Well, my plan was "do laundry Saturday, it can be put off one more day." But then last night, choir practice was started off with, "If anyone's interested, there's a master class in Nantes tomorrow with a famous English choir director, and we'll carpool if you're interested in coming." Well, of course I was interesting in coming!
Today five of us (me wearing my last clean shirt, of course) set off for Nantes, which is about an hour's drive away. The drive is really pretty, especially since everything's in bloom now. But I was absolutely shocked by how expensive it is to drive in France. Not only is gas more expensive (I converted the 1.35 Euros per liter to $2.16 per liter, which is about $7.50 a gallon!) but the toll was 7.60 Euros! That's more than ten dollars each way. Ridiculous. As we were chatting about driving laws and prices and such, Anne Emmanuelle told me that her drivers' ed is costing about a thousand Euros. $1,600 for drivers' ed?!? That seems crazy to me. But they don't have a "wait until you're 18 and learn from Mom option" like we do in the States. We also shared blonde/Belgian/Russian jokes, which was fun. Do you know why Belgians (apparently) bend over constantly when they do their shopping? They're looking for low prices.
The master class was really fun. The director's name is Ralph Allwood, and he's the director of music at Eton College. He spoke mostly in English, with interpretation when necessary. He spoke about the history of English choral music and composers, and to illustrate it he worked with us on a handful of pieces. The people from our choir sang as well as everyone else, which is good. Especially since they'd practiced the music before and we were sight-reading!
What I the linguist found most interesting though (since the music was a bit below my level) was when he said the word "quaver" in passing, referring to an eighth note. I went up to him afterwards and asked what all the notes were called, since I'd never head this set of names. Here is a note-name guide, in American English, British English (with pronunciation when I think it's necessary), and French (with (pretty much) literal translation):
whole note---breve (breeeve)---ronde (round)
half note---minim---blanche (white)
quarter note---crotchet (crotch-et)---noir (black)
eighth note---quaver---croche (hooked)
sixteenth note---demi-quaver---double croche (double hooked)
Isn't that neat?? He thinks that the American system makes a lot more sense, and I agree. But what fun Scrabble words those are!
In other news, it's going to be impossible for me to write my paper in a mere 500 words. I'm going to try to keep it under 1000 though! However, about 50% of the words in written French are function words (helping verbs, pronouns, and so on) so in a way, I'll be right on target.