The Minas Gerais Philharmonic season opened mid-February by featuring a complex symphonic poem by Franz Liszt and after the intermission, Gustav Mahler’s dramatic Fifth Symphony. It was great, but then we expect greatness from Fabio Mechetti, our world-renowned conductor. But what some of us might not expect is that not only is an excellent conductor like ours skilled at bringing music to life, he is also a model of fitness. Conductor Mechetti is a particularly good model in this sense. While the audience and most of the orchestra were seated, he exhibited a symphony of movements that were an example of energy, fitness and perfect posture.
For those of us who snacked on something starchy like a mini-pie or a cheese bread before the concert, I suggest you do a conductor’s workout as soon as you get home, before the gluten and the calories lodge in your body and while the music is still fresh in your memory.
Here’s how you can do it:
First of all, you need to improvise a rostrum.
Remember to keep your back perfectly erect at all times unless you are executing a bend.
To begin, flex your fingers – you’re going to give them a real workout.
Arch your favorite arm and keep it tense; look very confident.
Point your index finger, pretending it is a conductor’s baton.
Stand on tiptoe, remembering your perfect posture.
Open both arms wide, bending your elbows slightly.
Flick both of your wrists to begin the mental music.
Wave your arms to increase the volume of the music in your head.
Twirl your wrists to step up the beat in your head.
Bend forward, bringing the music in your head to life.
Bend backward, and feel the music in your soul.
Shake your head, communicating with your imaginary orchestra.
Stretch your arms out again, and turn your palms down to soften the music.
Lower your arms slightly.
Crouch slowly to decrease the beat.
Point your pinky at an instrument that isn’t used much.
Stretch your neck as high as you can. Swing both arms vigorously.
Swivel your waist in the direction of your favorite instrument.
Hunch your shoulders to soften the music.
Sway your body in time to the music in your head, keeping your eyes almost closed.
Take 6 small jumps, very lightly.
Step up the tempo in your mind, and bob your head accordingly.
Lean back keeping your back aligned.
Lean forward keeping your back aligned.
Spread both arms out and slowly return to a perfect upright position.
Slowly rotate your wrist to check your watch to make sure you have been repeating this workout for at least an hour.
If you have, slowly, precisely, return your arms to the sides of your body.
Without falling off your improvised rostrum, take a deep bow.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.