Thursday, April 7, 2016

Home Economics and Music

Kateika to ongaku

Year of Requirement Part 5 

Another strange thing was that only girls took Home Ec, and it was required. Boys took shop, and it was required. (In Suburbia, we all took Home Ec together, and it was an elective.) We sewed pajamas from a commercial pattern. I’d taken sewing in Suburbia Junior High, plus I always liked it (my sewing didn’t really take off until my Girls’ HS education and my college years when I was strapped for money because I was paying crew club dues and couldn’t buy cute clothes like my friends, so my mom and I sewed our own designer label knockoffs for me to wear). It was common knowledge that many of the girls had their moms do the actual sewing. I managed to do most of the work myself. I messed up and stitched my right sleeve to the left side and vice versa. I noticed it before I turned it in for grading, so I ripped everything out and stitched it back together correctly, but that set me back. The teacher was grading mostly on how fast we completed the work, so I got a “3” that trimester, which brought down my GPA. More on the problem with GPAs later.

We also learned how to cook. We split up into groups, and everyone bought something and brought it to school. My cooking group always had the right amount of the right ingredients and everything was reasonably fair and no one forgot anything and everything was paid for to the last yen, but you can easily see how this might have turned into a vehicle for bullying--you could pressure a weak, timid victim into doing all of the shopping and “forget” to pay for everything afterward, then pretend that you got sick and accuse the poor victim of being the cause. I don’t think they do things that way anymore. I’ll let you know when the Pumpkin Princess starts Home Ec (It’s co-ed up to HS now, btw).

When I went to high school in Suburbia, I didn’t take any music classes. In retrospect, perhaps I should have. In my new school, music was required. The whole class sang stuff in four-part harmony, and were pretty good. I don’t think I would have been able to keep up if I hadn’t been in choir during junior high in Suburbia. We had an intramural choir competition in fall where we performed our songs in a concert hall with the teachers as judges. I kept thinking how awful it would be if the student accompanist messed up, but she didn’t, and our class won.

We also played recorders. Everyone could (supposedly) play both alto and soprano recorders. I took piano lessons in Suburbia so I could read music and it didn’t take me too long to figure out both kinds of recorders. We partnered up and played a recorder duet arrangement of Vivaldi’s Winter, and were tested on it. It didn’t hit me until after we’d been tested and passed with flying colors that my partner, who’d been in the Japanese school system for 8+ years, should have been the one playing the more difficult alto recorder.

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