Wednesday, January 23, 2008

OPW 2.0

I'm working on a very silly project right now. It is so ridiculous that it is making me punchy. Through no fault of my own I somehow got hired to arrange and Finale copy an entire Broadway style musical. For 6th, 7th and 8th graders!

Yes, I am taking show tunes by the likes of Kander and Ebb, Sondheim et al and creating simplified arrangements for a middle school band and chorus to perform in the spring. Not only that, but there's no sheet music for a bunch of the songs, so I've had to transcribe them from CD before getting to work on the arrangements. I've been given the list of instruments to write for, which is just basic information. In addition I've been given a specific range for each player in the band (all 15 or so of them) because many of them are at fairly rudimentary levels of ability. The cardinal sin here (so I gather) is to write parts that are too hard to play.

Oh, I almost forgot. I've been given about three weeks to do all of this. Ideally, this amount of work should be done in eight, but who's complaining?

The good news (you knew there HAD to be some) is that this project will be quite remunerative. This time of year is death for working musicians, so I am grateful to have something better to do than go snow blind staring at my empty date book.

It just so happens that this week work began on my kitchen rehab. So my house looks like some kind of insane science project and I'm trying to get this work done with sawing and hammering as my background music. It is all so delightfully cacophonous!

I have written about doing other people's work before, and this transcribing/arranging/copying job definitely comes under that heading. However, I am getting to use some musical skills that have been in moth balls for awhile, specifically - arranging for band. I've done plenty of arranging for small groups, string quartets and a few big band charts, but it has been some time since I've had to write for such a large ensemble. The orchestration is pretty goofy as well, since the band consists of whoever happens to show up with whatever instrument they play. I won't bore you with the details, but writing for this lopsided group is a challenge.

My mantra thus far has been: Don't do anything interesting! I've got to keep it simple, plus there's just no time to be avant garde. It is music by the pound for sure. I'm just trying to make sure things are correct, in the right place and transposed properly. It will no doubt sound like hash anyway, given the age level, but I'm hoping that won't be my doing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Incident at Galesburg

I haven't been feeling well for a few days. So when I left this morning to take my son back to Knox College in Galesburg I had a fleeting thought about taking some ibuprofen with me for the 8 or so hours I'd be spending in the car. Then I forgot all about it.

I delivered Sam safely to his dorm about 4 hours later, where he very subtly sent me on my way in short order. I walked up to the Gizmo snack shack and had myself a delightful cup of dark black fluid (which I hesitate to call coffee). I had almost returned to my car when the sight of an older man wearing a bright red coat caught my eye. At the same instant my left foot started sliding out from under me, causing my ankle to bend in an impossible way. I hit the pavement in a most graceful manner, not knowing what had happened for a few seconds.

The Man in Red came over to help me get up, which I had no desire to do for the moment. Another couple of kind folks came over to inquire if I was alright. Truthfully, I had no idea if I was OK or not. The pain from my ankle was hovering around an 8 but, even worse, I felt like I was about to pass out (and I hate when that happens).

It turned out that the MIR was a doctor, or so he said. He very solicitously helped me hobble the rest of the way to my car. I sat down heavily and tried to catch my breath. I had no idea what to do next. I was supposed to drive 200 miles back to Chicago but the thought of doing that made me want to pass out even more. I spent a few minutes staring stupidly at the steering wheel. It finally dawned on me to call Sam, who was in his dorm about 100 feet away. Oh yeah, this cell phone...I can use it to call for help. Duh.

As I waited for Sam I kept trying to focus on what I should do about this troublesome ankle. Go to the campus health center? Call someone (who?) for help? Drive to a hospital (whereabouts unknown)? I swear, my IQ must plummet by 50 points when I'm hurtin'. It somehow occurred to me that I could call 911 and see what would happen if I explained the situation to someone else. Fortunately I got a reasonable human on the other end of the line. She promptly sent a campus security officer over and I followed him a mile or so to the nearest hospital ER.

It was during the next 90 minutes that I starting wishing that I had grabbed that old ibuprofen bottle earlier. They did put some ice on my ankle as I waited for the ER doc. The nurse took my temperature (huh?) and asked me a few impertinent questions. I asked politely if I might possibly score a couple of ibuprofen for the, uh, swelling and the, um, PAIN. She said she would have to check with the doctor. I guess they don't want just anyone dispensing dangerous controlled substances.

I was wheeled to Radiology by a very nice man named Mark who snapped some risque pics of my naked ankle. When we got back to the ER I inquired once again about the pain meds. It had now been about 2.5 hours since the incident and my ankle was throbbing in a most fun way and had blown up to about 3 times its normal size.

Finally Nurse Ratchet dispensed 800 mg of Motrin, which I hungrily downed. I saw the harried ER doc shortly thereafter. He was 95% sure my ankle was just sprained and not fractured but I won't find out until tomorrow for sure. The radiologist had already left for the day (this is a very small hospital).

They gave me an "air cast" and tried to sell me some crutches. I had my first lucid moment of the afternoon when I remembered that my sister had broken her foot not too long ago and surely had a pair of crutches I could borrow. I probably saved about $700 with that thought. I was dismissed (released, liberated, whatever) and the nice lady who took a sizable wad of cash from me wheeled me out to my car for the trek home. Geez, it's a good thing I didn't injure my right foot or I'd be hold up in a Galesburg motel for the next few days.

Well, so much for my dancing career.