Monday, December 27, 2010

We are in Oklahoma.

It took a while to get here. Atlanta was our layover destination, and they are apparently not ina good way...lots of "weather" of some sort of other. It's Atlanta, so I don't know what kind of weather they can't deal with, unless it's snow or ice or some other such odd calamity for that area. Anyway, our flight was changed from 4pm to 6:30pm on Christmas afternoon, and we were already at the airport, and I hadn't checked before we left and I felt pretty stupid. The Delta counter lady told us that over 1100 flights had to be re-routed over the last 3 days, so then we got the impression we should feel lucky they got us on a flight at all.

So, we ended up going to Minneapolis, then Tulsa. Our bag decided to stay in Minneapolis.

It's still not here.

It has our camcorder in it. Again, I feel kinda stupid. Hopefully no one decided to capitalize on my stupidity.

But, on the bright side, Jeremiah did really well for both flights here. He discovered how to deal with Bubblicious Watermelon gum, and only swallowed one piece. This relieved me greatly, since I don't want to water him down or give him excessive amounts of candy to suck on for the entire 1/2 hour it takes to take off and land, with ears popping. He liked being on the plane. Hopefully, he will still like it in about a week.

I sang "O Holy Night" arr. by Mark Hayes for our new church on Christmas Eve...the place was PACKED!! I don't think I've ever seen a service that they had to bring in chairs for the congregants...really neat. "O Holy Night" is always a bit of a's like a marathon for the end of the song. I felt pretty good about it though, and they had me singing at the end as everyone was lighting their candles, which was awesome. And, I saw my former 7th grade Social Studies teacher at the service, which was really awesome. I almost felt I had to apologize for the craziness we made him endure back then...but didn't. He's a good guy.

I also, after flying all night and getting into Tulsa airport, sang another Mark Hayes arrangement, this one of 3 different versions of "Away in a Manger", at my parents' hometown church at 11:15. Descends right through my upper passagio every other times on 6 hours sleep. But, overall went well. And no more singing for a couple weeks anyway.

Only other performance news is past and future. Lyricora concerts went very well, we had a lot of good feedback, good attendance, donations, and good times. All three concerts for the 2010 Christmas season were, in my opinion, a success. Now, on to recording some of the Christmas rep, learning the Spring rep, and getting ready for lots of projects for Spring. For future, I've been asked to sing in Worcester Opera Works' "Sopranopalooza!" on February 26. It is as it sounds...and I told the director I would love to sing...pending how I feel with the growing babe inside me. She said that was fine, especially since it was a "woman's concert", pregnancy would just add to the femininity. :) haha! (now, to just make sure I can breathe...)

Well, Jeremiah has "done some business", my mom has made me lunch, I have to pee (again!), and there is more to update (like, Christmas? haven't even talked about that)...but update will be completed at another time. Love to all, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Jeremiah has a second ear infection in 3 weeks. The doc says we might have to consider tubes in his ears if this keeps up. My good friend's kids have had to go through that, so I'm familiar with the procedure, and am fine with it if need be, but am really hoping that we won't have to go that route. Last night was the second night in our lives that he has been up, literally crying all night with pain. I'm hoping this won't be a pattern....he's been such a healthy kid up until the last 3 months.

Actually, at this point, I'm just hoping Jeremiah will be decongested enough and ear infection-less by the time we leave Christmas day for my parents house via plane. That would not be a fun 6 hours if his ears are popping and aching the whole time.

Christmas decorations are going up, and I have been trying something new to go along with the new place we're living in. We have the normal tree up (although it is a few feet taller...try 9 feet tall!) and garland in common rooms and pretty white lights everywhere. This year, I'm putting pretty sparkly ornaments hung by ribbon in all the windows, and it really looks neat. Not super noticable, but I like it a lot.

There has been little singing news lately - except my choir, Lyricora, is preparing for Christmas concerts this month. The music is great, the people are wonderful to work and sing with, and so far, I still fit into the dress I'm borrowing...hopefully my little bump will not really pop too much until January. I have one little solo, in the song I like the least, actually (an arrangement of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" by Stephen Paulas) - only because my voice part sits really low. The arrangement itself is neat to listen to, very thick, complex harmonies put a new spin on the classic melody.

I want to be singing more...maybe during this pregnancy time, I can get musically involved with our new church, as there are many more opportunities to sing there than in our old church. I need something to keep my voice up, as I've really been slacking off lately, and am afraid it will show. There's a pretty arrangement of "Away in a Manger" by Craig Courtney that I'm going to ask the music director if I can do at some point this season - not sure how far out they book this stuff.

I want to go caroling, I want to drink hot cider and hot cocoa, I want to watch live nativities and Christmas tree lightings, I want to decorate the entire house as nauseaum, I want to listen to Christmas music 24/7. I LOVE Christmas! It's sobering and magical and awe-inspiring and very yummy.

Jeremiah has discovered the candy inside our advent train and I think his life will never be the same. :) I hope we can start helping him understand the importance and joy of Christmas this year.

Friday, November 19, 2010


So far today, I have:

- grocery shopped for the last week and a half of November, which included buying a 12 lb. turkey for $6!!
- made homemade laundry detergent for the first time...we'll see how that works
- made homemade chicken stock
- swept and mopped the floors
- fed my son and I a great lunch

Today, I still hope to accomplish:

- painting the second coat of the music room
- vacuuming the entire downstairs
- cleaning off all surfaces with clorox wipes since my son refuses to stop being the rest of us are in constant exposure to his snot
- changing my phone back to the original device
- lining all upstairs rooms' drawers and organizing (finally) our winter clothing and putting away summer stuff
- a nap? (at least 20 minutes...please oh please)

hmmm...too much? maybe some nice jazz playing through all of this will inspire me to think it's somewhat enjoyable.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

God give me grace...

It's parent-teacher conference week at my school, and I, as the music specialist, of course have not a soul lined up to talk to me. Which I expected, and am honestly fine with, considering I have quite a bit to clean up and figure out for my curriculum and such anyway. Extra time is always welcomed. But, you always get the random pop-in parents who deign to say hello while waiting for their main appointment with the "real" teacher. These can be nice, but usually they're more annoying. People really need to think about what they say before they say it.

For example:

(background info...there is another elementary teacher in my district that splits teaching the Kindergarten classes with me...not an ideal situation, but he is a good teacher, and that's just the way the schedule crumbled for this year. He gets them once a week, and so do I, leaving lots of room for holes in curriculum to not be covered unless we are in constant communication. We (I, by bugging my principal) are working on changing it for next year.)

