Sunday, March 22, 2009 ;
Dh is getting really busy again. What with so many business trips out of town, day trips to Beijing and then another looooong one to USA in June, I am resigned to holding the fort alone at home.
Dh is a very good help at home, so it's tough going it alone, but I have to do it.
So for a few Sat already, Dh has to go to work. And this one again, so I had to bring the kids to class again. I was a little irked this particular Sat because it was ds1's first marimba class, and the teacher had been liasing with Dh all along. So i don't know all the details, where the class is, what time, what duration, where to pay fees or register...
And it was ds2's nap time from 2pm to 3.30pm, furthermore Dh is the know-all in music and it was already agreed that he would be the parent to sit in with ds1.
Anyway, Dh called me at 1pm to say he can't make it, please go with the kids alone.
Argh! We were leaving at 1.30pm.
So we set off. To make matters worse, ds2 coughed very badly the moment we set off outside into the dusty air (which had a PSI worse than when Spore has the haze). As we walked along to the taxi stand outside the estate, he coughed so badly he had to bend over the grass patch to vomit. No food came out though, just lots of saliva.
But it delayed us considerably.
So I rushed all the way to Cathay Future, fumbled along to ds1's classroom, and his teacher was sitting there waiting already.
ds1 started with this teacher, a young guy, probably only about 24-26 yrs old?
After 1 min, ds1 said he didn't want to learn anymore. Why? The teacher was teaching him to sing the solfege from a music score. The score had so many demi-semi-quavers that even I would be dizzy trying to play it on the piano.
(fyi the song is "Recuerdos De La Alhambra" by Francisco Tarrega originally for guitar)
ds1 has no formal musical background. I had never taught him solfege. He doesn't even know how to read the 5 ledger line notes. So he was trying hard to sing from memory, ie teacher sings one bar, he mimicks.
I don't blame him, but I was busy making ds2 comfortable on the sofa inside the practice room, because he was very sleepy. I was glad for ds2 keeping me occupied later, because it allowed ds1 to be tested to his limits.
The teacher then talked to him. Chinese are very good at pep talks you know, I have noticed that.
(H showed me how most sales offices here start each morning with mass exercise. The whole staff will gather together and do the moves together, and they get a pep talk to motivate them and propel them to do their best in the day before they start work. I witnessed it!)
So ds1 continued. And 5 min later, he put the marimba sticks back into the holes, like he decided for good now, and told the teacher in perfect Chinese (Beijing accent), "我不要学了。我不喜欢马林巴。" (I don't want to learn anymore, I don't like the marimba.)
The teacher went over to him again, this time almost hugging him, and talked to him once more. Asking him why he doesn't like the instrument, etc etc, and then telling him learning marimba will make him very happy etc etc.
I was thinking already that this would be his last lesson, it's ok, no need to force the kid, he can choose whatever he wants to learn... So poor thing, so boring, I was thinking...
But I was still massaging ds2's face. I realised massaging his eyes make his eyelids very droopy and heavy and he can be forced to sleep quickly in that manner, so I often do that when I need to sleep in a hurry.
To my surprise, the teacher handed ds1 the mallet again, and he picked it up, and now he followed the notes on the score and hit the notes with the teacher's instruction.
After every correct bar, the teacher will say some motivating thing. After 6 bars, he clapped loudly and said some Chinese phrase that sounded to me like those Man Jiang Hong-like songs. You know, like so passionate and motivating? It was funny, but ds1 could actually keep going with this kind of new approach to praise and compliments.
After 12 bars (that was 1 hour gone already, and ds2 was fast asleep), the teacher applauded again and told him, other student learn 6 bars per lesson, you learnt 12! Man! Are you something? I was sniggering. He must tell every student that! But ds1, like all kids, believed him wholeheartedly and was very proud of himself, so he willingly learnt the 13th bar.
I was trying very hard to read my Glamour magazine (Katie Holmes on the cover), which N brought back from USA for me to read. But I could not concentrate very much because the teacher's teaching method was just so new and amusing to me. It would be tough for me to learn that art.
I wondered if China did so well for the Olympics because they kept pushing their athletes like that. I mean, probably much harder but was it similar in approach?
The lesson lasted 1.5hrs. To tell you the truth, I couldn't have lasted that long when I was 6. No way. It was so dry and boring to me. Seriously. Just reading notes and hitting the right wooden plank?? By that time Dh had arrived.
The teacher asked me to photocopy the score after that, and while waiting to copy it, he told me what to do with ds1 at home, and what he should practise...
The admin asked Dh to pay for 10 lessons at one go. Dh asked to pay for less because we wouldn't know if ds1 wanted to continue. They finally agreed on 5 lessons.
We asked ds1 if he would give himself 5 lessons first and then decide if he wanted to continue and he surprisingly said, nope, he will definitely go for at least 7 lessons. Why 7? Such an odd number. No reply. He just said he was hungry, so we went for cake at Mighty Deli.
Met ds2's German Nursery teacher there. See? Without fail, we always meet someone from school at a good bakery or restaurant in town. Cos Mighty Deli is the only place that bakes bread that Europeans would eat. Y herself told me that other bread, including the Paris Baguette, is too sweet and German bread is not. ds2's teacher looked like she had a month's supply of bread with her and she walked out. Before she left, she came to fuss over ds2 and said how much she missed him. (He had been absent for 1 week already.) She also wished him happy birthday. So sweet.
After cake, I asked ds1 if he was tired. He said no! He was ready for art class and wanted to go at once. It was not time yet. Cos art class starts at 5pm. Both of them were very enthusiastic.
After art class, ds1 did say that art class was more exciting than marimba class. I told him I thought that's cos he had other friends in art class and he agreed. The girl who is so sweet to him sits beside him every week now, and her grandma who brings her to class came up to talk to me that day! Said her granddaughter told her about ds1. Then she proceeded to ask me where we are from, how old are my sons, and how old I was!
People here always like to ask me how old I am! She also asked me where I lived. etc etc. So we had a good chat but it was more like she asked and I answered.
This is what ds1 drew. Not done with the colouring yet. Now they seem to be doing more pencilling, so the teacher will ask them to finish colouring at home. I told ds1 I felt his background looked much better now.
This is ds2's 2nd class and this is what he drew. I felt it was an improvement over the 1st class, even though it looked really messy still. He got quite a lot of praise from the teacher this lesson, so he was mighty pleased. The teacher said she liked his sun rays a lot, very beautiful and original.
Aiyoh! You should've seen his face. He didn't even understand the praise but he smiled and blushed like anything! After she turned to the next kid, he turned to me and asked "what did teacher say?"
Today I managed to catch a pic of the art center from the outside. Cos we were at Mighty Deli across the street.
And the kids' lunch. Udon with the leftover seaweed, minced pork, potato soup. They wouldn't eat the seaweed but they like the pork, potato and soup. And the Udon most of all.
rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow