The daily task of supervising Paul(7)’s piano practicing has, by default, fallen to me. While Cassie makes dinner for the kids (and sometimes me), P and I head downstairs to the piano, where I typically entertain Georges while listening to P run through his exercises.
Tuesdays I have my hip-hop class and arrive to nanny half an hour later then usual. Because of Cassie’s super-mom efficiency, P was already done with his homework when I jogged in the door at 5:30, so the two of us got a headstart on practicing before G got home from preschool. P had a new song to work on (disturbingly titled “Indian War Whoop” or something equally un-p.c.) and was having a terrible time with it. It’s a complicated tempo with about four hand position changes and half in staccato. This could have been P being an airhead, but he had no clue what “staccato” mean and no recognition of its symbol. I’m a little concerned that his private teacher hadn’t explained this to him, but I magically remembered and gave a pretty good explanation/demonstration, or so I would like to think.
Because I had no wiggling G to deal with, I actually had a few minutes to concentrate on what P was trying to do. His hands were a mess and he was getting really stressed out, so I asked if I could try to figure it out for him. I sat down at the piano and played the whole song. To an unknowing reader, this may not sound like much, but I had no clue until today that I still knew how to sight-read. I gave up on the clarinet (ohhh how I hated band) after 8th grade, and my few years of piano lessons had ended years even before that. I don’t think I’ve actually looked at a piece of music since then.
For these reasons, both Paul and I were pretty astonished. Well, I was astonished for those reasons – he was astonished because he’d catagorized the new American nanny as the one who “likes to do sports” (i.e., I run and dance), not as the one who “knows how to play the piano.” The au pair I replaced was training to be a “master harpist” or something, so to a 7 year-old, the musician au pair and the sporty au pair were two completely seperate entities.
Once I’d realized I could read the song and recognized all the notes and most of the symbols, I also knew how to explain it to Paul. This is when I got to impart my staccato knowledge, and I pulled a lesson on notes and octaves somewhere out of a back corner of my brain as well. We ran into a little confusion because instead of “c-d-e-f-g-a-b” going up the scale, the French use “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-si-do.” (I know we have the do-re-mis too, but we tend to use the letter names in the U.S.) Yes, “si” instead of “ti,” whiched caused undo stress for Paul everytime I asked him about “middle c.” Once we’d straightened that out and established that “middle c” and “do moyen” were one and the same, we got into quite a productive practice.
P usually shoots through his exercises and starts fidgeting at about the five minute point, but tonight we held each other rapt for at least half an hour. I think Cassie was quite surprised when she came downstairs and found us practicing “Indian War Whoop” as a duet. I think she had a musical/sporty nanny cleavage in her head as well. Ha, we sound like the “Spice Nannies” or something. Musical Nanny, Sporty Nanny, Bad Nanny (yes there was a bad nanny), Weird French Fry Nanny, Muslim Nanny, etc. Maybe we’ll unify as one super band some day.
Anyway, it’s a trivial thing, but I was pretty excited about my latent (rusty!) piano skills. I’m going to take advantage of this yer and practice while I can – I’ll be learning alongside Paul at any rate.
In other news, Christina and I just bought our tickets to Barcelona for the Toussaint vacation. I’ll see her for the few days she has to stay with me before she flies home in December, but other than that, this is probably our last hurrah for a long time. It was nice how I only had to say goodbye to half my friends in August. December is going to be a tough month though, once I’m actually all alone over here.
•• I feel like an invalid without my camera. If it’s not back in my arms by Barcelona, I’m going to cry.
••• All I have to say to this sign is…I don’t believe you!!!
There’s a shifty (and unsupervised) character. Look at him…he’s just waiting for me to give him privacy so he can go nuts pooping all over the sidewalk.