A parent was waiting for the teacher across the hall from me, saw me in my room, and pops her head in, smiling. I greet her, and she cuts me off saying, "You know, my son, Stephen, in Kindergarten? He talks about music all the time...I have to say, he likes Mr. W. better though. Hahaha!"

Now. What would you say to that? I could tell you what I wanted to say...but I'm sure you could imagine all sorts of things, so I'll leave you to that. I said, "Oh? well, that's nice. I'm glad he enjoys Mr. W.'s class so much. You know, it's difficult splitting the classes, as we don't want to create competition between teachers in the students' minds. We both teach the same material, but in different ways. Hopefully next year, we can get the scheduling mix-up fixed."

I thought that was nice.

She backpedaled a bit by saying her older child, Michael, enjoys my class very much. And then left.

Thanks, lady.

I think God invented grace for people like that. Well, and for people like me as well, 'cause who can tell how often I say stupid things...but thank goodness I don't have to deal with clueless parents throughout the whole of these 3 hours I'm forced to sit here, pretending to be busy with conferences.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

to believe in all the things I've yet to be...

So - I played this song on the piano for Jeremiah a couple weeks ago, and told him it was called "Christmas Lullaby" (the one from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World) and he has been obsessed with it ever since. Almost every day, he is asking for me to play either a recording of it, or for us to venture into the music room for me to play and sing it one...more...time. He especially likes the part where it gets "wowder!" (louder, for those who don't speak jeremiah-ese) - the "Gloria" part. Especially, because when I sing it, it has to be louder in order to be in tune. I've decided that this may end up being a theme song for the next 5 months or so, since we are pregnant with our 2nd little one. Very apropos.

PS - he is really becoming a sensitive little musician...he plays a high C during the very quiet parts, exactly how I'm playing the rest of the music. What I'm most proud of is the fact that I only had to show him which note to play once, and he remembered from them on. I think I need to start some real piano lessons with him soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wotan's Farewell

Recently, Jon and I saw one of our favorite baritones, Bryn Terfel, sing a program of Wagner with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. One of the most well-known Wagnerian baritone arias, I would even say one the best-known Wagnerian arias is Wotan's Farewell. It is the end of Die Walkure, the 2nd of the 4 operas in Wagner's Ring Cycle.

The premise is a heart-wrenching decision by Wotan to punish his daughter, Brunnhilde, for falling in love with a mortal. He decrees that she must live with the consequences of her actions, meaning he must put her to sleep on a rock for whatever mortal to find her and make her his wife. She begs him to protect her with a charm that will only let a true hero break through to her, and Wotan agrees.

This video picks up with him leading her off, and then calling on Loge, the God of Fire, to surround the rock with fire to protect her and allow only the bravest of men to penetrate it. Interestingly, he calls this man "one who will be freer than I, a God." Thus, he gives up his favorite daughter, she, of course, hoping it will be Siegfriend who saves her. (leading into the 3rd opera, Siegfried)

Wagner has never held great appeal for me, but after listening to this recent concert with Mr. Terfel, and learning more and more about the stories behind his music, I can't understand why it's taken me this long to get into it. It's everything I like about opera: drama, leit motifs, lush harmonies, soaring melodies, and big singing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So, how did the performance go?

I can't believe that I haven't posted about my performance of "In the Beginning" with C_________ this past September. I guess it hasn't been in the forefront of my mind since it happened.

I felt really good about the whole performance. Except for nerves affecting the first phrase ("In the be-gggginnnning" - it was a bit wobbly), I felt confident and that I sang really well! It was a major accomplishment for me to get over my nerves, since that's been my battle from the beginning. Everyone in the group was so supportive and kind, and I got a lot of positive feedback from the director and people in the audience. I realized that this is the sort of thing that fits very well in my life right now (concertizing), since I do not have the time to devote to shows with a family at home. It just is not realistic. What is also fun, is the choir I'm with, Lyricora, gives me a lot of solo opportunities as well, so it helps me get more well known through them also (hopefully more as the group becomes more well-known over the years).

I should be able to get the recording for "In the Beginning" in a couple weeks, from what the director told me. That makes me nervous for a couple reasons...first, the afterglow of feeling so good about this performance could be totally eradicated from listening to me sing with a critical ear, and second, the choir backing me was really sub-par for this piece. They are, as I said, a wonderful group of people, but really not suited for such a difficult acapella piece. So, there are many wrong notes, many wrong chords, many wonky things going on...but, c'est la vie.

My family was out for the performance, and quite a few of my friends came too, which really touched me. I felt really supported through the whole thing. And Jon, who is pretty honest with me, thought I sounded the best I had in a while. So, very pleasing. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I should figure out how to post pictures on this thing...I have many things that would be fun to show the three people who actually read this: how I've changed the house around that I live in, although there are no "before" pics...I still think it's fun to redecorate and move furniture to put a new spin on a room. I would take pictures of my rapidly growing "little" boy because he's so gosh darn cute...

*update* - he went to preschool today with NO crying or fussing or reservation at all! this is so great...except he will probably be switching to the public schools soon and the process will start all over again. hmph. Well, let's not hmph...let's try to see the bright side. He is extremely adaptable and resilient, as most children are. And he most likely won't remember the trauma I seem to put him through every day through denial of cookies, cakes, and other sweets, forced quiet times/naps, and preschool and sunday school ventures. I just keep breathing and praying and being....a mom, I guess.

I am on a short break in my teaching day, and am so supremely impressed with my students: we did a country type of "reel" dance that was fairly involved for their ages, and both of my classes were able to sing it, dance it, and keep the forms intact for the entire 5 minute dance...and they seemed to be really enjoying it, having fun with it exactly like it would've been danced years ago. I am so excited. Teaching this year has been so much easier and student centered than ever before.

Gotta run...I realized I forgot to prepare something for my next lesson. Have I mentioned that things are going well, but I'm really disorganized this year for some reason? ugh. :)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

what happens when you talk on your cell during a concert...

Or what should happen! if only I could do this with every concert...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

time to update

it's been a while.

I am almost always hesitant to post anything when it's been so I have to "update" you about everything going on in my life. Maybe I can do that quickly, and then (maybe?) elaborate on what I am focusing on as important...hope to not bore you too long:

- BIG DEAL: moved into a new place. and not just a new place ~ a BEAUtiful, HUGE, colonial with 2 monstrous yards and storage space and marble countertop to cook on and built-in closets get the picture. We are living in the house for the next year or two (possibility for longer, but we'll see) to take care of it for a family I grew up with who are moving away for a job. They ultimately want to come back here, and love the house, so they are sort of, lending it, let's say, to us for the time. And they said I can paint. (Yippee!)

