Saturday, September 21, 2013

If at first you don't succeed . . .

This is less bizarre art work than that which accompanies the musical selection at the end.

The piece in the video at the end is the one my dad and and I will play at my recital in February. We don't quite sound like the video sounds yet. I should say I don't sound like the violinist sounds. My dad sounds at least as good as the featured guitarist does. I'd been trying to give him the music for days, and he'd say, "Put it on my desk," where I  new it would be lost amidst a pile of journal articles and lab reports that weren't his but were of interest to him. (Lab reports of patients he's actively following don't end up in random piles on his desks. Just about everything else does.)

So tonight I told him I wanted to practice the piece. He complained, "There's nothing quite like throwing something at me at the last minute." First of all, we were not performing the piece tonight, and secondly, I had given it to him to weeks ago.

I fished his music from his miscellaneous pile of stuff he thinks he'll read but won't unless his chief assistant hands another copy to him and says, "You really should read this."  I should have given the music to his chief assistant. Anyway, he got out a guitar, tuned it, and started to play. I started playing along. "Stop!" he barked at me. "Please let me play the #$%*^  piece through at least once before you add the infernal violin part to it." My dad hates the sound of the violin, even when played semi-decently, with an inexplicable passion.  I patiently waited while he played through his part. Flawlessly, I might add.

I looked at him and waited for some sign that he was ready to start, as the guitar and violin begin together. "What are you waiting for? The Second Coming?" he muttered. "If we've gotta  play the damned piece, let's get it over with. I have things to do."  Did I forget to add that my father is always extremely positive and supportive of my endeavors, whatever they may be?

We played it. I screwed up a couple of times, but he nailed it just as he did the first time. I think he's wasting his talents. There have to be plenty of people out there searching for cures for various forms of leukemia and lymphoma.  On the other hand, there really aren't all that many people who play guitar the way he does. There are some -- he's not in a league of his own -- but the world isn't overpopulated with people possessing his level of guitar skill. "I suppose this means I have to wear my tux to your recital," he added, more as a statement then as a question.

"I couldn't care less what you wear," I told him. "You could wear bib overalls with wife beaters and black out half your teeth for all I care."

"You say you don't care, but what if I really showed up wearing exactly that?" he asked.

"It's your choice," I told him. "I hardly think I'll be penalized for what my accompanying musicians wear. Just don't expect me to admit I'm related to you."

"I'll make sure everyone knows we're related," he added.

"You'll probably pull some sort of  Deliverance  routine," I commented.

"Alexis," my mom interjected, " Don't give him any ideas. His mind is demented enough without your help." I don't know if I've ever mentioned that my family is obsessessed with the movie Deliverance. "Remember," my mom continued, "You'll be gone after this year. I'm the one who  has to work there."

My mom got out her flute so that we could go through the Telemann flute/violin sonata. I've practiced that one a bit more, and it sounded pretty good already. My mom was impressed. I'll probably be playing it with my mom's best friend's daughter, but she's a good musician and will be prepared. In a worst case scenario, if she gets strep or something, there's no hard-and-fast rule that my mom can't play. We're just trying to avoid any appearance of nepotism.

My mom says that, as a general rule, a musician should limit practice on a single instrument to a total of four hours a day on his or her own. If one is practicing with a group that is attempting to pull a complicated work together in a short time, a greater time may be needed, but it usually winds up being no more that four hours of actual playing time for any one musician, as a considerable time is spent waiting around for the French horns or oboes to get their parts together. With two separate instruments, for the most part, I limit my practice to three hours each day per instrument. That didn't count the time I spent playing through the pieces with my parents.

Tomorrow I travel up the road a bit to spend the weekend finishing my internship. The ending is bittersweet. I like most of the people (Jeffrey, I don't think you know about my blog, but if you do, note the emphasis on the word most) and I like most of the work, but it wouldn't bother me if I never prepared another stool sample for analysis as long as I live.

I don't know what the art work has to do with anything. It's positively non sequitur, like saying, "The Raiders aren't doing very well this year. I suppose I'll eat a pomegranate." This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to black out your teeth (if you're fortunate enough to have teeth) and to buy bib overalls and wife beaters to wear to formal recitals.


  1. How pretty! I bet you and your dad will do great! He sounds a bit temperamental, though.

  2. Knotty, my dad is more grouchy than actually temperamental. Also, he mostly reserves his grouchiness for me. My mom would never put up with it were he direct it at her. He says it's payback for all the nights he carried me while pacing the floor because I was collicky and wouldn't stop crying. He says if he's grouchy to me for about four more years, it will be roughly even in terms of the nights of sleep he lost.

    Buthis guitar skills are unreal, and he doesn't have a bad voice either. Also, he suspends his grouchiness if I'm sick or if thugs or unknown trollers are hassling me. We'll work it out one way or another.