Disclaimer: You all know me. I’m sardonic, by nature. That’s what you love about me, is what I tell myself. I had a wonderful time tonight, believe me!
This little guy saves. lives. And concerts. And of course by “concerts” I’m referring to a ragtag brigade of nursing students and the few they can wrangle to accompany them on a Wednesday evening in the relatively packed sitting room of a convalescent home. O_O
We were really proud of ourselves. That was probably the first problem. Who *wouldn’t* feel good about themselves, going to entertain and encourage and generally brighten the day of so many nursing home residents?! So when I tell you that our performance was humbling – for us – and that, used here, the word “humbling” is me taking the coward’s way out… Yeah.
We didn’t know what we were singing – in which case, we didn’t know if they would be songs with which we would be familiar – until we arrived. By we, this time I’m referring to myself and my boys. Second problem.
Third problem would be the singing. I like to think of myself as an Alto-Cusp, phasing to Tenor. Because I like to. The point is that the average group of girls starts singing well above my comfortable range but to sing with them without sounding like I’m well into my <ahem> transitioning process, I can’t sing the lower accompanying register. Now I can carry a tune, a fact I’m most comfortable admitting when others admittedly can’t sing and therefore have the lowest possible expectation. Unless there’s the chance of them electing me choir director.
Can I just cut the chase? We got pity claps.
I KID YOU NOT. The slightly enfeebled or otherwise delicate patrons had not let age or time diminish their “burn” capabilities. Seriously, after we “sang” Oh, Christmas Tree – a song too traditional (a word which here means “antiquated”) for any of us to know the actual melody and therefore a song they knew well enough that one of the men attempted for a very short minute to sing along – the smattering of half-hearted and possibly confused applause was so perfectly done, I actually had to stifle laughter. “Burn,” I choked out under my breath. And they were right, people. We had decimated that song. I expect tomorrow they shall give it a proper burial.
There was one song, which I can’t recall at the moment, when I felt that naive, ill-fated inclination: I could save this. You see, I have this strange self-consciousness when reading music. If I’m not holding a clarinet and someone instructs me to do so, I freeze or start dry-heaving. Right. But there are things that are obvious to me, even sans woodwind, such as cues as to how many times to sing something before you go to something clearly marked “refrain”, the difference in melody between a measure beginning in a low C versus one that begins in a high E… stuff like that. So when I realized that we were quite obviously butchering the melody (because we were singing straight through from the prelude through the melody through the refrain and then starting over entirely for the second verse and going all the way through before starting the third), I did the unthinkable. I turned to Josh and pointed to where we *should* have been and what key in which we *should* be singing.
Josh was the last person. I was next to him. To my right were the rest of the singers. So I’m not sure what I thought would be achieved – outside of embarrassment – by correcting him. But I thought of that little rudder. How it majestically steers the entire body of a ship, despite its small size. … I could be that rudder, I thought.
So that was a problem.
Lemme reapply a visual that I find most effective in expressing or summing up my sentiments. The following. Is the face of our audience.
Eventually, I came to my senses, though. I had standing before me one weapon against failure. Not only that, I had the most effective weapon. It was worthy of distinction. A secret weapon, if you will. I was standing in a room full of the elderly with Ezra standing in front of me, invisible to those behind the first row, and I was not capitalizing on his presence?! Insanity.
For the 12 Days of Christmas, I instructed him to hold up a finger to show us what number day it was. I of course had to bend down with him to do days 11 and 12, but I also unnecessarily whispered in his ear each time we were starting again to tell him how many fingers to hold up. Now we all know he’s six and this was completely for show, but come on. They’re old folks. Instant giggles and cooes.
For Jingle Bells, I leaned down and turned him from side to side – which made him smile broadly – and then tossed his arms up for the “hey!” Grins and tittering ensued.
For Silent Night, I picked him up and let him hold the song book. Immediate gasps and whispers. We hadn’t even starting *singing*. He read along with us so he actually ended up singing the verses he didn’t know!
Afterward, I took him around row by row, holding him of course. To encourage their appreciation of his infancy. “God bless you”, “I love you”, “You’re gorgeous”, “I miss my grandchildren”, “How old are you”, “Your mother’s beautiful”…. that last one was from one of the old men. It was still very sweetly said! 🙂 To each couplet or trio sitting together, we introduced him, said Merry Christmas and then thanked them for having us. Some held his hand, some kissed his hand, some just reached toward him. One woman blew him a kiss and when he blew her one back, all four close by were happy.
God bless Ezra.