Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Be Still My Beating Heart!

Those of you who have read here for a long time know that we began our musical journey by default.  Music was, originally, an extension to Cait's math program ~ & what we were doing was piano with a friend.  Music being the way it is one thing led to another: piano led to violin to flute to school choir until we found ourselves, one September holiday, workshopping under Alison Rogers.

Up until that point, though Cait showed unusual musical aptitude, it was pretty much a hobby.  Obsessive, but Cait could be the best in any of the groups she was involved in without too much effort on her part & nothing was really required of her in terms of commitment, attitude, application, behaviour.  That all changed under Alison.

For the first time ever, musically, Cait could not cruise it.  Nor was she ever going to be top dog!  She did not like it.  No, she did not, not one little bit.  She came pretty close, once or twice, to being given her marching orders but she & Alison managed to hang on.  Cait got over herself, found her feet in the choir & accepted the challenge to train & behave professionally!

For most of Cait's training I have been privileged to sit in on rehearsals ~ & I have always loved watching how Alison's singers train!  She gives them the theory.  She trains them in sight reading.  She gives them the psychology to cope in the industry.  She gives them the practical experience.  She mentors them until they have the confidence & training to stand alone.  Some of the biggest & best known names in Australia have passed through Alison's capable hands.  None of which we knew.

Seriously, we only jumped in because it is the only time I can remember throughout Cait's entire childhood that Cait begged for something.  She desperately wanted to join this ensemble.  So we went to the orientation evening & to Cait's absolute horror, I cried the entire way home.  It wasn't the cost of each term's fees, exorbitant as they were.  It wasn't the travel costs.  It wasn't the late nights or the obscure venues. Nope.  Even then Alison was talking about touring ~ & I knew that was beyond us at that time.  You know yourself that if you are committed to something you are committed to it all ~ not just to bits of it.

It has not always been easy, & we have never been able to consistently afford the extras that we knew Cait really needed ~ like private tuition & most of the overseas trips.  She had to be content with what we could provide & it never seems fair when others get so easily what you have to work your butt of for.

  However, there were certain criteria Cait had to meet for me because I was the one dragging her round to all this fun stuff & the only one really getting the fun was her! She had to keep up with her schoolwork ~ & that was never going to be anyone's joyride!  She had to accept responsibility for her music stuff herself ~ right from the beginning.  She had to keep her uniforms in order.  She had to keep her music in order. She had to be ready & organised & on time ~ & as she got older she became responsible for her call times, dates, venues & trip planning. Most importantly, she had to work ~ hard!  Because everyone else was also a private student & getting the extra musical help that Cait had to absorb by osmosis in rehearsals!  And she has always, always, been really good about all of it because she understood, implicitly, that there was a very high cost involved for all of us just so she could do this stuff.

This year the rubber bit the road.  As it was bound to.  At some point this either becomes just another hobby or it becomes your life's work.  We all knew Cait wanted it to be her life's work ~ & seriously, she really isn't trained for anything else! ~  but she is our child & we do not have the sort of disposable income that could carry her indefinitely while she made forays into the industry.  She knew she had to work. And she has.

Not the best job for a singer.  Yelling at kids does yucky things to one's vocal chords but it was local & paid well & worked in well with her music ~ & she has it to fall back on!  However she was headachey & dispirited as we headed off to her audition yesterday.  She actually tried to wriggle out of it by pleading a headache & temperature. *sigh* I know why I go along to these things ~ not that Cait lacks confidence or aplomb or suffers from nerves, but just to absorb the ADD aspects of her personality.

And Cait nailed her sight singing!  Oh. My.  And if you know music you know this is so much harder for a singer than an instrumentalist.  An instrumentalist just has to recognise the note & play it.  A singer has to recognise the note, hear it in their head, pitch it & let it rip.  Even the pitch perfect lot stuff this up regularly.  And, according to Cait, she is nearly where one of the best singers in the group is with her sight reading!  She was so chuffed with herself but that is Cait all over.  Nail the hard stuff, stuff up the easy.

Which she did.  After a day at school her voice went wonky on the second verse but she did ok.  And she did ok with her scales & triads.  Actually she is back to a 3 octave range because she has been practising hard & did both the soprano & alto scales & is hitting notes at both ends that were beyond her last year. Yes, it is possible to extend one's vocal range!

So what's got me all excited?  Well AVAE are now nearly all out of school ~ with the exception of one child who will finish next year.  Gradually Alison has been promoting them to Exaudi Australis.  Exaudi are phenomenal.  This is Alison's showpiece ensemble.  Musically they are more than competent.  Really good sight reading skills are a must have.  Most have their grade 7 or 8 AMBE.  Musically they are brilliant.  Alison has 2 counter~tenors. Oh. My.  I adore counter~tenors!  The one who sings alto with Cait loves working with her so is delighted that it looks like Cait will get an offer to join this ensemble next year!  I am so thrilled for her.  Exaudi work professionally, record, tour ~ the whole 9 yards. It is what she has been working toward all year.

New repertoire!  Cait is so excited by that.  A more professional working experience!  She's excited about that too.  Great musicians.

Cait has also been asked to mentor one of the younger groups.  Alison doesn't often give out praise but when you get responsibility you know you're on track!  And she has been offered work with Creative Generation next year.  So excited about that.  We only did it once because I could not justify the time & cost involved for us plus we were getting almost no sleep & Cait was so wired we wondered why she was still earthbound!  Over Christmas we really need to get her on her Ps so she is fully independent.  Now I just have to work out an overnight crash pad for when she misses that last boat of the night.

My last baby is all grown up.  It feels really scary right now.

Exaudi in rehearsal.

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