- Jeremiah started preschool. Well, not officially, but unofficially. Today was the first time there without one of us with him, and his teacher said he did wonderfully. With all his developmental concerns, I have been a little worried about how this will affect him...hoping it will connect things in his brain, but prepared that it will cause him to be further behind by not "getting it." She said he responded to her questions and the other students there talking to him. I've never seen him do that. I am very excited for him this year.

- Patriots football has started. Woooo!

- Finished the first summer of my M.M.ed. and felt really good about it. I feel so excited for my year of teaching, and hoping I can pull off everything I want to pull off. But even if I can't, I will be really trying and enjoying teaching more than in past years. It's nice to have a direction again.

- The dress rehearsal and performance for the C_________ concert of Copland's "In the Beginning" and Mendelssohn's "Athalia" is on September 11!! I am so excited. The members of the group have been so encouraging and kind and it is really coming together. I am really trying to prepare well so my nerves don't undo the work I've been putting into this.

- My hubby is working part-time this year at a different mechanic's position, so he will be able to do his online seminary classes and keep working. The plus side of this is that he will be able to be with Jeremiah while I am at work, so we don't have to rely on other people this year. That is a huge relief for me, as I want him to always have one of us available at all times. The house deal makes this able to happen financially.(yay!)

- Oh, yeah...this past monday, I started school again: the 2010-2011 school year! That used to sound like so far in the future...maybe this year my room will get a smartboard. Every other room except the art and music rooms have them...hmm...time to write a grant? Or become a really squeaky wheel...It's unfortunate that the fine arts teachers often don't have the luxury of being a squeaky wheel because they could just get rid of us to make us stop...anyway, I rabbit-trailed...

also, I'm thinking of putting this blog up for the public to see, but am a bit nervous about it...that's pretty exposed. Any thoughts from those of you who read these little ditties? We'll see.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

thoughts while waiting for peppermint ice cream cake

My singing has been going fairly well...lots of rehearsals, a few performances. I still get way too nervous for not enough reason.

New development: I tried a belting song (Jason Robert Brown's "Stars and the Moon" from Songs for a New World) last week on L________ Opera's "Broadway Night" for their Summer Concert Series. i know, I know...I can already see (and hear) some of you. But, as you can hopefully tell, I do not often sing this way. It was partly a development of the song choice and the ring (or lack thereof) of the room I was singing in - there was TONS of ambient noise from the street cars and fans everywhere to cool things off. Ah well. I heard the recording of it, and was somewhat surprised that it sounded better than I expected. But, I do NOT plan on making a habit of it. It did not feel great at times, and I really don't think it's as necessary as some Broadway proponents make it out to be. Sometimes it's fun as an effect, but I'm still figuring it out.

Also, we have finally begun rehearsing the Copland "In the Beginning" with C_______. Tuesday night was the first time I got to sing with the group and start putting it all together, and it was HARD...the choral members were way confused, and wouldn't come in at the right's a difficult piece. I just kept going at times, figuring the director would let me know if something needed to change. This group is a little hard because the level of musicianship is a little below what I expected, so I'm trying to adjust my expectations while keeping a high level myself. What's really neat about C_______ is it's a collaborative ensemble, with the director facilitating these group works that challenge the ensemble members. From what I can tell, the people in this group (which is mostly young people to middle aged) are not the ones who majored in music in college...they are the ones who were in the ensembles as a hobby, or used to be the main players, but it's been years since they've really performed. The director does a fantastic job of making this fairly difficult music very accessible to them in regards to terminology and expression.

This relates really well to my philosophical music education classes that delve into why music education is the way it is in our country now - mainly because in deciding to teach music with a more aesthetic focus, the culture of music in our day-to-day lives was lost. People began to view music as something for "the gifted", not as a music of the people. A group like this gives everyone an opportunity to make music, and not with just any music, but really good music that has "stood the test of time" as one of my professors says with regularity.

I have to confess, I had been rather frustrated with this group until I saw it in this light. I hope I can contribute without being an elitist as well. It is such a great endeavor for this director to be pursuing.

One side note with C___________...when I started singing this past rehearsal, I wasn't nervous at all. It's just silly the things I am nervous for, and the things I'm not. I wish I could figure it out.

Also, I am not singing the Mozart "Laudaute Dominum" solo in choral lab class...but they do have me singing a Schubert "Kyrie" solo...which is a high tessitura and makes me much more nervous that any Copland would. Even though it's about 30 seconds long compared to 20 minutes. See what I mean?

Well, it's my 28th birthday, so I should go enjoy life. My mom is making me a peppermint ice cream cake as I type. Mmmmmmm. Life is pretty good.

Monday, July 19, 2010

it's all about - LOVE

Grad school is going well...I have honestly had more fun talking with people about education than I ever have, and I am excited, and it is something that wakes me up and slows me to think and challenges and scares me at the same time, because what if I fail to do all I want next year, and what if all I learn becomes null and void by my lack of energy or lack of inspiration or defeated nature of teaching small children day after day?

It is so easy to let the doubts creep inside my head. I am insecure about my teaching, even as I ace the presentations (but my classmates are not my students, really...they already know the answers!), and learn to read and talk intelligent again (but when I leave this environment, what then?)

I love doing this, even through the doubts. I wish I could learn the grace that has been and is always given that all this doesn't matter. It really is just about how he wants my heart.

Monday, July 05, 2010

monday, monday, can't trust that day...

Today was in two. Two halves to a hot, stuffy, at-times-air-conditioned hot day. One half was spent with husband and son, in and around the apartment, eating, talking, listening to music, singing a bit, going to new playgrounds, giving new memories. The latter half was spent on campus, talking, but mostly listening, as I was not picked, lectured at, opinion-ed at, and generally frustrated. As I lay here, I have a knot in my tummy that won't go away, and I feel it has something to do with pride, something to do with my wanting justice, and everything to do with my lack of time spent with my Father. Typing papers and outlines and abstracts and presentations are all not so important as His time with me. I should go to the woodshed and visit with my Maker:

41. the book "You are Mine" by Max Lucado. I cannot read this book to Jeremiah without crying. How often I forget His love for me.

42. bright bright bright sunny days!

43. friends to celebrate America and eat strawberries and blueberries on cake

44. fans to spin the air and cool the passions

45. a little one who doesn't quite know what is best sometimes, but knows how to cling to those he trusts. I could learn from that.

46. enough

47. the beautiful music on A Holy Experience. Go listen and be soul-refreshed.

48. A husband who sweeps and cooks and comforts the child and me when we have no want for each other in our swells of emotion

49. knowledge of others who have gone before me

50. that God created music, and it is good. What a gift.

