Sunday, June 14, 2009
I went to Lyon this past week to play some music for the best audience I have had since arriving in France. Children ages 3 to 6. The thing I love about young kids is that they don't lie and they expect to be thoroughly entertained. You can't bring your B game. If they don't like what you're doing, they make a face and put their hands over their ears and tell you to stop playing mid song. If they like it, they stand up and squeal with delight and clap their hands. It's like the Gong Show. I love it.
I went as part of a program called Have A Good Night, a really wonderful artistic endeavour set up by Jerome from Blog Up Musique. He puts together a compilation CD each year available for free download. It consists of lullabies for children from 20 or so indie bands from around the globe. The result is a really beautiful CD that I was lucky to be part of this year. As part of the program, some participating artists were asked to come to Lyon and do a day of concerts for children at a local elementary school. um....YES!
I received instructions to meet at the train station to take a 6AM train to Lyon. Ouch. The night before, my usual nerves kicked in as I realized I would be traveling alone for an entire day conducted in French. Sigh. As my confidence level in my French has been in the toilet as of late, I barely slept thinking of all the ways I could go down in flames. I double sighed as my alarm went off at 4:45AM and got up thinking, "well, here we go again.....walk it off Boulé, walk it off."
I carried my 90 pound accordion to the station and found my seat. I met the other three musicians: Isabelle and David from Pollyanna and Minnie from eliote & the ritournelles. They were super cool and after my usual language panic bitch slap (which, at 6AM is even more pronounced), I settled into another day of grasping at conversation. Here I am grasping in my sleep....
We arrived to a warm welcome and the day got easier as I ingested more and more coffee. The first group arrived and I swallowed hard, hoping I would remember the words to the French song I wrote the day before which consisted of little more than "what sound does a tiger make? uh....how about a rabbit? a dinosaur?" When in doubt, kids just want to make noise......
After our concerts, we were ushered to the cafeteria to eat lunch amongst the children. I was AMAZED at the difference in school lunches between the US and France. I expected a lunch line with unruly kids and meal of fried tater tots, greasy taylor ham on Wonder bread, cake and jello but instead we were served a proper three course meal by some super friendly lunch ladies. OK, I grew up on pizza thrown to you on a styrofoam plate by angry lunch ladies to be eaten in a deafeningly loud cafeteria. But THIS, this just seemed so....I don't know...civilized. Fresh salad and fresh melon followed by a meat and potato casserole. Then topped off with more fresh fruit and cheese. Children sitting quietly at tables for an entire meal......HUH?
After the last concert, we walked around Lyon for a bit and sat at a café for a beer. I smiled when I saw that hipsters are in fact, everywhere.....
Thank you musicians, Jerome and especially les enfants de Lyon for a really beautiful day and for sending my confidence level back up. I really really needed that.