Monday, April 27, 2009

let's commemorate every little thing in the children's lives

My little 4th graders are singing in a "moving on" ceremony at the end of this school year, and I have to come up with two songs for them to perform for the parents. I think these kinds of things are a little ridiculous anyway, but I think I came up with a sweet song for them to sing. It's a song called "In my Life" by a little band called the Beatles...maybe you've heard of them? :) I just had my first practice with one of the 4th grade classes, and they are going to be so sweet sounding when they sing it. I love it already.

The other song we are doing is partly a lyricist project. I'm going to take a strophic folk song and have them make up the words for the story, telling about their time in school up to this point. I don't really know if this is a good idea or not, but I hope we will be able to pull it off appropriately.

Gotta go, time for 3rd grade.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

random thoughts

I wish I was a good writer. I think about it too little, where other people think about it often, making mental notes and phrasings about their thoughts. I think I am just a little too artsy to make my thoughts form more intelligible sentences. Like that, right there. Is "intelligible" even a word? I would think not, but I like how it sounds, and I tend to write how I think anyway.

Here are my thoughts lately, in completely unpredictable order:

1. I am sometimes glad, and sometimes sad, that I am not a high school music teacher.

2. I need to learn a mezzo-soprano aria in German...which is not easy to find. I finally found one, and it is apparantly so rare that there is no recording for it. But it looks amazing. Nancy's aria from Martha by Flotow. It wasn't originally in the score, but was written for the original singer to show off. And it is most definitely showy.

3. I think I am singing really well. I am starting to get a list together for my audition rep for a masters program.

4. I am sometimes scared that I am really not that good a singer, and other people are being gracious by letting me sing at different events. Maybe I am ordinary after all. That is a big fear.

5. It was wonderful to go to a different church service this week. I need to worship with music, and our church is sorely lacking in this department. It was great to sing praise songs and listen to high schoolers sing, and get lost in praising God with song.

6. I just finished reading Ezra in the Bible. I had no idea it was that short. It has been interesting reading through the Old Testament...it has stirred me to see God's love and grace through all it's pages in ways that I never saw before.

7. It is very hard to make leftovers usable for other meals. It takes a lot of creativity...the kind that I'm not sure I possess, but I try. Right now i have a TON of leftovers in our fridge that I'm not sure I can re-use, but am trying to be resourceful. Tonight, its beef stew.

That's all. Goodnight all, whoever you may be. Give a shout out if you read this!


Monday, April 13, 2009

let the little children come unto me...

So very often I am reminded of the very scary reality that the kids we raise/babysit/teach are in our care, and also, that the time we spend with them is infused with a trust that we know how to take care of them. Today, I was running a rehearsal with the entire 4th grade, most of them up on the (rather low) risers in our all-purpose room. We have an important concert this coming Thursday, and we have a couple hard songs that desperately needed practice.

The students were very well-behaved, all things considered. Take into consideration, for example, that we had more than a dozen percussion instruments playing during one song. Take into consideration that we only had 20 minutes to practice once they got set on the risers. And take into consideration the student who blacked out and fell off the back of the risers in the middle of the second song.

Yes, I had a minor casualty today during my chorus rehearsal...the 4th grade boy fell off the risers with a resounding "Boom!" and was not concious when he was first reached. When he did come to, he was not himself, and had an irregular heartbeat. The ambulance was called, his mother (who was frantic!) rushed over, and he was loaded into the ambulance. I have since found out that he is ok, it was a case of him doing too much this week so far (three sports started this week) and not eating enough at breakfast and lunch.

And probably the fact that he was squished on a high riser next to 80 other 4th graders in a hot all-purpose room with his knees locked. That was the straw that broke his back...although he did not break his back, praise the LORD.

Needless to say, I was quite upset, and trying to stay calm. Many other teachers were in the rehearsal with me, and were able to get help, but still a scary situation. This kid has always been a hard case for me - sarcastic, edgy, and distant in class. It was weird to see all those defenses come down and see him really scared. And he was.

As teachers, we are entrusted with these children...and as parents, it is scary to think of someone else watching our kid if something happens. But, our kids will usually have other people watching them, and we need to be able to let them go and trust God that He knows their every day. I can't imagine being that students mother and getting the call that he is getting loaded into an ambulance and can you meet us at the hospital? And the look in that kid's eyes as he watched us all watch over him - until the perimedics got there - was beyond words. He was terrified and trying to trust us that it would be ok. What an awesome responsibility we have to children to help them feel safe, even if we don't always know what to do, or what the answer is. Sometimes I am really scared of when Jeremiah starts talking and reasoning and thinking more like a child, then an adolescent, then an adult...how will I answer him? How will I do this so I don't screw him up and make him need therapy to discover it's all my fault he is the way he is?

Ok, that's melodramatic, but I think any mother out there would admit to somewhat similar thoughts in her darker moments.

The answer is always God...but sometimes it's hard to remember that. God give me grace to watch over your little ones.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Singing Actor

In watching the opera scenes at the college I used to attend, I was struck by something that I have been told many times to be true. Voice teachers and coaches alike drill technique into you with the hope that it will someday become second nature to you and allow the music to be expressed in a way that is beyond the technique. I used to think that technique could be sacrificed at times for the sake of expression, but I am starting to come around to the idea that emotion can truly be expressed with solid technique. Not only will it not detract from the emotion of the music, but it will enhance it, allowing the listener to transcend the fact that he is listening to a person sing, and simply immerse his being into the music itself. Solid technique helps the music live. Flaws in technique will detract from the experience of the music and cause you to focus on the person flubbing the line, missing the vowel, or breathing too shallowly.

Granted, the students at my alma mater were undergrads, and doing the best they could. And one could hear that some of them were well on their way to a good sound. But, the flaws in technique definitely made my experience with the various opera scenes less powerful than they could have been, less moving than they should have been. A voice that is steeped in good technique does not have to concentrate on where the note should be placed, how to approach that soaring line...and is free to let the emotion ride, secure that the voice will not give in the same way the mind would be free to.

The greatest singers can do this. The singing actor is what I aim to become.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I'm trying to slowly overcome the fact that I am technology-deficient (as you might have been able to gather from a past post), so I have decided to try to create a link on this post to the page that helped me create the link. It seems simple and hard at the same time, so don't laugh (too hard) if it doesn't work. Someday, I will master the simplicities of IT skills that most people learned as a fetus.

this is the helpful webpage I am trying to learn from. It's probably an antiquated way of doing it, but if someone could help out the techie idiot, I would greatly appreciate.

Not that I am going to start caring too much about being technologically outdated. Just a small step. In case you were worried.