Giuseppe Verdi

This post is a big departure from the normal things on my blog but I do have license to write about whatever I want!

One of the places we pass on a particular dog walk route is the Verdi Club in Amherstburg.  Like so many clubs that you’ll find, it’s a very popular place for wedding receptions, all of my kids had their graduation there, and there’s a wonderful restaurant open to the public where we’ve been known to drop in to enjoy a night out.

Recently, a big banner has been on display announcing the recognition of Giuseppe Verdi‘s 200th birthday.

Now, I’m not a frequent visitor to the opera but there is an odd connection to me and to education!  Yes, I did accompany a fellow teacher as a chaperone on a field trip to Toronto where we did attend an opera.  But there’s another connection.

In my first year of teaching, one of the English teachers at my school happened to be patrolling the hallways after dismissal and before the buses left.  He stuck his head into my classroom (the door was always open) where I was at my desk marking and I had my portable stereo tuned to the local rock station and I was doing my thing.

I’ll still remember the conversation.

“How can you mark with that stuff on?”

My new found mentor then invited me down to his classroom to see how marking should be done.

I had not mastered the fine art of marking yet.  I never thought of it as an art; it was more of a marathon for me.

Maybe this guy has the key.  What could I lose?

I dropped down to his classroom at day end a couple of days later and, sure enough, he had music on his portable stereo.  I stuck my head in the door and saw the trick to marking.  He had opera playing on the machine and, with both hands, he was directing!  Clearing my throat to let him know I was there, I was in for a lesson.  Apparently, there was an art to holding your red pen like a conductor.  I’ll never forget what was playing – it was “La Traviata” by Verdi.

After that, I did listen to more classical music while marking but I’ll admit, I was never quite a complete convert.

But, as a tribute to that moment, and to celebrate Verdi’s birthday, I present “La Traviata”.

Looking for more?  There’s lots more on YouTube.

The Seattle Times recommends 10 recordings to listen to in honour of Verdi’s birthday.

On Twitter, look for the hashtag #Verdi200

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