Bring on the Music

Gentle Reader, I’m pretty excited about this one:

Ok so couple months ago, we’re in class, we’re just starting the barre, and right in the middle of the second plié we hear that terrible sad sound that we all remember from high school (I mean, except for my classmates who are currently in high school, they don’t know nothin ’bout no cassette tapes) we hear that terrible sad sound of a too-often-played tape being eaten by the tape player.
Smirnoff is hitting the stop button, freaking out a little, pulls the tape out…in two pieces.
This is bad.
This is the music we use Every. Single. Barre.
It’s a recording that one of the girls made, like, fifteen years ago to practice with in hotel rooms, it’s just a straight recording of Smirnoff’s class, complete with tinny piano, recorded-in-a-cave level audio quality, and Smirnoff, giving instructions and making pirouette sound effects. So, like, there’s Smirnoff on the tape telling us, “Pirouettes! Here we go!” And then there’s Smirnoff in RL talking over Past Smirnoff on the tape, saying, “and now ladies, pirouettes!”
Which is kind of surreal and awesome, but now the tape is cold-busted, and the thing is that, like, the really sad thing is that for the past forever or so until right before I found his class, his mother played piano for all his classes. So, like, the entire time I’ve been taking his class he’s been not just mourning his ma, he’s also been trying his best to understand this whole new-fanged world of modern audio equipment.
Poor old dude.
So, like, someone managed to get the cassette taped together again. So there’s a skip in the plié now. And there are the commercial CDs of classical piano music for center and all, and Smirnoff is all lamenting that if only he had a reel-to-reel player. He’s got all these old tapes of his mother playing for class, but no way to actually play them for class.
But the thing is, the Adult Beginner has really awesome friends.
So I corner an awesome friend, The Lazy Genius, at a cocktail party and I’m all, “hey, um, do you ever use reel-to-reel players at work? See, ’cause, my super-elderly ballet teacher has all these tapes of his mother playing piano in like the ’70’s? but he doesn’t have a player and he’s got no way to play them and at this point he’s not even sure if they’re good anymore or what all is on them and they’re really old and he’s really old and do you think you might be able to convert them it would be a huge favor and I’ll sew anything you want in exchange-
And he basically interrupted me with, “Shut up talking already and bring me this challenge!!!”
So Smirnoff brought me a big ol shopping bag of tapes, Lazy Genius did his thang, handed off a whole mess of digital files to Mr. Adult Beginner, who started tackling the giant pile of music and trying to break it down into related segments.
I was no help as I was completely convinced that I’d be able to hear the music and know what exercise it was for, like I could be all, ‘(listenlisten) ah, yes, these are the eschappés.’
I was Totally Wrong!!!! At best I could hear, like, ‘oh, that’s the intro!’
So, the digital files get numbers instead of names, and then there the question of how to give the music to the old man in a format he can handle? Compact Discs he understands, but they involve way to much fussing around and looking down at the boom box, aka away from the class, which is not good for anyone, so Mr. Adult Beginner suggests we get an iPod and have it engraved with something like, “Against All Probability, this iPod is Property of Smirnoff. Please Return to Adult Beginner for Maintenance.”
I love my man.
Anyway, last week I sit down after class with Smirnoff, and explain to him, “all of the music that Awesome Friend was able to retrieve is on this iPod. Also my husband threw on some Liszt. Here’s the cord that connects your iPod to your boombox, ok? I think this’ll be good, right? Because you can hold it in your hand and still see the class, right? And we can put more music on it, whatever you want, ok? Take it home and see if you can turn it on!”
Classmate sitting nearby says, “omg this is amazing. But you’re going to have to show him how, he’s never touched an apple product in he entire life,” and Lé Assistant jumps in with, “He ate an apple today!”
And Smirnoff is thrilled. Called me the next day and told me he’d barely slept last night he was so excited about the music.
But hadn’t turned it on yet.
But did read the manual cover to cover!
So I encouraged him to try and turn it on, reassured him that he won’t mess it up, and promised to meet with him and talk him through.
Which’ll probably happen tonight after class.
Mr. Adult Beginner even offered to come help. Did I mention how I love my man?
So, Gentle Reader! Will Smirnoff figure out this newfangled music box? (I mean on the one hand he’s a smart guy and three-year olds can figure out iPods. But on the other hand he’s really old.)
We’ll see!

About adultbeginner

Had my first ballet class Ever at the advanced age of thirty-two. Yikes.
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34 Responses to Bring on the Music

  1. Libby says:

    That is so awesome :) As are Mr Adult Beginner and Awesome Friend, how generous of them both. I think I just melted a bit inside thinking of how happy that old man is going to be once he gets used to that newfangled technology.

  2. That was so nice of you all! Hope he figures it out. It must man an awful lot to him.

  3. That’s so great! It’s so adorable to imagine him all excited and nervous about the iPod. Looking forward to Chapter 2 of this story!!