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
to shine upon you and be gracious unto you

holy experience

Monday, June 28, 2010

a new day

busy times, but very good times...I am learning so much in just 4 days of this grad program. I already feel more competent as a music teacher...I just wish I could shake this fatigue. But there is much to be thankful for...

41. my mother-in-law who comes down to babysit and do the dishes and give baths to the child and cook dinner tomorrow! Yay!

42. beautiful summer weather. Yes, it is humid, but better than cold!

43. cool water to splash around in

44. coupons for free iced coffee at DD's!

45. bright, multi-colored fans that make me smile and remember my silliness as a teenager

46. my toddler becoming a boy SO fast, changing every week, every day to something that makes me laugh in awe.

47. toilets that work

48. food to put on the table

49. memory that allows me to recall how to play the French Horn after 10 years of negligence

50. confident music teachers that show me how to be fearless and gracious in front of peers

Saturday, June 26, 2010

GRAD school!

Just started my Masters of Music Ed program for the summer. It's a 3 summer program, and should fit nicely into my schedule for the next couple years. I'm taking pretty basic courses right now -

- Foundations of Music Education (a course on history and philosophy of music ed, with LOTS of minutiae and details to remember)

- Non-Western Music (a course which should be labeled "World Music" so we don't sound so egotistical as to think the rest of the world's music should be defined by our location)

- Lab Ensemble (an interactive course for all years' participants, conducted by 2nd and 3rd year students - I am singing soprano for the choir, because they needed more, and playing French Horn for the band, because it's my secondary (ha!) instrument.)

So, it will be an interesting summer. I am actually excited to sing and play parts other than I am used to in Lab, but it will stretch me big time. As typical performer, I noticed that we are singing "Laudate Dominum" by Mozart as one of the choir pieces, and, as a "soprano", I'm hoping I can snag the solo. Not that it matters, but, sadly, to me, it kinda does. Anyway...

I am thinking about taking a workshop with John Feierabend...but haven't signed up yet, and should do it soon. I kinda need the credits, and who knows how much I'll be able to take on next summer, with other changes happening...

I have a lot of these... ... ... ... ...sorry.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Haven't given thanks in a while...

But it doesn't mean I'm not thankful!

31. friends at choral rehearsals who let me laugh

32. sports announcers who help me understand and give me something to imitate

33. really good sports teams that make it fun to stay up late and cheer

34. children who share their love through gifts, cards, hugs, and conversation

35. the end of a good school year filled with much learning

36. sunny days chasing the clouds away

37. cathartic cries with a wise hubby

38. a son who learns fast and is eager to please

39. mother-in-laws who try hard and love and come to watch the boy while we go out together with friends

40. really good spy novels late at night to give me mysterious dreams

And off I go. It's at the good part! goodnight!

holy experience

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Summer Doings

Hello all -

It's been a few weeks, and I am trying to end the school year with sanity...

(which simply means ignoring most other things until I no longer have to be with cranky teachers and students who don't believe school should be in session once the thermometer reaches 70 degrees.)

But, there are many other developments. I officially have 3 summer gigs, and here they are, in no particular order:

1. L_______ Opera Summer Concert Series, singing 2 nights...
- Broadway Melodies, and
- Rising Stars (mostly arias)

2. W________ Opera Works Summer Concert Series, again, singing 2 nights...
- Broadway Night, which gives me 2 songs to sing and an ensemble role!
- Aria Night, again, 2 songs to sing.

3. Mezzo-soprano soloist with C________ for Copland's In the Beginning. (confirmed yesterday!!)

So, singing is progressing, and I feel pretty secure about it (at the moment). :)

Other news...Jeremiah is starting with his official Early Intervention person tomorrow...she is very sweet and an social/emotional expert, so hopefully we will start getting some answers as to what is going on in his head. AND....and, and!


I love the last one. It is so exciting, and if you haven't gone through it yet, you might not understand. But, I hope someday you too have the thrill of seeing a 2 year old pee, by himself, with no cajoling/pleading/threatening from you...\

not on the floor,

not in his pants (again!)

not on the leather chair,

but on the toilet. What a wonderful day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

a day in the life now

I wake up to little boy legs climbing up the side of the bed, and a little voice quoting a favorite book, "Good morning!...said the bug." I yawn reluctant and stare at smiling eyes and dark curls and listen to happy jabberish. I must leave him again today. He doesn't seem to know, but he will. Once I put on the work outfit and brush my hair and bring out his bag, he will. And the serious son will show himself. He will not cry; he rarely does anymore. That almost makes me more sad, at times.

I drop him off with a lovely woman and her daughter from my church, who have 4'x3' salt-water aquariums in their house for my boy to stare at and love. I leave the stroller, the car seat, the diapers, the snacks, my thoughts. I drive away as he stares at me through the screen door. I miss him already, and pray I don't miss something new that he says, does, or is.

I am now at school, preparing for three classes of anxious, June-filled 4th graders. We compose, sing Memorial Day songs, prepare for leading an assembly with joyful celebration, and let off some energy with singing games. It is a happy place, this music room. It is safe. The shy are comfortable here, the rambunctious are watchful...they know the boundaries. It works here. Forty minutes each. And they are gone, I send them on their way to learn the wonders of the rest of life. I hope they love music, and not just the activity of the classes, or the personality of the teacher. I talk some with wonderful teachers, some with grouchy teachers just waiting on summer, wait for the word to order more supplies, hope that parents will understand grades come end of term.

I drive back to him, and he runs across the lawn to hug into me and holds tight and never stops smiling. He is hot and sweaty on my silk blouse and loud in my noised-out ear and I love it all. They tell me of his not eating much at all, but drinking lots of juice, his small nap because they had to go pick up the dad, his playing in the boat, and meeting the neighbor-kids. I nod appreciatively, knowing I can never repay them for the love they show us. They know this, and never make it awkward, always giving me more information than I ask, always reminding me that they love him and want to help. I drive home with my baby again, and he is quiet, listening to the wind. I take the time to warm up my voice a bit before tonight. He laughs and gets loud as I do. I try to see if he will imitate pitch...he does not. Someday, we will sing together.

I am home, and have an hour until Jon is home and I must leave. I make a quick pasta dinner with salad, in-between reading with Jeremiah his new favorite book, and quoting it while stirring sauce as I'm not actively reading. I love that he gets his memory of songs and books from me. He quotes all day long, reciting whole songs and books from his little brain. Jon is home, I quickly change into non-mom attire and put lotion on my legs, and bring a makeup bag for the car, and kiss him goodbye.

