Posts Tagged ‘piano’

Flight time birthday

Robin

As a birthday treat, we took Robin to the Trafford Park free-fall centre. Twice, for 60 seconds, he stepped into a wind tower, assisted by an instructor and was suspended in the air as if he had jumped from an aeroplane thousands of feet above the ground. He was fearless and enthralled.

Two days later, for his party, he was again airborne. This time at JumpNation, the trampoline centre, with a group of five friends, plus Eliza and her best friend.

The birthday week is over now, and his feet are back on the ground.

Eliza

Back in the summer, on Father’s Day, Eliza presented me with a special cheque book, filled with vouchers. She reminded me recently that I hadn’t used them. I remembered today and tore out the ‘clean my shoes’ voucher. She looked irritated at my choice of timing, but when I came back from cricket practice this afternoon, my work boots were waiting at the front door, clean and shiny, with a note on them: “Happy?”

Gabe

Gabe’s musical interests are diverging. On the one hand, there’s classical. On the other, he’s interested in indie music, preferring Radio X to Capital; on a third hand he’s consuming and performing the Beatles. Imagine is his favourite piano piece and gets played most days at a variety of tempos and sometimes with members of the family singing Lennon’s words at his shoulder.

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School residential

Eliza

From Friday morning until Sunday afternoon, Eliza was away from home at an outdoor activity centre with her school year. L monitored the school Twitter account for updates, but we knew little until Eliza returned. It had been amazing – one boy cried, he was so upset to leave. Climbing (at which Eliza told us she excelled), canoes, obstacle courses, swings were all part of the schedule. Breakfasts of bacon were particularly enjoyed by Eliza. She seemed most proud, though, that she had been the last to go to sleep both nights in her dormitory and one of the first to awake. 

Robin

While Eliza was away, Robin took his turn playing at the music teacher’s concert (Gabe and Eliza had preceded him in earlier years). He played his two short piano pieces calmly and precisely.

Gabe

Gabe’s twin passions of his mobile phone and FIFA video game have come together in a YouTube channel that features an Estuary English drawling man commentating his way through matches and the assembling of teams. Gabe wanders the house with his attention focused on his phone and a man talking about a simulated football game. 

Hair

Gabe

Over the last year, Gabe’s consciousness of his appearance has altered from concern with not looking a certain way (not wearing a coat, not wearing certain clothes) to a more positive interest in how he looks and what he wears.

At the beginning of the year he opted to go to a barber instead of having his hair clipped at home. He wanted frequent reassurance over which of the numbered grades of the clippers he should choose. From that episodic interest in his hair has developed, not a daily, but minute-by-minute focus. On school mornings, he will stand next to Eliza in L & my room in front of the mirrored cupboards. Eliza is styling, plaiting. Gabe is patting and pushing his hair. After a few minutes he’ll head downstairs where he stands in front of the hall mirror, performing the same minor adjustments to his hair. L reports that when he gets home from school he comes in the front door and stands at the hall mirror repeating the morning patting and coaxing of his hair.

Robin

Halfway through his second term of piano lessons, Robin has played his first performance to an audience. Two short pieces played to his classmates and parents at the junior school’s soiree afternoon. He said his hands were trembling with anxiety. L said she could see how nervous he was waiting his turn. He played both pieces well.

Eliza

Eliza’s after school violin lesson was moved back to accommodate her violin playing partner joining the school netball practice. Eliza decided to do the same and has been going to netball for the last few weeks. They practice passing, she says, as well as those things to stop passing.. ‘Interceptions?’ I suggest. ‘Yes, them’.

Eagles fly

Gabe

Gabe flew this afternoon to Utrecht with his football team. 13 boys and four adults, none from his family. This short flight has been the cause of enormous anxiety for Gabe for weeks. The lost Malaysian airliner, being sick while flying have spiralled around countless conversations. It was almost a relief when the club ordered him a track suit for the trip that is far too large, as it introduced something else for him to obsess about. We don’t know if he kept himself together on the plane, but there’s been nothing on the Facebook page for the tour that would suggest otherwise. We will know in six days and one more flight’s time.

