Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Okay, I'm not so sure how this works...

For someone as technologically unsavvy as I am, this blogging is going to be a steep learning curve, I think. Basically, my computer skills amount to knowing how to type [hunt-and-peck style, I think my typing teacher called it disdainfully (no, I'm not an octogenarian: they really had a mandatory typing class in high school in the 1980s - Go, Trevians!)] and save. I don't want to sell myself short, though: I can also copy-and-paste like a fiend.

I don't have much to say right now except that I will be going to my four-year-old son's preschool performance tonight, in the auditorium and everything. He'll be singing some song that I gather is titled "Oh Hey, Oh Hi, Hello!" from the singing he has been doing around the house. He has excellent pitch, I must say, (I read today that only one person in ten thousand has what is considered perfect pitch) as he is the spawn of at least one parent (me) who is practically tone-deaf. Which leads me to a horrible memory of my past: I went to New Trier High School in Winnetka, IL in the 1980s. That itself would be a nauseating memory - or one giant, ever-mutating blob of repressed teenaged tragedies - but I am speaking of one specific event.

When I was a freshman, (or, as my feminist cohorts in college would call a "first-year student", ever-eager to excise that 'man'), I took chorus because that was what was expected of us, and, back then, I did what was expected of me. Anyway, New Trier in the mid-80s practically wrote the handbook on preppy, snooty horridness. All the Christie Brinkley and Ken doll lookalikes with their four season tans (in the Chicago area, of course) and their Lacoste oxfords and penny loafers. Plus, the duck motif: it was everywhere. Insert one little ethnic girl with crazily curly hair and a second generation American lineage. One of these things was most decidely not like the other. I know that there were others like me who were not tall, blonde and of English-Irish-German descent, but during my first year in this petrie dish of hyper-competitive, airbrushed perfection, I felt pretty much like the goth girl who crashed homecoming.

Anyhoo, one day we were practicing some song in chorus and I was probably daydreaming about Morrissey when the teacher, a cranky, older woman with white, beehived hair, abruptly stopped playing the piano.

"Wait a minute. Someone is off pitch," she said.

We all sort of looked around, like, what were we supposed to do about it? She played the part again on piano and asked the altos, soprano twos (that's what they were called), and sopranos to sing a few lines again, one group at a time so as to isolate that naggingly wrong voice. Finally, it was my turn, as a soprano. I considered just miming the words as I feared that I was That Voice, but I was afraid that she would detect my deception. So I sang with the sopranos. She stopped playing the piano again, stood to face us, squinted and leaned her ear in like a bird dog, and had us sing a cappella so as to hone in on it. She put up her hand and the group hushed immediately.

"Ms. Rose. Please come up here."

I looked around the room with my best expression of nonchalance as she strode back to the piano bench. She started playing the piano again. "Sing again, please."

So I had to stand there alone, about fifty Heather-esque Ice Queens silently, most likely smirkingly, watching me as I tried to sing some show tune for this woman.

"Louder!" she commanded. "I can barely hear you."

I must have only been up there for fifteen seconds but it was truly one of the most wretched experiences of my life. If I could have disappeared right there by snapping my fingers, I absolutely would have. She finally, FINALLY, stopped playing the piano and my heart rate slowed down to about 350 beats a minute, my beet-red face returning to its former ghostly pallor.

"You are a soprano two," she declared. "Go sit with the twos."

Wasn't that horrible? You'd think that once she isolated the off-key voice to be mine, she would have had me sing a few bars after class. No. Why do that when a little humiliation (that still haunts me more than twenty years later) could do the trick? But I'm not bitter or anything.

I am home now from my son's concert and I am happy to report that he sang happily and unself-consciously, without interruption from his teacher. That's m' boy! He's breaking the cycle.

5 comments:

LizChiTown said...

It's a Jim Gill song, from "Jim Gill Makes it Noisy in Boise Idaho". He's actually really good....he's a child development specialist with a degree from the Erikson Institute, so all of his songs are not only fun & catchy, they're also developmentally appropriate.

Congrats on starting a blog. You're way ahead of me!

Anima Sola said...

Whoa. That teacher sounds like she's got nothing on my old highschool choir teacher, Sr. Callista. That woman was so finicky, I named my cat after her!

Marla said...

Yep, Liz, Jim Gill was on the program for writing the song. Thanks for letting me know the album because we're most certainly going to buy it now. (Justice was SO cute performing, I have to say. For a kid who's pretty quiet in groups, he really pulled out all the stops. I think he's a ham like the mama.)

Sr. Callista sounds scary, Val, Yikes.

vegan.mama said...

I think I stopped reading about four lines into that post when you mentioned typing class. Eek! I'd completely forgotten about the ENTIRE YEAR I spent in, I think, 7th grade typing class. With all the pica and elite type differences and stuff, right? Geez... it's sometimes hard to remember how technologically dinosaur-ish my schooling years were in comparison to what today's kids experience.

The Hill said...

I'd just like to say that your teacher was a bitch.