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This composition was inspired by this week’s Autumn Leunig. There have been so many totally beautiful Leunigs of late that I can’t keep up with the sounds and ideas these poignant, whimsical words inspire!
Here’s the Leunig:
Autumn Lullaby [Original Leunig Words]
The days are getting shorter
The nights are getting longer
A part of me is weaker
Another part is stronger
Another summer’s over
And we are going under
We are going home how
To ponder and to wonder.
And here are my modified words:
The days are shorter
The nights getting longer
A part of me is weaker
And with each day
And with each night
Some other part of me is getting stronger every day
Another part of me is stronger than I know
Another part of me becomes a little tender
And we are going under for now
And we know that we are going home somehow
Another summer falls down by the wayside
Some part of me lets go
And I know all of my heart
And I have time to dream
Let me ponder
Let me wonder
Let me dream.
Last year I had the pleasure of composing 2 pieces for the Pemulway Male Voice Choral Festival. This has such a special spot in my heart as I love all incarnations of the male voice…the pure bell sound of a treble, the raw fragility of a just-changed youth voice, the strident edge of a developing adult voice, and the limitless resonance, colour and strength of a fully-formed tenor, baritone or bass sound.
I always feels incredibly honoured to be part of this festival…the first time I composed for Pemulwuy in 2011, I looked down the long line of composers at the end of the final concert and realised I was the only female composer standing there, holding the only bunch of flowers…out-numbered, gloriously, and grinning and the marvellousness of this unique choral event!
In 2014, I was one of 2 female composers…slow and sure! A new world for us!
The choristers were divided into three vocal streams; treble, youth and adult. Seeing the recognition of “like-people” illuminate the choristers’ faces, especially of those from remote areas where they might be the sole strong male voice, was magic. The rehearsals oscillated from crazy to poignant, condensed masses of pure energy, raucous laughter, and controlled chaos…where men of all ages sang and celebrated their voices without limits or boundaries.
It was a wondrous happening!
I was invited to write for the Pemulwuy Youth A choir, under the direction of Jakub Martinec. I had 2 very distinct ideas for this age group of choristers; one a tender piece entitled You, and the second, a light-hearted look at the changing male voice in The Guy Voice. I ended up writing both, with You being performed by the Pemulwuy Youth A Choir, and The Guy Voice being gifted to the Birralee Blokes.
Please check out my next few posts to find out a little more about my 2 pieces!
When I grow up, I want to be this awesome! 🙂
I haven’t been thinking as fast as I should! My imagination has been asleep and I need to DREAM again and gather those dreams and throw them into the crisp morning air – wake them up and set them free! How long has it been since I’ve taken a chance? Taken a leap of faith and done something which has made my stomach flip? With common sense comes sensibility, both of which are highly valued and neither of which are productive to dreamers and do-ers. Nothing which lends itself to LIVING! Open my eyes and fill my soul again with the beating desire of challenge – of going the extra step to give someone joy or sympathy. Don’t travel the path which looks easiest – find a new one, one full of adventure and full of unspoken, undiscovered ideas and feelings. Find a pathway which is delightful as it is daring, one which requires a certain amount of strength and imagination.
CREATE! Don’t just reflect – make something more out of the puzzle pieces of reflection. Make a whole picture – something of use and service to the world. When you’ve been given a voice, don’t just whisper – sing in a million and one harmonies, otherwise you will not have used it properly.
THINK! Always think beyond the sphere and discover what makes a person laugh or cry – what affects them. The human race is so full of passion and wonderful examples of courage, if only we could make the time and space to NOTICE them and UNDERSTAND them better. Each person has something unique to contribute and the skills to write their own chapter – write SOMETHING. There is no-one else in the world exactly like you – no-one who speaks the same words with exactly the same thought behind them – and isn’t THAT extraordinary? However more loved the rest of the world appears to be, know and trust that the world needs your graciousness and good-humour more than you’ll ever realise. Somebody is counting on you to be you, somebody need you more than you’ll ever know and somebody wants you to be happy. There will always be someone who wants to know you and love you, to touch you, to treasure you and listen to your silent tears, to set you free but be your anchor – to keep you good. For someone – and if you’re lucky, for many “someones” – YOU are the person who makes the world make sense.