Robin

His older brother’s Friday night cricket commitments created a vacant slot for a piano lesson. Robin snatched it up eagerly. He’s had one lesson, where he explained he learnt to play ‘pieces’, and left as enthusiastic as he had arrived.

Eliza

The results of Eliza’s mock eleven plus are in. Her aggregate score was in the top quartile of the 300+ participants. Her English mark was the top score achieved on that particular test. Non-verbal reasoning appears to be the discipline at which she needs most practice before the real thing in September.

Performers

Eliza

Eliza has sailed through a weekend of musical performances. On Friday, with orchestra and recorder group at a junior school music competition, where as part of the latter ensemble, she won (as the only entrant, but attaining the mark set by the judges). On Saturday, at her music teacher’s annual concert, she played violin and piano. The first didn’t go quite as she wanted, her chin rest falling off the instrument as she stood up to play. But the piano piece (I know him so well) was performed confidently on a grand piano.

Robin

Robin also performed at the junior school music competition, in the choir. In the first class, they achieved the second highest points total, only to be disqualified for singing a piece longer than allowed by the rules. The teacher had to make last minute cuts to their song for the second class, or suffer another disqualification. This upset the choir’s preparation and they weren’t at their best.

Gabe

One of the features of Gabe’s first year at Grammar School were the large, purple congratulatory postcards from the school for good results, effort or engagement. Over half-way through year two and there haven’t been any – although he continues to perform well. Then his year two duck was broken last week, with a card from his drama-dance teacher praising Gabe for his preparation several weeks ago for the piece he participated in the school play – Singing in the Rain. Gabe had not encouraged L or me to see it and when L tried to get tickets they were sold out, so we never got to see this performance. Gabe didn’t really understand why he’d been sent the postcard and was unclear what it was about his preparation for the play that was being celebrated.

Bridgewater Hall

Robin

One evening last week, Robin, in his first term in the school choir, went to the Bridgewater Hall to take part in a charity concert. Sitting on the front row, he sang four songs. He confirmed it was the most nerve-wracking experience of his life – there was an audience of “13 hundred, that’s one thousand three hundred” he explained. His favourite moment? Waving to his best friend A who was in the audience.

Eliza

At home, Eliza is in semi-permanent practice mode for Christmas concerts. Recorder, treble recorder and violin are played. For variety, Eliza plays her recorder group and orchestra pieces on the piano. Along with the carols, she particularly enjoys ‘Chim chim chiree’.

Gabe

Gabe relies on his considerable natural talent to carry him through music lessons, barely practising from one week to the next. Threatened with the loss of this privilege unless he shows more commitment, he has made some effort. An agreement with his teacher that he will learn jazz pieces seems to have helped.

Development Centre exit

Robin

Week-by-week, for a whole year, Robin has been going to the Burnley FC development centre. We’ve never known when it will end, but it’s felt like it must be around the corner for most of those 12 months. Perhaps not for Robin, for whom it’s become part of his routine.

The end came suddenly. A training session brought to a close five minutes early. All the under eight players and parents gathered together and told that the Club had decided that the centre was for younger boys only. So, a whole age group, rather than individual boys, were dropped.

Robin has seemed to cope with the reverse. But when L, who was away the weekend it happened, asked him about it a few days later, Robin said he couldn’t talk about it and sealed her lips.

Eliza

Eliza played three instruments and four pieces at this year’s school musical soiree. Solo on piano and violin, and in a group for two recorder tunes. Each time she performed well, her commitment to practice paying off.

Gabe

Gabe’s technology class this term has been cookery. Each fortnight he has brought home very tasty morsels, including a pasta dish and bakewell tarts. The biggest challenge may be getting the ingredients. Firstly, remembering to tell L or me what he needs. Secondly, measuring out the quantities and packing them for school. This comes with the instruction that it should be done unaided by adults. This week, he was annoyed that he was marked down for his slow cleaning up despite, he believed, doing more than anyone else.