Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Two Stay-At-Home Mothers Decided to Make Some Music. You Won't Believe What Happened Next.

...Actually, you will believe what happened, because it's not all strange.

We spent the weekend with Elizabeth Duffy and family and her brand-new gorgeous kitchen. Elizabeth's husband is a craftsman by avocation, and he and Darwin spent many productive hours out in his barn on Sunday working on a spur-of-the-moment project, a custom screen door to replace our barbarous aluminum thing in our kitchen, with gaps in the panels so large the cat escapes through them. Saturday night Darwin talked about the difficulties he'd had trying to find a replacement at Home Depot for our oddly-sized door, Joe said he had wood that size out in the barn, and on Sunday they set to work planing, routing, and dry-fitting poplar pieces into a frame that we'll finish at home. Darwin loves woodworking when he has a chance to do it, and it was a real pleasure for him to work with a friend who has such a mastery of his craft, not to mention an amazing complement of tools and machinery.

While the fellows were building in the barn and the kids were charging around playing baseball, Elizabeth and I sat on the patio with our nursing babies and our drinks and talked writing shop, and discussed how to revive the quality of the blogging community against the cheap controversy-mongering of the Facebook and Twitter, and delighted in our mutual discovery of Anne Kennedy, and sighed at how the big boys and girls are still on this side of childhood, unconscious of each other except as team mates and Monopoly adversaries. And we had our own spur-of-the-moment artistic moment: "Hey, let's play some music!"

Both of us had years of music lessons, Elizabeth on cello and me on piano, so we passed babies to the fathers, who were all sawdusty from the barn, and hitched up chairs and tuned instruments. And then, the music. It wasn't the heavenly choirs, but it was a moment of adult artistic collaboration. It was practice, and error, and "Let's take it from this measure," and "What if we played it this way?", and "Hey, do you know this piece?", heedless of the chaos swirling behind, and occasionally on top, of us. It was honing and trying it one more time to get it just right, and laughing when I inevitably played the major chord at the end instead of the minor.

ANd meanwhile, the life of the house when on. The kids were happy, and we were happy, even as we tried take after take to get a good recording. And in the end, none of them really took because either there was too much commotion in the background, or I played the wrong thing in the more complicated sections, or the sound was off, or the baby's head was in the way of Elizabeth's bow. Whenever we watched a take, we had to laugh at our desperate expressions as we focused on just hitting the notes in harmony, being amateurs out of practice. But oh, was it fun, and the Darwins ended up leaving about three hours later than we meant to because it seemed like the perfect take was just within our grasp. As we left, Elizabeth and I were wishing we could convene a regional mothers' chamber orchestra for everyone who still remembers the thrill of the ensemble.

Anyway, here's a snippet of us playing Handel's Sarabande. Cello, piano, chorus of howling children.

15 comments:

mandamum said...

When I first moved to our town, there was a community Messiah concert every December, hosted by a local church and the local Mastersingers, but anyone who knew and loved Messiah could come out and rehearse for a few months and sing in the concert. It was energizing to be part of the music again, on that level! I need to start training my little singers now, so that a few years down the road we can do harmonies together.

(And thanks for bringing civilization to your little bit of the internet world!)

Jenny said...

I haven't played in an ensemble since 2001. Sigh.

I love the chaos in the next room. I imagine, from their perspective, they see nothing unusual about horsing around while their mothers rehearse Handel in the next room. They don't know how lucky they are.

Joseph Moore said...

Cool. I like the Handel versus Chaos theme.

The Caboose (age 10) starts violin lessons this week. Looking forward to a little family fiddle band with him and my two daughters, which will give us some combination of fiddle (2) piano (3) guitar (2.5) ukulele (1) and the odd harmonica and recorder and such.

Anne Kennedy said...

Oh my word, my mother left that open on my piano when she left months ago and I've been playing it every morning, after I open the curtains, in a hopeful and lost way, like, look, I once sometimes played the piano. Also I'M the one who has discoverd a great new rich world of bloggers, just when I thought perhaps the whole blogosphere had come to an end.

MDiskin said...

I love how the kids end up howling in time with the music!

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Bella says she thinks the chorus of screaming children makes the music more beautiful

I wish I could come and join you even though I'm not musical at all. I'd just love to bask in the music and the chaos and the company.

BettyDuffy said...

Love it. And what a fun weekend. Glad you could come.

Pentimento said...

This is SO GREAT. Plus, I feel like all my words are colliding.

MrsDarwin said...

Thanks, all! I wish we'd gotten a good longer recording -- the next variation was the fancier piano one, and the third was the cello showcase. Jenny, we could have used some winds, and Pentimento, you could have just vocalized, but you would have outshone us by far.

My go-to piano refresher is sight-reading Joplin rags. Once you get the various syncopations down, they're actually fairly easy to peg together, at least haltingly.

Itinérante said...

This is so beautiful! ♥

Jenny said...

I was in a clarinet quartet in college and we did a lot of Joplin rags. They were great fun.

Pentimento said...

But please explain the left-handedness of Betty's playing.

mrsdarwin said...

P., I think the video is reversed. It looks like I'm left handing it too, but I didn't play any bass notes because Betty was covering it.

mrsdarwin said...

P., I think the video is reversed. It looks like I'm left handing it too, but I didn't play any bass notes because Betty was covering it.

BettyDuffy said...

It's a mirror image, P. We were using photo booth. I play right handed in real life.