Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Baby Meets Music

Today our quartet traveled to Akashi, which isn't so far away but took two hours with bus and train transfers.  We rode the train past a Camus-ocean, sun blinding on the water and arrived in the central location of Japan time.  I don't really understand how that works (everywhere in Japan is the same time- why is this so much more precise?), but it seems to be the most central place in Japan, in the middle of the time zone.  I didn't think things could aspire to being any more punctual here.

Ironically, our outreach concert began a few minutes late.  But because it was for 0 sai (0 year-olds, i.e. babies) and other very young ones, the elevator was inundated with strollers and we happily accommodated while everyone got situated.

Our first violinist had prepared a very nice speech and halfway through at our instrument introductions, she wanted me to say something.  She let me know this several days ago, and gave me the questions and my answers in Japanese to prepare.  At the dress rehearsal today, she skipped over bits and pieces of the speech, but made sure to rehearse that part with me.  Such a nice teacher!

Our Question and Answer Session:
Question:  When did you start the cello?
Answer:  わたしは5さいからヴィオリンをはじめました。
When I was 5 years old I started the violin.  Then, when I was 6 I switched to the violin.
The reason was because I wanted to sit.
(this last part, "wanted to sit"  or suwaritakattakara, took a lot of work;
I guess it's karma for being a lazy 6-year-old)
Question: Is the cello heavy?
Answer: そんなにおもたくないです。しかしおおきいです。
It's not heavy, but it's big.

One of my favorite and most confused periods of this program (funny how often these two come together in Japan), was singing Do-Re-Mi with the children, or perhaps more accurately, their parents.  Of coures in Japan, there are completely different words.  I sang the solfege lyrics, then faked my way through the explanation of each one.  However, I did come to learn the words after the fact, which I think may be an improvement to the English version.

Japanese Do-Re-Mi

A rough translation/explanation:
Do- as in DOnut (yes, it's the same word!)
Re- as in LEmon (in Japanese lemon is Remon)
Mi- as in MInna (which means everyone; apropos contrast to the English variation)
Fa- as in FAito (the Japanese pronunciation of "fight;"ok, maybe this one isn't so nice, but it's forgiven by...)
Sol- as in aoiSOra (which means blue (aoi) sky (sora))
La- as in RAppa (the Japanese sound of a trumpet)
Shi- as in SHIawase (happiness)
And the final closer is: "So let's sing together!"

After learning this, I then shared the English version with my quartet, trying to explain things like "Do" being a female deer, and "Sol" involving a needle pulling thread.  A "Re" of light was also new, "Fa" being a long, long way to run was confusing because of the British pronunciation, as was "La" since that isn't really how anyone sings.  The Japanese pronounce "Ti" as "Shi" so it was a bit of a stretch to have it with jam and bread, also since that isn't how people drink their tea here normally, anyway.  Regardless it was a great cultural exchange.

Throughout the program, babies cried and we learned to find our place on stage, hoping that at least their parents would enjoy the first two movements of the Ravel quartet, Anpanman, Totoro, and William Tell.  Maybe one day they'll remember it.

our quartet, after the concert
(Yuria was hungry)

No comments:

Post a Comment