Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Sandman finally Entered, and a slow death followed

Today the Jazz Band made it from the beginning of my crude arrangement of Metallica's Enter Sandman all the way up to the half time section. But before the horn section could shout, "Sleep with one eye open, gripping your pillow tight," I died. The music, or lack of, heartbrokenly killed me. Or killed whatever sliver of hope I had left in my being that the band will be able to pull of ES on our May 22 concert.

It would have been kinder if my death had come quickly. But as cruel and unusual deaths go, mine was dragged out for maximum pain, over the entire 50 minutes of today's third period.

The first stab was delivered by a 5th grade trumpeter, who informed me that there had been too much homework over spring break, from which we just returned this week, to practice. Right, I replied. Practicing was part of that homework. A pause, then blank stares. And I died a little bit.

In a futile attempt to not give up sweet life so easily, I gave (yet another) rather stern lecture about the importance of practice. I brought home my point by sharing the anecdote of the time Jo Jones threw a cymbal at Bird for daring to play so badly on a jam session. As the band sat in awed silence at the thought of physical violence as a repercussion of a poor performance, hopefully remembering that our concert is now three weeks away, I felt a premature victory. Then a 6th grade tenor sax player asked, Who is Charlie Parker? And I died a little more.

From here on it was the proverbial snowball set in motion down the hill, gathering speed and size, its only goal to take me out Indian Jones style:

My 6th grade 2nd chair electric guitar player forgot her music, and I died.

My 6th grade bass player forgot his bass, and I died again.

The D string on my 1st chair electric guitar player's guitar snapped when I foolishly tried to tune his permanently screwed down strings. He of course, has the main riff of the song, and for the rest of the class he played it an almost half step flat, allowing me to die even more.

My two tenor players still don't remember how to finger F# (IT IS APRIL OF THEIR SECOND YEAR OF PLAYING!!!!) and as I leaned over to reprimand their laziness, I realized the reason they were not making eye contact with me was not because they were ashamed, but because the shirt I wore was just a little too low cut for those 5th and 6th graders! And I died yet again.

After too many four bar isolations, with too many reminders of fingerings, explanations of where 2 is and how many beats a quarter note rest get, repeated demonstrations of steady eighths on the drum set (AGAIN!) and last ditch efforts of Just listen to how I sing it and copy that, we tried one final run through...

(dramatic pause)

The opening riff was in a new, indistinguishable key, there was a noticeable lack of bass, the drummer's eighth notes hailed from some undiscovered dimension like Earth 527, the tenors honked, the trumpets strained, the pianists' hands were moving but I heard nothing over the noise that was akin to a Reich phase, and as we reached measure 36 (that's right folks, we've been working on this for over 2 months now and we can only get to measure 36), I took an invisible knife, stabbed myself in the heart, and collapsed onto the dirty auditorium stage floor... and died my final death.

Memorial services will be announced later this week. Condolences can be made in the form of chocolate, foot massages, and tequila shots.

POST SCRIPT: Classroom violence is no joking matter, and is all too real. I use the above expression of being killed by the music because that was truly my emotional reaction to today's rehearsal. I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I mean no disrespect to teachers and students who deal with real violence at schools, a place which should be a safe haven meant to foster growth and education, not fear and duress.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


My favorite lesson that Fran and I do with kindergarten involves the second track of the Putumayo World Playground CD called "La Mariposa." Go here to listen to the first minute of the tune. It's about a Bolivian slave dance called the Morenada. It's fun, catchy, and I like singing along because I feel like I'm speaking Spanish. The syncopated chorus of con las manos, con las pies, la morenada, gets pleasantly stuck in my head all the time.

That, however, is not the reason I have once again committed blog negligence.

I really have no excuse this time around. No looming deadlines, no marathons, not even a big copy job. I've had nothing. In fact, it's been that nothing that I've greatly enjoyed the past month or so. So much that I have not blogged, or even kept up with my blog reading (so my apologies to my sudden lack of commenting!). My Google reader shows over 500 unread entries.

And speaking of Google reader... I'm not sure I prefer using a reader to just visiting a blog. I can never access comments, and I enjoy looking at the writer's blog format. Perhaps I'll use the reader just to alert me to new entries, then click directly onto the blog of choice for a change.

And speaking of change... in the spirit of reentering the world of productivity, I have lofty goals of undergoing a slight reorganization and refocusing of this blog. But more on that later (if I can get around to it, that is).

In the meantime, I am leaving the apartment for the afternoon to enjoy New York in the spring, which, by the way, is simply enchanting, and to lie in the sun and daydream of mariposas.