So, I have taught my last pupil, and played my last three performances of the year this weekend!!!!!! Am now officially on holiday!!!!!!!!!!!
My first performance this weekend was with my children's choir at a nursing home. The children all turned up looking beautiful and Christmassy – except for my two who had just been for a sleepover and looked crumpled and hungover, oh what a proud parent I am – and we took the lift up to the sitting room where we were to perform. It was a large, bright room with comfortable chairs arranged in a semi circle in front of the television and, though a few of the chairs were occupied, you could have heard a pin drop. Five or six women were sitting, hands folded in their laps, gazing silently at us as we set up, heads nodding forward, eyes rheumy and bored. But, as usual, the kids stood beautifully and, heads up, sang their best. We sang a few folk songs from around the world, before launching into some Christmas music, by which time the audience had grown to about fifteen and it only took Silent Night to get them all singing with much gusto. Unfortunately, half the kids were on a tight schedule and they were all exhausted, so I had to bring the performance to an early close. By the time we left, the sitting room was crowded with old people all singing their heads off. But, to quote Bill Bryson – Here's the Thing. The nursing home, though clean and beautifully presented and obviously not too short of a bob or two, does not own a piano - and I want to know why not? When I get back from England, it will be my first priority to find out how many of these places don't own pianos and see if we can somehow remedy that. And my second priority will be to organise some groups to go round some of these places on a regular basis - weekly or monthly - to do some sing-songs. Just on the off chance that any musicians are reading this – if you're interested, please let me know....
Saturday and Sunday night were Messiahs, with the Brisbane Baptist Tabernacle choir under the baton of Fiona Gough. Every performance of the Messiah is very different, but these two were not bad, though I say it myself. We had lovely soloists – in spite of the fact that the tenor didn't look old enough to have broken his voice, he sang beautifully and the Bass was glorious and the counter tenor gorgeous, though I felt sorry for him. It is always interesting to see the audience reaction when he starts to sing. There is an instant craning of necks, as people make sure that it really is that big bloke over there with the beard who is singing in that high pitched - though beautiful – voice and quite often people even get the giggles, though they always do their best to hide it – because of course, one must never giggle during the Messiah. And that's one thing I just don't understand. Why do people take the Messiah so seriously? I'm sorry, but you can't convince me that a man who must have set literally hundreds of thousands of words to music, did not know what he was doing when he wrote a whole chorus with the line “All we like sheep,” sung over and over again. (The phrase in full is: “All we like sheep do follow”, but did he emphasise the “following”? Not a bit of it!) Ditto the baritone solo “ And I do sha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-etc-ke”.
Anyway, it's been a huge and exhausting, though rewarding year. I have been working quite a bit as well as homeschooling Juliette – middle daughter – which has been, at times, frustrating and scary, but also a wonderful, wonderful chance to spend time with her before she sets off to High school next year. But I'm knackered, so as far as I'm concerned - bring on that plane flight! 36 hours of having meals cooked, no washing up, no cleaning, no having to drive anywhere or yell at kids – bliss! Now off to make Mince pies!!!!