Category Archives: Music

Remembrance of Things Past

Today’s post comes from Ben:

I came home and said hello to the dogs. Went out another door and said “Hi” to the dogs again, and then, as one does with dogs, said “Hi Hi Hi”

And then, from the depths of my mind, out of nowhere, sang  “Ayi Yi Yi Yi, I am the Frito Bandito”.
I said to myself “Where did that come from??”
Forgotten anything lately? 
Remembered anything lately? 

On Your Toes

Today in 1581, the first ballet was performed in Paris. It had been commissioned by Catherine De Medici  and was called “Ballet Comique de la Reine”.  I love ballet, and so do our children. Both studied dance for many years.

The only ballets that  I have seen in live performance were by the Winnipeg Ballet, which is a very fine company.  We saw them perform Giselle and The Firebird.  We sometimes saw dancers from the company wandering the halls of our psychology department as they went to appointments to manage their eating disorders with one of our professors, an unfortunate side effect for some dancers.

What is your favorite ballet? Tell about your experiences with dance.



The Stuffed Headboard

Whenever I am out and about and see someone with a massively full baby stroller, I wonder why some folks feel the need to bring every single thing they might possibly need along with them every time they leave the house.

Then I get home to my bedroom. When I bought my bedframe many years ago, I got one with bookshelves because… well, you know why.  Books.  As soon as YA and I had it put together I installed a few books and a box of tissues and figured I was all done.  There was plenty of room.

Fast forward to today. Now I have a bucket of pens/pencils, ibuprofen, a hand mirror, my blood pressure monitor, my Walkman, my laptop, my journal and sticker box, my allergy meds, the land line phone, a cell phone holder, lotion, fingernail polish, some photos, a candle, finger nail clippers, two little notepads, a couple of magazine, a pig bank and a bucket w/ various things like chapstick, Neosporin, a few band-aids, aloe vera gel and Benadryl gel.  And, of course, way more books.

Whenever I try to straighten all this up, I end up leaving most of it there so it’s “handy” if I need it. Guess now know exactly what all those strollers are so full!

What’s essential in your trip kit?


At my mother’s residence (and nursing home) several weeks ago, she and I attended a concert in the Main Dining Room, where there is a baby grand piano. A collection of string quartets (and one trio) were performed by students from St. Mary’s University String Festival – a 10-day music camp for middle and high school musicians. 

The campers attended concerts of the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, whose dates coincided with the camp dates, and a concert performed by the St. Mary’s faculty – aka the Lark Quartet. The students also gave two concerts, one as community outreach that acted as their dress rehearsal, which is what Mom and I saw.

I wasn’t sure if Mom would last the entire concert, and in order to position us with an “escape path”, we sat to the far left, but ended up quite close to the First Violin. Now that I think of it, I doubt if she had ever sat so close to a performer before. The first few offerings by the young musicians went well enough. Just when I thought she might be falling asleep, she sat up a little straighter and looked at me out of the corner of her eye – she was REALLY enjoying this, and was enthralled with watching whomever was in the first chair position. Not only did she last the entire hour-long concert, she talked to the students as they came around to greet us afterward, and said over and over how she had never seen anything like it before. She was charmed, and so were they.

I remember at the end of my first summer in San Francisco, I got to see the traveling Broadway show Hair, twice in one week. The first time was with tickets acquired in the usual way, and we were in the second balcony so got to see, essentially, an overview. Two days later my roommate and I were offered tickets by her friend who could not attend – these were in the Third Row Center… I will never forget this experience as long as I live.

When have you seen a performance “up close and personal”?

Which do you generally prefer – an overview, or a close-up experience?

Strawberry Fields Forever

In the news today, Strawberry Fields, the spot that sparked John Lennon’s imagination and led to their great song will be opening to the public soon. You will be able to walk the gardens and grounds and there is a visitor center with interactive exhibits that highlight Lennon’s early life.

According to the story, about 60,000 visitors gather at the gates to Strawberry Fields every year.

What spot inspired by song would YOU like to visit?

Violin Debacle

The discussion of bands and band instruments the other day reminded me of something that I haven’t thought about in quite a while.

When Child was in the third grade, she came home with a permission slip and information on joining orchestra at school. I was a little skeptical.  When she was five, she wanted to take piano lessons but after 2 months, her piano teacher fired her.  She didn’t want to practice and then at the last lesson apparently she was rude to him (I was in the kitchen when this happened, so didn’t witness it).  She hadn’t made any other overtures toward an instrument, or even music in general, so I was surprised when she informed me she wanted to play the violin.

I always wanted to let her try things, so I read through the papers and signed her up. Luckily the school had a violin she could use for free and the next day she carried it proudly home.  Then for the next week she proceeded to torture the poor thing horrendously.  I can’t even begin to describe it but whatever you’re imagining right now, amp it up.  The dog and cat hightailed it as far away as they could get from her.  I wanted to jump off a cliff, but since that’s not very encouraging to a kid, I pasted a smile on my face and ate a lot of chocolate.  At one point I thought, is it really that hard to make a decent noise on a violin, so while she was at gymnastics, I tried it.  I certainly wasn’t going to win any awards, but I could at least pull the bow across the strings to make a sound somewhat reminiscent of music. So there it was; Child had no violin ability.  Still I let her scratch on because I figured I’d let the music teacher do whatever dirty work was needed.

By the end of the second week, she was practicing much less. While this made all the ears in the household happier, I knew it meant she was losing interest.  The third week she didn’t practice at all, despite my reminders.  There was a practice book in which she was supposed to record how much time she spent playing; I told her that if she wasn’t going to practice she had to be honest and put down “0” or it wouldn’t be fair to Mr. Brown, the music teacher.  So she marked all the days with a “0” and off she went to school.  When she came home that afternoon and she still had the violin, I was a little surprised but not nearly as surprised as when I looked at her practice book and where there had been “0”s that morning, there were now numbers on every day.  10 minutes, 20 minutes, one even said 30 minutes.  She had erased the “0”s when she got to school and written in her false data.

While I appreciated her ingenuity, I couldn’t let this go, so I made an appointment with Mr. Brown, took her with me and had her tell him what she had done and then apologize. He was AMAZING.  He was very kind and understanding.  He asked her if she really wanted to continue and when she said “yes” (I just about fell on the floor), he suggested they give it another week.  Of course she didn’t even pick up the violin the next week so we went in again and met with Mr. Brown to give him the violin back.  She never looked back.

Is there something that you just don’t a talent for?

Band Memories

I had a real blast from the past this weekend when I tuned into the new MPR Concert Band Stream. I played the bass clarinet all through high school and college. It isn’t a very exciting instrument, but I had a lot of fun playing. I have a few recordings of my college band, but I don’t own many wind band cd’s. Husband was worried it would be all Sousa marches, but even he, that hoity toity cellist, enjoyed the selections we heard. He really liked the emphasis on percussion. We heard lots of Vaughn Williams, Holst, and Percy Grainger pieces for wind band, selections I remember playing,  along with more modern things .  They were very evocative for me, reminding me of emotions associated with the music, and memories of ensemble playing that I hadn’t thought about for a long time.  I do hope there are enough recordings of wind band music to fill up the daily program.

What are your memories of learning an instrument or playing in the band?