Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Staying for Lunch

Guus and Hilde in duet
Hilde invited me to stay for lunch, and then for a concert, and then for a ride to Brussels train station, proving that good things can come in threes.

In retrospect I may have invited myself by arranging a lesson with her son Guus for 11:00, as if lunch were not part of the daily routine in Belgium.

Ah, those presumptuous bumbling Americans. But Hilde made me feel perfectly welcome and we had a delightful time. Ah, those gracious Continentals with manners as smooth as a silky Bearnaise, who can step up to the lunch plate and hit a home run with so little visible effort -- to mix several metaphors.

Brussels harp until the Lennik bus.
Guus declared himself pleased to hear my progress on Music Mazurka. He then helped me see that my timing and articulation were off the mark; though sometimes, in a blind pig moment, I was managing to find the right note at the right time. I felt humbled that my dozen or so hours working on this tune's first sixteen measures produced such modest results. But I was inordinately encouraged by his comment.

He helpfully pointed out that I was tapping my foot for a waltz but trying to play a mazurka. My left ankle is my metronome and I had set it to a steady oom, pa, pa. While he played Music Mazurka, he and I tapped out the tune's pulse of two beats separated by a pause. I found it to be rather like the lub-dub of a slowly beating heart. He played a faster mazurka, switching from what my friend Anja terms the smoochy romantic type to the traditional bouncy type, and it became more like a marathon's heart. Same pattern but with a galloping rhythm. It sounds easy but convincing my ankle-metronome to mazurka as I play will take some doing.

After the lesson, we sat in the garden to an informal spread of fruit, sandwich makings, and drinks, chatting in English. My hosts occasionally held a side conference in Dutch (or perhaps Flemish) to work out the translation of a difficult word or concept. The Trappist beer I quaffed was excellent and I relaxed into contented realization that cruising really is about the people. Sightseeing and experiencing places like Ghent are merely the context of this summer. Luncheon moments like this are really why I ventured into these waters.

For dessert Hilde and a friend, Bernard, each played tunes, with Guus vamping the accompaniment or playing counterpoint. Hilde and Bernard both started diato recently and occasionally fumbled, as do I. But they both played with a style and rhythm that I hope to emulate. (Since then Anja commented that Hilde took up the accordion about three weeks prior to our lunch and had attended Pascale Rubens' workshop the previous week.) Aye yi yi, I am immeasurably impressed by Hilde's progress. We do share Guus as a tutor but her music gene must be dominant whereas mine feels recessive..

As an encore -- I really did my role as audience to the fullest and gave Hilde and Bermard a standing ovation -- Guus broke out of the supporting role and launched a pulsing Scottish that simply begged for participation. Hilde and Bernard danced barefoot in the grass.

By the end of summer I hope to be on the dance floor myself. That seems a possibility as Leen Devyver, a well-known balfolk dance instructor, is willing to give Anita and me a mazurka lesson. Plus, I will attend many Boombal Dansinitiatie next week during Gentse Feesten.

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