I'm writing this from the T stop while hoping I did not just miss the last train home.
So... I spend a lot of time at work. (This should be nothing new to anybody.) I mean, where else can you hear discussions about how Aymara kids call the Memorize Activity the "Safekeep In My Head" Activity (after a lot of back-and-forth between etymologists and such about how to best convey the meaning of the title)?
On the non-OLPC front, I failed the Olin Challenge again today, as Ben Hayden's building (he works for Google) had a fire drill while I was walking in this morning; his building is across the street from mine. So I'm doing my Wednesday "Mel The Personal Chef" day at the Hayden-Scholl-Aasted domicile. Speaking of which - if anyone wants me to come out and cook for them on Wednesday nights, let me know; you provide the ingredients (or a fridge to improvise from) and the company, I'll provide the recipes, the cooking, and oddball ingredients/spices and a wok as needed. (Note: I am not particularly good with ovens, but can cook most anything that doesn't involve one.)
Check another thing off my lifelong dreams list: I am indeed playing percussion (and possibly, if I get my act together, piano) with the MIT Concert Band. Kristen Dorsey said to show up at rehearsal and talk to certain people, and I did, and the next thing you know...
Me (whispering over the long brass interlude, clutching the triangle in terror) : But I can't hear anything I'm playing!
Percussionist next to me (as the brass crescendoes): It sounds fine! Just keep on playing!
Me (the brass section is really loud now): HUH?
Percussionist next to me: KEEP PLAYING! LOUDER! CAN'T HEAR!
Me: Yeah, I can't hear the triangle!
Percussionist next to me: NO, I CAN'T HEAR THE TRIANGLE! PLAY LOUDER!
Me: Ohhh! *is louder*
Percussionist next to me: THERE YOU GO!
Things vastly improved when I switched to bass drum, which is entirely within my frequency range (as are timpani and snare drums, and the wood block). I staggered through a Copland piece (section leader, looking over at my music: "Wow, this is not a good piece to sightread through your first time") and then learned how to mute it with my knee/hand/combination-of-the-two and not to thwack it dead center, after which my sound output vastly improved again. Similarly, how I'm learning to read sheet music for percussion..
Me (playing along happily): Hey, what're those hashy things?
Percussionist next to me (glancing at my sheet music): WHOA! *heroically dives across the room for second mallet, plunges it into my hand*
Percussionist next to me: ROLL! NOW!
Me: GAH! *drumroll*
Percussion section: YAY!*
*Okay, they didn't actually say "Yay!" But they made happy gestures that conveyed the same emotion.
After that song, the section leader turned to me. "You've never touched these instruments before, have you?" I shook my head. He grinned and proceeded to give me a crash course on the basic way to hit about half the instruments we had out at the time. I can sightread rhythms well enough, I just don't know what things to hit and how to hit them well. Oh, yeah. Cymbals? They're FUN.
No, I don't know what I'm doing, and I'm absolutely sure I sound horrendous to both trained and untrained ears (at least to mine, which are untrained in this regard). But am I learning fast? Oh yeah. Am I learning fast enough? That's an entirely different question. The other percussionists have basically started teaching me everything they can think of during long rests, because we have a month to teach me how to not sound lousy for those songs on the bass drum before the mid-October concert. They think I can make it. I will try.
The bass drum is probably the least screw-uppable of all the things they have, anyway. It's hard to mess up when half your part consists of rests and half of the remaining bit consists of quarter notes and quarter rests. Except for that weird syncopated part in this one mildly sadistic rag. Which has none of the above. And which I actually got through with the least difficulty, because... oh, I don't know. The harder things are, the more I pay attention, maybe?
And am I having fun? Well... the band has a mascot of sorts named Tesla who is a huge white dog and cavorts around the room with people between songs. We had random leftover food donations carted in by a player halfway through; this food included popsicles and cheese, and instrumentalists were popping out of their seats during long rests for their sections to snag another bite of cheddar.
Hurrah! A train! I'm going home, practicing piano, and then passing out - I want to be back in the office in 6 hours. Woo!