Archive for the ‘music’ Category

A manners lesson for Paul & John

October 5, 2013

The kids are bopping around the living room to a Beatles compilation CD – a very common Saturday activity in our house.  Just a few minutes ago, Babess paused the CD and came in to tell us something.  “I want to hold your hand” was cut off mid-lyric.

“That’s not a good thing to say,” she told us.

“What’s not good?” we asked.

“That.  What they’re saying.  They’re saying “I want” and you shouldn’t say that.  They won’t get it!  They need to say “Please””.

We agreed, and she went back to turn the music on and keep dancing, secure in her understanding of modern manners.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.


Musical alphabet

May 11, 2013

Fainjin is really enjoying playing the “lukulele” as he insists on calling it.  He’ll quite often pull it out – with his music – and sit in the lounge, strumming and singing away quietly to himself.

This morning he had his first lesson in three weeks after the school holiday break, and he was having a practice before he went.  I was in the kitchen and he was in the lounge, but he felt compelled to tell me everything he was thinking anyway.

“Mum! In music there’s only ABCDEFG!”

“That’s right, Fainjin.”

“There’s no T.”

“No, there isn’t.”

“Cos it’s only ABCDEFG.”


“There’s definitely an A, cos that’s at the start of ABCDEFG.”

“Yes, it is.”

“But there’s no M.”


“There’s an F!… [pause] … but there’s no R, cos that’s not in ABCDEFG…”


I was quite glad when it was time for him to pack up and head off to his lesson.

© UpsideBackwards 2013.



February 20, 2013

Fainjin is learning to play the ukulele.  He’s very happy with his new blue ukulele, and he’s had one lesson so far.  He has learnt to play C and F, and was very pleased with himself when he noticed on the chord chart that C6 is all open strings.  “Hey! I can play C6 too!” he crowed.

Babess loves to listen to him as he sits and strums or plucks at the strings.  Yesterday they were sitting together while he practised and suddenly he said to her, “You sing a song and I’ll play”.

“OK!” Babess is usually happy to sing a song.  She made one up as she went along, and he strummed and plucked while her song-story meandered around.

After a little while he looked over and said, “Are you finished yet?”

“No! I have more song.”

“OK.” And he kept strumming and she kept singing.  It was very cute!

© UpsideBackwards 2013.

Concert season

December 1, 2012

Last weekend Pearl sang in a concert with her mid-week choir.  I love listening to this group, they have an excellent tutor and he really brings out the best in them.  They only number about a dozen children (aged 8-13), but they have an amazing sound and sing in wonderful harmony.  Sometimes they will divide into as many as four voices – pretty tricky for little kids!  They are in tune, know their music, and enunciate clearly.  Like I said, they have an excellent tutor.

This weekend both Pearl and Fainjin sang in the end-of-year concert for their Saturday morning music school.  Again, Pearl is in the choir.  It’s a slightly smaller choir, competing as it does with sports fixtures.  They have a great teacher too.  They stand up straight and confident and sing out proud.  It’s quite a different repertoire to the mid-week choir, and Pearl enjoys the variety.  She’s lucky to have not one but two great singing opportunities (well, three, because she’s in the school choir as well).

Fainjin sang with his music class of mostly 5-yr-olds.  They concentrate on music appreciation and exploration for the littlies, learning about the different instruments and the basics of reading music.  They sing and dance and have loads of fun.  For the concert they all took an instrument out of “The Box” – wood blocks, maracas, bells, etc – and lined up to sing a couple of Christmas songs.   They did very very well, mostly remembering the words and having a great time making lots of noise in front of an adoring audience.   They were hands-down the cutest class in the concert.  Not that I’m biased, of course.

We stayed to listen to the harps.  I never thought I’d hear “Chopsticks” on a harp, let alone on 11 at once.  It was unexpectedly awesome.

Tonight we went to my niece & nephew’s annual dance school end-of-year show.  They did brilliantly and we’re so proud of them.

So much talent on show in such a short time!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


August 27, 2012

Pearl is in three choirs at the moment.  The church-based one (which doesn’t regularly sing in church, it just meets there), sang in church on Sunday.  It’s a beautiful neo-Gothic church with lots of stained-glass windows and candles.

They sang during communion, having been invited to do so because some of the parish children were celebrating their First Holy Communion at that service.  They sang beautifully, about ten young voices floating through the church – such a big space for such a small choir!

I was proud of Pearl, she stood up so straight and watched the choir director, opened her mouth to sing out confidently, and didn’t let herself get flustered in front of an audience.  The congregation applauded warmly after each of the three hymns.

We don’t regularly attend this church, but do have family ties to it.  I reminded Pearl that The Fabulous Auntie B got married in that church, and that her great-grandmother also sang in the choir there many years ago.  It feels nice to keep the tradition going in a small way.