The audition is 45 minutes away (with no traffic) with a small opera company and I sing confident. It feels good to emote and not worry about what they think I'm saying, because I know what I'm saying. Technique is solid, breath is full, and emotions are, for now, steady and sailing forth in all artistry. They ask me to sing in their summer concert series, and we are all pleased. Success over nerves, and success in showing myself well. I will sing this summer. It goes on.

At home, the son is still not asleep, though it is close to 8:30. He has been doing this lately, and though Jon is tired of trying, I am glad to see him one more time before nightfall. I go into the dark to cuddle him and sing a song, and tell him what mommy just did. He claps and says his prayer, and we hug and he lays heavy on his Thomas pillow with a "nigh-night, mommy." I smile and goodnight as well.

Jon and I watch a playoff game, or a movie, or nothing as we catch up on life. It is not the same as when we met in college...then was all time and energy and chances to see each other in the best light. Now, we have this time only. Later at night is not what it used to be - fun and frivolous and mystery and good talks. Now, it is so tired and peaceful rest, and not so intentional. It is not bad, but it is hard to get quality time together to really see each other. We are still in love, and he is wonderful, and I try to be wonderful, but it's hard when we don't have time to just be until 9pm each night. We remember - I remember - the good, and prepare for another day. Before bed, I read His Word, "For I know the plans I have for you..." from the book that is my son's namesake, and I breathe relief and remember trust. Finally, I am back where I started...on my pillow, ready for rest. It is later than I wished, but tomorrow is another day, full of promise and gusto and desire and life. Jon says, "goodnight, honey," and kisses me. I smile, and it is still and we sleep.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

after God's heart.

I want so much to be a complete mother. I want so much to do the things I read about others' doing - the green cleaning, the inspirational and challenging homeschooling, the guiding of children to a greater understanding of our Lord, the eating-more-with-less-meal plans, the growing and encouraging of well-rounded young lives.

It is all so overwhelming. Sometimes I want to cry with the pressure of it all to be everything I want to be to this little one and the ones to come. I am not enough.

Yes, I know I am not enough. There is a part of me that understands and accepts that and lives in God's grace that He will give me strength and motivation and clarity while being a mother. It's the times that I leave His grace and forget that perfection is unattainable this side of heaven and let fear rule my thoughts and actions and control my mouth. Those are the difficult times.

Yes, I know I will grow and learn. I know that I will need to take risks and escape my comfort zone to try some of these things that God has for me and my family. I know that I will need to lead the charge at times. And I will need to be constantly checking back in with God, growing in knowledge of Him. Most of all, I want my son to see me as a woman after God's heart. If nothing else, may He know that.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

peaceable singing

I am going to the C______ meeting in a couple on nights to find out if I have the Copland solo or not. I have an audition in a week with L_____ Opera for their summer concert season and fall production Hansel and Gretel. I love Hansel and Gretel...and I think I have a good chance to be in it. I hope I hope I hope. The production is paid as well. PAID! What would it be like to be paid to sing in a show...

I am not really nervous about this audition. There have been bigger things afoot here in our household. My son is starting a program to help him with his speech and social delays, and I am fearful. And I am praying. Very hard. If you know me, or even if you don't, I would covet your prayers for our little one. He is still the happy, beautiful child we've always known, but not progressing at the rate he should. We have appointments scheduled to make sure he's ok in other areas. I know God is in control, but please pray that the truth of that statement will give real peace to my heart, no matter what the tests show. The week has been moments filled with teary conversations whenever anyone wants to know what's going on. The good news is, he's getting help once, maybe twice a week and it will be great for him. I really feel that he is going to make big strides with these wonderful people who are trained to notice the little things. I just hope I can keep up.

So, all in all, hard times, but also good times. God is good and I am choosing to trust Him, even when I feel like breaking. So, what's an audition in light of that? It's just supposed to be music...beautiful music. And I will sing it that way, from inside of me to them.

Monday, May 03, 2010

giving thanks anyway.

Today is a hard day, with too much to process and demons who bring unforgiving thoughts and tears that come unbidden. But, as I am reminded today, we are to give thanks in all things. So, here goes:

21. snappy school-children who think grownup but are young

22. challenging music that creates dyslexic chords

23. honest analysis of my baby

24. help around the corner

25. the dirt and dust and grime in every spot of this apartment, for all who care to find it

26. my emotional mess of a self

27. clouds

28. humidity and rain

29. a child who sleeps unawares of change

30. lessons learned in how to trust in You.

Lord, may I trust and cling ever harder to You as more of my worldly security is stripped away, leaving the soul exposed and walls torn down. That's what I want, but I forget how cold it can be to be so naked in front of so many. You know all, see all, and ARE all. Hold our family during this time of trusting. Give us clarity and true thoughts and wise decisions. Keep us together and help me love, when all I want to do is run. Thank you for this day. Amen.

holy experience

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So...just got an email from the director of C_______. She is considering me for the solo in the Copland "In the Beginning."

(insert BIG smile here).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the other "given Dreams"...

It is so easy to carefully sift the emotion I show to you here. I am finding out more and more people who read this (though I never knew it) and it is frightening. How much have I revealed without really thinking of how bare I can be in front of you? Because the truth is, I am often happier and often sadder and often lower and often a lot more _____-er than I present here in this site. I don't write of the good often enough, because, well, life is good. I don't feel the need to process as much during those times. But I don't share the bad as easily either, because I am too ashamed to admit the true issues I struggle with on a daily basis.

The name of this blog is "Given the Dream," intentionally made to help me keep track of my singing endeavors...and I have kept this in mind as I wonder about other areas of my life and how I can balance it all and find myself, find my Lord in the midst of all my desires. But, the truth is, my life is so much bigger than this dream that I have clung to for so long. I want to sing I want to sing I want to sing I have chanted for as long as I can remember...but God has given me some other dreams along the way...His dreams. He has given me a husband that I didn't always dream about or expect at the time he was presented. He has given me a son who was very unexpected and has shaken my world. He has given me a career in teaching that was not what I thought it would be...mostly because of my naivitee (sp?) in pursuing that field. He has given me my voice and singing opportunities, but these other dreams get in the least according to my silly brain lately.

Singing in the Magic Flute with people who are able to pursue their stage dreams and have not much standing in their way as far as responsibilities lends me much frustration if I decide to let my heart walk that road. All these good and precious things my God has given me are hard for me to accept. I still cling to my old ways, my old dreams. How can I give it up, even if it doesn't mean giving it up, but just letting God manage it?

Who would I be, if not a singer? A wife? A mother? A teacher?

My greatest fear is having those be my identity, since I know how often I am inadequate in all these positions. Inadequacy is dehabilitating. I do not know how to give myself to these 'dreams' God has laid in my lap, because they were not a part of me from before I can remember. Now, they are important, deeply important, but I must pray every day for desire to give myself to them.

