Being married to a fellow musician (who has two more degrees than you do), isn't always as wonderful as it might sound. For instance, I particularly dislike Joel's need to test my knowledge of the subject when we are driving in the car listening to the classical music station. I will often mention I like a certain piece and ask him what it is, because I know he knows them all. But do you think he ever gives me a straight answer? Nope. Not once has he ever done that. Instead, he puts me through a series of questions: Which period is it from? Romantic? Good! Do you think it's early Romantic or late Romantic? Is it Italian, French, German, Russian or American? Well, which German composers were late Romantic? Who do you think composed it? And so on and so forth.
I don't know and I don't feel like figuring it out! That's why I asked YOU, Dr. Honey!
But he'll never tell me. Not until I first answer at least the period and nationality correctly. Sometimes I am in the mood to play his games, but usually only if it's opera. And if it is opera, I generally know what I'm listening to anyway, so I don't have to ask him. I just can't win, can I?
However, there are other things that are far worse than being forced to do listening tests while driving to the grocery store. Right now we are collaborating on a concert that is coming up on February 24. It's the Schubert Mass in G and I am the soprano soloist, along with tenor and baritone soloists accompanied by choir and orchestra. It will be wonderful, but sometimes I really don't like the fact that I have to live with the conductor.
I think that every soprano should have the opportunity to practice and make plenty of mistakes while not in the presence of her conductor. Or in the presence of anyone, for that matter. Learning a piece for the first time should be a completely private endeavor.
Well, I don't generally get that luxury. I have a hard time finding good chunks of time to practice until after the children are asleep, so Joel is usually and unfortunately home during the time I do find to practice. While I am laboring away at the piano, he just sits at the computer or pretends to read the newspaper or something but he is really listening to me sing.
I know this, because after a while he just can't take it anymore and he'll start barking out things like "You're missing that interval--it should be a tritone." or "Make sure you're counting!" or "The tempo actually goes much faster than you're singing it there."
Finally, just sitting there making comments isn't enough for him, so he gets up and joins me at the piano. And then he completely takes over my practice time.
Now, my ADD self doesn't usually have the focus to practice in a very organized manner, or for very long. Joel is the complete opposite of ADD, so if he usurps my practicing, I am suddenly the most organized and rigorous practicer in the world. At least, that's what it feels like to me. He staged a practice coup last night, and we practiced together for nearly two hours. He drilled me until my poor voice could no longer handle singing the Benedictus "just one more time" and I was begging for mercy and water and sleep and one week of vocal rest.
But, on the upside, I know the darn piece so much better now. I can sing it nearly perfectly after the Nazi practice session, so I suppose I'm grateful I live with The Maestro after all.
Just as long as he doesn't start giving me a test about it.
Oh wait, he already did.