overwhelming us, especially when we don't yet know whether Milo's lessons will turn out to be something we will want to continue. In the fall, we'll decide whether to pursue the lessons, the preschool music class, or both, based on how much value we're getting out of them.
Despite having voted for someone else, and having serious misgivings about the policies I expect to come out of the Obama administration, I hoped I'd enjoy watching the Inauguration.
And I did. I did enjoy it.
(I'm glad we watched Internet video and listened to NPR audio -- the children were spared the distraction of having to hear the jeering at the outgoing president. I try to keep expectations of respectful behavior towards anyone high in our home.)
One of the highlights was the performance by Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero, Yo-Yo Ma, and Anthony McGill, of a piece arranged for the occasion by John Williams. Wow! That's star power! We were really sorry that our audio didn't match up with our video while we watched that, because we felt we couldn't appreciate their musicianship quite as well with their fingering not synced with the music.
The somber, elegiac tones before President Obama’s oath of office at theinauguration on Tuesday came from the instruments of Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues. But what the millions on the Mall and watching on television heard was in fact a recording, made two days earlier by the quartet and matched tone for tone by the musicians playing along.
The players and the inauguration organizing committee said the arrangement was necessary because of the extreme cold and wind during Tuesday’s ceremony. The conditions raised the possibility of broken piano strings, cracked instruments and wacky intonation minutes before the president’s swearing in (which had problems of its own).
“Truly, weather just made it impossible,” Carole Florman, a spokeswoman for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said on Thursday. “No one’s trying to fool anybody. This isn’t a matter of Milli Vanilli,” Ms. Florman added, referring to the pop band that was stripped of a 1989 Grammy because the duo did not sing on their album and lip-synched in concerts.
How cheesy is that?
OK, so it was cold. Nobody expects string instruments to perform well in such extreme conditions. So why try to pretend that thy can?
We can give the new president his own super-secure Blackberry channel, and we can't put four musicians in a heated tent with a camera feed straight to the Jumbotrons and MSNBC?
Image. Image. Image.
Remember this the next time something seems too good to be true.
“I really wanted to do something that was absolutely physically and emotionally and, timing-wise, genuine,” Mr. Ma said. “We also knew we couldn’t have any technical or instrumental malfunction on that occasion...."
Have some cake, Mr. Ma. Eat it too.
And what a lost opportunity here:
Mr. Ma said he had considered using a hardy carbon-fiber cello, but rejected the idea to avoid distracting viewers with its unorthodox appearance.
Let me get this straight. We could have had a real performance in real time, the technology exists, but it was rejected in favor of a faked performance because reality with better technology would have been too distracting.
Damn that reality. Gets in the way of a good show.
I think a carbon-fiber cello would have been cool.