While Alice is away in Crete,
DGRIFFS tackles all comers ...
I am a music teacher of some years experience and don't know what to do
about a parent of a pupil. He is constantly calling me to talk about
competitions and so on that his kid could do, obviously regarding him
as some kind of flute genius. The kid is not too bad a student, to be
fair, but not in the league his father thinks he is (and the mum is
Any ideas how to handle this?
Flute? Genius? What strange word association. I remember competitions
from my youth when various piano and violin teachers entered me
(steady!) in local music festivals. There surely is no sight more
terrifying to a child than the slavering jaws of an audience of proud
parents, all but two of which are willing you to fail. Most children hate
music festivals and those that don't are clearly so disturbed that
society is too late to prevent them winding up as alcoholics,
prostitutes or crack-addicts.
My advice is to point out to the parent that entering a child in a
music competition is now regarded as psychological abuse and that,
if they continue, you will have no option other than to contact the
Accountancy firms, banks, factories, brothels and prisons are
crammed with the musically disenchanted who scraped or puffed their
way through some tortuous arrangement for the glory of their parents,
If that fails, when the child has its next lesson, turn up in a
swimming costume, heavy make-up and wellington boots (regardless of
your gender) and then, hey presto: no more pupil, no more problem!
I borrowed a friend's ace bass for an audition and duly got a trial. But my
friend says I can't have it for the trial. What should I do? I should
tell you that my double bass is crap and I can't afford a good one.
A double-bass made from crap -- how unusual. Perhaps you could crap
yourself another one, but try harder this time?
Seriously though double-basses are crude instruments and any devotee of
Changing Rooms and other makeover programmes should have no difficulty
in knocking up a decent-ish bass in an afternoon. MDF is a very common
material for instrument makers but don't forget to paint it brown.
(most basses are brown and it's a safe, neutral colour!) All bass necks
are made from 4 x 2 planed softwood and should be painted black on one
side and a sort-of vaguely off-white on the other. All fingerboards are black.
The best strings to use are mains
electricity cable but do remember to strip off the insulation before
using. They do not necessarily need to be in tune -- the machine heads on the
modern bass are basically only there for effect -- nails will serve just as well.
Obviously its not quite as simple as I describe but B&Q, Homebase or any DIY
superstore will have all the materials you need for the job, and many
will have a information sheet to help you.
I have an audition for a smallish opera company coming up and I'm
worried I might appear too much the city mouse (I've had some success
abroad). What should I wear/say? How should I play it? The role I really
want is probably not available, but you never know, do you.
Many people assume wrongly that having a good singing voice and an
ability to act are the most sought-after skills in opera. This is not
so, especially when one looks at the smaller regional companies. You
need to be cheap, and you need to ensure that when you sing, your
outrageous vibrato entirely masks the note you are singing, and (no
matter which character you are playing) you should wave your arms about
in a manner which suggests that you find singing quite an effort.
What to wear? Well, tempting as it is to arrive dressed as a Gondolier,
Brunhilde or Papageno, this should be avoided as people will assume you
are an anti-capitalist protestor, a singing telegram, or raising money
for Children in Need. You need to be smart but still
distinctive -- avoid nudity, carrying a ventriloquist's dummy and
beekeeping outfits. Say little, preferably in Italian. And
repeat everything you sing over and over again getting steadily more
agitated. (They'll tear your bloody arm off, believe me!)
Copyright © 8 August 2003
Dave Griffiths, Kent, UK