  4. Annie To says:

    Sweetest story ever! Plus I love old ppl and tech :D

  5. bri says:

    awwww. I bet I would love your teacher. but is he really THAT old? I’m imagining a man like Eli Wallach here…

    • Well, don’t know exactly how old he is, but he did tell me once that there was this one time when he was working in a studio and he bought a record player for the studio and it was the first one they’d ever had and people would stop by during class to check it out.
      So, probably born approximately 1850?

  6. LOL …. At every stage I was thinking “oh but you can repair cassette tapes in five minutes…” …. “oh but there are always people who can transfer from reel to reel…” ….. and then I keep reading and you manage each one :)

    OK so now I’m thinking is ipod backed up on someone’s ‘puter in case the ipod dies? Have you briefed him on charging (and not pulling lead out before ejecting the drive)? I’m sure you got it all covered though.

    BTW if anyone ever needs FOC semi-pro audio services (I guess that means better than noob, worse than pro!) by fellow AB with modest music studio setup just drop me an email or a comment in ‘about’ which I am more likely to see. Stuff like: audio restoration (hiss removal etc), edits (for class, recital etc), speed changes (tempo but not pitch) or even MIDI recorded to a decent sample based piano (for class, recital etc) and so on … As long as files can be transferred digitally back and forth I’m happy to (try) and help – within reason of course ;)

    Nothing worse than a ballet class without music. (Actually, this did happen once and I really enjoyed it, but on a regular basis it would soon become a bit depressing…).

  7. Polly says:

    This is the cutest story ever. I’m eagerly awaiting part 2.

  8. lalatina says:

    You are officialy Awesome!!! This is one of the best ballet stories I’ve ever read, it’s sooo nice of you! I hope he figures it out! You’re like… opening a whole new world for this old man! Amazing, best post ever!

  9. Black Sheep says:

    This story is freakin’ adorbs. I found myself smiling the entire time reading it – and how cool is it that you now have digital recordings of Smirnoff’s mother! Can’t wait to hear how this plays out (no pun intended). Love your blog.

  10. Andre says:

    How in Petipa’s name did you make a story about an old man and an iPod so compelling? This is like Up 2.

  11. Emily says:

    This story makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside :)

  12. Hannah says:

    YAY! This is awesome. I’m so happy for Smirnoff and I really hope he learns to use his newfangled machine. : )

  13. Nellie says:

    Ohhhhhh, that’s so awesome! I have the fuzzies :)

  14. jen says:

    Oh- you have no idea how you’ve just brightened my whole day with this story. I mean, really- it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you and your man and your friends for being so kind. I am sure with your help he will figure this out and the joy he will feel is beautiful. Thank goodness there are people like you in the world! You’re awesome!

  15. Sarah says:

    how is that story so poignant??? love Smirnoff. thank you! you are the best!

  16. mladen says:

    madam b, you bring the fuzziest warmth in a gloomy snowy day, you do

  17. Maria says:

    I think you might have just restored my faith in humanity. I’m e-mailing everyone I know the link to this post, to share your amazingness with the world!

  18. DanceInTheLab says:

    Right, that’s fantabulous!!! xx

  19. YogiDancer says:

    I love this story!! I teared up a little at the thought of ol’ Smirnoff’s excitement and his reading the iPod manual. May he go on teaching another hundred years.

  20. Loved that you did this for good ol’ Smirnoff! Such a heartfelt gesture from all of you!

  21. That’s so adorably cute! I love this :)

  22. roriroars says:

    Wow, I got all verklempt reading this. You and Mr. AB and Awesome Friend are just the best. What an amazing gift for Smirnoff! Excuse me, I have to go find some tissues now…

  23. You guys, it’s so totally amazing to think that, like, people all over the world are rooting for this old man and his iPod.
    Thank you for caring!!!
    It also makes me think about the reasons we do nice things for others. I mean, my motivations here were almost equally selfish and altruistic: less fussing with the music will directly benefit me by making the class more focused, but on the other hand this teacher and this class have given me so much that I want to give him something back, and, like, it’s not gonna be clean quintuple pirouettes any time soon, so, like, help with the music it is.
    Mr. Adult Beginner’s motivations tip more toward the altruistic side, although he does benefit in that the class makes me happy and a happy wife is a good thing to have around, amiright?
    And the Lazy Genius? Who knows why he helped with this? Maybe for the pleasure of taking something broken and making it functional again? Maybe his motives were the pure-est here?
    Anyway, I’m really really pleased that you guys care, and now here’s a challenge:
    I encourage you to do something nice for someone who means a lot to you, maybe someone who thinks they’re just doing their job but has really given you something important in your life.
    Gentle Reader, you are awesome.

  24. Chwenny says:

    Gawd! I successfully held it together reading that post, even made it right through all those comments, then I read your kindness challenge and now I’m positively snivelling in the office like an idiot! LoL! I heart!!

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  27. bronwensw says:

    This post is so beautiful, it makes me so happy that Smirnoff exists in the world and that you did this for him. :) I’m so glad you blog your ballet adventures.

  28. THIS IS SO LOVELY UGH YAY I’m so happy for Smirny

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