So there it is. I never wanted to be a mother, a wife, a teacher, at least not as a career. I wanted to be traveling, on stage, singing at any given moment.

God didn't want that for me, obviously. So, I am trying to trust His plan.

Please don't read too much into this: I LOVE my family. My heart battles are not about them. They are about my trust in God and denial of my selfish ambition. It's not easy, but I find that, in a strange way, there are moments of inspiration, joy, and satisfaction within the struggle to throw off the old and embrace the new.

All that to say, I am still going to be singing - but the blog will also contain my thoughts about these other God-given 'dreams'...for anyone who cares to read them.

Monday, April 26, 2010


21. vocal understanding through God's gift of listening

22. spring warmth

23. red tulips on Cape Cod

24. friends who offer music gigs that, unbeknownst to them, provide money for our bills

25. family who love

26. friends who are grateful and optimistic

27. a Father to pray to

28. a son who loves me and jumps around to see me again

29. professionals in every area

30. excellent 4th grade classes this morning.

holy experience

Friday, April 23, 2010

C_______ audition

Auditioned for C______ (an instrumental and choral collaborative ensemble group in Boston) today. There was no pianist to accompany, and the audition suggestion was to sing something that was under 5 minutes, showed your range and, if you wanted to go for the Copland "In the Beginning" solo for the fall, sing something modern in English. Right.

So, I sang "Lullaby" from Menotti's The Consul. I think I sang well enough and with confidence. The woman in charge was talking to me a lot about the rehearsal process and when things start, and suggested since I sang something modern that I was comfortable with Copland...? This group sings (and plays) during the off-season, as in the summer months and mid-winter months. You audition to be part of the group for 1-3 years, and she told me they sing a wide variety of rep, not really doing much with bigger works so they can give more people more opportunities to perform.

I sang the low F...never done that in an audition, but it seemed ok tonight. She commented on it. Overall, don't know what she really thought...maybe she thinks I'm a good fit for the group, but not for the solo. She said there are about 30 people in the chorus, and they are hoping to be able to do the Copland a capella. I'm hoping because she questioned me about the Copland that she is liking me for it. We'll see.

I don't want to get my hopes up, and would honestly be excited to be part of this group regardless. But, my hopes are up. I will find out the status at the beginning of next week.

The best part is...I wasn't that nervous! YAY!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Magic Flute observations

I have been listening and watching and then listening some more, with occassional attempts at singing in the midst of this amazing talent surrounding me. So many of the people in this opera company are so talented and so comfortable with their talent. Comfortable with the stage, the orchestra, the drama, the schedule, each other. I am not so comfortable, but am not uncomfortable either. I am just hopeful and learning and least I hope I am. There are not many mezzos in this opera, but I am learning so much from the few that are singing, and the sopranos just by their approach to the music and diction and breathing and energy and character development. A few things I've learned:

- Mozart really was a genius. I kind of knew this before, but now I know it. The way he sets the music for each character and scene is nothing short of amazing. When you consider the time he lived and composed, and what he did with what was known and it continues to be so thought-provoking and beautiful for even today...Wow. He understood how music could communicate and that it should communicate.

- These people are not scary. Some of them are more diva-ish than others, but that always exists in every profession. All of them are like me, in that, they simply want to sing, do justice to the music, and enjoy their time with others.

- The directors are incredible and motivated to help you display your best while making the production as great as it can be. They stay true to the art form while making it fresh and accessible for the audiences today.

- No one cares if you flub a note or lose technique for a moment if you know your stuff, are confident, and don't do it again. Everyone is really positive and supportive, cheering each other on. For example, the girl playing the Queen of the Night has some butt-hard arias. Everyone knows it. Every time she sings them and soars, everyone gives her big smiles and thumbs up and applauds loudly at the end. You gotta have friends to support you when you sing that stuff day in and day out.

- The directions come fast and furious for staging, and you better be ready to do it stat. Again, it's ok to mess up and ask for clarity, but this is another level of performance and you must pay attention.

- I am not as scared to audition now that I've been at it with these people for a little while now. I know a bit more what to expect, and I know that (with a few exceptions of incredibly, unbelievably that's-not-fair kind of talent) I am comparable to the singers up there, Masters degree in performance or not.

- It is do-able to balance time with family and time with singing. But it is a definite sacrifice. I am maybe the only one there that's married. Probably the only one with a kid as well. They care in the sense that that's interesting, but it's also something that doesn't matter in giving me a little fact, I'm sure some of them consider it a good thing since they will have more opportunity than I since they don't have the responsibilities I do. But, I plod on. It's frustrating that I can't audition for another show for next month...or that I shouldn't is more like it. But, ultimately I want to spend time to connect with my family for a while again, and then do another show. Maybe 1-2 shows a year would be good with concert engagements in-between.

- I learn best by listening. For some reason, my brain understands what must be done to achieve a good sound if I can hear someone doing it. Recordings aren't quite the same, it's better if it's live. I've had a recent epiphany just from listening to these people.

That's all for's really fun. Last night, we had a sitzprobe with the orchestra for the first time. Really cool. Tonight, it's the first time with props and costumes. Maybe I'll be able to post some pictures after the shows done.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Count it all joy

It was a hard weekend, with allergies rising, little boy tantrums, family missing, body aching. But, it was a good weekend overall. The pastor's sermon was about "counting it all joy" in all situations...our Sunday School lesson was about that too. They were not intentionally coordinated. The Resurrection is just one example, albeit the biggest, of how something so wrong can be leading toward God's ultimate bigger, better, and beautifully glorious plan. Things that are hard to count as joy right now will be my gratitude for the week:

11. an aching body that serves me well and heals continually.

12. pollen and ragweed and floral blooms that give life and fragrance and luster after a dull winter.

13. Zyrtec. Need I say more? (what a wonderful drug)

14. students that rejoice and thrill at music games, and learn to work together as musicians

15. a healthy, happy boy-child with curly thick dark hair that feels deeply and loves his mama and dada and the outdoors and machinery, so much so that he sobs when he cannot have the things he loves.

16. that God has given us emotions to live and feel and empathize and learn.

17. healthy drinking water when I have been speaking all day

18. a chance with a new (to me) opera company tonight to participate in preparing for a production of one of Mozart's famous operas

19. family to love and be loved by.

