Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Snacks Between Meals: Kill the Wabbit

I just spent a full day at a Calgary elementary school, and I am exhausted.  I was there to talk to 9 classes (ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 5) about the music I am writing for their school’s opera.  

What’s that?  You look surprised.  Doesn’t your local elementary school perform operas?  Oh, I see, that’s not what surprised you.  It’s that I am writing an opera.  Yes, well, nobody’s more incredulous about that than me.
You see, Calgary Opera has a program where they select a couple of schools a year and have a librettist write an operatic tale based on ideas suggested by the children.  (Which is why this particular opera will feature a giant marauding taco and an evil conniving henchman...who also happens to be a chipmunk.  I can’t make up stuff this crazy.)  Then a composer (that’s me) is tasked with putting music to the words, while also spending five days with the children in their music classes to discuss composition techniques.  Finally, a director is brought in to, well,....duh, direct.
Now I’m not sure what the kids learned from my first visit, but here is what I learned:
1)    In large groups, 1st Graders smell funny.

2)    Contrary to what I have always believed, a six-year-old informed me that tacos are not from Mexico.  They are from Taco Bell.

3)    The kids must not think much of the moral character of their music teacher, Mrs. Miller, because they seem to assume that any strange man they find in their music room is her boyfriend.  Actually, Mrs. Miller responded better to that accusation than to the one little boy who asked if I was her son.  (Ouch.)

4)    Hands are NOT for hitting.  I knew this, but it didn’t hurt to have posters on every other wall to remind me.

5)    Elementary schools (at least this one, anyway) have found a way to conserve water, keep drinking fountain line-ups moving, and probably reduce student requests to use the washroom in the middle of class.  When I went to get a drink of water between classes, there was a seven-year-old sentry posted at the water fountain.  I patiently waited in line (I could have simply started picking up kids and tossing them out of the way, but I really do want to get paid for this job), and when my turn arrived, I crouched in half to reach the water and started drinking.  I had barely finished my first slurp when I heard the little girl next to the fountain say,

“One, two, three.  That’s good enough for me.  Now move it, mister!
You know what, water coming back out of your nose is no less uncomfortable when you are hunched over.

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