Friday, May 12, 2006

Piano Lessons Recitals - A Family Tradition

Piano Recitals have come a long way since I first "had" to participate in them. Last night, we had the wonderful privilege of attending our grandchildren's first recital. They performed outstandingly! They didn't seem to be all that nervous about it either. They must have a wonderful piano teacher in Donna Miller. I already know they have great parents and all the "performing genes" from both sides of their family. I wouldn't say they were "hams" but they seemed to truly enjoy their solos and then sat for almost two hours and attentively listened to 30 other student's efforts. Amazing!

I tried to take some pictures, but the lighting and angles were not the best and I wouldn't want to put them in this post without their consent. Let's just say..."they did us proud"...both musically and visually. Stone was so cute. He was the youngest and first on the program with his rendition of "Winnie the Pooh". At the last minute he decided to not "sing along" with it and just "play it" because it "messed him up". I had the joy of hearing him practice with all the words and music at home. His little hands and voice just stretched to reach all the notes in time and rhythm. He has an inborn talent for music and "the dramatic"...I wonder why? ie. his dad, his mom and both sets of grandparents, I think. His haircut right now looks an awful lot like his dad's when he was that age, a bit long. Trevor took lessons for awhile and he says he doesn't remember any "recitals". I don't think Osborne Reager's son, his teacher, had any. Osborne, the local Claremont, piano-playing "curmudgeon" for so many years taught Brooks and Brett. He had some recitals at some of the "nicer homes" as I remember. Brett had to play his favorite then, "Mac the Knife". Brooks took off with his large hands and talent doing Racmoninoff(?). He had such a gift(s). He was given my mother's old piano but then hasn't been able to house it or move it. Clark or "a friend" has it now and I'm guessing it is in great disrepair. What a waste. Tragic, in my opinion.

Layla is such a "young lady" with such an early poise, intelligence and the soul of "a dancer". She was up sixth and played her choice, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (from Cinderella) her favorite Disney princess. She was so sweet in her demeanor. She had chosen a "special long dress" and lots of perfume. She listened and responded to so many of the other student's numbers. Her mother assured her that she could play many of the pieces. She is such a "perfectionist", again, just like someone else we know very well. She really cares about "doing her best" in everything...and she usually does. We are so proud of her...would that have anything to do with her being our "one and only first" grand daughter? We came down to their house early enough to go to her school and pick her up with her dad. It was "minimum day". She goes to a "distinguished school" and only has 19 kids in her class (third grade) We saw her written work on the bulletin boards, an essay and a "poem" "diamonte" She is so sharp and a "math sponge" to quote her teacher. Again, a very proud dad took us to see both Layla's and Stone's schools. We had been to Stone's Montesorri School before. Another "ideal setting" for early learning. Stone's approach is quite different though. To quote him, "My desk is next to the snack table." He's "all boy" and all over the place running and playing with his friends.

Not only have piano recitals changed from when Betty and I did them, schools have too...all for the better I think. We remember older women in their "old or overly perfumed parlors" giving out "animal stickers" and weekly assignments. I remember the achingly long "practicing" hour (20 mins.) everyday so I would get those "animal stickers" the next week. I remember a shaky older lady who had to demonstrate the next song to learn by playing it on her half of the bench sitting sideways and playing/looking "over her left shoulder" while I tried not to inhale her foul breath.
When I finally got a "really good" male teacher, he was across town and my mom was willing to drive me (just like she did for my "braces" at the clinic) And then he had to quit, military obligation I think. He was inspiring the way he could play with ease. I did learn how to read music enough to go on and follow my love of vocal music and sing in choirs, choruses, quartets etc. Thanks mom and dad for that gift of music. I know it was a sacrifice, especially financially on your part. I remember all the times my mom sat there with me (sometimes through my tears) trying to help me "plunk out" what was "so hard and exacting". What patience she had. I remember her going to the piano to play her favorite hymns and sing when she had a few minutes...usually she was always ready alittle early for some church function and would relax in this way. I remember my sister and I playing the "key guessing game" while she did the dishes. I would play a note and she would always guess it, as in "perfect pitch" as she dried or washed...I did the other half.