What a breath-taking, marvellous responsibility!
Appreciate. Truly appreciate the inexplicable, spontaneous acts of love. Sometimes beauty is hard, like the jagged edges of the coastline rocks, mellow like the twilight, fresh like the new grass or wise like the ripe heavy clouds of Autumn. Beauty has many faces, as does love.
So go out and paint with wide brush-strokes! Cover the world with your colours. Grab every possibility and bring them to life – who knows which will flourish and grow into life-long lessons? No-one can EVER take your spark and spirit away – not without your permission. And it would be a very great tragedy if you did not allow yourself to shine completely because of fear. This is what I hope for each day – this is how I want to live my life in joy and sorrow and hardship and delight; this is what I hope for the ones I love, this is what I hope for my students. On this awesome journey of discovery, I’ll run down the corridors of LIFE, kicking up the sands of imagination and knowledge and dare to dream with all my heart because that is how I’m built and this is what I understand best. So I hope I have the courage and grace to be the sort of dreamer who wakes often enough to make new and exciting realities – simply because I can!
because I want to create a link between what I see to what I live, what I feel to what I experience…
to breathe life and colour into happenings which are ordinary and tender, wondrous and awesome, achingly beautiful…
to wanderings in life that are so intensely anguished my heart throbs with beats too big for it…
to whisperings so exquisitely, delicately melancholy I don’t know whether to let them slip away or not move at all…
I love the music of language; words are notes in which to create the harmony of understanding
…words are a palette of communication.
words resonate with such life and power; a word can soothe or sear, caress or cut
…words can flirt with decency, can stand with integrity
….can be fashioned to describe any situation.
a word can change the momentum of a moment in time…the power of a single breath…a simple voice…my single simple voice…breathe…simplicity…voice….
I write with warmth, humour and hope…
warmth, because words shiver with life, glow for a moment in time like embers…
humour…sparkle…laughter…beads of joy!
I write because I celebrate life.
I write because I celebrate understanding.
I write because I have a passion for raw beauty
a desire to bring to notice the little ordinary moments in life which, when truly examined, are so extraordinary…
I write because life is a gift, a rich, mysterious, aching, joyful gift too full of experiences to be silent about.
I write because I want to share this wonder…
11th February 2007
Re-reading Roald Dahl’s words now, as a teacher, fills me with wonder. How did he do it?! He created worlds which burst with imagination using only words…no Facebook, no Twitter…no animation, or bells + whistles. Just the page and the kid reading those delicious, fabulous words which made me shiver with wonder + snort with laughter. He was devilish and gross, tender and enchanting…magic. Without setting out to, he fed my vocabulary of real (and wonderfully imaginative!) words. He made the impossible, possible, in perfect kid language.
When I read his words today, I realise that brand of magic is still very much alive and in fact, may have intensified as I read them through the eyes + mind of my older self.
Below is a snippet from The BFG, one I read with new meaning as teacher…if you really listen, what do you hear?
“You is deaf as a dumpling compared with me!” cried the BFG. “You is hearing only thumping loud noises with those little earwigs of yours. But I am hearing all the secret whisperings of the world!
I is hearing the footsteps of a ladybird as she goes walking across a leaf;
I is hearing the little ants chittering to each other as they scuddle around in the soil;
And sometimes, on a very clear night, I is sometimes hearing faraway music coming form the stars in the sky;
I is hearing the scream of a flower as its stem is twisted from the ground;
I is hearing the soft moan of the old oak, like an old man dying, weeping, when it is felled.”
A queer little shiver passed through Sophie’s body. She sat very quiet, waiting for more.
“Is that really true?” Sophie asked.
