In The Netherlands, it is pretty common for people to send their kids to the school which is down the street. The way that schools are funded is pretty equitable and there isn't this weird private/public school divide that plagues some other countries with the ensuing divide in educational access that it creates.
That said, no system is perfect and despite the fact that most of the schools are well funded, there is still an incentive for resources and quality teachers to start to gravitate towards the wealthier areas due to the fact that they will be attracting students from the local area which tend to be wealthier and have less extra-curricular "problems". So, like any system... without intervention, there will be a long-term motion to equilibrium that is likely to be an unintended consequence of the initial good intentions.
So, we managed to land our children in a good school in a wealthy neighbourhood but we sure as hell can't afford to live in this area! Which means we live a decent drive away from the school... which always attracts quite some surprise from the other parents at the school, as they consider that the time lost in travel is too big of a loss over the week/month/year. However, for us... we consider that this is the sacrifice that we make to ensure our kids get a good start to try and break out of our little part of the social/economic equilibrium. Plus, in Australia a 25 minute drive to school wouldn't be terrible or unheard of!
Long story short... most the friends of our children live in close proximity to the school, which means that play dates and parties are a bit of a trek out for us. There is nothing more annoying than arriving to a school pick-up only to find that the kids have arranged for a play-date afterschool... which means that I hang around in a cafe killing time until the pickup time. I could always say no I guess (and sometimes I do, if it really isn't possible to combine with our work schedule), but it is nice to have the kids play together with their friends... and I can always do something to kill the time.
Anyway... the point is coming soon! Today, there is a birthday party... and for certain reasons (I won't go into them...), it is a two hour birthday party! Which means that it really isn't worth my time to drive back home and then back out again just for that. So, I will be sitting in the car writing this post... and then getting to work on realising my wife's music creation!
Normally, at the end of the academic year (and the end of the calendar year), my wife will host a concert for her students. It is a chance for the students to show off their work for that half year, for the parents to be inordinately proud (and get bored and fall asleep when other people's kids are playing...)... and then pig out on all the snacks that all the families bring for the little feast afterwards.
However, Coronavirus has put paid to that idea for this year... with most of the expat families in Den Haag being more cautious than the regular population. So, no concerts and no gatherings... and definitely no sharing of food!
So, my wife came up with the idea of having all the students sending in recordings of their works, which would then be stitched together into a concert. The pieces would be interspersed between an actor (her brother) reading the book "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr Suess.
Of course, this meant that someone had to do the editing of the sound files and the stitching... and then little bit of video work required to have the pages show whilst the music was playing. My dear wife said that she would do it if I would just teach her how to do it... but I know what that means... I would show her, and then be subjected to repeated questions and repeat tutorials until I went nuts!... plus, the frustration from her side of things would likely lead to several computers being thrown out the window... something that we can't really afford to do at the moment!
I said that I would do the computer part of it, if she was clear on the order of the pieces and could just have all the files ready to go on DropBox so I could easily access it. Yesterday, I started looking at it after she managed to badger all the students to send in their recordings (over the last few weeks!). Well... the first problem was that she DID rename all the files... but she had wrote over the file extension names that tell the computer what type of file it is and how to open them.
Sigh... so, they were all renamed... but all of them were renamed with .mp3... even if they weren't, which VLC didn't have a problem with, but Audacity definitely DID! So, a quick retreat back to the originals to see what the files ACTUALLY were!
So, all the files are now of the correct file extensions... and I have a written running sheet (which I wish had a different numbering system...). A quick renaming of the sound files on my part to include the running order and I'm ready to start on the project... I should be able to have a rough stitch together by the time the party is finished! I am thankful that I have a decent laptop (XPS15) to do this on, this would be a pain in the arse on something less decent....
The main speech track and 4 music tracks down... about 20 more to go. Of course, there is quite a bit of cleaning up of the original music tracks to do... the parents and kids who sent in the recordings aren't really familiar with doing this, so they have pretty noisy starts and ends... instead of the silence for about 5 seconds that most professional musicians are trained to do!
Now, hopefully no one thinks that it is odd that there is someone sitting in the car with a laptop and a bunch of electronics in a wealthy area and calls the police on me! I'm not war-driving after all... although, maybe that could be the thing to pass the time next time!
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