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D for dark days and kappa ma sushi for C

Hi Sarah,

It was Britnells! … Loved that place … and it did seem sacrilegious, when a few years ago I stepped into the Starbucks that replaced it. I can imagine why Dan was shocked. It's the times. It's always the times. Just last week we lost the Carlton Cinema but it's to become a classy playhouse theatre. Not a bad switch. Maple Leaf Gardens, I think, will become a Loblaws. Not sure how I feel about that one. Lots of ongoing activity at least, and it will never, ever, stand ghostly quiet again once those cash registers go non-stop, possibly 24/7.

I was so impressed with your Gr.12 U and your (and their) treatment of The Lovely Bones. It’s such an opportunity, to be able to work with that age group. I see a teacher in Etobicoke is teaching a history course, Genocide 101. Apparently the planning gives her nightmares and even male students cry: Rwanda, Jewish Holocaust, Armenian atrocities. This teacher, among other things, uses an interactive game Pax Warrior, and choices have to be made. You know you are making valuable contributions, Sarah. Demanding but also satisfying.

On a different dark note, my Candy (of phlox house) imparted some of her wonderful wisdom to me this afternoon as she performed her In the Forest piece for me. As I talked of the foreboding and the mysterious elements of the piece (the specific placement of minor chords), her brown eyes shone in anticipation of wanting to impart information. I felt privy to a complicity, as the words tumbled out, you must be talking about how people go into their dark side? Asking her to explain further, she said, well, they get grumpy, rude and mean ... all my siblings are teenagers ... my older brother is eighteen so that's not bad ... Oh, I said he must be over it now. Yes, she said, after that dark space they go to university. And will you be in that dark space too? I asked. The answer was a diplomatic one: yes but never as bad as my fifteen year old sister, this reiterated with a lot of eye rolling and many deliberate head swivels from left to right.

Trying to teach note reading is of course the biggest challenge for music teachers. If they have to stand on their heads to do it they will (well, the ones who truly care). Candy always tries her best and likes the reward of my dollar store stickers that are hers if the ten-note quiz is perfect. Reviewing the spaces in the bass clef the student usually associates the note names with a simple sentence such as 'All Cows Eat Grass" ... helpful to some extent. Improvising on this method, Candy was to quickly think up other words that started with the letter C, G, etc. as I pointed to the various spaces: I got kappa ma sushi for C, that's cucumber (she qualified). She laughed a silly laugh and maybe guacamole for G? A half hour flies by with students like her.

The holidays are looming large and the students of St. Hildegarde's will take off to their various destinations around the world, although many are opting to enjoy family and friends in the GTA. These days feel different: hordes of little ones running off to their grilled cheese and fries in the dining room, stamping their feet in crazy exuberance, Asian boarders belting out "Heart and Soul" on any available pianos like there’s no tomorrow; It's a Holly Jolly Christmas, Let it Snow, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, all plunked out note after laborious note on pianos everywhere, me eating heaps of onion rings, a comfort food treat served on stormy days by the kitchen staff, just for the teachers. The evidence is all there. Time for Christmas break.

Tallis Scholars were superb. I had never before seen Peter Phillips' unusual method of directing, subdividing each individual beat like that. Our pub on Prince Arthur wasn't too shabby either! Wine, beer and a fireplace. I loved it.


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