1582. On that note

(Because of the Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, today’s story suddenly has been rendered “insensitive”. It shall appear later. I’ve replaced it with a little bit of drivel about myself… )

Many years ago I was in charge of the biggest music department of any high school in New Zealand. We had 17 instrumental music teachers instructing over 300 individual instrumentalists. There were three orchestras, five choirs, every student sang like it was going out of fashion, and… well goodness me! (I might add that the school was renowned for its rugby teams of which I was also a coach – so there!…)

I had decided in my enthusiastic relative youth to sit the highest piano-playing exam available and so I learnt a Schubert Sonata and I can’t remember what else because it was a jolly long time ago. My teacher, Mrs Oliver, was wonderful and taught me for free – which is something I’ve since tried to emulate (occasionally).

The music examiner arrived (from England) to test the students at the high school from beginners to very good. He was at the school for a week. I provided lunches and we got on well enough. I suspected he was a bit lonely travelling the country week after week on his own. I lent him books to read. We discussed all sorts of musical things. At the end of the week he invited me to dinner at a rather swish restaurant by way of thanks for my hospitality. By now I was in a horrible mess; I had never told him that in a week’s time in a neighbouring city he was to examine me for piano playing in the highest exam possible. I didn’t do it intentionally; I was simply caught up in trying to organised instrument exams for lots and lots of students other than me. To put it politely, I was shitting myself.

Exam time came. I entered the room.

“Well hello,” said the examiner. “Why didn’t you tell me you were a candidate for this exam?”

“I got all caught up and now I’m a mess,” I said.

“Well,” said he, “if you’d told me I could have brought the books with me that I borrowed.”

I passed! I never know to this day if I was good enough.

20 thoughts on “1582. On that note

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      I’m a bit out of touch these days. When I was in charge all orchestra instrument tuition was government paid – but not guitar, ukulele, drums, or piano. These days the government no longer caters for orchestral instruments but for trendy ones, i.e. guitar, ukulele, and drums. I’ve nothing against those instruments but what if you wanted to play the oboe?!

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  1. umashankar

    That is an interesting episode from your ‘relatively’ younger days. I can wager on my considerably paltry fortune that he wouldn’t have come across a better pianist on that day.

    Your concern on the bloodbath in El Paso is very human and appreciated.

    Reply
            1. Bruce Goodman Post author

              I wonder if I read them all – I suspect not. It is now over 50 years since I read “The Foundation”. It was when the “dwarf” was revealed as being the super-master mind. Have I got the right one? and is there more?

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              Reply
              1. umashankar

                I too had read them about 25 years ago or so. As far as I can remember, ‘Forward the Foundation’ was the last one to be added — it was a prequel. I recall the book had to say much more about Harry Seldon and his supporters. The end, as I remember, was in the concept of Gaia, in the very last book, Foundation and Earth, as a whole living planet where the organisms were connected with each other and the planet. I guess the quintessential android R. D. Oliva had a crucial to play in that.

                I do remember the Dwarf, an enormously intriguing character, in whom the wizardry of Asmiov is at its zenith.

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