Saturday, March 17, 2012

Music Festival and other losses

Six years ago, in March 2006, I went home to Trinidad for the Music Festival competition. I had been attending voice lessons regularly since 2001 so my voice was in pretty good shape. I had discovered what it could do and was happy to do it, even in the presence of an adjudicator. Music Festival for my non-Trini readers, is a biennial event where musicians come together to compete. Participants are divided into groups called 'classes' such as Lady's Solo - Soprano, Mezzo & Contralto; Men's Solo - Tenor, Baritone & Bass; Lady's Aria (all voices) and so on. There are also choral classes of various configurations - men, women, mixed voices, religious music, folk music. You name it!

Me (head lopped off) and Granny after a Ladies Concert (1997).
Having competed in the Festival as a child (there are classes for children as well), Festival is in my blood.  Family lore has it that Granny entered the very first year the Festival was established. Because she was in her mid to late forties at the time, two of her six brothers tried to discourage her from participating given her 'advanced' age, she would embarrass herself and them. She would not be swayed. On the night of the competition, my Uncles Donald and Cecil (or perhaps it was Vivian), stood outside the windows of the old Princes Building while Granny, with her partner, Olive Walke (if memory serves), sang and won the class. When I say that Festival 'in meh blood', you understand that it really is in my blood.

So in November 2005, when I decided that I wanted to sing, I made the arrangements to have my name entered for several classes. I intended to take my vacation in 2006 at the right time so that I would be at home to participate. And that's what I did. I worked with my coach, we selected pieces and in 2006, I went home and competed in three classes: Lady's Aria, Lady's Oratorio and Negro Spiritual. I even sang my Oratorio piece in German that I had practiced with a Swiss coworker.

I had a marvelous time. Not only was the singing a joy, the placing in the top three in two of those categories wasn't too bad of an outcome either.

What has all this to do with Alzheimer's Disease you ask? Music Festival and voice lessons are two of the things I've lost on account of my mother's refusal to plan and my having had to fall in to the slot left empty by the absence of a plan. I don't bitch because what the heck would be the point and because who wants to listen to that? But I do take this opportunity to point out that it is entirely possible, through lack of planning to steal joy; opportunity or worse still, the opportunity to bring joy to others (as my singing has been known to do), from your children.

I have six words for you: don't do it, make a plan.

Music Festival in Trinidad & Tobago is just winding down now. I just saw a friend's championship win being hailed on FB and that's what brought this post to mind.

As I'm fond of saying, the fact that you didn't mean to kill me doesn't make me any less dead. The fact that my mother didn't intend this outcome doesn't make this any less the outcome.

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