No, lessons and recitals have changed for the better, but the process and "family tradition" stays the same, alive and well with our wonderful kids and grandkids. Bravo! Bob!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

From Joy's Loveliest Ocean

From joy's loveliest ocean
there's a flood springing.
Embark all, and set to -
to the oar your strength bringing.
No matter its burden,
our boat sorrow-laden
(if death comes, so let it)
moves through the waves winging.
From joy's loveliest ocean
there's a flood springing.
Who cries from behind us
of doubt or of danger?
Who harps on their fears now,
where fear is no stranger?
What curse. or stars' showing
has frowned on our going?
Hoist a sail to the wind now
and we'll move on singing.
From joy's loveliest ocean
there's a flood springing.
Rabindranath Tagore
This beautiful poem by the revered Indian philosopher and poet resonates with me today and for my "new paradigm". Lately I have had that indescribable intuition that, for me, there truly is an "ocean of joy" there for my bobbing and diving. I am beginning to tap into its "singing" and "winging" as I meditate (pray). It is so effortless and blissful. The worries and concerns of my "earthly plane" are of little consequence there.
We are also embarking on many new "friendships" today as we "party" at a potluck of almost 40 "Celebrity Cruisers". Yes, this is our "pre-cruise" get-together in Huntington Beach. It ought to be fun meeting all those who are also "willing to brave the seas and oceans" of this world for new and exciting adventures. We are entering into a shared "destiny" in a part of the world that has not always been that friendly. We bring our goodwill and hopefully, "non-ugly americanism". I hope to see the "birthplaces of democracy" in Greece. I'm also looking forward to Turkey and the border between Eastern and Western philosophies and religions. The three major religions were founded in this area, all with the common "founder" Abraham or Ibrahim. I'm currently reading a wealth of "fiction" about "The Templars", "The Cathars", and the "Gnostic Gospels". Perfect for the sites/sights I'm planning to see...after I cross my "oceans of joy" at least twice a day. Bob!

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day! May Day!

This exclamatory title has several meanings for me. It was taught to me as the "International Distress Signal" in the Navy. Fortunately, I never had to use it. It may now conjure up some distress today as we are experiencing the "nationwide boycott" by those who are supporting the "illegal aliens" in this country. I haven't noticed any lessening of "services" so far today, have you? I did get my car washed and it was very busy and there was plenty of "help". The manager was "excited" walking around saying how he was "proud of his men...who showed up" and had expected the opposite. This blog has not tried to be "political" but, since I'm changing its theme abit, I'll venture this opinion: Our "work force" is not that highly dependent on "illegal aliens" and they are not taking jobs that we "natives" or "legals" won't do. They are just willing to work for a wage that can't and won't suppport a family here and they would rather send it "home" to their families. They don't really want to be "citizens" of our "illustrious country"...they just want the "benefits" ie. using the emergency rooms and urgent cares as their "regular doctor", our school's free education etc. I would like them to try and learn English and sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in English. I'd like them to pay taxes and insurance. I know, dream on...

This Day is also considered the "First Day of Spring", not like the vernal equinox. Traditions from Europe have brought us May Day Celebrations which is like "maying in England". I don't think it has any "occult undertones", but I haven't looked up on the internet either. I know when I went to grammar school, way back, 60 years ago we had a "May Day Celebration" and I was picked "King of the May" in my Kindergarten class...I don't really know why...maybe I just made a nice partner for the "Queen", another kindergartener. We learned the "maypole dance" of intertwining ribbons. It was beautiful and fun. Talking to the the Kindergarten Teachers I volunteer at today, they were "wary" and wanted to do "something" but also wanted to be "politically correct" afraid to affend some group or minority. Too bad... I shared with them some more "spring songs" for the kids to learn. Again, they had never heard of them. ie. "Over in the Meadow..."When I first came to this Land"..."Sakura"(Cherry Blossoms)...very appropriate for this area with its upcoming Cherry Festival in Cherry Valley. Then we retaught "Love is Something"... they like that one.

After that I went to Wal-Mart and bought their last copy of Bruce Springsteen's new CD "We Shall Overcome" - "The Seeger Sessions". Love it! Brings back all those song I used to sing and play and even teach ie. "Old Dan Tucker", "O Mary Don't You Weep", "John Henry", "Erie Canal", "Jacob's Ladder", "Shenandoah", "Pay Me My Money Down", "Froggie Went A-Courtin'" It has a DVD side too. These would be good songs for our "illegal aliens" to learn don't you think?

I then went to the monthly meeting of the CRTA...(retired teachers) at the Sizzler. We heard Dr. Mark J. Zacovic, New President of Mount San Jacinto College. He enthusiastically explained the up-coming "bond issue" for $750 million over 30 years. Badly needed maintenance of 40 year old buildings and a new "satellite campus" here in Banning. It will increase the taxes on the average home about $30. ie. $20. per $100. assessed valuation...a bit more for us, I think. Worth it? Yes, I plan to take classes there, maybe even teach. It would save on gas, not to have to drive to Hemet.

So, "May Day" holds the "seeds" for some promising ventures and possibilities. June will soon be "bustin' out all over" and we'll see where we are then. Bob!