20. slightly cool breezes and sunny weather to remind us that winter is through

holy experience

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

hard core

I have an audition scheduled for a collaborative ensemble group called C______ in the Boston area. The woman in charge of the Aria Sing I did recently recommended I audition for it. I emailed for info, and the director emailed me back to schedule an audition for me. Only then did I read the forwarded email that the Aria Sing lady had sent me:

"We need a hard core mezzo for our upcoming fall concerts...we are doing Copland's Creation and there is a Mendelssohn piece with some alto solos in there as well. Let me know if you have any suggestions!" I a hard core mezzo? Some might say so...I say maybe if I could ever get my nerves under control. And my lower register in gear. But, I know and love the Copland Creation. I don't think there's a chance that they'll give it to me if anyone else good enough is auditioning, simply based on my inexperience. But, it will be good to audition, so I will do my best.

A wonderful man who sings baritone gave me some advice during the Aria Sing about nerves during auditions. He seemed so at ease and comfortable up on stage (and, by the way, he wasn't the best voice I had heard), so I asked him how he learned to let the nerves go. He said someone told him once to remember that no matter where or what you are singing, audition or performance, that everyone there is wanting you to do well. They want to hear you make music and hit the high note and soar. So, just allow yourself the freedom to all be on the same side and know whoever's listening is rooting for you.

Easier said than done, but good advice.

Monday, March 29, 2010

beginning to be grateful

I have been over at a fellow blogger's site, and am humbled by her tenacity to Christ. She seems to embrace God in all she does, struggling to live out her faith in the day-to-day - no, minute-to-minute family life. She has a Monday theme that she does over there called "Multitude Mondays." To participate, you simply list 1000 things you are grateful for over the course of however many mondays it takes. I'd like to start. This space tends to be a venting space for me, but it would be nice to begin accepting and giving grace in all I do. So, here are my first few gratitudes:

1. layers of warm blankets on unexpectedly chilly nights

2. little boy arms covered in spaghetti pulling my face towards his for a mid-supper embrace

3. my husband's empathetic chocolate-brown eyes that always encourage me to share at the end of his tiring day

4. hope for monetary savings in the near future

5. supportive administration in my job

6. God's unending love and his grace that reveals it to me

7. that God allows us the pleasure of art and music, to glorify Him

8. long, complicated science fiction books :)

9. candles giving soft glow on serene baby faces

10. a dry, clean apartment after the floods

holy experience

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Sang in W______ Opera Works' Aria sing today. It was interesting, about what I expected, pretty casual, some good talent, some not so good. All of it you can listen and learn from. The pianist's name was Olga (OLGA!) and she was phenomenal. Loved her.

I sang "Va! laisse couler mes larmes!" from Massenet's Werther, and the Seguidilla from Bizet's Carmen - two French arias that I am very comfortable with, and thought I could really try some new audition techniques out on a fresh, non-critical audience.

The Massenet went well. I was much more nervous than I thought I would be, but I still got through it. It is such a drippy-romantic-tragic aria, and it is gorgeous. I am proud to say that I think I am finally making the connection between breath support and my low notes. Jon has been helping me connect what I feel to what it sounds like. Basically, I don't need to push so much, because (according to him) the sound is more there is I just relax and let it be there. Even through the nerves, I felt I was able to do this. And sing the pianissimos with support! yay!

The Carmen characterization went well. I got a lot of good response from the audience with that. Jon says my singing became unfocused for that piece though. I was a little more nervous for it than the first one. I always do that...once I stop singing, even to start again, I am shaking the worst. But, I am proud that I am moving more freely on stage.

All-in-all, a good day. I was asked by the director of WOW to come back and be a part of their Summer Concert Series and their spring production, Die Fleudermaus! Hopefully it will work with the Master's schedule.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

i hate being....misunderstood.

Jeremiah has a great kid's cd called "Philadelphia Chickens" on which is a track sung by Meryl Streep (yes, THAT Meryl Streep) called "Nobody understands me." This bluesy track has Meryl singing in a perfect Broadway whisper voice about how "nobody understands memmily blit each day!" She continues to sing nonsense throughout the song until it is nothing but jibberish at the end.

As I have an uncanny ability to inaccurately express myself lately, I find myself singing this song, trying to remember that all is not lost. Miscommunications happen all the time to all types of people. I just wish I had more of clue sometimes about whether I'm at fault or not, and how to watch what I say to make it easier to interpret what I really mean.

"When I think of all the gloubblesnop I've tried so hard to explain..." (Meryl again)

(ugh) Sometimes I wish I didn't have to talk to anyone ever again. Except those who really know what I'm like. Who know that more than anything, I desire to make people feel comfortable and not cause issues, even if it means my stuff/living area/routine/life is disrupted. I hate when something I say is taken a completely different way than I meant. This happened a lot to me growing up, and it still stings.

"...But I guess, zooblubble that way."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

gone and going...

Haven't updated in a while...and don't really have time for a good one now. But, here's what's happened...

We had torrential downpours and our basement apartment flooded. thankfully, no damage to speak of, but we were displaced for almost a week. We had a lovely family to stay with, and wonderful landlords that took care of everything and then some. Jeremiah thought it was a really fun field trip. I am just thankful to be home and back to normal.

My 4th graders had a Combined Pops Concert with my district's Middle and High School went really well. I had about an 80% turnout, I think. Everyone loved it.

Chicago came and went. It ended up fine, but started really badly. I had to sing for one of the girls who was sick, while conducting. Never tried that? Not my ideal way to keep your stress level down. Add to that student techies who aren't familiar with the show, and you have opening night. It got exponentially better from there.

I played piano accompaniment for an elementary musical. It was cute, but somewhat painful, especially the "talent show" portion that was student directed. By 3rd-6th grade students. Painful. I'll let your imagination handle that one. I'm glad it's over. And glad I got paid a lot to do it.

and what's next:

Schutz's The Seven Last Words for a Maundy Thursday service. This will be good to work my lower range as orotorio is not my strong suit.

Mozart's The Magic Flute rehearsals with M_______ Opera start soon. Doesn't look like the rehearsal schedule will be that bad, and I'm excited to watch some semi-pro's in action.

I signed up to sing in W________ Opera Works Aria Sing next sunday. Not quite sure what I'm going to sing yet, but plan to have a good time and hopefully get some good feedback.

Also, have Fine Arts Night coming up for my elementary kids in April. We're not quite ready, so I'm a little nervous...we'll have to see what happens.

That's all for now.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

a Sesame Street Opera

I am listening and watching a recitative being sung by Big Bird. Awesome. This is followed by Marilyn Horne singing, "C is for Cookie."

What a great way to teach kids about this art form!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

in charge

I was completely in charge of the Chicago rehearsal today from 10-3. I was a nervous wreck beforehand, knowing that it was the first time the pit orchestra was playing with the cast, not knowing if this would end up being a great rehearsal or a horrible rehearsal. I wasn't leaving any room for mediocre with the things that needed to be accomplished.

