Today Jess, Grace, Joy and I tried to do some music together. This is always an interesting exercise as we are all of very different temperaments and each have our own idea of how to learn something as a group. In the past, we have tried to learn hymns together (we called ourselves "Hers playing Hymns") but it never got very far. So today, we decided, would be the day.
As it is coming up to Christmas, we chose "We Three Kings" with Grace on the piano, Jess on cello, Joy on violin, and me on the flute. The very first verse threw us into turmoil. It is obviously the three kings singing together, so we had to play together. There was only a melody line and a scant harmony written in on the music.
"Don't worry," I said, the ever-optimistic. "I'll just write a harmony in. GRACE WOULD YOU STOP PLAYING PLEASE!!!!" And yes, believe it or not, I yelled that bit. (Grace has a tendency to get bored when we aren't playing and starts to play her own thing loudly over everything else.)
"Noooooo... don't write a harmony now!!!" the girls beg. I promptly sit down at the piano, pencil in hand, ready to do the deed. Grace and Joy go outside in frustration. Jess sits there and plays on the ipod.
15 minutes later...
"I'm done!" Everyone comes back and I proudly display my three part harmony - for the first verse. I inform them that I will take care of the chorus later. They groan, but we start playing the new music.
"Stop, stop, stop, stop, STOP, STOP, STOP!!!!" I call. "It doesn't sound good right now!!!"
Grace's head makes contact with the music rack as Joy complains, "I'm sight reading."
"We're all sight reading," Jess says dryly.
"Look," I say logically. "Let's run through our parts separately."
Grace groans again and leaves the room. "Call me when you're ready."
Joy, Jess and I practice separately and then together. We call Grace back, and she accompanies us on the piano. It sounds good - the first verse. The chorus is a wreck, but we figure we play the chorus through once for each verse, so we have plenty of time to figure it out.
Joy takes the part as the first king, the king who offers gold. We convince her that the violin sounds much better if she stands up, instead of sitting on the floor, but she brings up another problem. "I haven't got anywhere for my music," she says. We are starting to get desperate, so we blu-tack the music to the glass sliding door near the piano, and that does the trick. (You know they say that necessity is the mother of invention!) Joy is only part way through her verse when I stop her again.
"Joy, stop. You are playing a king - A KING - he is a vigorous king, not a weak person about to cry. And use your vibrato - it sounds so much better."
"I hate vibrato."
"Do it anyway. That's better."
I am the frankenscence king, and as I know what I want out of the verse, it goes off without a hitch... ;)
Jess is the myrrh king and plays her verse nice and deep on the cello, accompanied by deep chords played by Grace. Dubbed the "death verse" by its gracious cellist, it has a tendency to make us start giggling in the middle of it.
We finally worked out the chorus and were really happy with how it sounded. We played it through a few times and were starting to get comforable with the harmonies and the parts when Mum came in the room.
"The harmonies sound really good," she encouraged us, "but there's something wrong with the timing. It is supposed to be in 3/8 - I think you are playing it in 2/2."
We were. How we managed that, I'm not sure, but Grace says she can't play it in 3/8 and so now we have to wait until she can figure it out. I know she can do it, she just needs to practice.
So that was our music session for the day. I would love to master some more pieces together - we'll have to wait and see. :)