Friday, December 12, 2008

The girl who leaks music

I am cramming for my exam.
I have an mp3 file which is a paino ( perhaps this misspelling is my subconscious talking) playing a jazz theme over a sequence of chords which is a minute long and scarily substituted and decorated by a double bass player who has taken too many amphetamines. My tutor is trying to frighten me. He has told me what key it is in at least...
I must transcribe the music without using my piano, in not more than 45 minutes, and keep all the notes in my head as I go along.
My head is feeling a little bit full.
It is like swimming underwater and I have to keep coming up for air at intervals, so I have decided to write this post at the same time during my breathing breaks.
The piano is sitting smirking at me, out of bounds.

So I will tell you about the girl who leaks music...in my next break..

Gasp... back again.

The girl who leaks music has only recently joined my little group of autist adolescents. The last music teacher didn't want her because she disturbs everyone else. She is rarely silent and her soundtrack maps out her emotional state in perplexing detail. As she becomes agitated her hands spin around her face in a blur and the pitch of the sound rises. Sometimes she sounds like a kettle boiling, but more usually it is a composite of every melody she has ever heard. Tantalisingly, she often sings part of melodies that I have sung to the group, but she can never do it with me or on demand. It is as though her communication settings are jammed on broadcast and not receive. But she absorbs all the melodies somehow. I can catch her attention sometimes by singing back a phrase that has just leaked out. Her pitching of the melodies is always perfect. I get her to listen by lowering the level of the music I am playing/singing and it seems to calm her. We have a round flat drum filled with sand, and she loves to jump on the trampoline holding it. The physical fact of the jumping imposes a rhythm that I can use to play music to.
One morning, many years ago, I was touring with a group and I was standing at the hotel checkout paying for my minibar bill. One of the crew standing behind me said "You never stop singing do you?" I wasnt aware that I was doing it, but I have to admit that sometimes I leak as well.
I try not to tell her to be quiet if I can avoid it.

Back to work...

20 comments:

Casdok said...

I love the phrase leaking music! Sounds as though you are getting through to her. And i admire you for that. C is also the child that teachers dont want, so it warms my heart to read your stories.

Good luck for your exam.

Daisy said...

That's amazing you are able to empathise as well as get her to listen to you- I know a few people who leak music like that, it can be a very endearing habit. Good luck and bon courage.

Frankofile said...

OMG how skilled you are. To me that task sounds impossible, in every possible meaning of that expression.

Dingo said...

I try not to tell her to be quiet if I can avoid it.

You are an amazing teacher and a wonderful person. I'm sure your kids could tell you that if they could. Actually, I think they tell you that in their own way, don't they? The redhead boy who wants to be in your class so much he acts up, the girl who leaks music that you have taught her...

I love your stories.

Good luck on your exam.

Suzy said...

I would have killed myself with your job so I salute your heart and your gift from the Universe.

Lucy said...

Move over Oliver Sacks!

Does your soundtrack have a Mrs Mills piano going int he background somewhere too?

Lovely pair of posts.

herhimnbryn said...

She is fortunate to have found you, the girl who leaks music.

meggie said...

Much rather someone leak music, in that fashion.
I was in a store, where a delivery man kept trundling more stock into the shop. He had a constant tuneless whistle that drove me instantly insane!

Rosie said...

Casdok, when I visit your blog I see so many stories of things that have gone wrong for autistic children and the care that they receive (or dont...) The place where I work is full of people who try their very hardest to give the best quality care.I hope there are some places like it in England.
Daisy, leaking music seems to be endearing only if you like what's leaking!
Frankofile, if you are referring to the music transcription, yes I am finding it difficult...I have always leant heavily on my ears and memory!
Dingo...I try never to tell people making music to be quiet. This is occasionally difficult in my own home when the piano in the living room is attacked once more when I would rather be watching television...
Suzy I couldnt do yours either...stand up comedians will always have the greatest respect from me..
Lucy...I would love to know more about music and psychology...it must serve some evolutionary purpose
herhimnbryn...I am the lucky one, she fascinates me.

Meggie, I yhink supermarket queues are the worst for enduring other peoples leaks..there is no escape

apprentice said...

I think you leak into her and she clearly leaks into you, and that's what matters. Many of us would give our eye teeth to affect another person so.

Lady P said...

What an amazing wonderful job you do. These children are so lucky to have such an empathetic and responsive person in their lives. Very very best of luck with your studies. Oh, and I read this article about autism and thought of you.

Rosie said...

apprentice, she absorbs melodies from everywhere, mine are only a small proportion of what gushes back out...
Lady P what a fascinating article ...thanks a lot...It doesnt conflict with anything that I have seen first hand...especially the love of routine and fear of overstimulation

hexe said...

Good luck with your exam. I have no doubt you will be amazing :)

Omykiss said...

What a lovely story... some people do amazing jobs ... and you are one of those.

Dick said...

The mechanics of the condition are - at the risk of sounding somewhat bloodless - fascinating. Reuben is high functioning autistic, but his wayward routes towards joy are intriguing to trace. Music is just beginning to be one of them.

Dick said...

And, yes, go well in the exam, Rosie. And have good family times over the next few days.

amy said...

I've missed being able to find out what you're up to! I hope you have a little break with the family, with music and lots of fun together.

Margaret Cloud said...

It has to be hard to be a mental challenged person even if they don't know it. I hope that makes seance. I like that phrase "leaking music", it sounds so right. I would like to wish you a Happy New Year.

meggie said...

Hope all is well?
Happy Happy 2009, with much goodness attached!

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