The Ruark Kids

Oompa oompa


I have been trying to increase the girls’ exposure to classical music in various ways, some of which I’ve written about before. Recently, I’ve been turning to online videos of orchestras playing music the girls have heard, such as the “Jupiter” movement from Holst’s Planets (this one having taken the place of “Roman Carnival” for the time being in the evening rotation when we play classical music). The girls like watching the conductor and players make all those movements they do for the various instruments, and I get to point out interesting things (to me).

One particularly amusing segment was a video of Gustavo Dudamel conducting the 1st movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. The video is pretty much only a shot of his conducting, so it wasn’t as compelling for the girls as some of the other videos we’ve been watching. I made the amusing but ultimately self-defeating mistake of trying to perk their interest by saying, “take a look at his hair!” (in my defense, it is very impressive):

After a few minutes, the girls got bored and started running from one end of house to the other, chasing each other, and returning to the computer. Every time they came to the computer, Siena said, “look at his hair!” Eventually Thalia started saying it too, “look at his hair!” Apologies, therefore, to Maestro Dudamel.

The video we’ve been watching the most is a recording of the BBC Proms from 2009, a performance of the “Jupiter” movement. Nevermind that I think this is probably the best 7.5 minute piece of music ever, the girls especially like this not only because they like the music (Siena sings along to it now) but also because of all the people and their instruments:

I’ve been quizzing Siena on what the different instruments are so that she learns them, and she is now reasonably proficient about distinguishing among the trumpet, trombone, tuba, and french horn. We are working on the clarinet, oboe, and english horn still.

One time as Thalia and Siena were watching this video, Siena informed me that she was going to play the french horn. She then changed it to say she was going to play trombone, because she knows that’s what I played and she likes pleasing other people almost more than anything, but upon further inquiry, she has reliably declared french horn as her instrument. “When I’m older, I’m going to play the french horn.”

Based on my arguably limited knowledge of french horn players (high school band, regional and state orchestras and bands, college orchestra, a traveling orchestra, might have kind of dated one or two, or wanted to), I actually think french horn would be a pretty good choice for Siena. Certainly, she’ll have to go brass; even if she doesn’t end up on trombone she needs to keep it in the family. And french horn players always struck me as the quietest, kindest, most thoughtful, and most musically invested if not gifted of the bunch. These are characteristics Siena possesses in abundance. Of course, they were also the most maligned and trod upon by the other brass players, but c’est la vie. I would still love to hear Siena playing a french horn someday.

Meanwhile, Thalia upon watching the video and hearing us name the instruments as they appeared, declared (and has repeatedly confirmed this upon subsequent grilling):

“I’m gonna play tuba.”

And that too fits right in line with her character. Ooompa oompa.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.