Thursday, October 6, 2011

If Only I Had a 'Mute' Button

I know you are all waiting with bated breath for a report on Girls' Weekend, which means you likely do not get CNN where you live.

I promise to post a complete update, including photos and copies of the police report.

But first I would like to tell you a story.

This story, in its sublime simplicity, sums up perfectly what it is like to be me. 

Last evening, my husband and I drove to Utah State University to watch our darling daughter-in-law perform in a choral concert.  For the record, it was fantastic.

Karyn's choir director is a gentleman named Michael Huff.  She calls him "Dr. Huff," and I call him "Mike."

Mike and I were undergrads together in the University of Utah music department roughly a thousand years ago, and have been great friends ever since.  I also totally love his wife, Suzie.

(Moment of reflection:  Before attending USU, Karyn studied under Steve Meredith at Snow College.  Steve and I were also undergrads together at the U.  I can't figure out how these two guys have aged to the point that they are now professors at my kids' colleges, when I'm pretty sure I'm still 28, have long luscious hair, and can do the splits.  One of those space / time mysteries, I suppose.)


After the concert, we four (my son was included) met up for dinner with Mike and Suzie and five of their -- umm, I can't remember exactly, so we'll go with 37 -- kids.

And of course, we talked music and conducting and stuff like that.

Now, when I first knew Mike, the piano had recently been invented, and he was, in fact, this uber genius pianist.  He also played the trumpet, along with any instrument that grabbed his attention.  Once he announced that he would like to learn the flute, moseyed down to the music store and rented a flute, and within a week, could play the flute.  Seriously, even among music majors he was, like, a freak of nature.  Particularly since he was also personable, funny, and straight.

And he was a band guy, through and through.

Here's the thing about band guys:  They think beat patterns are for sissies and the unimaginative.  Honestly (their reasoning goes) if you can't just feel that beat and keep up with the rest of us, either become an accountant or join the choir.

So Mike conducts essentially by standing on the stage and bobbing his head at strategic times.  Sometimes he checks his nails, which means "let's go faster, shall we?"  For this they handed him a Ph.D.

On the other hand, choir folks (like yours truly) are all about emoting, and getting as close to their singers as possible.  If I could climb into the lap of any second row tenor and conduct from there, I would.  Depending on how 'into' a given piece I am, or how terrified my singers appear (choir performers are easily spooked by things like audiences or folders full of music, and as such require truckloads of validation) I may be flapping my arms so enthusiastically that, with a stiff breeze, I could take flight.

NOW, one of the huge differences between instrumentalists and singers -- besides the fact that one group actually reads music and the other group sings -- is that singers are expected to keep their eyes GLUED to the conductor.  I don't care if your hair is on fire, missy, you don't look anywhere but right here, at me, the director, who, due to an unexpected tail wind, is now conducting from the chandelier.

Instrumentalists, by and large, keep their eyes on their music and invest a fair amount of energy slurping on their reeds or emptying their spit valves -- no kidding, that's what they're called. I know, right? -- and only check in with the conductor if he begins trimming his cuticles, or has a stroke and bobs his head in a way that the rest of us interpret as "medical emergency" but his band assumes means "drum solo."

So.  Dinner.

We were discussing the choir's performance, and I said, among many now-forgotten brilliant observations, that Mike really needed to talk to one kid on the front row of his choir because it was apparent that boy was NOT watching the conductor.

"Seriously, Mike," I went on, "his eyes were all over the place.  And what was the deal with holding his music so close to his face?  Did he just now figure out what practice means?  Cryin' out --"

And Mike said:  "DeNae."

And I said:  "Hmm?"

And Mike said:  "That boy is blind.  He only holds the folder to help him feel like he fits in."


Score thus far:

DeNae's evil, diabolical, vindictive karma: 3,067.

DeNae:  Zip.


Kristina P. said...

Tee hee.

Also, my Mickey Rourke loving coworker, Charlie's, last name is Huff. I call him Chuff, of course.

Kazzy said...

I enjoy conducting, but much more enjoy singing in front of the conductor.

Isn't it fun to have a daughter-in-law?

Cori :) said...

that's like that time when me and ness were at a choir concert and a conductor gets onto the stage, walking with an obvious limp that could, understandably, be mistaken for someone trying their hand at swagger, and ness goes "what is he doing? that guy is walking like an idiot." and i go, "umm. ness. he has a cane. he's crippled." *chirp chirp*

soo...apparently evil diabolical vindictive karma is hereditary :P

Becca said...

Oh, the Karma. It's so out there to bite our butts.

(Good story, though.)

Beka said...

OH, I am laughing and laughing and laughing!

That is so something that would happen to me! Seriously, at the football games when I FINALLY saw the actual play and even understood it, I cheer the loudest and the longest... and then the pile clears up and the injured young man on the ground has no choice but to hear me scream at the top of my lungs, "YEAH! Hit 'em! Hit 'em hard! WOOOO- oh."

(WV: upests, which is either a typo for upset, ie: you at dinner, me at football, or u pest. Whichever, it's unflattering. Stupid Blogger)

Myrnie said...

Oh dear....not laughing at the karma thing, but man...anyone that can make us laugh THAT hard about choir conducting? So, so true :) Thanks for the giggle!

Grammy Goodwill said...

I wish I could send this post to my choir director friends and band directors. Yes, I have both kinds. You are too funny. Well, except for ragging on that poor boy. (jk)

tammy said...

I just love the fact that you were willing to share this with us.

Melanie Jacobson said...

I want to be clear that I'm laughing at you and not that boy before I say this:


That's totally something I would do.

wendy said...

oh, oh
your saving grace is he has KNOWN YOU for a LONG time.
(hey innocent comment actually) It's not like you Knew.

I love singing in the choir
wish you were My director, as it would be really cool watching you swing from that chandelier.

Rebecca said...

ROTFL!!! Such a good post, I didn't think it could get any better after the description of conducting, but then the end!! That karma is something else, huh?

My WV is bessnes....that was the bessnes story ever!

Annette Lyon said...

That's totally something I would do.

Which makes me cool like you.

charrette said...

First. I went to school with Steve Meredith too. (Oaky, he was a senior, I was a freshman, so he has know idea who I am, but I idolized him for that beautiful voice.)

Second. HAHAHA. That totally sounds like something I would have done! (Must. Stop. Blurting. Out.)

WV: grdism (guardism: being on guard for random spewage from one's mouth).

And (to make you feel just a TAD better): REMIND me to tell you the all-time classic foot-in-mouth story from my darling husband. xoxo

Donna said...

this is why we must always behave....we are bound to run into someone who will know who we are...hey I wrote something that I am wondering if I went to far....could you give me your opinion?

annie valentine said...

Well at least you didn't...


Sorry babe, I got nothin'.

But thanks for putting the conductor thing in writing because I've thought about it so many times and wondered why band directors are so cruel and cold and aloof. It all makes so much sense now.

Ron aka TheOldGeezer said...

Greetings from Southern California

I am your newest follower

Have a nice day :-)

Hilary said...

Unfair. We glance at the conductor... they think wehave one eye on the music and one eye on them.
We decieve sometimes.
{wife o' band director and former picc-a-ho}