The market, Salonica

The market, Salonica
The market, Salonica

Friday, 31 July 2015

The kids were stuck to the floor

You hear him before you see him, somewhere in the school.  His voice comes down the corridor.  It’s near the Office now, searching for space to fill.  It’s getting louder.  He’s passing the Assembly Hall. When schools lock their children in, they lock the noise in, too.  They lock in the music teacher’s voice.   

“Me, me, me, me, me.” 

Now he's in your corridor.  His voice is very loud.  Too loud for a human corridor.  How can one person make so much noise?   The music teacher’s coming. 

“Me, me, me, me, me.” 

There is always music somewhere in a school.  In primary, the music teacher goes from class to class.  He normally rolls by – It’s not our turn! – but once a week he doesn’t.  The music teacher’s here.

“When father papered the parlour…”

The same, booming voice, but you don’t see him yet.  He stays an instant in the corridor – he can still surprise you – then sails into the room, like Pavarotti in the village hall:    

“… you couldn't see pa for paste.”

The first time I heard him, it was thrilling, for a moment or two.  The children were entranced, or I thought they were.  They can’t leave, can they, even if they want to?

“Mother was stuck to the ceiling; the kids were stuck to the floor.”
He only sang the chorus, but, when it was done, he didn’t go back to his normal, speaking voice.  I don’t know what his normal voice was.  The instructions he gave the children were half-sung too, like a recitative, or had the same rhythm as the song.  It was like the voice of God, the singing voice, unorthodox, but still no fun at all.  It weighed the children down and left no space for them to misbehave, so no one did, not even me.  You just waited for the end.
“You never saw such a bloomin' family so stuck up before!”
Me, me, me, me, me.  The big man’s favourite word.  The right word, in terms of irony.  If, as we are told, prose is good words in good order, and poetry the best words in the best order, how sublime is music?  It can do without words altogether.
“All stand up in your places, and hold your hands in the air.”

These days, they do a lot of clapping.  It helps children understand rhythm.  The big man’s classes understood.  This class, anyway.  They had the fiercest clap I’ve ever seen.  As for the good words, best words thing, I don’t believe it.  Not for a moment.

Just before the hour, Luciano reprises the parlour song.  It feels different now, like an old friend.  He’s going somewhere else.  He picks up his stuff, and surges out the way he surged in.  He’s in the corridor now.

 “Me, me, me, me, me.” 

I expect he’s still performing. 

“Me, me, me, me, me.” 

I haven’t been back for a while.  

Are they taught to sing instructions in music teacher school?  I doubt it, but they need to do something. Music teachers generally are bad at discipline.  It’s mundane, I suppose, controlling children.  They’re excellent with adults, though.  A music teacher wanted me to sing.  I forget which song.  I usually give excuses, but this time I didn’t.  It had a bouncy tune.  When I finished singing, she told the children, “Give Mr Spaid our clap.”   

She had taught them a silent applause.  They placed their right hands over their hearts and patted quietly, like beating wings.  Then she turned to me.

“What was that, a rap?” 

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