Nana would be proud.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

What it’s all about

August 25, 2012

Fainjin was the only child to show up to his music appreciation class this morning.  Luckily, this bothered him not at all.  He enjoyed the opportunity to have the teacher all to himself, and sang “Why Does The Sun Shine?” to her, as well as showing her a hip-hop dance he learned from his adored older dancer cousin (it’s super-cute, not that I’m at all biased).

In turn, she taught him a couple of new songs, and a dance.  He came home with not one but two stickers on his hands, and labels in felt pen: L and R on the appropriate hands.

“Why did you need to know left and right?” I asked, wondering which musical instrument they might have been talking about.

“To do the Hokey Pokey!” he grinned.

Oh, of course!

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


The Sun

June 1, 2012

Fainjin has been learning about day and night at school – what makes day and night, what makes the moon shine, why is the sun hot, and so on.  I recommended a song, “Why does the sun shine?” (sung by They Might Be Giants) to his teacher, and she liked it so much that the children have all been learning the words.

Fainjin loves it and sings it a lot at home (and on the way home from school, and in the car, and …).  I love it too and sometimes sing along with him.

Pearl finds this excruciating.  I don’t think it’s because I’m a bad singer, I think she just doesn’t like me to sing where her friends might hear her.  I tell her it’s my job as a mother to embarrass her, but she’s not convinced.  So any time she hears the song – including when Fainjin is singing by himself – she dramatically covers her ears and begs for it to stop.  Mostly we ignore her.

Today Fainjin and I were going into town on the bus, and he asked if he could sing it.  “OK, but really quietly,” I advised, “because there are other people on the bus and they might not want to be sung to.”

He sang it VERY quietly to himself – I could barely hear him myself.  Then he turned to me and said very seriously, “Pearl hates that song.”

“Yes, she does,” I had to agree.

“So I won’t sing it near her.”

Awww.  That is true brotherly love.  I wonder if he’ll stick to it?

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Music lessons

May 5, 2012

As Fainjin and I walked to music school this morning, I asked him what he thought they might do today.  He thought they might sing some songs and play some games – a fair bet.  He sang me the song they learnt before Easter, “Hot Cross Buns”.

I recalled his initial reaction at the first lesson and smiled to myself.  “You like music, don’t you?”

“Yeah!  And you know, Mum, there are notes.  The coloured-in one is one clap” – he clapped once – “the not-coloured-in one is two claps” – clap clap – “and the circle one is one, two, three, four claps!  That’s how you do it.  That’s the music notes.”

That is indeed how you do it.  His music teacher was a proud as I was, when I told her.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.


February 18, 2012

Fainjin started music lessons today.  Music appreciation, really – they learn some songs, beat rhythms, learn about different instruments and get to have a go on some of them.  He told the teacher at the start that he doesn’t like music (he was feeling anti!), but when the glockenspiel came out he had a great time.

The Dad drove the car today, for the first time since he broke & dislocated his elbow just before Christmas.  Babess and I did the supermarket shopping, and he and Fainjin drove down to collect us (and the heavy groceries).  The children were so excited for him, it was very cute.  Then they “helped” wash the car when we all got home.

Pearl did all her chores with minimal prompting, including a huge load of dishes to dry.  She tried to get Fainjin to put them away for her, but he wasn’t keen, and Babess helped her instead! We drew up a “jobs” sheet for Pearl for a week.  Her new job this year is to clean the basins in the bathroom and loo each weekend.  Now we have to negotiate the rewards…  The idea is, a certain number of jobs have to be done each week (a high percentage of her “regular” jobs but with room for extra credit) to earn a reward, which might be pocket money or a late night on a weekend or an extra Latin lesson or playing a board game.

The Dad and I looked out the window this afternoon and saw Babess sitting in her “baby swing” sideways, all curled up and looking very comfy.  She was singing to herself in the sunshine.

Fainjin was allowed to stay up a bit later than Babess tonight to watch “Wipeout” on TV.  He loved it!  All those people falling off things into the water, or being smacked about by huge obstacles on the course.  It might become a Saturday night regular treat for him.

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

Always singing

February 3, 2012

Babess sings all the time.  Sometimes it’s “just” skipping in circles around the kitchen singing “La la la la la la, make a happy song, la la la la la la, make a happy song, la la la la la la la, make a happy song, la la la la la la la, make a happy song…” You can probably guess the rest of that one, but rest assured it is a long song.

As far as I know, she has only seen the movie “Annie” once, but since then she will often sing, “I love you, I love you, I love you, you’re only a day awwwwwaaaaaay!” (repeat ad lib, of course).

She has learnt a lot of songs at daycare, naturally.  A current favourite is “I had a little turtle, his name was Tiny Tim” – she loves to do the actions, especially all the bubbles at the end.

Rather unusually for a 3-year-old, Babess can actually hold a tune, which makes all the singing much less painful.  But it didn’t help The Dad much this afternoon when she decided to sing “another song from daycare, not the turtle one Daddy.”  She then started to mime some actions, and said, “I don’t know the words to this one!  Do you know them?”

© UpsideBackwards 2012.

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