December 18, 2008 at 3:45 AM
It is high time for me to write something to help clear my head. Yesterday we held our student concert – more like a 70 minute program as opposed to a 90+ minute program last May. A popular pastime in Shanghai is eating, especially All-You-Can-Eat buffets, so a student helped come up with our theme of "All You Can Hear Student Music Showcase." There are so many talented students and variety of pieces performed it just about makes my head spin to manage this kind of event. From beginner violin to pop, to rock and roll band to folk and even Beethoven Op. 17 for solo piano…wow. Guitar classes banded together in song for John Denver’s “Leaving On A Jet Plane” and Korean and English “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town;” choir girls sang “My Heart Will Go On” and “Dreaming of You” accompanied by flute and piano. Boys’ rock band managed “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “One Love” (by Blue) and “Basket Case” with some energetic dance thrown in. There was a more advanced violin player with piano playing Canon in D – don’t criticize too much because it is really a favorite among students and teachers.
We have several fantastic guitarists, including one who accompanied a female student to “One of US” and “Kiss Me.” It was really fun, except for the part that the supplies manager PROMISED me the special order pins for the students would be there by that morning…when I know in reality any promise coming from that office is a guaranteed disappointment. The pins arrived, yes, in the afternoon, but after the concert. It is just as well – they look cheap and plastic-ey, not nice enamel ones like I had envisioned. Stuff like that gets lost in translation and for sure gets lost when the option to pay 10% for junk versus the full price for good quality comes up. What’s really sad is the head boss was there when I was making the request for some small item to honor our students as a memento and token to keep; my backup plan was to order ribbons in case the pins were going to take too long. Bottom line is it is the supplies part of my job is very difficult to navigate. I could go on about much more; this is the tip of the ice-burg. And the boss wonders why people don’t stay in this job for too long.
And I am a bit Christmased out. Shopping in Shanghai, one is inundated by western carols and cheesy tunes, not unlike life stateside. I didn’t draw the line against holiday shopping so my mom has given me a list of items I’m supposed to bring back for her for all the 9 nephews and nieces…the suitcase will be overstuffed this time! Honestly it is a good problem to have, and one of the gifts is a really good quality violin set for 1 violinist-niece!!! That will be a carry-on. I’m trying a new airline too, China Hainan Airlines which has an American hub through Seattle. For me this means I get to leave Shanghai from Hongqiao airport which is close to my home, maybe 20 minutes, as opposed to the Pudong airport which is a good hour away.
My goal is to recruit more violin students for some orchestral music this coming spring. It may be more of a difficult task than normal considering many students are returning to their home countries due to their parents’ job situations. We are all a bit on pins and needles wondering how this will affect the population of our student body. So far the world financial situation is definitely having an effect here on families in international business, and in China as well, factories are closing left and right due to the US’s reduced orders for goods. In China this has the effect of sending many internal migrant workers back to their homes across China. But for now my concerns are small in comparison. I only hope the mountain pass is open on the way home for Christmas.
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