Monday, March 30, 2009

Sharing Music with my Children

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When E was 2 years old, I took her to the symphony for the first time. She was always interested in music, so I knew she'd be able to keep it together for the come-as-you-are dress rehearsals our local symphony provides. It was a fantastic experience. She loved all the movement and music, the surprises only music can provide. Sharing a live performance of wonderful music in a beautiful setting with my child nearly brought me to tears. (!)

I've always love music. Through my school-age years, it was one of my mainstays. The family dynamic changed, but my instrument never wavered. Classes and schedules changed, but my instrument was always there for me. Just like friends with heartbeats, if I treated my best musical friend well, it paid me the same compliment. The more time we spent together, the better we got along. Ignore it for too long and our reunions were rough.

When I headed off to college, my instrument (and her classier, younger sister) moved with me. We all thought we'd be studying music in college, a minor to go with my intended academic focus. Then reality set in. During my high school years, I'd been able to juggle my athletic, musical, academic and employment obligations quite well. But in college? It was tougher there. The balancing act shifted. My athletic obligations doubled, and they conflicted directly with the requirements of the music department. Want to be in marching band? You also have to play in the pep band, whether it conflicts with your own sport or not. No exceptions. There was an audible gasp when, during student introductions in my first music class (theory), I announced I was merely a music MINOR. (No joke.) In true immature- college-freshman form, I let those stuffy music folks break up the longest relationship I'd ever had.

While my old buddy and I don't quite jive the way we used to, I've never lost my love for the instrument, her music and other forms of the art. And so it is I continue sharing that love with a new generation.

Today, the girls and I returned to the symphony for its annual Children's Concert. They pull out all the stops for these two performances held just one day each year. Students from throughout the county are bussed into town to see the production which includes conductor's talks, guest performers, perhaps dancers or some other form of artist. Previous year's themes have included "Planets" (the year Pluto was demoted from "planet" to "dwarf planet"), and "Visitors" (complete with extravagantly adorned actors and a dancing robot). This year's theme, "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," with heavy emphasis on the piece by the same name by Benjamin Britten, performed below by the London Symphony.

The San Luis Obispo Symphony augmented their performance of this work with narration by long-time voice actress Sue Blu, whose most-recognized voices include Scooby Doo's FlimFlam, Granny Smurf, and, most recently, the Transformer's Arcee. Then there were the ballet dancers, and a guest solo appearance by the fabulous violinist Brynn Albanese of, among a long list of impressive accomplishments, Cafe Musique. OK, sure, and it helped that a high school classmate who plays in the symphony waved madly at us. (Nothing like friends and family to make you feel welcome.)

We'll make some dress rehearsals later this year. And when the girls are mature enough to sit quietly long enough for a performance, we'll be there. Meanwhile, we count the days 'til next spring's Children's Concert. Who knows? Maybe my old musical partner and I will get reacquainted.

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