It has been a while since I’ve had the time to sit down and write about what’s been going on, but that’s basically a sign that life is keeping me busy with exciting things!
The most exciting thing that has happened within the last few weeks is that I performed in a concert with the orchestra I’ve been practicing with. They have a performance every November, and it turned out to be a fantastic show! The orchestra itself is quite small, but there are tons of guest players that were nice enough to colour our performance using their musical expertise. It was fun listening to the talented oboist and bassoonist – they are such unique and lyrical sounds! It made me miss the days of when I played oboe in high school. But I had enough instruments on the go that night!
For the most part, I played the stand-up bass. My boyfriend, his sister, and her boyfriend all came to the show (seeing as their mom, dad, and me were all performers in it!) and it meant a lot to me to be playing for people I knew in the audience. I was extremely nervous, seeing as it was my first orchestra performance since high school. It didn’t help that our first piece was the most complicated one! But the more we played, the more relaxed I got, and I really enjoyed myself. Sebastien’s sister was on photo duty, and did a fantastic job!
A new wave of angst hit when it was time to play the bagpipes. A few weeks beforehand, we had settled on sheet music for “Highland Cathedral” that had a melody for brass instruments as well as bagpipes. We had practiced it enough times that I was confident with how it would all sound, although there was that fear I always have of my reeds falling into my bag before I play, or a drone going drastically out of tune for some reason. The song turned out lovely though. It began with a trumpet soloist playing the melody, then two flutists joining in. Then I came in closer to the end, and it added loads of power to the performance without being overwhelming. Something slightly funky was going on with my “F” so I had to work around that (heart going a million miles a minute) but in the end it all came together very well, and it was a very strong performance. I wore a big goofy grin the rest of the night, and was absolutely delighted to be presented with flowers at the end of the night, for my solo. I’ve also included a picture of my name as a soloist in the program, because that was pretty exciting to see too!
After the performance, we went out for a fancy Italian dinner – we had invited all of the guest musicians, as well as our significant others, to join us. I was able to talk in German for some of it, and someone who had never met me before actually asked my boyfriend if I had grown up speaking German. She probably realized that my German is far from perfect once she heard me speak more, but I was still extremely flattered!
All in all, it was a fantastic evening. It sure is lovely to be able to play music you love for an appreciative audience. And I was so lucky to receive so much gratitude for my bagpiping! A terrific memory that I can add to my experience here in Germany.
Another semi-exciting thing that has been going on over the past few weeks is that I’ve accompanied various groups of grade 11 students to the Humboldt University Bibliothek. I informed one of the teachers here that I would love to get involved in Library Science, and he set it up so that I would be the supervising teacher on these tours of the library. Each time I went was very similar – a tour guide came and set us up in a “student room,” then we were shown various important spots in the five floors of the library. After that, the students would have to complete an assignment back in the student room using the computer research resources. The first two groups I took were very well behaved, but unfortunately the third one had a few people that spent a lot of time goofing off. I caught one of them on youtube when he was supposed to be listening to the assignment, and I walked up to him and said “can you please turn that off” with a great big smile. Oh ya, that’s the disciplinary Canadian. It’s a wonder the students weren’t terrified of me.
Anyways. I got to learn a fair bit while on these tours as well. I got quite good at taking attendance in German (I figure it’s a language transferable skill though, so I’m set for taking attendance in English too) and I loved getting to explore the various resources this library has to offer. The architectural design of the building is very artsy, and I could never get sick of spending time looking around. Also, our tour guide is my new idol. She always dressed very professionally and tastefully (without her hair in a bun or wearing glasses, just to throw in the stereotype so many people think of) and was extremely knowledgeable. Overall, I am very grateful that the other teacher thought of me to do these tours when he learned of my enthusiasm for libraries.
On Tuesdays, a group of Canadian Education Officials came to visit the school I work at. I was asked to spend that day working with them, and I like to think I proved to be helpful. The officials there were trying to learn how to emulate German’s language teaching practices. While there are many potential languages in Canada that people could learn, there isn’t the same initiative early in the education system that there is in Germany. The officials made reference to wanting to promote exchanges between Canadian and German schools, and they asked me all about how I came to be spending this year here in Germany. The group of us attended a grade 7 French class to see what a language class in Germany is like, and I now know some very useful words – primarily “la chien” or something to that effect. Maybe “la chat” but I’m not sure if I got those genders right. After that class, we spent some time discussing our countries and how we approach language, and there was a mixture of English, French, and German all in one discussion. It was pretty neat to be around Canadian speakers again, and they were interested to hear that I come from Calgary – there were two there from Winnipeg, and two working in Ottawa. It’s crazy how within Canada, the language challenges are completely different within each province. People of different descents settled in various parts of Canada, and it has resulted in different language specializations and priorities today.
The last experience I will rant about in today’s blog is a teaching related one. My schedule recently changed, and last week I was with a class I had never been with before. The teacher beforehand told me that she has quite a lot of problems with this class – they apparently are very lazy, and she often has difficulties with getting them to pay attention. The class is about to start the novel “Of Mice and Men” and my job for that class was to talk with groups of four or five students at a time about the Great Depression. I was quite surprised by the result. I had expected these kids to be unresponsive and lazy in our discussion, but instead they were thoughtful and insightful. Some of them expressed passion for changing the poverty situation in Germany, and it was great to hear people that are so driven and inspired. I guess my point here is that it’s amazing what kids are capable of: a lot of the time they’re self conscious and trying to impress others in a large class, but once they’re given a chance to talk on a one-on-one basis, they are each brilliant in their own way. Sorry for the lame cliché speech, but it’s hard to express how pleased I was after that class experience.
Anyways! This may have been a slow blog post, but thank you so much for reading! Things are about to pick up around here – I’m meeting my mom at the airport in a few short hours! She’s spending ten days here with me, and I can’t wait. While I will have some work to do, I’ve already been planning touristy things to show her. Next weekend we will be going to Dresden with Sebastien’s family, which is extremely exciting! I should probably get back to cleaning the house before her arrival. Not too much cleaning though, just enough to make her think that my house is normally that clean.
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!