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Monday, February 20, 2012

Epiphenomenia - Teaching a Music Lesson

I taught some music lessons at the primary school of my children these days. It had been a long time since I stood in front of groups of small children, I normally teach students between 20 and 30 now. So I will not deny I was slightly nervous. Would I still be able to handle them? Would they pick up what I had thought out for them, or would my ideas be completely misdirected? Would I have lost touch with teaching children or still be able to do the trick?

I will be honest: I was kind of satisfied, but not because I gave them great tuition. I kind of still could do the trick; what I did was okay, but probably more in the sense of "okay" like many parents who can teach an "okay"  lesson when asked to teach children about their work. I could teach them the lesson not so much as a music pedagogue but as a musicologist having a fun talk and a nice song with a classroom of kids.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Eine kleine Eismusik

There was ice, the last two weeks. That means several things. Apart from the fact that our country, traffic-wise, turns into a complete chaos - as I described earlier - many people are suddenly completely focused on outdoor skating. People who seldom go to skate on indoor ice rinks suddenly feel the urge to skate in the open, on `natural ice', as we say - either a rather limited round on a pond-like outdoor skating rink, or a proper tour over our canals and lakes.

I used to skate a lot (one year even up to three times a week - nothing else to do in the evenings) but fell out of that habit when starting a family 7 years ago. And this was about the first time in those 7 years I went out skating by myself. I had been on skates various times the past few years, but only on small ponds in order to help the kids getting used to being on ice. But now I could do an afternoon of skating by myself.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Marktzicht - Kylie Minogue on ice

When we arrived in café Marktzicht to play a gig, after a 45 minutes drive in the frost and with some fog, we heard that the weather conditions had led to a "code orange" from some authority. Meaning: stay at home if you do not necessarily have to go out. So we played for a small audience. But cosy.

Of course, anywhere else in the world people will laugh their heads off. A bit of fog at -8 Celsius, what's the big deal? Life is dangerous because eventually you'll die. But the fact is that in this country a bit of snow inevitably leads to a complete grinding halt of pubic life, mainly because so many people inhabit so few square kilometres. One incident on any railway line leads to a chain reaction with enormous consequences because the train schedule is so busy; and one accident at a slightly snowy highway leads to a national traffic jam because too many people drive in too many cars on too few highways. And in order to prevent complaints on all that - for the Dutch love to complain - authorities sometimes give "codes orange" at the slightest breeze. Which leads to complaints, of course - and also nót giving code orange leads to complaints, by the way.

So there we were, in café Marktzicht, feeling as if we were a chosen lot put together by rough weather circumstances and making the best of it. Snowed in for weeks, that feeling. And the fact that the audience spoke Frisian and we sang our songs in Frisian felt fitting. Friesland is connected with winters - it is the most northern part of the country, it boasts a great skating history, and its name is Freezeland after all.

Adding to that was the fact that our singer only two days ago disappeared in an ice hole on a skating tour on a far too thin layer of ice on one of the lakes near Groningen. Some people need to skate as soon as there is some ice somewhere. When his wife complained, our singer said rather grumpily that he had done nothing wrong. After all, hadn't he stopped his skating tour and went home after climbing out of the ice hole, where normally he would have skated on in wet clothes as he always did in his youth ("I'd put my skating cap in my trousers to prevent the freezing of vital parts, though")? Frisian guy, him.

So when we sang our version of Kylie Minogue's great "Can't Get You Out of My Head", which we turned into a song about nostalgia for the days when Friesland's monster 200-kilometre skating tour was organised regularly (days that have never existed but are a favorite nostalgia-target nevertheless), a song with lots of rain and ice holes in it, it added to the pleasure of an imagined winter's night in a pub in Friesland.

And basically, that's what we do when we play with the band - imagining. We go somewhere and change the place into something else for a couple of hours. I never know in what we change the place precisely, because that's different for every individual present. But when we succeed in changing the place for enough people in the audience, then the place changes also for us.

Or at least for me.

That's why I'm in it.