Musical Meanderings

This is a blog centered around some of the musical encounters and experiences that I come upon in my daily life as a musician.

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Location: Alameda, California

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bach in the Parking Lot

So-this is going to be a difficult one to believe. I was out running on Saturday afternoon with my little Isabelle and our sweet yellow lab Jeb. When we go running, we bring the stroller, and Isabelle will run a block or two and then she'll jump into the stroller for awhile as Jeb and I keep running and she gets a free ride. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was bright and warm, even hot, and the feel in the air was somewhat like a summer afternoon. Isabelle had on her new sundress that has grapefruits and lemons and strawberries on it.

So anyway, there we were running, around the navy base, past the Bladium Sports Club, past the huge old navy boats and the bay, past the skateboard park where the kids were whizzing along happily in the sun and performing stunts on their myriad boards. We were looking at what is an amazing view of the Bay Bridge and the city of San Francisco beyond, and commenting on how great that view is from there, when we heard, coming from somewhere, and you won't believe this, a solo cello.

The three of us stopped in our tracks and looked around us. It was definitely a cello! A very soft, very timid sounding instrument, playing one of the songs from the Suzuki book that Isabelle plays from. Where was it coming from?

There was the old navy base gym on our left across the street, and a parking lot on our right that was about three quarters full. The soulful sounds of the instrument seemed to be coming from the parking lot. It was one of those moments when you think you might be going insane...because I seem to have my sanity right now, but when hallucinations set in for me, they will probably be filled with Suzuki cello lines, as those are the lines that I teach my students, over and over. My husband sings them around the house, (much to my chagrine), long after the students have left, and I sometimes dream them at night.

Anyway, there we were, looking around for the source of the cello lines, Isabelle and Jeb and I. We followed the sounds to a spot in between two vans right there in the parking lot, where a little girl had set up a small chair and was evidently practicing her Suzuki cello pieces as her mother looked on from inside her van and gave instructions as the girl played.

"Second finger there," said the mother adamantly. "Okay, that's better, now keep going, and remember, straighten your bow..."

The little girl was very serious, and I have to say, quite good! The three of us sat to listen for awhile. There were two other sibblings in the car, and apparently one brother was playing soccer in the gym across the street. The mom was using this time as an opportunity to get the little girl's cello practice time in. She told us that the girl, Natalya, was five years old, and that her siblings all played Suzuki violin.

So, she played "Etude" for us, and a few other pieces. I watched closely, comparing this Natalya, who was a little older than my Isabelle, to my girl celloistically. I think Isabelle rates pretty good, that is, I think the girls are pretty comparable as cellists, although Natalya seemed to be reading, and Isabelle plays by ear.

We exchanged phone numbers, and I hope to get Isabelle together with this little cellist to play music and have some fun.

As we ran the rest of the way home, it seemed to me to be a bit of a miracle to hear some cello lines coming from between two vans in a parking lot. What are the chances of that?

That night, I e-mailed Natalya's mother, who lives in Albany, and asked if we could get together sometime soon. It's two days later now, and I have not heard back yet. It's no surprise. She has four kids under the age of ten, and they all are musicians! She has her hands full there. If I don't hear from her though, I might just conclude that this was all a strange dream.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday Morning in February 2007

Sunday morning again! Teaching day. I have five students today in a row. So, I will be teaching from nine to two. It's a long stint but I kind of enjoy just getting lost in the music world this way, on my backporch treehouse music studio. There are hummingbirds that hover outside the window and listen, and lots of trees creating a woodsy feel back here.

The Druid Sister's are up and running again after some injuries and personel changes. We had several rehearsals this week. Yesterday we rehearsed without our amazing singer and it was interesting. It was the trap drummer, Claudia, a new bass player Kate, and Kathy the fiddler and me. Since the singer is the one who really tends to do alot of improv and to lead the group, it was good for us to rehearse without her and to just work on the regular forms of the songs and the background. We have some shows up north in March that we are working on. I have to put together my schedule and get it listed on this website. Remind me to do that!

My little daughter, Isabelle had her five year old birthday party lasts Saturday! It was fun. We had a big princess castle bouncy house for the kids (and some of the adults, myself included), and I made a great pink castle cake. And no, I didn't use the mold, I made it myself from scratch. If I could figure out how to add a photo to this blog, I would put up a picture of it. So she is five now! She is all about princesses and dress up and presents. We have been eating pink cake leftovers every day and we have been taking the week off of cello for her. A much deserved break, but tomorrow we will start up again. She is doing quite well holding her own on the melody of the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the "Ode to Joy" theme, while I play the counter melody. I seem to remember that some of this is the real counter melody and then I think I made some of it up? Anyway, that's one of our big hits right now. I am finding that in teaching Isabelle, variety is key, so I have to keep putting new tunes in there that she likes, like the bassline for the Ay Yi song from her piano class, You are My Sunshine, and whatever else comes into my mind (or hers).

Oh yeah, and last week we were playing little songs for each body part and making up silly words. Her favorite was the head song...that had words something like: My head, fell off my shoulders, and rolled down the stairs...I picked it up, and put it back on my shoulders...