“You think I is swizzfiggling you? Then I is stopping right here!”
The BFG gave her a long hard stare. Sophie looked right back at him, her face open to his.
“I believe you,” she said softly.
“I is hearing the most wonderful and terrible sounds! Some of them you would never wish to be hearing yourself! But some is like glorious music.”
He seemed almost to be transfigured by the excitement of his thoughts. His face was beautiful in its blaze of emotions.
“I is hearing that chatterings of little mices;
I is hearing the natterings of little flutterbys;
I is hearing the glorious, pure voice of a mother spider, spinning her web.
I is hearing the world – a world so different from yours.”
An oldie but a goodie…the happy capsicum I cut into at the end of 2013, after the most soul-sucking of report-writing weeks. The Capsicum Gods knew I needed a laugh!
I have always loved the wisdom of Pooh.
Your childhood is calling, it has some wisdom to share! Sometimes, when I go back and read old favorites, I’m surprised at how much good sense is packed into the books I read before I realized how important they were. The plots were always entertaining, but the life lessons lost on someone who had lived so very little life. Now that I am three decades in, quotes from childhood staples are surprisingly valid and poignant. Here are some of my favorites from A.A. Milne (creator of Winnie-the-Pooh and all of his friends).
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”
“How do you spell ‘love’?” – Piglet
“You don’t spell it…you feel it.” – Pooh”
“So perhaps the best thing to do is to stop writing Introductions and get on with the book.”
What would your ultimate classroom look like?!
Every teacher has their dream classroom rolling around in their heads some place…space balls for every kid, padded walls, a throne in place of the broken wheelie chair out the front…perhaps a nice gold crown + a Nespresso machine hidden in a panel behind the pot plant…?
I have that ridiculous teacher brain which sees dream-classroom potential in everything. You would think a high school teacher would do this less than a primary school teacher, but nup, the instinct is just as bad!
During my epic travels last year, fondly known as The Great Adventure of 2014, I came across some really funky designs in bookshelves, studies + rooms across Europe, particularly in the cities where space is a wanted commodity. Actually, most of Western Europe is a walking advertisement for IKEA, but that’s a whole other story. Not that I have any problem whatsoever with everything looking IKEA-like as my house is like something out of their catalogues with the colour amped up to the max.
My question is this: if you could build your ultimate classroom, with unlimited budget + space to spare, what would YOU have in your classroom?
Here are some of the things on my dream list. Bear in mind I am a high school music teacher! But in so many ways, these ideas are even more essential for high school students…they would be in a place to engage in play, very healthy across all year levels, particularly in Year 10 where there is a distinct bell-curve in intelligence + information absorption which renders students in that year around the same level as a bright Year 1 class.
And everything on my list? I want them. They sound so cool!
The Ultimate Dream List:
Other cool possibilities:
What would be in your ultimate classroom?
Composing for the Sydney Children’s and Gondwana Voices Choirs has been a total, absolute, utter honour + pleasure! At this year’s national choral school, the Junior Gondwana Voices performed 2 of my works: “Like, Eleven” and “The Tango of Thirteen”, from a set of musical vignettes entitled, “Conversations With The Heart.”
One of my MAGIC MOMENTS this week? Having Elizabeth Vierboom + Paul Jarman, the 2015 Junior Gondie Voices conductors, call me mid-rehearsal from Sydney for the choir to perform “The Tango of Thirteen” for me. LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT! The chance to say hello to the choristers! Having the most humungous + excited “HIIIIIIIII ANNNNNNNNNNIIIIEEEE!’ yelled over the phone at me! Me, bursting into spontaneous laughter at their comic timing + completely schlick handling of all the musical challenges of the piece!
“Tango of Thirteen” was originally composed as part of my work as the Young Adelaide Voices Composer-in-Residence for 2011-12. The piece is a tongue-in-cheek warning to parents to tread carefully as their darling pre-teen is about to change, inexplicably, when they hit the dreaded teens.
Be afraid, be very, very afraid!