I Am Tone Deaf

Well, I’m not really tone deaf. But if you think for a moment I have perfect pitch, you’d be ever so wrong.

I think it’s amazing that most people can’t hear their own voice. I know what my voice sounds like, and it’s not pretty. I’m sure that if I were a little more nuts, I’d be right up there with most of the better known psycho-bitches, such as Lorena Bobbitt, Imelda Marcos or my own mother. In my job, I speak to people on the phone all the time. Most people who know my phone voice think I’m blond. They also think I am a foot taller than I am. When these people meet me, the first thing they say, after they look at me with perplexed glances, is “Oh, I thought you were taller. And blond.”

I’ve been trying to teach myself different pitches. For the last three years, I’ve taken an instrument and struggled with notes and sounds. My lack of progress is almost embarrassing. Other members of my family are musicians, and they are wonderful musicians. They are the kind of musicians who can play from the heart. I am having a hard time playing from my sheet music. The happy note gene seems to have skipped my DNA helix.

This is hard to imagine, since I love music so much. I love listening to all kinds, and I’m forever enthralled with those who can make music so effortlessly. Musicians are certainly tuned into the sound of the world. They’re special people. I long to make that kind of music. Unfortunately, my body is old and my head is full of false notes. So, when it takes others a hike into the park for a picnic, I spend the rest of my life climbing up Mt. Everest, one step a day. I might not make it to the top.

I guess it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination.

How the Student Symphony Reminds Me of Insects

My daughter is principal flutist in one of the county’s youth symphonies. Last Thursday was their first performance. There are other items I could write about regarding this performance, but some of those things are making me very angry, so I thought I would concentrate on something more positive.

I arrived at the hall slightly late, because I was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. It took 35 minutes to go from exit 62 to exit 69, and I had another thirty miles to go. Things weren’t looking very bright for me to get there on time. Once we edged past the accident, traffic picked up to the usual 80 miles an hour plus. Though I normally am not a speeder, it was helpful to be able to do so, and I was only about five minutes late.

I love watching music being played. We have season tickets to the symphony, and our box seats are just to stage right. We are parallel to the conductor and can read the music from the violinists’ stands. For the youth symphony, they borrow a hall at a local high school, which has nice acoustics and furnishings. It is first come/first served for seating. Most parents arrive early to secure the best spots.

As I settled in, the performers came onto the stage. Most are high school students, and the orchestra is arranged differently than a traditional one. For one thing, there are 38 violinists, only six cellists, and six violists. My daughter’s flute section has six flutists as well.

From my vantage point in the nose bleed section, the entire thing reminded me of a summer garden full of insects. The violinists were the gnats, buzzing furiously. The cellists and violas were the mosquitos, with their lower pitched buzzing. The basses were the giant beetles, lumbering about. The flutes were the butterflies, floating serenely above the garden. I thought of the horn section as being the cicadas, crickets and grasshoppers, making blurting noises. The percussionists came in like the lawn cutters, and all was orchestrated by the owner of the garden.

The music was all “modern” classical, which included a Tchaikovsky clarinet piece, Prokofiev, and something called “4’33″” which is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. I take it the Orkin man was there at the garden immediately preceding that piece.

A Brand New Toy

Yesterday, while in a moment of mental clarity, I decided to purchase a video camera.

Now, I have a few video cameras. The first, a Sony, is broken. I should put that one on eBay. I’ve had enormously good luck selling broken electronics on eBay. There’s always some tinkerer who can use spare parts.

Actually, the Sony wasn’t my first video camera, but it was my first Sony. After my son was born in 1987, my husband plunked down a couple of thousand dollars for a ginormous Panasonic VHS camera. That one bit the dust right after my daughter was born. The Sony was nice in that it didn’t weigh as much as a suckling pig.

Soon after the first Sony broke, I purchased another. This was because the estimate to fix the first one far exceeded the cost of a new one. (This is known as the “new” Murphy’s law. Whatever you purchased that is mechanical in nature is easier and more cheaply replaced by something new.) This camera has been a steadfast workhorse for the last ten years or so.

You might ask, why does a family need so much video? I’m really the kind of person who sees very little value in recording the day to day misadventures of my life. You won’t see this woman doing birthday parties. I can barely capture those moments on still film. However, both my children are musicians. Both are quite good. One is a third year college student at a music conservatory. Over the years, I have amassed an all encompassing library of video from the first piano recital at age 7 all the way up to present day.

Today, my daughter has a recital. For a year and a half, I’ve considered upgrading to something more easily digital. Converting Sony tape to anything else was always an exercise in confusion. First, you have to locate the cords and doo-dads that originally came with the camera. After all of these years, those things have intermingled with other cords with no names, which belong to appliances which may or may not still be in existence.

A year and a half ago, we hosted a German exchange student who was studying piano. When I went to tape and then put her performance on DVD, I realized that my equipment was sadly lacking. I’ve been looking around since then, investigating the options and the ease that I need to have in an electronic toy. I may know how to use a computer, but I’m not a digital goddess. I’m the kind who feels fortunate to be able to set the coffee maker.

My other impetus for buying a new camera is that I’ve recently been making silly videos with my Sony still digital camera. (I’m so dense, I didn’t realize until recently that the camera even had that capability!) Once I discovered this, I went crazy.

My brand new toy is another Sony video camera. It’s digital, and records right to little DVDs. The little DVDs can be immediately copied into the computer. I like this idea. If you saw the mishmash of tapes, both VHS and Sony, which occupy my entertainment center, you would know why I would feel swamped. Two recitals or more per year times fourteen years is a lot of performances.

Tomorrow, all of the tapes will go to a local place that transfers tape to DVD. Then I will watch all two hundred hours of it (slowly, and deliberately), and label it all accordingly for posterity.