Planning and practicing

It never fails to crack me up when I have to call a Japanese person about something I’ve talked to him/her about previously, and at my first “ano, sumimasen…” s/he immediately recognizes that I’m a foreigner, and at my second “ano,” s/he knows exactly who I am. It’s happened so many times before, and it just happened when I called Art Records to reserve 2 tickets for the Marriage of Figaro performance at Tokushima’s Bunka Kaikan next month.

On a less amusing note, I found out yesterday that the JAL birthday flight fares can only be used on flights that depart within a week of your birthday. CRAP. There go my plans to fly to and from Kyushu during that long weekend in mid-September! And I thought for sure I could score low-priced domestic airfare for a change; I had the travel agent check regular ticket prices for the weekend, and it’s over ¥50,000 (around $500 USD). I also checked on Skymark Airlines, the one discount airline I know exists in Japan, and it only services flights to or from Tokyo-Haneda. I’ll have to investigate other modes of transportation, like the trains and the ferry between Matsuyama (western Ehime, in western Shikoku) and Beppu (eastern Kyushu).

Speaking of planning, my boss and I played phone/keitai-email tag for several hours today as we tried to figure out how all the area ALTs were getting to Tokushima for orientation tomorrow. I’ve also been playing e-mail/phone tag some folks about their arrangements, but it’s all settled, and all the Deep Westies will be able to get there somehow. I kind of like this senpai thing, actually–I like being able to help people and answer their questions, and I actually seem to know what I’m talking about when it comes to a lot of stuff related to Japan, which still surprises me sometimes.

Today, I brought my violin to school and ended up giving an impromptu lesson to several of my teachers as I let them hold it and bow a few notes and (attempt to) play some fingered ones. After lunch (and my first session with this year’s speech contest girl–she’s doing surprisingly well so far, only stumbling over words which truly are difficult, and there are a couple I have to consider replacing…”reexamined” and “thoroughly” are maybe a bit too much), I took over the music room in the afternoon–the kids come in during the summer for club activities, but they start at 8:30 and are done by noon–and practiced for nearly 2 solid hours. It felt awesome. I actually wanted to try to throw together a lineup to play at the impromptu open mic they’ll be having at the English camp this weekend, but ended up spending at least an hour on the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens, one of my favorite violin concerti ever. It’s really tricky, and I played it extremely slowly…but you know what, I actually think I can do it. I’ve been struggling with some passages in the Barber violin concerto that I’ve just learned sloppily and can’t figure out how to un-sloppify (er–you know what I mean), but the Saint-Saens is still virtually untouched, and in some ways it’s a lot less daunting, because it doesn’t have the staggering emotional weight of the Barber (particularly that second movement, whew). With the exception of the double/triple-stop chord passages, I’m pretty sure I can work the rest up to speed, albeit slowly.

Anyway, this is it for the next few days–in the morning, we’re off to the Anan YMCA for several days of working with junior high and high school kids, teaching the 41 new ALTs what’s what, and dancing Awa Odori in Tokushima! I guess I’m not dancing Awa Odori in Ikeda after all, which is happening Monday through Wednesday, but that’s okay. I’ll definitely be content with watching.

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