Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Children Sing in the Car.

Probably everybody’s do – and I know that when my siblings and I were young, we used to sing often – in the car and anywhere else, heedless of wrong notes, mistaken words, and variable keys. But hearing Zenon and Leo sing song after song – in Greek and English – during a twenty-minute car journey is one of my almost daily blessings.

And I don’t ask them to. One will start, and the other will join in – their voices generally true, even for children of nine and seven. Usually they sing songs learned at school – traditional Greek or Cypriot ballads or patriotic songs. Occasionally they sing pop songs, and Zenon has acquired a taste for soft rock, so that between glorifying the heroes and martyrs of 1821, he will launch into ‘Desperado’ – often with very strange words as he hasn’t managed to figure out what the lyrics are and just adds his own approximation.

He also has a liking for ‘Eye of the Tiger’, but fortunately his rendition only occasionally figures in the repertoire. Lately he and Leo have learned the words to ‘Jolene’ thanks to someone’s leaving a CD in my car. Both Zenon and Leo have picked up not only the lyrics, but Dolly’s accent, too. The other day Best Beloved pulled out of the drive on the way to town, and drifting back down the drive came ‘Ah had t’have this toke with you, mah happiness depends on you…’ A day or two later, apropos of nothing, Zenon suddenly said “What’s a toke, Mama?”

Alex has a true voice as well, and will often sing with me: our repertoire ranges from Kathy Mattea’s ‘Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses’ to Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat out of Hell’ complete with motorcycle sound effects. He has an instinctive ear for harmony, so we do quite well together.

Sophia is more inclined to join Celine Dion or the Dixie Chicks when she’s listening to them on her computer. Unfortunately it’s hard to persuade her that her singing with headphones on means that we get a tuneless drone – she just shrugs when we stand in front of her pointing at the headphones and wincing.

She is the one who most wants to be able to sing well, as she has hopes for the stage. But people ‘in the know’ have told her that an ability to sing and dance gives one a better chance of acceptance into acting school, and a good drama school is practically pre-requisite for a stage career. She has started learning to play the guitar, and I have been trying to explain basic theory. But “I don’t want lessons!” she insists. “That’s the quickest way possible to put me off music.” Unfortunately my knowledge is very limited, and if she applies herself as I know that she can, she may be looking for lessons within the next year or so as she realises that self-teaching can take her only so far.

Now that Christmas is around the corner, we are regaled by a range of carols. Rudolf (in both English and Greek) is reindeer non grata, and I’ve threatened to put a boot through the Little Drummer Boy’s instrument if I hear of it again (never liked that carol!), but the house and the car are full of ‘Jingle Bells’ – often including the parody ‘Batman smells’), Silent Night, and Greek and Cypriot seasonal songs.

It’s good to be surrounded by music.

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