Monthly Archives: April 2011

A priceless gift

One of the classes involved in my program last week gifted me with a beautiful compilation book. Each person in the class journaled about their performance, corrected the spelling, drew and colored pictures and contributed a sentence about music’s value. The book was laminated, covered, and bound.

This is my first permanent teaching memento. Some people have to wait for the little tenure plaques (10 years of service!)…but I got this. The students were SO proud to tell me that I didn’t even get the copies–I got the only originals.

I have a feeling a book like this might get me through some of the tough days ahead (not necessarily this year; in general), and for that I am ever so grateful.

On my way to the bank this afternoon I heard a familiar piece on NPR and pegged it for one I’d played, though I was pretty sure I’d played a band transcription. After a few strains another movement started and the unmistakable “Nimrod” variation of Elgar’s Enigma Variations filled the car. I’d heard some Elgar earlier this week at school because Iowa Public Radio is promoting a Des Moines Symphony concert (that I’d love to go to, but will not go by myself) featuring the Enigma variations. It was beautiful. Ten years from now, if I have life left to live and the ability, I don’t want to be 10 years removed from gorgeous, high quality music, but more heavily involved than now. I believe in the quality of folk music and the rep we use for general music in our district, but it’s a different experience for a musician than playing a classic work. I need that again for the richness it offers.

I need to make a plan for this weekend, or I’ll be b-o-r-e-d. That shouldn’t be possible; as an adult there are always some house keeping chores or work to be done. Alas. I’ll get through it and make the most of it somehow.

Peace to you,

Treasure in Jars of Clay

I believe Jars of Clay was the first Christian band to catch my attention. My sister got their “If I Left the Zoo” album in 7th or 8th grade because we’d heard a song by them (on their original album, oops) at confirmation…and then another one at a girl’s sleep over at our youth director’s house. I vividly remember wanting to listen to them in order to like them in order to say I liked Christian music because I was largely unfamiliar with anything besides a couple songs we had done at VBS that were on the campy side (and tragically less cool because accompanied by tapes).

I insist that “If I Left the Zoo” remains in my top 5 most listenable albums. Usually it’s in the top 1 or 2…occasionally it drops if I’ve leaned too heavily on that statistic and worn out my ears. I heard someone describe Temper Track Trap as a go-to in the car. Well, “IILtZ” is too (coincidentally if it’s not NPR these days, it’s been Temper Track Trap, tracks 1, 2, 5, and 6 especially).

In an effort to stay current with my favorite band, I’ve been pretty keen on their releases. I think the only album since the Zoo that I haven’t bought was Redemption Songs, which K had bought. Boy was I surprised to see another album had been released in October of this year; the last one they released was in 2009, and before that 2006. It came up on Pandora, of all things. Am I out of the loop, or what? I’ll let you know how “The Shelter” stands up to their prior discography, if you’re interested.

I got a lot done at work today. 26 days with students remain. Are you kidding me? It’s going to be tight to push everything in before the end, especially with end-of-the-year interruptions…but we’ll make it. I’m hitting an upswing of anticipation for next year. I came to realize today that my position in an elementary school perfectly suits my creative style. I am not claiming to be artistic (besides musical), but I like making projects and take some pride in good products in the process. I made a banner for my last program that was an object of beauty (until it fell off the wall, it was displayed proudly in the hall…stupid masking tape), I’m making beautiful rhythm cards with construction paper (called tactile rhythm cards), a colorful and color-coordinated word-wall, posters, decorations, posters, worksheets. Elementary music teaching is the EPITOME of creative license for music teachers. At least material-wise. Have to say it would be pretty awesome to work with instrumentalists who could already read notes and rhythms…but for now I can embrace my audience and my outlet for paperstuff.

It looks as though it might rain; this is not ideal for the run I was planning to take…maybe I’ll skip it. I did ride my bike to and from work for the professional development portion of the day. The ride isn’t tough (a pretty straight 2-mile shot both ways), but the traffic is. For some reason, I don’t trust teenage drivers (wonder why) and the streets are full of them. That and young pedestrians who run into the street without looking…pedestrians whose names I know, and whom I’ll be chatting with at school tomorrow ;).

Have a restful Wednesday,


Two ways to play

I recently started an orchestra unit that introduced the string family with a homemade worksheet that goes along with a section in our text book. One class had time to use the text book to search for the answers, the other class followed along with a discussion-style. That class heard the answers and saw them written on the board. I told them spelling counted.

