Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Accompaniment gig.

Well, I finally went to the middle school to volunteer as a pianist today.

I was so nervous. I actually had to stand by my front door, and talk (out loud!) to myself to make myself get in the car and go to school on time, and not chicken out. I am such a big baby. And my big concern? I was wearing a new (to me) pair of jeans that I've just shrunk into, and I was most worried that maybe they were still a little too snug in the legs, and what if the seam on the right leg, where there's some great applique, split while I was playing the piano???? Oh! The horror!


I can't believe I even confessed to that. Why did I write that down?


I showed up at 915, and 2nd period started about 5 minutes later, and I walked in, and I was worried that the teacher would want to work on pieces that I really hadn't practiced all that much (oh, I didn't mention that I ran into him yesterday while I was selling ice cream at lunch, and he said 'oh, here are 10 other pieces that the various choirs are working on. I hope you didn't think we were just doing one song...' Eek! And so I had about an hour yesterday to quickly go over the other songs... ok, there were only 6)

The first choir spent a bunch of time working on this Aaron Copeland number that I didn't know at all, but in the end, it was a perfect piece for me to start with, because they really just needed their vocal parts mirrored at the piano, and so that was basically one finger on each hand. Whew.

The second choir had Carrie in it (daughter of long-time local friend, and girl who Kelly considers her BFF, even though they're in different grades.). But my GOODNESS, what a chatty Cathy that girl is in class. I'm going to put a private word in her ear before our next session, because I think she could really be a leader to encourage the other girls in her section to PAY ATTENTION! which was rather lacking during the rehearsal. They spent a good chunk of the rehearsal working on a choral arrangement of Africa (the Toto classic), and I nervously played mostly accompaniment, and some vocal lines when they were getting thready. Then, once I got a bit of my piano-legs under me, they moved onto the Rodgers and Hammerstein piece, and, with my confidence inflated only a little bit more than I deserved, I jumped right into full-on accompaniment. Which, I will say, was a little less stellar than one might have hoped for, but I did remind myself that this was a group of 12 and 13 year olds, and they were probably too busy chatting with each other than worrying about whether I played every note in that one chord correctly.

After lunch, it was the third choir's turn with me. I was thinking "ok, this is the 6th grade chorus. They're going to be WAY more basic, and probably need more help with their melody lines"


melody lines? Musicality? Turns out that what they needed help with was GETTING PUNCHED IN THE FACE.

Oh, whoops. Did I say that out loud? I swear, I was getting ready to stand up on my piano bench and shout at them to PAY ATTENTION. Good lord. I guess there is a down side to selling ice cream at lunch. You get 40 kids on a sugar rush at 1pm.

But discipline isn't my responsibility, so I sat at the piano and noodled around, while the choirmaster gave them a stern talking to.

And then they settled down.

And then they started working on a piece that I kind of NEVER PRACTICED, and the director said "Oh, they know the tune, so if you could just play the accompaniment..."


Nervous sweat glands go into OVERDRIVE.

But it was not nearly as bad as if that had happened during my first session of the day. I was getting a little bit more comfortable at the piano, so I was able to cover the fact that I was TOTALLY OUT OF MY DEPTH.

And then! THEN!

They're doing a version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It's the version done by IZ, this Hawaiian guy with a ukulele, and the director said something like "If you could sort of play the accompaniment, and then plunk out the melody, but I'd like this one melody line to go less like it's written, and more like the way that Judy Garland did it in the Wizard of Oz, can you do that? Or maybe we could do BOTH melodies at the same time..."

And something in my head broke. And some primeval piano-playing neanderthal took over, and I guess there is something hard-wired into my fingers after years and years (and years) of lessons, because if I didn't actually MANAGE TO DO WHAT HE ASKED!

And now I have two days to figure out exactly what it was that I did, because I'm going back there on Thursday.



Gotta get Kelly from basketball practice.

Oh, and can I just say that she had her first game yesterday?


24 to 6.

I don't think she'll be complaining for a while about how she was sure she was put on the WORST team in the school... (last week she wanted to quit because all her 'good' friends were on the other teams. Heh!)

Anyways, I took photos. They're still on the camera, Along with photos of Nate and his first smoke bomb (I'm so proud! ahem), and shots of the food the kids made for the Superbowl party on the weekend.


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