Friday, March 07, 2014

Toot Says the Flute, Maaa Says the Oboe, the Bassoon Says Bwaaahhh

My friend, Patrese, had offered to arrange a hymn for Ben, Milo, and I to play together. There was a talent show coming up at church and she knew my original reason for picking up the bassoon again after lo these many years was to play a little with Ben and Milo. She asked me what notes I knew on the bassoon and I told her the key of F. Pretty much just the 8 notes in the middle of the bass staff and a little below it. She chose Praise to the Lord, the Almighty


Wow, that thumbnail is atrocious. Click anyway. It's totally fun to watch the ASL at the same time you hear the joyous hymn.

She gave me the music she had arranged and sent me home to try to play it. I knew all but two notes, so I took it to my lesson and my teacher taught me the two missing notes. I gave Patrese the thumbs up and she made an oboe and a flute part with both a harmony and a melody. She told us to play it through three times with the boys trading off harmony and melody. So we did. We practiced that. We were feeling pretty decent about things going into this morning. THEN I went to my bassoon lesson.

And it was a disaster. I could hardly play a note. I squawked, I squealed, I couldn't play notes that hadn't been a problem in a long while. To make matters worse, I learned I had been using the wrong fingering for the highest note in the song. By the end of the lesson I still couldn't play that measure correctly. I was so distraught on the way home that I stopped at the church and went in and (literally) cried on Chris's shoulder. He said encouraging things.

I went home and spent another thirty minutes on it before concluding that the correct way, which sounded just a little better, more clear, than the cheater fingering I'd been using, was simply not going to work in time for the talent show. I played it through again using the cheater fingering. I played the cheater note and the good note next to each other. I made a decision.

The boys and I headed over to the church. We practiced our piece on the stage and I started to feel a little less nervous. Still really nervous, but less like making a run for the border. Patrese told me to remember it was not really about the music. It was really about a family making music together. That was a good reminder for me. It helped a lot. Max showed up with his sweetheart, Alexis, and that made things a little better. Then Alexis's parents showed up and that made things better. The show got underway, and soon it was our turn.

And we didn't suck. There were some very small mistakes, but overall, it was a complete success in the "family making music together" department. And not one person said, "Hey, that one high note. Not quite right. Are you sure you got the fingering right?"And I think somewhere in there is a lesson. I mean, I still DO need to learn the proper way to play that note. And also, I need to practice more, and also, when the lesson is going poorly I need to speak up and say, "this is not going well. Let's go look at that other page and come back to this in a few minutes," because I think that would have helped. Nevertheless when it became apparent that doing it perfectly wasn't going to happen, I went for doing it "good enough for this crowd" so that the twins and I could play a hymn together, instead of freaking out and refusing to perform at all. What was important in the end was that we sounded reasonably good together (because Patrese had arranged the music so we could, and because we practiced together a bunch) and that we each showed up for each other. We knew if we stayed together, we'd be okay. We knew if someone got a little ahead or behind the beat, the others would adjust when we got to the next half note. So when I missed the fingering on one note, you couldn't really tell because the twins were playing loudly enough to drown it out anyway. When Ben got lost for a moment and missed a measure, you couldn't really tell, because he joined us at the start of the next one. It was just the three of us making some music together and so, yay.

I recommend it. The next time it looks like your kid is just not feeling the love during practice time, grab a pot and a wooden spoon and offer to be the percussion while s/he practices. 

1 comment:

Georgia S said...

Awesome! Glad it turned into a positive time!