Friday, April 18, 2008

Virginia International Tattoo

I'm loving watching the unfolding of my children's very different personalities, likes and dislikes. I know that as fraternal twins, they are just siblings who shared a womb, but I still find the revealing off their differences so fascinating.

I try to take them to as many cultural events as I can. Luckily Norfolk has a very active arts community that regularly does educational outreach. This means that we have access to heavily discounted and even free arts programs.

We love attending the Norfolk Arts Within Reach programs. We attended a performance of "Peter and the Wolf" by The Virginia Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with Norfolk Arts Within Reach a few months back. It was so much more than a performance, the musicians showed the children how their instruments became the animals. After the performance, they invited the children to come up and ask them questions.

The differences between Ben and Shira became very apparent. Shira immediately went to the flautist. Ben, on the other hand, was entranced by the bass and the bassoon. She loves the high notes and Ben is drawn to the low notes.

I again saw their differences when we went to see The Virginia Opera's performance of "The Pirates of Penzance". Ben was bored stiff (as was I) and Shira was sitting on the edge of her seat, drinking it all in. I must admit to understanding Ben on this one. I too find musicals and operas stultifyingly boring. I can't stand how they take 10 min to say something as simple as "how are you?". I just want to get to the point.

On Thursday, when we saw the Virginia International Tattoo, I again saw the differences between my twins. Shira became bored very quickly and Ben couldn't get enough of it. He loved the booming, the marching, the drums, the bagpipes and the motorcycles. He loved the military pomp and precision marching.

I did find it amusing to see genetics at work. Both kids are drawn to anything and everything Scots. Their great grandfather George would be very chuffed to know his love of Scotland has survived in another generation. He emigrated from Scotland at 18 and when he died 60 years later, he was as unintelligible as he was the day he arrived. His accent was the thickest you've ever heard. He was a fiercely proud Scots nationalist, who hated the English with a passion.

Both Ben and Shira want to learn to play the bagpipes. A friend of mine told me that I should discourage Shira from playing ht pipes as it over develops the chest region and that's not something we would want in a young girl. I'm not running to find them a bagpipes teacher as I think they have enough on their plates with piano and recorder lessons (and choir for Shira). Ben wants to join Shira in the Virginia Children's Chorus. He's going to do their summer camp (as is Shira) and then in August he'll audition. Our Tuesdays are chock full of music lessons. Recorder lessons before lunch, piano lessons from 3-4pm and then choir from 4:30pm. I hope Ben passes the audition as I will enjoy having that hour to myself. Shira starts piano lessons this Tuesday. In order to surprise her piano teacher, she's been practicing the piano book A. I think her unstated goal is to start her piano lessons in book B as part of her one upmanship contest with her brother (he started in book A, but then skipped book B).

I'm thrilled that Shira has decided to finally start playing the piano. She has a good ear and is naturally musical.

I made a startling discovery about myself at the tattoo. I think I am the most unsentimental person I know. I make my no nonsense, unsentimental husband look positively maudlin sometimes. The South African Defence Force Joint Service Military Band performed at the tattoo and as they played the music of my childhood, I was surprised to realize that my face was wet with tears.

I left South Africa in 2000 without a backward glance. The day I arrived in the US, I decided that I was an American and I set about fully integrating myself into American society. There was very little I missed about South Africa. I was stunned to realize that this South African music could evoke as much emotion in me as it did.

While I was watching the marching bands from the US, the Netherlands and South Africa I was struck by how their marching styles reflected the respective countries. The Dutch and American bands had an organization and rigidity about them that the South African one lacked. The South African soldiers entire bodies moved with their music. That to me is the essence of Africa, fluidity. Fluidity and Africa are the fodder for another post at another time.


Michelle (the beartwinsmom) said...

Wow. I'd have loved to see that Virginia tattoo show. That would have been so cool.

I agree- it is so neat to see how our kids, even though they are twins, are so different.

BTW, I tagged you for a meme. You can check it out here:

Andrew Pearce said...

Once the African sun has shone on your back, you will always be an African. Although I wasn't that tattoo, I know most of the SA performers as I too am a military musician in South Africa. We are currently attending the SA International Tattoo at Montecassino Johannesburg (google it).