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Entries in music (39)


Children's Concert Series

This afternoon Calvin and I went downtown to the Michigan Theater to see the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra in the first performance of their children's concert series. Over the past few days, in preparation for the event, we'd been listening to the program pieces (via YouTube concerts) and reading a bit about the composers and their compositions. Knowing that Calvin really will sit through a concert and enjoy it, I opted for seats in the front row of the balcony, thinking that the stage would be clearly visible from there, but other squirming children would not be. It was a children's "training concert", after all, and squirming and some disruption were to be expected.

I had not expected the mayhem that actually took place, however. Parents playing tag or hide-and-seek with their children, and another group of families that sat in a circle on the floor attacking each other with tickles, all eliciting excessive screaming and screeching in the lobby. And during the concert the occasional seat kicking, semi-loud exclamations of excitement, or standing to listen and bouncing to the beat are happily expected, but the children playing hopscotch in the aisles or holding loud conversations about toys and/or school were too many in number, and disruptive in a different, not enjoyable, way.

In all fairness, though, I think I was the only one of the two of us who was actually distracted. We made instruments, tried out real instruments, and decorated elephants before the show, then settled into our seats to enjoy the music we'd learned a bit about at home. There is only one more concert in the series (the pair?), but that doesn't come until March, so I will be looking for other symphony opportunities in the meantime.

The Story of Babar, Francis Poulenc

Toy Symphony, Leopold Mozart

Sorcerer's Apprentice, Paul Dukas



Today was full of exciting.

It didn't start that way. We woke up and spent some dreary moments staring out the window at a cold, gray morning, puddles filling every depression in the lawn and garden. We cuddled in the reading chair and read for a while. We both practiced the piano. We straightened some of the house, though not as much as it could use. We almost started lunch, but then Calvin remembered his previous excitement over a middle ages and renaissance experience and decided instead that he wanted to read a little in a book that we'd brought home from the book sale a few weeks ago about King Arthur. That's when exciting started. We read the opening page to King Arthur's Knight Quest, and it was over an hour before we actually got to lunch. The book is a hidden pictures sort, with a lot of rich illustrations depicting the costumes and outfittings of the knights and the story and backdrop of the fantastical world of King Arthur. Because Calvin views every book now as a full life experience we ended up starting work on suit of armor, beginning with the shield. Each page is a new part of the quest, and each page means finding (thus making) a new part of the armor, among a host of other things. There will be a lot more to our quest this week, and that's exciting.

At lunch, to continue his exploration of the middle ages, Calvin wanted to read Cowardly Clyde to me. And he did. I am still blown away by his reading progress, and that's exciting for me.

And exciting was Calvin composing music. He started it this morning after we practiced, playing around with the damper pedal. He continued in the afternoon, then he got some help from his dad in writing it down. Discovery is a very exciting thing.

Then, of course, there's the castle, which is growing and changing slowly, one addition at a time. It's another project that has been and will continue to be ongoing this week. Calvin is teaching me the exciting lesson of coming and going, the ebbing and flowing of creative energy.

And that's exciting.


Music on a Monday afternoon

We'd intended to spend today in Africa, and I love that if we change our minds we can easily change our day as well. There is no prewritten script, no lesson plan to follow. We said hi to the elephants and lions we got to know last week, and while shelving books at the library in the afternoon we found a few neat books with African art that we flipped through before they hit the shelf, but the rest of our day was spent at home, glorious home.

Instead of traveling we were creating. Creating clean laundry, creating clean spaces, creating new cities in the play room, creating music, creating in the sewing room, creating art.

We explored our new guitar this afternoon. Along with the piano, which both Calvin and I are still diligently pursuing, the guitar is something I have always wanted to learn. I love folk music and the sound of a good voice accompanied by acoustic guitar. I have (possibly unrealistic) dreams of sitting around our fireplace at night singing to the guitar with friends. A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to collect a pretty nice guitar from another Freecycler. It's been sitting in the corner calling my name ever since and I've been too nervous to pick it up. I'm doing pretty well with the piano, but I need a little more understanding of chords. Jon, on the other hand, has years upon years, a lifetime, of training under his fingers. Tonight we played our first duet, although Jon was concentrating too hard to sing.

It's a fun instrument for Calvin to explore. He's learned a lot about the piano already, and the guitar uses the same method for sound with a similar focus on chords so it's a logical connection for him. I love the music that fills our house each day, even the discordant kind. Music was Calvin's introduction to math. It was his introduction to history when we talked about composers. It is geography when we learn about the origin of pieces, it is anthropology when we learn about its cultural connections.

Music is in everything we learn, or everything we learn is in music. It is joy, is life expressed, and we express a lot of it. It adds much to each day.

Calvin cam

It's not a hootinanny yet, not the kind my dad talks about from his longish hair days back in the sixties, but we all had a good time. And after all, I'm not sure my dad ever really had longish hair.


Sunday is really the end of the week

Because I have a hard time seeing any day as lazy as our Sunday being the jumping off point for anything.

It's still the weekend (see, not a new week) so we're still soaking up daddy time around here. Piano lessons for both of us learners. Calvin has graduated to the next book so he's on a roll right now. He learned a piece by Haydn today so it was an all Haydn all afternoon kind of day (it's sad, really, that the sound of our day doesn't come across in the photos we share).

There was a lot of Lego time, and a lot of game time, too (mancala, Qwirkle, and the Mammoth Hunt, altered a bit for Calvin's skill level).

We started looking through our books on Africa and did some related coloring.

We had a fire, we had hot chocolote, we read books, we ate comfort soup for dinner. What we didn't do was get dressed. And now that we're rested and relaxed, we're ready to start a new week. Tomorrow.



As I sit here typing this, Calvin and Jon are hunched over the dining table, their eyes riveted on Jon's computer, watching, of all things, an accordion performance. It wasn't an accidental stop; the front page of the entertainment section in today's (nearly defunct) newspaper featured a gigantic picture of a man playing that not-so-illustrious instrument. It's hard to say who was more intrigued—Jon or Calvin—and the article, which was about a Zydeco musician playing in town this weekend, led the bigger of those two boys to go in search of accordion performances posted online. Zydeco is interesting, and we got some enjoyment out of that, but it's nothing compared to the beautiful video that Jon found of Russian accordion virtuoso Nick Ariando. Yes, I just used words like "beautiful" and "virtuoso" in relation to the accordion. I had no idea. It's worth watching if you have a quiet moment.

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