Posts Tagged ‘violin’

Disorganised threesome

Gabe

Many school mornings become fraught around 8am when Gabe and Eliza are due to be leaving, but one or other, but usually Gabe is trying frantically to find something.. football socks… homework.. door-key. However, his most enervating practice is to state at 8pm on Monday that he needs ingredients for a food tech practical lesson the next day. His German tutor is due and so L and I are left to decide whether to send him to school without the materials for his GCSE class, or blink and go shopping for him. 

Eliza

Eliza conveys an impression of precision, yet there’s wooliness in there, too. Her violin went missing earlier this term. It had to be at home, she insisted, demanding search parties from the couch. Or it had to be in one of the cars. ‘Are you sure you’ve checked properly at school?’ L asked repeatedly. After two weeks, the instrument reappeared. It had been in a cupboard in th  music department. 

Robin

Robin’s disorganisation finds expression in a constant turnover of school PE kit and loss of letters home from school. He rarely ends a term with the same sports clothes he started with – losing, borrowing and acquiring as the terms goes on. The twenty minute walk home is enough time for important letters from school, with announcements of events and opportunities lost from (usually in the depths of) his school bag. Homework assignments also rarely make it back, meaning text appeals to other parents and a direct request to his teacher to publish the homework on the school website. 

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Camp

Gabe

Gabe joined 90% of his school year on a five day camping trip that rounded off his term. We heard nothing from him for the whole week and didn’t know what to expect when he came back from his first ever experience of camping. 

He was tired, but generally positive about the camp when he got back. The worst point had been sleeping one night, not under canvas, but shelters that they had made themselves. Gabe said he didn’t sleep at all. He was also unimpressed at his friends’ lack of cleanliness. Unlike them, he had changed his socks and pants daily. The food was also disappointing. Still, though, he had enjoyed the week. Would he like to go camping again, I wondered. “No”, was the clear answer. 

Eliza

Eliza’s final weeks of junior school were occupied by play rehearsals, shows, a school disco, talent show, spelling bee and various other activities that are part of the rounding up of a pupil’s education before they head to secondary school. 

Come the day of the talent show, Eliza turned to L at the school gate and said, “I’ve forgotten my costume.” 

“What costume?”

But before, L needed to rush home to find this costume, Eliza’s best friend appeared: “Don’t worry. I brought a spare costume, in case Eliza forgot hers.” 

Eliza sat and passed her grade 3 violin exam and at the leavers’ assembly, she was awarded the school music prize for her contribution to the school orchestra and recorder Group. 

Robin

Robin was awarded the coaches’ player of the season award at his football team’s presentation evening. He tried to look nonchalant, jaw jutting and unsmiling, but L was aware that he was nervous beforehand, betraying a hope or expectation that he might be a trophy winner. The coaches gave each player marks out of ten for various skills and likened each player to a professional footballer. Robin, they said, is like Edin Hazard for his ability to “tear opposing defenders to bits.”

Packed schedule

Eliza

Eliza has had an exhausting week of music, sport and school commitments. Monday: cricket practice. Tuesday: early morning orchestra, gymnastics. Wednesday: open evening visit to potential future secondary school, gymnastics grade exam. Thursday: early morning orchestra, school concert (1st violin and recorder group). Friday: piano lesson. All week, she has also been doing end of year tests in school. She comes out of the week with a pass on her gymnastics exam and a successful concert.

Robin

Robin has been accruing cricket achievements. Two wickets in two balls and three in an over. Four run outs in an innings. Dearest to me was the simple fact of appearing in a match with Eliza and opening the batting together.

Gabe

Gabe has been viewing the World Cup intermittently. The TV has been on and he’s in the room. But his attention has been divided across devices (I do the same, too). His new tablet is in front of his face, on snapchat or a game. It is pulled away to take in action replays or live action when the commentator’s voice, crowd noise or something else draws his attention.

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.

Approaching school holiday

Robin

Robin wasn’t just approaching school holiday, but leaving infant school. Amongst the calendar heavy with school events, Robin wore a judge’s wig in one assembly and read what going to junior school would mean for him in another: “I am looking forward to playing on the enormous field and seeing my sister.”

Eliza

Eliza was in performance over-drive. On one day she had a school assembly, heats for the Junior School’s got Talent show and grade 1 violin exam. Each seemed to have gone well, with her splits to end her dance group’s piece being well received and a pass achieved in her exam.

Gabe

Gabe’s last week was off-timetable, with a series of activities, the most popular of which was pizza making (although Gabe was scathing of the insufficiency of tomato paste). He was anxious with the pressure of choosing clothes to wear each day. This was most pronounced on the morning of a trip to Oulton Park. L talked him out of wearing heavy tracksuit bottoms on a baking day. But he rejected the shorts in his cupboard, opting at the last moment for football shorts, which then brought the dilemma of how to carry money and a phone.

In concert

Gabe and Eliza

Gabe and Eliza joined twenty other of their music teacher’s students for a concert in a local church hall. Eliza played a solo piece on violin. On an afternoon of scratchy, discordant strings, Eliza hit her notes well. Later, Eliza’s tiny frame in front of the grand piano, gave a compelling contrast. Again, she played her piece calmly and tunefully. The compliments she received are fair reward for the practice she has done.

Gabe played a complex piano piece with shifting tempos that he mastered. He also had a correct, upright posture, which I hadn’t noticed before. At the interval, his teacher came over to me and complimented him for pulling off the tricky parts that they had worked on. She said he was one of the pupils who made her feel her work was having some effect.

Robin

Robin sat with me at the concert. He clamped his hands to his ears during the string performances. At home he runs from the room, and complains loudly, when Eliza begins violin practice. Robin has said he wants to learn to play the piano, but at the concert he said he would prefer to learn to play guitar. It will be interesting to see what happens – will he do what he sees his brother and sister have done, or strike out and do something different?

A rich and varied existence

Saturday afternoon was an exemplar of the privilege and opportunity that can come with being a child in our comfortable corner of north-west England.

Robin

Robin went with his under-six football team to the Liverpool FC academy. For two hours, the boys played on a large indoor pitch, while outside sleet and dark descended. The academy coaches ran skills sessions, before organising a series of matches within the squad. All the time, experienced eyes were assessing the merits of the five and six year olds. Several parents were taken away from the pitch to another type of pitch: to get their talented sons to join the Liverpool academy.

Meanwhile…

Gabe

Gabe was part of a group of schoolmates taking part in a friend’s birthday treat in Oldham. The boys went to a converted industrial building to play laser tag. They were equipped with guns that fired light beams and let loose in an indoor battle-field with obstacles, fox holes, rubble and a graveyard. Shots were rationed and hits recorded as the boys waged hi-tech warfare in teams to eliminate or capture their opponents.

Meanwhile…

Eliza

Eliza took part in a concert in a large and local church hall, organised by her piano teacher. Eliza played first in a rookie string quartet, attracting comment from the audience for being by far the smallest member. Then after an interval, she distinguished herself for courage, as well as musicality, playing a solo piece on the piano.