Thursday, September 25, 2008

Long thirsty Thursdays

They are doing intensive rehearsals for this drama production. Lunch-time and after-school rehearsals.

I think son is regretting it a little that these are going on all the time. But he is not going to quit because he is not going to let the other people down. Good on him!

This means having to miss his Thursday lunch-time Chess Club. He's OK with that as he's not required for rehearsal next week and could catch up on Chess then. Today it means having to miss his first break because of a piano lesson. Then he goes to Late Class after school until the rehearsal between 4.30 and 5.30pm.

Gave him some grapes for a snack but he might not have time to eat them. At least it is there and might come in useful to quench his thirst.

Orchestra rehearsals have also moved back to Mondays. That means he does Monday lunch band practice, Monday after-school orchestra rehearsal before finishing at 4.30pm. He gets a break on Tuesday and is home early then.

He also has four pieces to perform on the clarinet in a couple of weeks at the Autumn Wind and Brass Concert at school. He plays with an oboeist, two flutists, another clarinettest (all from the top end of the school) and plays the melody line with his best friend who has just started on the clarinet. So a lot of practice for him.


I'm still having trouble trying to get him to practise more than five minutes every other day or so. What is exasperating is that despite long breaks in between he is still able to produce a very good tone in the first instance and he does not forget his fingering. So I cannot even say, "If you don't put in the practice you would lose your muscle tone."

I think he does exercises with his mouth and lip muscles even when he is not physically playing the clarinet and that is very good. I can't complain really. Except that a mother always feels, "Ah! If only he would do a little bit more, he could be SO good."

Yesterday it was really lovely to hear him play and experiment on the clarinet. And he was demonstrating to his dad the diminished chords on the piano. Hopefully music theory will be a dawdle (spelling?) to him when the time comes.

He is struggling to write the '£' sign in his Maths and musical notes, clefs, etc. We're 'doing' his science project on 'sound' and we decided that we would decorate some old empty plastic containers with musical signs. We've taken to sticking post-it tags on the inside of the container so he could trace the patterns on the outside. It's coming along.

This morning he was trying to show me how he has to dance while singing "We're in the money!" etc. Let's hope he loosens up a bit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Even longer peace

Son was given two smaller and one more major parts in the drama production and he is chuffed.

Then we quickly realized that the first rehearsal would clash with his orchestra practice at Tuesday lunch-time.

Monday morning he appeared really anxious. A mother knows these things, but tries not to highlight it. He would have to talk to various teachers about the clashes in his timetable, go to a Band rehearsal at lunch, organize to store his clarinet at the office, or in a locker somewhere, as well as organize himself to change into games kit for a football match. That is a lot for an eight-year-old.

First thing in the morning he spoke to teacher in charge of drama production and was reassured that she would speak to the Head of Music wrt the clash. Then the Band rehearsal time was changed at the last minute.

Did he panic? A little. But he got that sorted and even managed to get to the football match. He left his clarinet in the office for me to pick up, as planned. Good lad!

Tuesday's orchestra practice has now been switched as well so that he has orchestra, quick lunch and then drama rehearsal.

I noted to him that the should notify whoever in charge that he would have to leave early or arrive late due to lunch in between, just in case.

First thing at school, notified the teacher in charge of drama that he might be late. Sorted.

Wednesday was normal long day with Fun Choir.

Today there are drama rehearsals at lunch and after school at 4.30pm. He wanted to come home in between (for 45 minutes). Then he realized that a better idea is to stay at Late Class, finish his homework, play with his friends, and then attend rehearsal, which finishes at 5.30pm. It's going to mess up my cooking schedule, but it's not the end of the world.

So it will be interesting to see how he has coped with such a long day.

I think he's been doing very well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sing your way home

Enjoying an extended afternoon of quiet here.

Extended till about 5pm because son has decided to go for an audition for the school music/drama production.

This is the son whose acting has been described as 'wooden' by his teachers but whose singing has been known to be about the best.

Despite the long-running saga of being bored with Oliver last year, and my reminding him that this production requires committment, he decided to go for it.

It surprises me even more as he had decided to forgo the audition for the Chapel Choir last week. He showed some disappointment when he thought only Form III and over were allowed to audition and he is in Form II.

When the Head of Music said Form II auditions were on last Friday he was chuffed, and then, didn't go for the audition ... because he thought he was not prepared. And also he thought -- wrongly -- that the choir practises at Tuesday lunch hour. He already has band practice on Monday lunch hour. Two days of disrupted lunch hours means ... less time for play.

"Maybe in Form III I would be more prepared."

I am a bit confused as to his goals and desires. No amount of coaxing would make him agree to go to the Head of Music to ask for a second chance. Yet he is going to this audition today. He even said I could help him to prepare for it "because I've seen that sometimes a bit of help is required". He was even more pleased then to learn that there was no need to prepare, as the teacher in charge was going to give them something to sing.

Based on his singing ability I have no doubt that he would do well, but it's his acting ability and readiness to commit that are questionable. Although he did say this is only for up to November. It's not going to be another Oliver.

Anyway, I shall enjoy this afternoon for now.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Off to Camp, at last!

Between Singapore and resumption of school is Cub Camp.

Cub Camp is the be-all and end-all of all incentives during this long eight-week summer break for son. We kept going to the camp shop (there are two in our part of Harrow!) to buy various things. Even on the day of camp itself, after I'd done my turn at the school uniform shop, we had to go to the shop to buy a steel mug.

Son is a very "I'm very comfortable at home, thank you" kind of boy. He could stay indoors for days if you do not force him out for some fresh air. But camp -- living in a tent -- seemed to have taken his fancy. I think it's the prospect of another badge that mattered most to him.

Anyhow, finally packed and ready to go, we got to the camp site.

There was to be an 'opening ceremony' at 7.30pm. Son checked in, got the stuff he needed for his tent, disappeared into the tent for a long while, emerged, came to me to give me a kiss (very unexpectedly), sort of waved to Dad, and said, "You can go now."

Being thus summarily dismissed, we left. We weren't allowed to stay for the opening ceremony.

Well, you know, this is the first time EVER that son has slept away from me. Ever since he was born -- kind of prised out of my body -- he has always slept under the same roof as me. Dad had gone away for a day or two (hospital, errand to Nanny, etc), but son has ALWAYS been with me. Even when I went to Singapore to conduct some research, son was with me.

Who felt the separation more? Guess!

It was a rite of passage for all of us.

All through the time he was away we could not stop talking about him: he must be having his campfire now. Is he singing 'Ging gang gooli'? "Do you think he's asleep?".

Get used to it, we reminded ourselves.

Sunday morning, the rain was chucking down. "Do you think his tent is flooded?"

Sunday afternoon, we went to pick him up, in good time for the 'closing ceremony', we thought. At the carpark we noticed that cubs were already climbing into cars. They had brought forward the closing ceremony because of the rain. So we missed it.

Caught sight of son. All smiles. Rushed towards us waving a certificate: Best Camper it says.

A real surprise. All our fears about his not liking camp evaporated. He wants to do more. He even managed to pack everything back into his rucksack. Amazing!

So last week we bought him a new sleeping bag. Next 'Cool Camp' end of October coming up. What fun!