Music to my ears

I was dropping the kids off today for their last day of school before Christmas break (edible gifts in hand!) thinking I’d get a few things done before I had to pick them up again for lunch. I started talking with a few of the mums outside the school for a bit of practice and it always starts with ‘Ciao! Come va?’ ‘bene, tutto bene….e tu?’ and for these short seconds I feel one of the gang. If they tell me how cold it is I can come back we ‘Sì,sì, molto freddo’. I consider this a conversation and so do they because the look of wonder on the Italian parents’ faces tells me I have come a long way. It’s just when we break into a real conversation that my act falls apart and I revert to crappy Italian, and (by all accounts) crappy broken English! I am seriously wondering what language I really can speak!

There is a lovely mum at school who always talks Italian to me and takes me as far as I can go before we revert to English so I can actually say something that has meaning and body instead of polite greetings. As we were talking she asked me (in Italian first) if I was coming back for the music concert. I had a blank look on my face and asked her in English if she had in fact just asked me what I thought she did and when she said, ‘brava, sì,’ I told her I had not heard about any concert. Hmmmm…

I got the details and I came back to school at 9.30am with all the other parents (there were a lot of them!) and waited for the doors to open and then the concert to begin all the while wandering why Max hadn’t told us about this. As we filed into the music room I spotted Max looking a bit blah and then he spotted me and looked totally dumbfounded! A big smile came on his face as he mouthed the words ‘What are you doing here???’ To this I merely raised my eyebrows and mouthed back ‘I do talk to people you know!’ He laughed.

The music programme is very different to ours back home. Max plays the trumpet in Sydney. To do this he had to join the school band, have a least 4 lessons a week and be serious about the instrument, especially since the price of letting your kid play an instrument in Sydney is about the same you would pay for a second-hand car!


At our school in Italy everyone gets a chance to play an instrument. One group plays the violin while the other learns to play the guitar. They have one lesson a week for one hour and then they put on a small concert for us parents. In my opinion I think they all did a fantastic job with so little hands-on practice with the instruments and I also love the fact that everyone gets to have a go, not just those who can afford it.


Brava classe 5! You did a wonderful job, although I was worried Max was starting to put himself to sleep while he played the guitar.

As we shuffled out of the concert room at the end, Max was waiting for me and gave me a big hug (in front of his mates!! WOW). From that I know he was happy to see me. When I asked him why he didn’t tell us about the concert he looked at me and said

‘I didn’t know we were even doing a concert!’

We still have a lot to learn with the Italian language but we have come a long way. Even though I might not be as fast as the kids at learning, somehow I seem to get to all the important bits so I think I’ll keep cruising along at my own pace. Something seems to be working!

16 thoughts on “Music to my ears

  1. That’s fantastic and what a great program. We all had the opportunity to learn any instrument we wanted at school if you remember Mil, Darwin had a very good music program we were lucky. Love to hear Max on the guitar, did you record any of it?

  2. That is awesome! I sure wish schools back home offered this, unfortunately music and other arts are not found in most schools anymore (unless they are private schools or special programs). Great pictures.

  3. To me it sounds like you are picking up Italian really well! It’s not about how correct you speak, it’s about connecting 🙂 I’m really impressed by the hug. How nice to have a concert for parents!

  4. Max made me laugh out loud. Daughter never knows whats going on at school either! We have had days when school was cancelled but Daughter and I are up at 5.30 getting ready and wondering why the servis does not arrive. Yesterday she missed out on an excursion (was delivered home by the servis at 11). She had no clue about it – was very put out!

  5. That sounds EXACTLY like my Max’s first Italian nursery concert. I had no idea till a mum told me. He was three and a half and had no idea as his Italian was poor and when he came into the hall all he kept saying when he saw me “what is happening mummy? What are we all doing here? Take me home mummy”
    Language and communication are huge. I feel so sorry for him looking back.
    Then again… It’s great life skills.
    Happy Christmas xxx

  6. Lovely story and oh how familiar. I have totally misunderstood a conversation a thousand times. When you hear someone call ‘signora’ and you turn and listen intently, then respond in your best Italian, only to realise after a lot of frowning in your direction, that the person was not speaking to you at all, but the ‘signora’ behind you!
    Auguri xx

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