It's no great secret on this weblog that I'm a big music nerd and have every intention of passing it along to my children.  That's okay, because I think knowing that Ludwig von Beethoven wrote his Heilingastad Testament in 1802 around the time he was writing the Eroica Symphony is way less nerdy than to have memorized all the lyrics to songs with no music and poems written in The Lord of the Rings... something both my Kiddles also know.  Sigh.  They just don't have a chance.

Aside: The KingofHearts thinks this Raising-A-Nerd Approach to parenting is a good thing because it will make them virtually undateable when they get to teenagerhood and that means less for us to worry about.  My theory is it will just make them available to the popular boys and the nerdy boys alike and then we'll just have twice as many boys to worry about.  Thoughts?

A few weeks ago, the orchestra I play with took on Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade for the first concert of the new year.  The KingofHearts has for sometime now been telling The Dormouse about Sheherazade and her tales.  For awhile, he was spinning a bedtime story each night a la One Thousand and One Nights... always left "to be continued" with the next night's story.  I assume he does this so The Dormouse will let him live to see another day.  

Anyway, she heard me talking about playing Scheherazade, and asked if she could come hear it.  When she was really little and more portable, she came to my concerts a lot and The KoH would sit near the exits so he could take her out the second she started to make noise and/or leave at intermission.  But sometime around the age of two, she lost the ability to immediately fall asleep in situations with external noise.  Respecting other concertgoers' experience was not topping her list of priorities so we stopped bringing her for awhile.  Lately she's been more interested in listening to classical music. So now that she's seven and able to understand the need for behaving and keeping quiet, I thought I'd give her a chance again and see how she did sitting with a friend in the audience of Scheherazade.

It turned out to be a great experience for her.  She loved getting dressed up, having a night out alone with Momma and staying out late.  I gave her a kid-appropriate intro to programmatic music and played bits of the piece for her in the car on the way to the concert venue so she'd know what to expect.  We talked about what the different sections might represent.  I figured that would be the end of her desire after having to sit still for two hours, but apparently she had enough pictures in her head to remain interested by the time we actually played and she was not only well-behaved throughout, but also thoroughly enjoyed it.  In the car on the way home, she asked to hear it again and as I cued up the iPod and started it again, she said dreamily, "This is exactly how it was.  It sounded just like this! Ahhh..." and trailed off.  (Sometimes I think I'm parenting Louisa May Alcott's version of a child and not the real-life 21st century kind I was supposed to get.)  The next day, her audience companion told me she had explained to him that "in the opening statement of Scheherazade, there was a tune that is played over and over again.  Sometimes, it's a little different each time, it goes higher or lower or it changes a little bit... and that was kind of like all the one-thousand-and-one stories Scheherazade told over and over."  My 19th Century Theory teacher from college would be so proud... of her... not me... because I would never have gotten that right on a test without help.

My concert this week was a scattergory of musical eras, from Beethoven's 5th Symphony to Copland's Rodeo, to a brand new tone poem that most of the orchestra members didn't even understand.  The composer wrote it for us and would be present for our World Premiere of his work.  New music is always hard to play because a) there's no recording to reference and b) even the most seasoned of classical musicians cuts his teeth on music that was written two hundred years before his birth and therefore new musical ideas are sometimes hard to accept.  I'm a huge fan of 20th Century music, but even I had a little trouble "getting" this one.

The Dormouse asked to come again and since it went well the last time, I agreed.  While she focused on the difficult decision of What to Wear (she finally settled on a "dress that looks like cream" and some "very grown up looking" earrings, which when anyone commented on, she reminded, "They're CLIP-ONS."), I prepared her for the Beethoven and Copland, but there wasn't much for me to do with the new piece.  Instead, I explained it was a tone poem about vampires.  I told her this was a brand new piece and she would be among the first people in the world to hear it so it was really exciting.

The composer happened to be in the lobby as we entered so I introduced her to him, thinking that might make it at least more interesting for her to connect it to a person.  She shook his hand said, "I've never met a REAL LIVE COMPOSER before!"

He thought that was pretty funny and we headed into the hall. 

Afterward, she and I were leaving and ran into the composer one more time.  I stopped to congratulate him and thank him for the experience and he looked down at The Dormouse and asked, "Well, what did you think?"

"I.... [pause] LOVED... [pause] IT!" (Miss Melodramatic)
He said, "Well that's great!  What was your favorite part?"

"The Vampire Song.  It was the best one!  I was imagining that the chimes I heard toward the end were the clock and it was getting to be dawn and the vampires had to get back inside before the sun came up."

"You're exactly right.  That's what I meant that to be."

"And the screeching sounds, I didn't think they were people screaming like my Mom said.  No, they were the sounds of the vampire as he turned into a bat."

He looked surprised.  "Well, that's what I meant that to be.  Most adults don't get that. I'm glad you liked it."

"I did.  It was better than Beethoven."

"Kid, you should be a music critic.  I'm gonna put that on my resume:  'Better Than Beethoven.'"

I'm not sure what I'm more impressed by: her ability to catch onto musical images and themes, or her ability to kiss up.  

This, from the child who doesn't remember to flush the toilet about 40% of the time.