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Entries in music (29)


Performance Week, culminating in a spring piano recital, age 10

Spring isn't just about the birds and the bees. Spring, for parents of children everywhere, is also about year-end activities, and for parents of performers, that usually means a lot of activities. If we measure this as an eight-day week, running Saturday to Saturday, Calvin had six performances. That's one choir gala (Saturday), one tap assembly (Monday), one band concert (Thursday), one play (Friday), one talent show (Friday), and one piano recital (Saturday). 

The week kicked off with the Boychoir of Ann Arbor Gala 30th Anniversary and Farewell concert. It was a special one for our family because Jon was a part of that choir thirty years ago, and Calvin is the first performing child of an alumnus. The concert was a beautiful program, and because some numbers included alumni, both of my boys sang, and both of them had solos that they knocked out of the park. I can't quite describe how eagerly I awaited this concert, or how much I enjoyed it when it arrived. 

The tap performance was actually a dance demonstration assembly put on at a local elementary school (coincidentally the school Jon attended in his youth) by Calvin's dance studio. Since it was during the day not all of the kids in the class could participate, but the bare bones dance was a special treat for Jon and me because the studio's spring recital will take place during the Sunday matinee of Calvin's YPT show, meaning he'll miss it and we won't really have a chance to see him perform what he learned in either tap or ballet this year.

Thursday night was Calvin's first band concert on a stage. I realize I sound here like the Olympic announcers looking to hyperbolize everything, but his very first ever band concert ever was in the gym during school hours, his first major band concert ever was in the bigger high school gym along with all the other area bands, now this is his first band concert on a stage. It makes a difference. So did the year of learning and practicing.

Friday's performances, the play, then clarinet and piano in the talent show were with our homeschool group, so they were pretty low key. Nuff said.

And lastly, on Saturday was Calvin's second ever age 10 spring piano recital. Second ever because last year the spring recital took place after his birthday, more in the summer, really, so that makes this his second age 10 spring piano recital. And he just about nailed it. 

Sonatina (Op. 20, No. 1) - Friedrich Kuhlau


Licorice stick

Fifth grade band. I remember starting fifth grade band, oh so many (too many) years ago. We went through an "instrument try out" with a music technician who let us try all the mouthpieces, asked us what we wanted to play, and ultimately told us what we would play. I wanted to play the trombone. They made me play the clarinet. I'm no longer bitter about that. Really. I simply bring it up because I remember it. I remember it oh. so. well.

Anyway . . . fifth grade band. It's an elementary school rite of passage, and while other homeschooling parents worry about missing out on homecoming or prom, I confess I was a little sad to think that without the public school we would miss out on the blaring, squawking, and squeaking of a child's first year in elementary school band. Thankfully stores sell ear plugs. Also thankfully, our state law provides that all homeschooled students are eligible to participate in any extracurricular programs offered in the local public schools. So we called, we connected, and, after filling out a tome of paperwork, Calvin is now enrolled in the public school for twice weekly band, which runs from 11:18 to 11:58. Apparently it's in the details.

Calvin's own instrument fitting went more smoothly than I remember mine because he immediately fell in love with the instrument they wanted him to play, which, incidentally, is the instrument that I played. Maybe it's genetic. Regardless, although I tried to talk him out of the clarinet at first (it's harder to get into the marching band, I warned him), he really does show an aptitude for the thing, and it's certainly helpful that we not only have two nice specimens for him to play, but I know enough to tutor him through the first couple of years so we don't have to seek a teacher elsewhere.

And so far it's actually been a joy. He happily gets it out to practice at least once very day. He's already mastered Row Row Row and Twinkle Twinkle, and I think the less repetitious music might be just around the corner. And he's making great strides in his tone. It won't be long before we no longer need the ear plugs.

Although the dog is a little less sure.


Camp concert

All week I've been sans child during the day. I'd say I didn't know what to do with myself, but that would be a clichéd lie. Actually, there were so many things I wanted to do that the question was more, what should I get done next? 

It was Boychoir camp week, so while my days were filled with projects needing to be done (and a lot of reading of Ulysses), Calvin's were half filled with singing, half filled with field trip events. This is his second year of participating in the camp, and I continue to be surprised by the fantastic afternoons that this small, family-like group offers. Following lunch the group jumps on a city bus, sometimes even doing transfers, and visits a local fun place. They putt putt golfing, they swam, they went to an indoor activity center, and, the highlight of the week for most of the boys, I think, they visited a real plastics lab at the University of Michigan. Calvin loves these activities. I love that he does so well with this group of kids, and that all day camp offers him the chance to be pretty responsible for himself, and that this camp allows him to utilize public transportation. Sometimes it's the small things (or the very big and anxiety-inducing things, if I were the person in charge of all those boys for the afternoon).

The week is over now. It ended with a fun concert that was surprisingly full of interesting music for such a short practice time (and I won't say that the short practice time kind of shows, but, I guess I said it). It was fun to compare this year to last year, when I remember Calvin being a little uncertain during the concert. Now most of that uncertainty is gone, replaced by a visible confidence. In fact, this year he was selected for the small group that worked on a couple of more intense, complicated songs. In fact, a couple of weeks ago at the end-of-the-year choir ceremony, he was asked by the director and manager of the choir if he would join the Performing Choir in singing at a wedding a couple of weeks, so he has been singing with the big boys this month, and that's very exciting.



The simplest posts are my favorite—when there's very little to think through or say. This, for instance, is an easy one for me. It’s a simple visualization of an artist at work.

Music expresses that which cannot be said on which it is impossible to be silent.
—Victor Hugo

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.

We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.
―Friedrich Nietzsche

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
―Aldous Huxley

Music fills my heart with spirit. It is good entertainment.
—Calvin Ophoff


Winter recital 2013

It's that time of year again. We could tell it was recital day, in fact, because it was snowing heavily. White out conditions. We shovelled teh walk three times before we left for the recital, and took our shovels in case the recital hall was under snow. This happened one other year as well, and before that was the recital in the thunderstorm, and between them was the recital in the tornado warning. Come our recital day, southeastern Michigan better watch the weather radar.

I jest, but only slightly. It really was snowing buckets. It was beautiful. And the recital was fun, and the snow didn't keep anyone away.