Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bigger, Better, Louder?

Rachel joined Orchestra when she was in 4th grade. She began on the cello, then soon moved to bass. Yes, this is the big stand-up stringed instrument at the back of the orchestra. She loves it.

Now that she's in 6th grade, she and one of her best friends, Sam, have been the two bassists in Intermediate Orchestra. This week, however, she will leave Sam as she moves into Advanced Orchestra.

On top of the class change, I dropped off her practice bass at school yesterday. The big ol' beast is too huge to lug to and from school every day, especially on the bus, so we have one bass at home that she uses for practice, and she has another bass at school for class and concerts. The old practice bass was a real beater. You'd have to be careful to not get slivers on the edges of it. But hey, it was a free loaner, so nobody's complaining. The beater was a 1/4 size bass, which I think was about 5' tall with the end pin out. We traded it in yesterday because she is now tall enough to play a 1/2 size bass - somewhere between 6-12" taller than the other one. I haven't seen it out of the case, so I'm not sure exactly how big it is, but I think her teacher said it's 6' tall. It only fits in the van with the 3rd row seat removed, so it's big.

This move into Advanced was not without a little extra work. To make sure she would be able to keep up in Advanced, her teacher gave her a worksheet of rhythms to clap out. He wanted her to demonstrate she could read music well enough to be able to correctly clap the rhythms on the paper. She asked for help with it and I taught her the things my mom taught to me years ago, when I studied piano. I tell ya, if I hadn't had the music training back then, I would have never been able to help her with this. These rhythms were difficult and incorporated swing, signature changes, 6/8 time, and triplets. Whew! If you have no idea what I just said, imagine how she felt when she first looked at the sheet of music. About the same.

She begins Advanced Orchestra on the first day of school following Thanksgiving. This class change puts her in a different math class (same teacher, same material, just a different time slot and a different group of kids) and instead of early lunch, she'll take the last lunch of the day. When her Orchestra teacher asked if she had any friends in the late lunch, she said, "Yeah, I know some upperclassmen." Well la-de-dah, I guess we have a BKOC. (Big Kid On Campus.)

I hope the change doesn't create any hard feelings between her and Sam, but we're really proud of her getting this far. She's also feeling pretty good about herself for getting bumped up into the advanced class.

Can't wait to hear her practice her advanced music on her bigger taller instrument. I'm sure the neighbors feel the same.

At least she doesn't play the bagpipes.

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