Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Thu Jan 16, 2014 9:22 pm

Here in the UK, Secondary schools cater for kids aged 11-18 (and 19 if they need an extra year).

I teach the piano in a school in Doncaster, a town about 20 miles from the village in which I live. This is a huge school, split into upper and lower sites a couple of miles apart. I also accompany choirs at both sites.

The lower school group are gorgeous kids, absolute sweeties. I adore them. I pitched up yesterday for the rehearsal and was met by a delegation wanting to know if I could play Beethoven's Fur Elise, so I played them the first page.

One of them asked, "How long have you been playing?"

"56 years." I answered. "I am 62 now and started when I was six."

"You don't look as old as 62." she said.

That child has a friend for life.

:!!:
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:17 pm

I have in informal style of teaching the piano. The kids I teach privately address me as, "Steve". It is my name, after all.

I started teaching the piano at a school in Doncaster (a town within hailing distance of my rural location) in September. Here in the UK, kids have the practice of addressing male teaching staff as, "Sir" and female teaching staff as, "Miss".

I understand how this works for both parties in the equation but still feel uncomfortable about being a "Sir". The only difference between me and the kids I teach is that I know more about playing the piano than they do. It does not make me some sort of superior being to them. In fact, I could name any number of instances where the reverse is true: they are kinder to strangers than me; they value wild animals more than me etc

So, take this exchange earlier with George, a made up name to cover his identity should he by some ridiculous occurrence happen upon this post. George is 18 and a fantastic musician. His talents make me look like a lump - and I am pretty damn good, so imagine how good he is.

Said I, "George. You are 18. You are old enough to be serving in our armed forces. You drive a car. As a muzo, your talent makes me feel silly. Will you please stop calling me 'Sir' and address me as 'Steve'?"

You have probably already guessed his reply.

"Yes Sir" :arrrg:

Hey ho. I do not think I am going to win that one.

:D
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:04 pm

Last Sunday I was working with Marisa. She is working towards a diploma - a long way off as she is only 18 and this is a professional qualification.

She is currently learning an Impromptu by Schubert - for those of you in the know, it is the Gb from the Op 92 set. It is easily possible to work out a reasonably accurate approximation of the number of notes to be played.

So, it occurred to me to suggest that we do this - Marisa is the kind of girl to both benefit from knowing the figure and to use it to her advantage. It was c. 2,800 - quite a lot of notes when you are an 18 year old amateur.

"Wow" she breathed after we worked it out.

"Are you going to mention this in school tomorrow?" I asked.

"Mention it? Mention it? By this time tomorrow, the entire school will know." :!!:

:D
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:35 pm

There is a song in Schonberg's musical, 'Les Miserables' called, 'There is a Castle on a Cloud'. In it, a waif of a child is clearly in a bad place; she sings of a place where there is nothing but kindness and love, toys and other children to play with, where nobody shouts at her and she does not have to constantly sweep the floors. I do not know this musical, but I assume everything is sorted out for her by the end of the musical. It bloody well better had be. :yahoo:

Put a little cutie on a stage and get her to sing this song and I guarantee there will not be a dry eye in the house. Not even mine - makes me blub every time even when I know the singer I am accompanying is a little Hell-raiser.

Thing is, a song like this is only cute once, ok? Second time, it starts to pale. Third time - pass me the razor.

So here is the gig. The school at which I teach the piano and into whose general musical life I have thrown myself, are producing a Musicals evening towards the end of the Spring term. The Head of Performing Arts asked the lower school choir for volunteers to sing Castle on a Cloud as a solo. Seven of them volunteered.

When seven kids volunteer for one spot, there has to be a method of selection. We decided this should be by public audition in front of the rest of the choir.

Which is all very well, but nobody wanted to risk any of these kids making a tit of themselves, so I set up a rehearsal schedule last Monday afternoon. I left a form on the table at choir practice, where potential soloists could book out a 15 minute slot with me to practise this song - to give me the chance to ensure they could all get through from beginning to end without total disaster.

Thing is, technology has moved on a tad since I last involved myself with this sort of thingy. Youtube offers the opportunity to practise song like Castle on a Cloud in ways that were not possible just a few short years ago.

So, all the kids came to wondrously well prepared.

Which was great, except that they were all determined to use up all of their allotted 15 minutes practice time.

Work out the arithmetic guys. Castle on a Cloud takes about 2 minutes to sing. The kids had 15 minute slots. There were seven of them. Work out for yourselves how many time I played this blasted song. Try to work out for yourselves the gibber factor by the time I had finished - then multiply it by infinity as you cannot even begin to understand my pain.

'Falsetto' is the ability of an adult male to sing in the soprano regions. It just so happens that one of the school's two music teachers and the head of Performing Arts can both do this. I opened the door to escape the rehearsal room to be ambushed by these two characters singing in falsetto, "I know a castle on a cloud".

