T's last week of school, and my last week as a school mom, began with a couple of final exams and the annual "pops night" outdoor concert at the high school. In the second half of the concert, each senior in the band gets to conduct a song. For the final number, the standard school fight song, the band director announced that it was a tradition to invite an audience member to come up and conduct. Since this is the end of 9 years of our kids in the music program, and I guess since I've been subbing for the music department quite a bit, I had the unexpected pleasure of an invitation to take up the baton.
It was so much fun!
I have always loved conducting the chamber choir in rehearsals (see Feb. 12th post), and I directed a small youth choir for a few years (made up of 8 children, half of which were my own!), but I don't remember conducting a band before. Really, if I had done nothing at all they would have been on automatic pilot anyway, but still - it's a great sense of power and attention.
I suppose that everyone experiences some of their best moments in life when they are conducting, in one form or another. When you're teaching, or coaching, or running a lab experiment, or managing a company, or facilitating a committee, or running a household, and everyone is executing their parts as you have directed, it is hugely satisfying.
Then there are those other moments when it all falls apart, and you feel like a failure, or utterly out of control.
One of my favorite scenes from a book was in "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster. Fantastic book, exquisitely imaginative. In one chapter, Milo the boy protagonist comes upon an old man who is conducting the sunrise. He lifts his baton for a moment, then delicately draws forth a streak of pink, then orange, and the light slowly swells as the sun gently makes its entrance over the horizon.
After the old man departs, Milo can't resist giving it a try. He tiptoes over, lifts the baton, and is thrilled when a streak of color shoots forth into the sky. Then all hell breaks loose. Before he knows it, the sun is rising and setting continuously at dizzying speed, gaudy color exploding in splats through the air. He flails his baton, but he can do nothing to stop it.
In front of the high school band, when everyone knew their parts and performed them perfectly, I was the old man. What a great feeling when everything plays out so well, especially when in so much of life I feel more like Milo - good intentions, but things don't exactly go as planned.
The sun came up very nicely this morning without my help.
Here is the moon and daisies --
an illustration of how big the oak leaves are getting -- (to the left of my thumb is Kate in the distance, waiting with her stick, as usual. I didn't even realize she was there)
and a pretty good shot of a cloud of grass pollen around Clara's tail. The dogs kick it up in dusty cloudbursts all over the fields.