The night before his imminent shipment to the summer camp King summoned three of his buddies over for an over night play. His buddies took turn torturing him, mercilessly.
“What? A piano camp?” They erupted in laughter so loud that my roof cringed.
King could only say in resignation that he didn’t want to go, but his mother made him to.
They played all night and when it’s time to leave the following morning, he was soundly asleep, and slept the entire way up to Vermont.
Sonatina is located in Bennington, a quaint little town nested in the Taconic and Green Mountains in Southwestern Vermont. It reminds me very much of the Lenox or Lee in the Berkshires. The music school is housed in this little shed for kids in the summer and adults during other seasons.
The house is old. Bedrooms are on the second floor. King roommated with 5 boys. Each bedroom is furnished with a piano. Bathrooms are shared; each allotted 15 minutes of shower time.
Mommy Eng [8:03 P.M.]: were you on the lower bed or the upper bed at Sonatina?
King [8:03 P.M.]: Why does it matter?
Mommy Eng [8:03 P.M.]: double beds … [obviously Mommy wasn’t reading .. ]
King [8:03 P.M.]: What?
Mommy Eng [8:04 P.M.]: at Sonatina, music camp
King [8:04 P.M.]: Why do you want to know?
Mommy Eng [8:04 P.M.]: just cuosious
Mommy Eng [8:04 P.M.]: wrong spelling [I knew my limitation :)]
King [8:04 P.M.]: Curious
Mommy Eng [8:04 P.M.]: tks
Mommy Eng [8:05 P.M.]: upper or lower???
King [8:05 P.M.]: Upper
Mommy Eng [8:06 P.M.]: tks
King [8:06 P.M.]: What’s tks?
Mommy Eng [8:06 P.M.]: thanks
Mommy Eng [8:06 P.M.]: duh
King [8:06 P.M.]: Oh
Mommy Eng [8:06 P.M.]: ha ha ha [resorting to IM with my kid is some parenting management, I reckon .. a testament to my mother-hen skill.]
There are 31 pianos in this little house.
And apparently every corner of the house has a piano.
The landing area
The linene closet
The laundary room .. .. I kid you not
Are mothers born with huge egos? Well, I have certainly equipped with one, or two.
“How’s food there?” I asked.
Modestly hoping for a reply that went like .. “Oh Mom, I miss your cooking ..”
“Oh, it’s great .. ..”
“What did you eat?”
Spanish garbanzo stew
“Oh, we have chef Hans.”
I’m done for life.
Hen Hans cooked them lunch and dinner. [ confession: I only cook one meal a day .. .. a steep competition on hand… I need to get my act together!].
While all I cook is rice expertly cooked in the rice cooker.
At least it’s good tongue twister?
No wonder my little man didn’t bother to e-mail us, not even once during his stay. Cell phone is prohibited but they could sign up computer time.
What’s the ago old advice .. it goes like to get to the man’s heart is through his stomach? Chef Hans has the upper hand. He cooked for those little men and women day and night, and has a spectacular dinning hall to showcase his creations: the backyard. ha ha ha .. thanks
chief chef for feeding him.
They usually eat out in the tent. When rains, the school would set up tables in the salon.
The long table in the kitchen is mostly for the adult campers.
I shall excuse myself here on commenting their curriculum, since, well, what do I know about music. I think they have few wonderful teachers who taught thing or two to the kids.
The group has 46 kids: the youngest is 7, the oldest 16; the farthest is from Switzerland. And there’s girl from the same school as King. No, they don’t know each other, prior.
Blue toe nails, bare foot; every one looked comfortable, at home. ..
As Golfer maneuvering out of the parking lot [heading home], King ruefully told me that
“Only 11 left.”
I first thought left as being left behind, equals to were left.
Hey, it all has the word left.
I met Polly briefly in the kitchen. She told me that they worked on him but didn’t have time.
“We normally recommend 2 weeks.”
Well .. ..
“Really? I thought most of them stay for 2 weeks.” I turned back to the big little man.
“Uh?” King frowned.
Ha, lost in translation. My English [language] moment.
“No Mom, 11 were leaving.”
The camp teachers encouraged him to take music theory.
Yap, the little big man said he is taking it this coming September. He just dropped Chinese. He has available period to do it.
The camp has a huge 40th reunion bash on the July 4th weekend.
This camp’s started by current owner/director Polly’s mother, Rosamond van der Linde who tried but failed to find a piano-theme camp where she could send her chidden.
We were really considered going for the weekend; thought to start with the opening night at Tanglewood on Friday. It’s a dream all Tchaikovsky program:
Symphony No 6, Pathétique
But Slowpoke stated firmly that she isn’t a fan of long drive. Leaving her alone at home didn’t sound a good plan. So we stayed [she barely noticed us.]
So much for a mother hen, can’t even herd my own little chick.
The celebration went well. I’m waiting for the CD to arrive.
The camp took the kids to the opening night at Tanglewood.
“We didn’t get back till midnight.” King told me enthusiastically and handed me the playbill.
20 years ago, students who were then enrolled in the camp performed the Pachelbel Canon and have never forgotten the experience. Rosamond van der Linde, the camp’s founder, created this idea and will be in attendance for the reenactment. Van der Linde, an avid punster, began the program by shooting off a cannon and from the loud downbeat, the students started playing.
Slowpoke played this Canon in D, as solo a long time ago. It’s really whimsical. For some reason, Lee never assigned this same piece to King.
Last weekend, the camp had 46 campers played on 31 pianos, Canon in D in an ensemble. I couldn’t wait for the CD.
Film director, Joel Gardner, of Camp Gardner Films, will be on hand to capture more footage for a full-feature documentary film that is being done on the camps, the house, the faculty and staff, and the large number of pianos tucked into every nook and cranny at Sonatina. Camp Gardner Films was recently awarded a Billy Rose Foundation Grant to document the piano stories that many have experienced while in attendance at camp.
We were treated to a concert before we pick up our children. The camp is non competitive and the performers played at various levels, from impromptu 2 by Schubert to Mary had little lamb. That brings back some memories.
Once in the parking lot at the supermarket, on a crisp September night, the darken sky was dotted with starts. – King just started his nursery (3 years old). He suddenly belted out
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!”
That was a riot.
The camp allows brief good-bye since the next group’s coming in within an hour. After the concert, kids didn’t want to leave. Few big kids went to the piano and began to play/sing Billy Joe’s Piano Man. Then all other kids converged too. It’s a very moving moment.
I asked King if it’s a spontaneous action or planned.
Well, they (few older ones) were to play it prior to the concert. But they didn’t get chance. So they decided to do it before parting.
As we were leaving, King said he’d like to come back next year.
“For two weeks, at least.”
We did one week because he only had one free week: his jazz band starts this Tues.
“Do you want to stay another week?” I asked.
“It’s book solid for the summer.” He said.
So someone has checked it all out 🙂
Pumpkin has been updating me on the men’s final at Wimbledon. I never thought that Andy Roddick stood a chance against FedEx. Well, surprisingly Andy took Roger to the 5th set. So it’s a fair game. And it’s epic.
I missed it.
The first thing King did upon arrival at home, he went straight to the piano and played.
Ok, I now need to get off my fat butt to take my night shift at McDonald: I inadvertently spent his jazz band camp tuition. Cheese burg any one, rare or medium well done? 🙂