The Maestro as Taskmaster<br>(would you call that The Taskmaestro?) | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Maestro as Taskmaster
(would you call that The Taskmaestro?)

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.

30 comments :

  1. Your husband definitely sounds like a professor!

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  2. He cares enough to get the best out of you at least. But he owes you a very nice dinner out :)

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  3. Whoa, guess he just has to put his 2 cents in but he's proud of your talents and wants you to do your best !

    I sing around the house and I don't give a hoot who likes it or not...luckily,the best place is the shower where I sound really great ! LOL

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  4. I DO feel for you, I really do--but it isn't a bad problem to have when you really think about it. How wonderful that you have such an incredible talent!

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  5. Yes, there are times that I am very glad I did not marry a professional musician. And I make sure to never ask Dave about chemistry or engineering if I can possibly help it. ;)

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  6. I bet there is good and bad to this. It definitely will help you but there are probably times when you don't feel like being drilled. Mike often drills me about music too, who is this, what are they singing, etc. I am sure you will be ready when the performance comes around and you will be perfect too.

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  7. a) Ack, listening to opera? Yipes. :)
    b) I often wonder what our lives would be like if I'd majored in music. When Drew tries to quiz me on stuff I say stuff like -- ok, what do you do if there's a cord around the baby's neck or if the shoulders are stuck. It usually shuts him up. :)

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  8. My husband (a literature prof) doesn't quiz me, but if I had been an English major I am sure it could have been that way. But we do have good discussions, as I am sure you and Joel have!

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  9. that is funny!maybe not for you, but for us reading!

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  10. "Men you can't live with them and you can't live without them."

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  11. OK, first of all, if he thinks pulling a tritone out of the air and singing it in tune is so easy, why didn't he MARRY one?? (It made sense in my head, I swear)

    Lara, I'm going to be completely frank with you. Just consider yourself lucky to have found the one returned missionary musician in the world who was also straight. I used to joke that I married the first straight guy to ask, since all my other "proposals" had come from fellow music majors who then just dated each other.

    But hijacking your practice time? Nope. Sorry. That earns him a baton upside the noggin.

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  12. I'm suddenly glad that what I do is silent, and if anyone tries looking over my shoulder as I write, I just stop and make them walk away.

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  13. He's tough!

    And he should just be so thankful he's not married to me...

    tone deaf, uncultured when it comes to classical, and most of the music words you used in this post had me thinking I was reading another language :) Yes, I'm THAT bad. AND I have ADD. He's DIE.

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  14. That's supposed to say He'd, not He's. Sheesh.

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  15. The end result makes it all better, so I know you'll do great. Great job to you both!

    Charlie does the same thing with even picking out a stamper for paying the bills. If I don't ask him why, he doesn't let up and tells me why until I concede a little, but like you, I do end up making more careful choices and it works out better in the end.

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  16. That is awesome you won the 2 gift cards to Target!!! Yea for you.

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  17. Oh MAN!!! I really don't know what to say... Glad it's you and not me??? Good luck on your concert.

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  18. I am sure the two of you together will make for a perfect concert.

    My hubby is always telling me, don't slouch. Don't sleep on your stomach. Your body is going to hate you when your older. Make the girls do this or that. They can't do gymnastics til they are six. Etc, etc, etc. He is just trying to teach me the things he knows, but I feel like I am married to my MOM sometimes.

    It is the curse of being so smart in their feild.

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  19. I guess that's a little like living with your piano teacher. It used to drive me crazy! Mom would be in the kitchen and say, "That should be a sharp." "I know mom!"

    I took lessons from my grandma for that reason, but still got an occaisional correction. Really, I'm sure my mom practiced admirable restraint in general!

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  20. WOW, may I first say how impressed I am that you are going to be singing in such a prestigious concert. You must be thrilled to have such talent. It is good to get good coaching, so I am sure his heart is in the right place. I can't exercise in front of my husband as he keeps correcting my form. (he's a coach) Besides, I'd rather have him think I look this way "just naturally". (tee,hee)

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  21. i wonder if this is what kate winslet puts up with, living with her director/husband.

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  22. I really like the upside. You guys can always do what you love to do...together.

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  23. I don't think that would go over very well with me! But it is great that you two can share these things.

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  24. I'm not a quiz girl. Andrew was raised LDS, I wasn't. I HATE religious quizzes, and Andrew LOVES them..... mainly because he knows MUCH more than I do!

    You are a patient woman. Me? Not so much!

    xo Misty

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  25. Lara,

    Next time he does his smarty pants bit on you, just remind him about his "trell dust" collection.

    That should do it.
    (love you Joel)

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  26. I think that I'll get Joel to drill me when getting ready for the tab audition! what do you think?

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  27. He sure knows his stuff, doesn't he? What can you drill him on that he doesn't know as well???

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  28. Joel sounds much like my husband. I ask him a question and he rarely just gives me an answer. He quizzes me and tries to make me think. Umm that's why I have you honey!

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  29. Isn't it funny how we can all relate in some way or another? Right now my mom is visiting me for six weeks, and I wouldn't change that one bit, but we are so different and so alike in so many ways! Thank goodness, LOL!--Amanda Briggs

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  30. Lara, could you give me the info for the concert? I forgot to pick up one of the flyers after group violin today. S graduated from Twinkle today! She did such a great job, thanks for introducing us to group.

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