Schumann and Should Nots

I’ve always gravitated toward the piano. I play for me, not for concerts or recitals. I studied with my mom during elementary school (she was a music therapy major, sang in a band, played guitar and piano). When I played her last college piece and she wanted me to keep progressing, she arranged lessons with the wife of one the university professors my father worked with. After that another family friend, the summer musical rehearsal pianist, taught me. By then I was in college and started studying with 3 different professors there.

How is it I’m just now decades later learning technique? Hahaha. Was it passable before and no one harped on it? I set out to take lessons during my sabbatical with the explicit instructions for my teacher to help me play without hurting myself. So far I’ve learned to play some notes higher on the key to keeps gentler angle and to put my elbows in front of my body for difficult sections that would otherwise wrench my wrists.

Up next is this piece Romance in B Flat minor by Robert Schumann. I have the notes down but am working on the speed. There are parts I need to rework for positioning, when my right hand starts to hurt which I should not be doing to myself. Wish me luck!

Green Eggs and Ham

Day 5. Five days. You know those sad cat diary videos where their water bowl is only half full and they think it’s the end of the world? Two snow days wouldn’t be so bad, except when paired with a school holiday and the weekend. The cabin fever is real folks, and the only way out is by shoveling your driveway several times a day.

We’ve been going sledding down the “hill” in the backyard, playing Wii, practicing the trumpet so my son doesn’t sound like a dying elephant anymore, and running out of craft projects to do. Please, oh please, let there be school tomorrow.

We are reading too. Not everything can be screen time. It’s cute seeing the kids choose to go on author binges at such a young age. Last week was Mo Willems and the pigeon or Elephant and Piggie books. This week is Dr. Seuss. Oh Say Can You Say? continues to be a favorite… Dinn, and Blinn, and his shin-bone pin… the bed spreaders and bread spreaders buttering bedding… distinguishing between a Klotz and a Glotz by their spots or dots. But last night when I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast in the morning, he said he wanted green eggs and ham.

Whaaat?

Yes, green eggs and ham… though he said he’d settle for scrambled green eggs.

In an effort not to disappoint, his sister and I made him a green pepper, spinach, green ham, and cheese 3-green egg omelet. She doesn’t eat eggs being a picky eater, but she was definitely overjoyed to help turn her brother’s breakfast another color.

It was hilarious watching the peanut gallery’s reactions as the green concoctions were added. My son gobbled it up and was only briefly sad he didn’t have a bright green tongue after eating it.

Finished green omelet on a plate with a fork before we ate it

Here’s hoping school is in session tomorrow.

Rest and Debussy

When I was in college I loved studying — math, languages, dancing, choir, writing, piano, organ, computer science. This was before ergonomic designs were big and desks were made for different tasks. But one fateful exam week, while writing 18 page papers in German, several others in English, and practicing for my piano recital…I overdid it and my wrists had something to say about it. For the first 2 months of the next semester I couldn’t hold a pencil to take notes, I couldn’t turn door knobs, I couldn’t hold a gallon of milk in my hand without crying in agony and dropping it on the floor. My doctor told me to choose one keyboard and stick with it. I stopped taking lessons and toted my own ergonomic keyboard to and from work after I graduated and started working at a software company. I used trackballs to keep my hand at rest and my wrist immobile. The problems went away within the year and never became permanent.

But I missed playing music.

I recently started trying to play my old college pieces (and it doesn’t hurt). Today I’m home sick with a fever/cold and very tired of being horizontal and sipping liquids.

So I did this just now to see if it would help make me feel better. It was a piece I was too chicken to play for open mic night recently. My piano professor gave it to me in college because he thought I’d enjoy having a song that used the last note on a piano. (I still do.) There are some parts I need to slow down and spell out again, but it shouldn’t take long to fix the flubs, despite the crazy key changes and chords.

Speaking of chicken, it’s probably time for some soup now.

This is Debussy’s Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir (Sounds and perfumes mingle in the evening air).


June ran off

The day after school ended, my kids and I went to Hilton Head Island to have some fun. It had been ages since I had been on the island. I was relieved to see the low country rules of keeping signs at street level were still in place so most of my views were pines and palm trees for miles.

By far the biggest hits of the trip were Pirate Golf, feeding the turtles in the pond next to our dinner restaurant all the strawberries from our meals, and floating on inner tubes in the water.

After I dropped them off with their father and they headed off to summer camp, I got some much needed rest under tent on the beach, with a good book, poor cell signal, and a overly-friendly crab.

 

Last Day of School

It’s summer officially here. The last day of elementary school was “Field Day”– lots of games and outdoor play all day. My son came home soaked from head to toe, shoes and all. With the widest grin and speed-talker voice, he mumbled “It was so fun!” [unheard] “water balloons!” I drew a bath for him and made him soak the mud off before being allowed to roam the house.

They’re growing up so fast. I can’t believe I just wrote my last daycare check ever. My littlest one starts Kindergarten in less than 3 months.

Eleven Years Later

I don’t dread April yet, but this day always makes me cry. On April 20, 2006 I lost two friends in a plane crash on their way back from a rehearsal.

Robert and Chris both did their undergraduate music degrees the same years my brother and I were in college. They were studying opera performance from our father. My brother and I sang with both in choirs, many times I was next to Robert because we towered over others and blocked their view if we were up front. Robert even offered to my accompanist when I took my own voice lessons. When I’d work backstage at the university theater, one or both of them would be on stage. I still remember a time when Robert’s villain costume was locked up over Spring Break in his dorm room and he needed to wear black on stage. Realizing this mid-show shortly before he had to go on stage and me being in all black to do scene changes, I gave him my pants and took his so he could go on stage and sing. He teased and implied all kinds of things to make my father laugh.

When it came time to do their masters, Robert lead the way and found the Music School at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Chris auditioned and made it in as well. When the educators learned they both came from my father’s studio, they invited my dad out to teach a seminar. He wow’d everyone so much, my father switched universities. When my dad got Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to undergo chemo, Chris and Robert would take turns – one holding my father’s arm and walking him through the school to the car, the other having a good hug/cry/pep-talk with my mother where she waited to pick him up.

I can honestly say, their deaths devastated every member of my family.

Every year this day, the families of all the victims get together for dinner. I did not know Garth, Georgina, or Zach, but I have had the privilege of getting to know their families since. It’s been eleven years and I’m still numb from the loss.

Vegas, baby

My best friend and I decided to spend our vacation together, celebrating halfway between our birthdays with whomever else from our group of friends who could come along. Las Vegas was planned a year in advance. We joked about all the things we’d do, but our trip took a much different spin when she learned she was pregnant a few months prior to the trip.

We filled our days with sightseeing and shows, good meals at Bobby Flay’s and up in the Eiffel, and plenty of downtime. The 4×4 trip through the mountains was going to be a bit too bouncy for the momma-to-be, so only half of us went but it was gorgeous out there and the weather was perfect. I could have used another day by the pool soaking up the heat and listening to the water ripple. It was not the trip I thought I was going to have, but it was definitely the one that I needed.