I have been putting off writing today. Inspiration, Creativity and All the Muses of the Above, just weren’t in residence in my mind or imagination. So I’ve spent all my at-home time since coming back from the pool, doing all the other little chores I had to do today. It’s so much easier to start, do and finish something like laundry than it is to sit down and write anything, even a grocery list. And, the thing is, you would think that by now, after almost three years of doing these week-in-and-week-out posts, I’d have this blog writing down to a fine art. But, writing just doesn’t work like that — at least for me.
In the locker room today, I whined to My Social Media Guru, Sarah, that I didn’t have any idea about what to write this week. Not one to put up with whining, she said to me, “So, what did you do this week?” My initial reaction was to say, “I don’t remember” followed by the usual, “Absolutely nothing.” But it so wasn’t true. This week I did manage to add one more new thing to my list of 20 New Things for my 20 Years in Toronto. That warrants a few words here, eh? And this last one was a sheer pleasure to do.
On Tuesday, I finished the first class I’ve ever taken at The Royal Conservatory. Doesn’t that sound elegant? For years and years, I have walked by that big red brick building on Bloor Street. It reminded me a lot of the main building at Trinity University when I went there. To this day, I remember when I walked inside for the first time and squeaked across the floorboards. I looked around and then said to myself, “I can learn here.” And I did. I had never been inside the Royal Conservatory to know if the floor squeaked or even what happened inside there. I knew it was about music lessons so I never thought I could venture inside for a class. I don’t read music, you see, so how could I take even a beginner’s class?
I have always longed to play music, especially the violin.Ten years ago or so, I even bravely took classes at a community music school. I was very excited and since they were teaching the Suzuki method, I figured I had a chance to learn how to pluck those strings. If all those adorable little Japanese kids could do it, I figured my 55+ self could do it too.
When I told my mother I was taking that class, she asked if I was going to have to wear one of those big bows in my hair. She always had a good sense of humour about these things. The first day of class, they gave me a violin that I could use and even take home with me at the end of the class. I almost cried when I saw it. I loved the feel of it and the possibility that I could actually make music. I was the oldest student in the school at the time, but I didn’t think that really mattered or that anyone noticed. Then, one day, this little guy came out of his lesson and straight up to me. He said, “You can’t play the violin!” “Why not?” I answered. “Because you are too big!“ It turned out he was right. It wasn’t my bigness that kept me from learning but my inability to read music and, more important, follow up the weekly class with some practice.
I did manage to learn Mississippi Hot Dog — better known as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I even braved doing the recital where my Big Self had to stand up in the front of auditorium full of people and squeak my way through the song. But even when, after the recital, that same little boy came up to me and said, “Hello, Violin Player!” I knew I was not then or probably ever would be a fiddler. So I never took any more classes.
But, then, about a month or so ago, my friend, Margaret — who does play music beautifully — sent me a notice about a Music Appreciation Class at the Conservatory. “This,” I thought, “I could do.” One of my last and favourite classes at Trinity, had been music appreciation taught back stage of the theater, so why not this one? But, never making things easy for myself, I had to have one of those back-and-forth conversations about how expensive this course was and did I really, really want to spend $200 on it? It was pricey for my limited funds. But then, my sweet brother, Fred, sent me a check for my birthday and it seemed only proper to use it for something other than food or cat litter or wine! So I signed up for the Musical Wanderers Course.
Each week, the lovely and talented Katherine Hill from the Toronto Consort, took us right along with the other wanderers as they made their pilgrimages in Medieval times. She told stories and showed pictures of beautiful illustrated books, and, even though technically challenged sometimes, managed to click the right button and play us beautiful selections of the music. But, best of all, was when she raised her own glorious voice in song. She even had us singing chants and for each of our efforts, she’d say something like, “Very good!” whether we were or we weren’t. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours on Tuesday morning. I will miss it for sure.
It also opened that door of the Conservatory for me so that I’ll never walk by it quite the same again.
So, that’s Number 4 — 17 more to Go!