"Do you want to see me cry?" I demanded?

Will I do this again? You bet. Aim a kid at me and ask that I do something for it and the word, "No" does not exist in my vocab.

Oh hell. I face the same thingy this coming Monday - worse now because I know whom the 'front runners' are and whom the no-hopers are. Then we have the auditions following the rehearsals. Then the practices with the soloist. Then the three evening performances.

At the end of it all, at least one child will be feeling pretty damn proud of herself. Makes it all worthwhile.

:D
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:47 pm

I went back into school today and spent another horrific two hours rehearsing 'Castle on a Cloud' prior to the auditions after school. The payoff for all the work was having 7 teens strut their stuff in total confidence that they could pull off the audition - and they did.

What emerged were three kids who were clearly the best of all of them, and one who is the best of the three. The musical event is to be held over three nights, so we have presented to the organiser these scenarios: top singer does all three nights; all three do one night each. I hope he goes for the latter, but we shall see. Come whatever, the whole exercise has helped me build up a rapport with a group of very special and precious children that I can build on in the future.

Mind, if anybody ever asks me to accompany, "There is a Castle on a Cloud" ever again, they will come to a sticky end.

Argggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I just realised the previous is an empty threat. I have to do it at least three times come the Actual Event. And the kids will want some rehearsal............................

:arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg: :arrrg:
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:19 pm

It occurred to me earlier that I have not kept this thread going. I had some personal problems when my wife hit the sick list. I will try to improve on the performance in the future. Some of the things that happen to me are sooooooooo funny.

Here are the contents of an email I sent to the peri teaching organiser at school I joined a few weeks ago. Fantastic school. Gorgeous kids. Names changed and school not identified etc.

Ehup Mel

I have a couple of suggestions, the first one arising from an exchange with George last week. George is one of the loveliest boys I have met in a long, long time. Absolutely gorgeous. Utterly useless at playing the piano. Has got nowhere in the few lessons that he had. After fumbling and stumbling his way through the stuff he was supposed to have learned over the course of the week, we had this exchange:

"George , you do know that you are supposed to look at this stuff in between lessons, don't you?"

His replay was a masterly display of misunderstanding: "Can't. We are not allowed to do anything in between lessons. We have to go straight to our next lesson."

It took me a few seconds to work out the misunderstanding, then replied, "Sorry George . I meant at home, in between piano lessons."

"Can't." he replied. "I do not have a piano at home."

The first promise I make to a new pupils is that no harsh words will ever escape my lips during a piano lesson. I do not give piano lessons to beautiful children so I can shout at them, so the exchange was gentle.

The myriad of thingies that kids not possessing a particular musical instrument can do is vast and their opportunities are huge. Learning to play an instrument they do not possess is not one of them. So, suggestion no 1: ascertain whether the kids have practise facilities at home before allowing loving and dedicated parents to waste their money paying for lessons that are doomed to be unproductive.

My second suggestion arises out of an exchange between myself and Maria (no idea which Maria). Knowing that my one glimpse of Ellie was going to be the only one I would get, I had gone out to the car to listen to the Test cricket on the radio. Happily, I cannot bear direct sunlight on a hot day; the sun was out and blasting into the car, so I retreated back inside.

To find a little girl sat on a chair in my teaching room. Looking nervous. To save me some typing, just assume this exchange started with me and then alternated.

"Ehup sweetheart. Who are you?"

"Maria."

"Wonderful to meet you Maria. Shouldn't you be in a lesson elsewhere?"

"No."

"Ummmm. OK. What are you doing here."

"Waiting for my free piano lesson."

At which point, the light dawned and we were away.

"Wonderful poppet. Don't be nervous. Unless you are staggeringly unlucky, the only guy in the entire universe you will ever meet who is softer on you than me, is your dad. I promise that no harsh words......." etc

I hope Maria is having lessons - she is a 'natural'.

Suggestion/request no 2: can you let me know in advance if you arrange a 'one-off' so I know my presence is required. I would not have met Maria had the sun not been shining. If a bit impromptu and on-the-day arrangements are made, at least stick you head around my door and let me know please, so I can make sure I am around.

I hope my descriptions of these exchanges have amused you. They are typical of many and go a long way towards explaining why I love my job so much.

Cheers

Steve
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:32 pm

Imagine Jessica - fictional name etc. Can I stop writing that and accept that you simply assume that I will not post details that might allow an individual child to be identified?

Jess is tiny. She plays very softly and speaks even more softly. She looks as though she is permanently about to burst into floods of tears. I feel as though I am walking on eggshells with here.

Or did.

A couple of weeks ago we had The Heat Wednesday From Hell here in the UK. We do not do heat well here in the UK - partly because we are not used to it and partly because of the ludicrous humidity that accompanies said blistering heat.

I had the foresight to take a fan with me to school. I teach in a room that would make the Black Hole of Calcutta give itself a stern talking to and promise to do better in the future. I had Prepared for Survival.