While going through the worksheets, I noticed in the questions regarding two ways to play string instruments, they had written “puking” and “[to]bow”. I chuckled, the bow/bow antonym complementing the puking part.

In the following question, students had to distinguish between the Italian versions of these ways to play. For Arco, the student’s answer was “to bow” and for pizzicato…”to puke”.

Is it odd that I was proud of the student to remember to drop the “e” before “ing”? I might make a copy (too bad I corrected the spelling already or it’d be a priceless piece of art) for my someday teacher-memory-book.

I am wasting the most gorgeous day of all time at the moment. I have felt kind of crummy all day, and though sitting on the couch isn’t helping me feel better or enjoy the day, it’s all I’ve had the energy for. I think, as disappointing as it is when a run or rollerblades or a bike are at my higher preference, I will settle for a walk after dinner. I would walk before dinner, but I’m hoping for an energy boost first.

I was practicing Fur Elise on piano (starting a Beethoven unit for a grade) when my next class came in. One of the students NAILED the composer right away. Oh, that’s Beethoven. I wasn’t expecting it out of this student, or any of them, as they are on the younger end, but evidently the student listens to it on iTunes all the time. Are you kidding me? Way to go, padres. Learning about Beethoven’s life…that has been interesting. I am remembering that portion of music history a bit more. He had a sad life…imagine going deaf in your late 20s as an employed musician and composer. It only added to his poor manners and temper.

My roommate used to say: Who are manners for? Everybody else. I miss that gal! It’s a lesson perhaps I can incorporate into the Beethoven unit :).

Time for a meal, sunshine, and a bit of work followed by the Biggest Loser (and probably some dessert…heh!). Have a great night!

fresh air

Looking back on the weekend, it really redeemed itself. I think in my alone time, much of that spent outside and occupied with enjoying some downtime, I was able to process some things. Do I have answers? Nah. But my heart is more at rest as I have presented these things to the Lord and talked through them a bit with Him.

I cannot describe to you the quality of the air. Both days of the weekend were hot and humid. This afternoon it got to 78 in my apartment, and though my neighbors definitely resorted to the a/c (weenies…it’s April!), I toughed it out until about 4:30 or 5 when I realized the temp had dropped to a delightful, breezy cool temp. The windows have been reopened and my apartment is fresh. Add to that some air drying laundry I have around on chairs and towel racks and it’s heavenly. Especially because I am using a new fabric softener that smells great. That’s the key to good smelling people, friends. Good smelling liquid fabric softener. It stays with the clothes longer than the bounce sheets or the detergent ever do.

After dinner I strapped on my Tevas and headed to Walgreens to use some of the coupons I unearthed while organizing my coupon envelope. I have kind of an envelope system now (I sewed a cloth envelope by hand in England which fits the paper envelopes perfectly…these act as folders). I figure it’s not as stable as one of those poly-folder coupon folders, but it’s a lot cheaper (perhaps 6 cents worth of envelopes plus the time it took to sew the free-to-me-fabric) and quite suitable. I ended up with Dove Chocolate for $1.50 a bag. Dove is an indulgence, but for that kind of price, I can deal. I sniffed some Glade candles which would have been the same price (these go for nearly $3 full price at Target, unless they go on sale for $2.50 with a gift card promo), but decided to hold off until their later shipment on Thursday. I might like the new spring scents better. Do I really need more candles? Probably not. K was wise in asking me that. But for that price, I can keep them around for gifts…so act surprised if you get one, and mind not the knowledge of their cost! Celebrate my thrift with me! 🙂

I saw a runner tonight. I am not a runner. Dang. Thought perhaps I was getting to that point because I enjoy going on these little runs (went on another one today, didn’t suffer like last week, but was wearing shorts and sleeveless tee with sunscreen!), but in his dam-to-dam shirt (I know this because my camp roommate last summer ran it and got the same shirt), he was practically gliding along. It looked so effortless. When I run, I can only imagine it looking like pain. It is pain, I suppose, but man. I’d like to move like that. Help a girl out?

