Posts Tagged ‘Singing’

Young Voices

Robin

‘Birdcage of my soul’ was an unlikely song to hear Robin singing, but They Might be Giants‘ craziness was part of the repertoire of over 20 songs that he learnt to take part in a Young Voices concert at the MEN Arena. There was an African chant, folk-tunes and hymns as well. Hundreds, maybe thousands of school kids took part, filling much of the arena. It has put Robin in the unusual position of having performed at Manchester’s two major music venues: MEN Arena and the Bridgewater Hall.

Gabe

Seven weeks after Christmas, Gabe and L got their present from me: a trip to London to see a National Theatre production of This House at the Garrick on Charing Cross Road. I had taken a chance that Gabe would enjoy the subject-matter – 1970s parliamentary politics. It turned out to be good guess as he was fully engaged by the tales of the two main parties’s whips offices, in the days of slim or no majority governments. The play was fast-paced – clearly influenced by TV production – amusing and full of swearing. All three factors probably played towards Gabe’s enjoyment.

Eliza

Eliza has been pondering and testing the notion of becoming a vegetarian. It seems to be part of her growing awareness of societal ills. Like many people in her situation, she has to overcome her partiality for meat – in particular chicken, but also sausages. Unlike many, though, the major barrier is that Eliza doesn’t like a lot of vegetarian staples. He compromise is that she has given up meat, apart from chicken and fish.

GCSE options

Gabe

For weeks since the announcement of the GCSE options Gabe has pondered his selection and sought advice and a sounding board. The scope for choice was limited but Gabe did seem to consider every permutation. He quickly set himself against triple science, but there were voices at school telling him that a bright lad should do this, so he wavered. Music and history were two choices he stuck to throughout. A second modern language could only be taken outside of school hours. This Gabe also committed to – far more strongly than the school, who would review depending on take up. The mandatory technology had to be cookery as all the rest were too boring. The final choice oscillated between RE and Business Studies and sometimes triple science. 

We talked about finding an easy subject to counterbalance the work of an extra language. PE suddenly entered the picture. But what if the school won’t offer the second language, challenged L – that’s a lot of non-academic subjects. And so, with school’s approval we submitted alternate options, depending on the second language: PE with it; Business Studies without. 

Eliza

Eliza has up to seven books on the go at a time. One she reads on her kindle, another she reads herself at home (usually an old favourite), one she reads with L, one she reads with me. One or maybe two for different purposes at school and a seventh somewhere in the mix. 

Robin

Robin is a noisy blighter. From being summoned to bath until being coaxed into bed, he sings, squawks, repeats catch phrases in silly voices – all to himself unless he can find a companion. I wonder if the relative quietness of the rest of us oppresses him?

County nets

Gabe

Gabe has had his first visit to the advanced county cricket nets. He became increasingly anxious in the build up – that he wouldn’t be good enough, that he wouldn’t be wearing the right clothes. In the car on the way there he said he didn’t want to go and did he have to? But into the sports hall he went.

For two hours I had only fleeting glimpses of him through the glazed panel of a door, as the venue had no viewing facility. Out he came and I resisted the need to know how it went and asked if he was hungry, cold, tired. But within a couple of minutes, he said “That was fun,” and went on to talk about the shots he played, how he had swung the ball and how the coach had turned the net practice into a game.

Robin

Robin has made it into the school choir. After several weeks practice, he gave his first performance at a local church. L attended and found him sitting in the front row. He sang heartily but fidgeted and fiddled throughout the concert, not yet having that self-control expected of choristers – especially those in the front row.

Eliza

Eliza is counting down the days (eight, now) until her birthday. She found cause for a little regret this evening. No-one would believe she was ten, when next week she attains double-figures, she said, because she’s so small.

Sixth birthday; first tooth lost

Robin

Robin marked his sixth birthday by losing his first tooth. It fell out in the day, letting him avoid having to negotiate his birthday pizza with a very wobbly tooth. His party was in the leisure centre and involved games of football and play on a bouncy castle.

Gabe

Gabe can seem mature for his age: chatting to dads at Robin’s football about City and United. And he can seem naive: not really up to speed with his friends in the car on the way to football practice, as they talk about asking girls out, wrestling and taunting each other.

Eliza

Eliza didn’t make it into the school choir. But she always has a song on the go, which gets sung repeatedly. Right now, we hear the first three lines of Ain’t no mountain high enough over and over again.

Morning has broken

Eliza

Throughout the summer holidays, Eliza’s reedy voice has been singing the opening verse of Morning Has Broken. Gabe has told her that it is the audition tune for the choir at the junior school she joins this month. And if Gabe is in earshot of her singing, he sharply interrupts her to criticise her singing. She kept practising all summer and the day of the audition looms.

Gabe

Gabe has become interested in swearing. Fortunately not doing the swearing himself, at least in my earshot, but his interest is in knowing the outlawed words. He has asked me what the f-word means. ‘Sex’, I said. Gabe tells me that his friend K has told him the worst word of all. He won’t say it, but it’s spelt ‘c-o-n-t’. ‘Nearly’, I conceded.

Robin

Robin came out of his first day of school in year 1 looking upset. L asked him what was the matter. His response: he was missing Eliza as he can’t see her now she’s moved up to the other school.

Marry, or Mummy gets it

One day in our French holiday home, L posed the kids a question, and made it a challenge. ‘You have 30 seconds to say who you would marry, or I [Mummy] get killed’. Robin was first to declare – Anna, a guest at his birthday party. Eliza overcame her antipathy towards boys and followed quickly: Kai (he’s noisy, she explained afterwards and so was the first boy who came into her mind). Gabe, after several time extensions, and with the pressure mounting, refused to take part. He wasn’t going to have a girl associated with him, and anyway, it wasn’t real.

Gabe and Eliza led an outbreak of creativity on holiday. They set out to write songs and perform in competition against each other. Eliza’s song, adapted from one sung at school, was ‘I am me’. She co-opted Robin into her group. With the song a wrap, she constructued a lectern from a cardboard banana crate so that her song-sheet could stay propped up in front of her. Gabe enlisted L and me to his team. He wrote a fully scored song about our campsite, with a sound effect bringing each line to an end, providing me with an active, but non-singing role.

99 red balloons

Gabe

With the new school year, Gabe has decided to quit the choir, writing Mrs Q a resignation letter. He has remained under her charge though, as he has joined the school recorder group and orchestra.

So now he sings everywhere but the choir. His current favourite song has been learnt in German class. He sings the ’80s euro-rock hit, ’99 Red Balloons’, in its native language, in which the balloons aren’t red but airy.

album cover

Robin

Robin turned to talk to me when I came in from work. With his mouth full of carrot, I couldn’t make out what he was saying. ‘Yes’, L said, ‘he really did nearly die.’ Coming home from school, riding his bike, Robin had turned to wave at L and Eliza, lost control of the bike, ridden off the pavement and fallen into the road. Tyres screeched and he narrowly avoided getting run over. L said her legs were still shaking when I saw her over an hour later.

Eliza

Eliza has the tidy gene. She keeps her bedroom ship shape. She folds her clothes before putting them away, returns books to the bookshelf and doesn’t allow toys to overflow their boxes. She even carries out missionary work, helping Robin tidy up his bedroom. It was only a valiant and uncharacteristic effort from Robin that stopped Eliza winning this week’s Strictly Come Tidy Bedrooms contest.