The kids at this school wear a fetching red blazer. They are allowed to remove it in class. They are required to wear it when moving around (I am required to wear jacket and tie under the same circumstances - goes down like a lead balloon, I can tell you. Me and scruffy are bosom buddies - but then you probably already guessed that).

Jess arrived with a face the same shade as her blazer. The previous Miss Terrified sat down and started.

Whinge. Mutter. Grizzle. "Hate the heat." Complain. Moan. "Loathe this uniform." Whine. Grizzle. "Too cold in winter." Complain. Mutter darkly. "Far, far too hot in this weather. I hate school. I hate life. I hate heat."

There was a huge fan in the corridor outside the Shame of the Black Hole of Calcutta that I had been blissfully ensconced in front of when Jess arrived. "I sympathise sweetheart" I offered. "That is why I was stood in front of that great big fan when you arrived."

With an impressive level of savagery in something that comes up to my chest (me 5' 8'') and probably weights a fifth of me, Jess snarled sotto voce, "Yeah. I kind of got that."

And immediately looked devastated when the import of what she had said took hold. You should have seen the relief on her face when she took her hands away from her eyes to find me rocking with so much laughter I could not speak.

"Come on poppet. Take your jacket off and come and stand with me in front of that great big fan in the corridor. If anybody shouts at you for not wearing your jacket, I will shout back at them and threaten to report them for child cruelty."

:xm:
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:13 pm

Clearly Jess had take to heart my promise about the harsh words and had learned that she is indeed allowed to show some personality.

The following week, she bounced into The Shame of The Black Hole of Calcutta and asked, "How did the universe begin?" Starting with me and alternating, here is how the exchange continued - bear in mind that this child is 12.

"Erm. Have you heard of The Big Bang theory."

"Of course I have. But how could it have happened?"

"Erm. Sorry?"

"Well, before the Big Bang was supposed to be nothing, ok?"

"Yeeeessssss........"

"So how could the Big Bang have happened when there was nothing for it to happen with?"

"To be honest Jess, that has always bothered me. I cannot imagine nothing."

"No. Me neither. How can there be nothing? There has to be something because nothing would just be nothing, and nothing can arise from nothing."

"Sad to say this Jess, but you and I think alike." Part of me was dreading the inevitable next bit, another part of me was enjoying watching this 12 year old mind at work. I love watching clever children think through a problem.

"I thought about the religious route. So some people believe that God created the world?"

Yep. The conversation had indeed gone where I expected it would. "They do, and I know what you are about to ask."

"So who, or what, created God?"

"To be honest darling, I never bothered going that far. I am an atheist."

"Which leaves this problem. God cannot exist because there was nothing before God, and so God cannot have been created and so cannot exist Nothing can be created from nothing, and nothing existed before the Big Bang, so neither God nor the Big Bang can have created the universe."

"Yes."

"Therefore, we do not exist. I have been going around all day telling people that we do not exist. I have occasionally felt the need to run away from people I have told do not exist, but I am very small and very fast and so have not been beaten up yet."

Chris, my wife, long ago posited this theory: we do not actually exist in the physical form that we think we occupy. We are in fact brains in bottles being experimented on by alien beings. Old Nutter and Young Nutter would rub along quite well, it seems to me.

So I offered this theory to Jess. She thought about it for a while then pronounced, "Naaah. Impossible. We do not exist."

"Just play me the piano, child."

My life is complicated sometimes. :lol:

:xm:
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:28 pm

What follows for a few posts is a foray into a musical forum I belonged to a few years ago and that is moribund but still accessible. In it I posted episodes that tickled me whilst I was teaching. Not sure how many there will be because I am just starting the trawl. We shall see. They cover a couple of years in between about 2007 and 2009. Enjoy your insights into my life as a piano teacher; being past incidents does not make them untypical. I promise, they are totally typical.

:xm:
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
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Re: Thingies that happen to Steve in his other job

Postby SteveHopwood » Sat Jul 25, 2015 9:28 pm

Concerning 14 year old Jess earlier this evening:

Me: "Ok, Jess, have a go at this bit."

* follows much faffing around *

Jess: "Sorry. Ignore me. I am just having a dither spasm."
Read the effing manual, ok?

Global Prime is the official SHF broker. Click here to sign up for a live account with Global Prime and join the 600+ Steve Hopwood members who choose GP as their broker of choice.

I still suffer from OCCD. Good thing, really.

Anyone here feeling generous? My paypal account is always in the market for a tiny donation. [email protected] is the account.

To see The Weekly Roundup of stuff you guys might have missed Click here

My special thanks to Tommaso (milanese) for all the incredible work he does here.
User avatar
SteveHopwood
 
Posts: 9060
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:43 am
Location: Misterton - an insignificant village in England. Very pleasant to live in.

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