I’d better gather said laundry so as not to have a messy start to the week. Sleep well!


second thoughts

I took my first bike ride in Indianola. Before my program on Tuesday, my dad brought up my bike (well, brought down, as he came from the north) and today I took the sunshine and open schedule as an opportunity to play bike-tune-up-lady for a while and give it a shot. This is the bike that ruined Santa Claus for me (my general music teacher moon-lighted at the local hardware store where the bike was sold, evidently not to Santa)…which makes it more than 13 years old. Ha!

Anyway, after using WD-40 to degrease the chain and some oil to lube the chain, I took the bike over to Casey’s across the street to get the tires pumped up. The foot-pump I have was successful in deflating 20 psi in about 3 seconds flat on the front tire, so I walked the bike carefully to the gas station (so as not to damage the bike by riding it on such flat tires). After that, I strapped on my helmet, took my letters to send (the mail man appeared to have already come, though he was just coming when I got back…oh well) and headed first to HyVee to drop off the letters.

We have a very nice, paved bike path that goes all the way to Carlisle. I’ve been running on it lately, though I’ve never gone past about the 2 mile mark on the trail because that’s definitely time to turn around and head home on foot :). I reflected on some things I could have thought through better.

1. Hydration
I didn’t count on this being a long ride, so I brought no water with me. I wasn’t absolutely parched by the end, but even stopping for a water break might have alleviated my fatigue.

2. The run I already took today
I ate a banana and drank plenty of water afterward, but I was already recently made tired by my last week 4 run (it was actually the 4th instead of the 3rd, but there was nearly a week between 3 and 4…and I didn’t actually finish 3).

3. The direction of the wind
It was with me on the way out of town. Definitely put the pedal to the metal (well, not accurate…but I was pushing myself). When I went around Summerset Lake (or Lake Summerset? It’s tragically only about 32% as beautiful as Ada Hayden) I noticed the effect of the wind as I headed south and dreaded the ride back.

4. The slope of the path
Recall how I pushed myself on the way out of town? Didn’t hurt that the slope was slightly, but assuredly downhill as I went north. Going south, uphill and into the wind after being kind of tired (see pt 2) was tough.

5. The sun
I confess I did not expect to need sunscreen today. That’s dumb. The sun was even out. I got some color on my arms. Farmer’s tan 2011, officially started.

6. The condition of my bike
There were definitely some interesting grindy/clicky/squeaky noises coming from my bike. I tried shifting gears and it didn’t help. I think it was more effective than my panting or a bell to let people know I was coming.

Despite these things, I think it was a 12+ mile bike ride (if the painted mile markers on the trail are accurate), not to mention the loop around the lake (if you can call it that) and the extra trip out to Hy-Vee, which is admittedly not far from the path. For being forecast as a stormy day, today was quite sunny.

Besides the bike riding part of my weekend, I’ve been wrestling with some bad news this weekend. I’m glad to report it’s turning me to scripture because I don’t have answers even for myself (no one else has really asked me for answers…so perhaps I’m misconstruing that), but I’m taking away a reminder that life is fragile and the Gospel is urgent. I am praying for God to be glorified in multiple situations that royally stink so that hearts would be transformed, knees would bow, and lives would be lived to the fullest extent.

Peace to you,

Hello, McFly

Remember when skateboards were the rage? And Michael J. Fox skateboarded his way to high school in the Back to the Future Movies? Totally just had a middle school kid (unless he was a 9th grader…but he seemed rather small to be in high school) ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk along the sidewalk in front of my apartment. It was precious. 🙂

I think I’ll listen to some Relient K to celebrate.


I have been done with my program for an hour and fifteen minutes. Let me clarify…the 3rd and 4th grade program…of which I directed. Now that 2 high-hype days are done, the air is whooshing out like a balloon. Crazy.

I’m really really excited that my bike is about 15 minutes of tinkering away from ride-ability. It’s the same old bike (did I mention I was looking for a new one?), and should be fine after a tune up. I hope that I’m in some sort of riding shape 🙂 ). A big thanks to my dad for helping me out with that!

The well-timed visit of a very sweet friend who gave me flowers for my program was so appreciated tonight. I got some news afterword that set me back a bit (not bad news, just a surprise that fits the deflated subject just as much as the letdown of 2 performances in 2 nights being done). We had tea together with that lovely pot, and it was divine. I am thankful to the small start God has given me here in social things like friends. It’s a rich start, to be sure.

I’m fairly sleep-deprived after some tossing/turning nights, so I’m going to pull the plug here and head towards bed. Hug a music teacher today 🙂