I made a schedule. A minute-to-minute schedule that had everyone busy at all times, whether you were a chorus member, a lead role, or a pit member. It was stressful to put it together and I had to exercise vigorously to get my stomach to unknot. I had little qualms about whether the kids would respond to the schedule, just qualms about the realistic nature of it, not knowing how the first rehearsal with pit would go.

See, I knew a couple things.

First, the assistant music director, who had been getting the pit ready the last few weeks, had nothing but negativity to report. And she knows her stuff. Worrying.

Second, there were still a few songs that we had never touched on before, or had not done well lately with the cast. The traditional apathy was setting in and I was worried about my assistant director's opinion of their readiness. She has worked at the school since I was there in middle school and is a very opinionated personality.

But. All was as well as could be hoped for. The pit played pretty well. Like, not the train-wreck I was hearing they were. My assistant was flabbergasted, but pleased. The cast sang and danced really well. They still need work, but they responded really well to knowing what was expected of them - they did independent work, respected my work ethic and adopted the premise of work hard then play hard and don't get caught slacking. They did me proud.

The drama director, as I said in the previous post, is a frazzled, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kind of woman. While I like the ideas she has and I'm sure she is an amazing's not a great thing for a director to be. I am often frustrated by her lack of commitment to a schedule for the rehearsal. The students get frustrated as well, not knowing what is coming next. If I am ever permanently in a position like this, I hope I can make it a priority to be organized with scheduling.

I really enjoy this 2-month job. It's one of the busiest times of my year, but I really like every moment I'm with the high school students. I know there is so much more to a high school teaching position than what I'm doing, but it's the first time I've thought I might like it better than elementary.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Alright, kids, let's start from the top."

I am running a rehearsal for "Chicago," and not only the show, but a high school version of the show. I am the music director, working with the drama teacher, dance instructor, pianist, and students.

The drama teacher who is spacey and frazzled and has too much on her plate.

The dance instructor who's marriage just fell apart and has much on her mind.

The pianist who is opinionated and hard for me to read at times.

And, the students. Ah, the students. So much I could say. They are tired (it's their vacation), unsure, uncoordinated, tough-acting, sensitive beings. I am trying to bust their butts to work hard on this music, which needs attitude and precision...when they give me apathy and routine.

I am not a leader. Not in my definition of the word. A leader doesn't let others' attitudes upset them. A leader has a vision that they know how to achieve. A leader can communicate well with others. A leader is a rock of self-assurance.

I am not that leader. Sometimes I see myself acting that way. I can be a good actor when I want to be. But I don't like myself very much when I'm that way. I have moments when I am coarse, rushed, bossy, or impatient.

And then I come back to myself and don't like who I just was. And I pendulum back to the other extreme, where I doubt my actions, my thoughts, other's observations, and wonder if I'll ever be able to just be true. Who am I supposed to be, really? I've always thought of myself as a more type-B personality:
- I don't like to cause waves
- I want people to get along
- perfectionism isn't as important as peace
However, when you're leading a group of people, there are a myriad of personalities to deal with. Not everyone will agree with you or each other on any number of decisions. Peace is not natural in this world. When people are in disagreement - this is where I need confidence to lead with grace and truth.

I don't like being the one responsible for where it all stops. Lately, that's a place I've found myself frequently. There is no one to hide behind - no one to pass things off to, or defer answers to. It's mine to call. I really don't like that. I feel inexperienced and shy about decision making. I don't trust my judgment or ability to be objective.

The drama director is a wonderful woman who likes to ski and has the joy of a daughter getting married in the spring. She is talented and spirited and I enjoy working with her. She never makes me feel the 20+ years younger than her that I am.

The dance instructor is a beautiful, Godly woman who takes the time to listen and understand and open herself up to you. I cannot fathom how she still does that given all she's been through.

The pianist is a friend of mine from college, who struggles with social awkwardness at times. I have to remember that she probably doesn't understand me as much I don't understand her. Sometimes I feel there are many people like this in my life...and maybe it's me, not them. I need to love them through God's eyes. My own often don't work well.

And the students. They can be draining, but they are usually life-giving. They are excited to be shown how to perform, to make the music and the drama that this opportunity affords them. They give me smiles, little funny comments, and they try really hard and sometimes succeed when I push them. They give me the gift of response. They let me lead them. I love them for that. I come back to the next rehearsal for that.

I don't know how to be the leader that it seems I must be in so many areas of my life. I have leaned on others for so much of my life. I know it's called growing up, but it's a little weird realizing that all these older people treat you as an adult too - not a "young adult" - no, no, that's different. That's the term that means "I-know-you're-technically-an-adult-but-you-still-act-kinda-immature-and-I-don't-trust-you-yet" Now, they trust me. Doesn't mean I get it right all the time, or even most of time. But it's good to realize that neither do they. We're all just supposed to try as best we can to do the work before us.

So. I'm the leader, I will lead. I might look foolish at times. I might screw up and have to correct myself. But, maybe if I stay true and honest, knowing when to speak and when to shut up, they'll keep following. The following is more important than the leading.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Answered prayers

I submitted my application for the Masters program about a week ago, and I got an email from the director saying I have been accepted about an hour ago.

(I was told that I wouldn't know until April.)

I don't have to take the techniques of conducting class since I took it as an undergrad, saving me about $1200 dollars, and giving me the opportunity to conduct a higher caliber choir later.

I have been given an amazing gift of free childcare this summer (while I'm doing this Masters program) from a generous couple of women in my church, who simply want to spend time with Jeremiah. I started crying on the phone when they told me.

(we don't have money to pay for the amount of childcare that we will need in the upcoming months. This has stressed to me out like you wouldn't believe.)

There is a huge possibility that we could move soon to a nicer place and pay less money while helping out an old friend. This would allow for us to pay off debt faster, pay more out of pocket for schooling, and save for a place of our own someday...all of which seemed so out-of-reach lately.

My church is changing. There's not much more I can say about this now, but it's needed to happen. One thing I'm thrilled about is Jeremiah now has a Sunday School teacher, so he can actually have some "church" too.

God is good. I will try to stop developing ulcers now.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I read an article the other day in Classical Singer about tone color. It was detailing research that has been done about a singer's native language affecting the specific tone color of the voice, i.e. vocal color beginning with speech. The way a language pronounces vowels will affect a person's vocal color. They give the example of many Russians recently coming onto the scene, bringing with them a different set of tone colors than are traditionally heard. They give as another example the impending influx of Chinese and other Asian singers. Mandarin has 4 conversational tones that are used which would lend itself to many exciting new tone colors to be heard. This could be tough on traditional English and European voice types.

Interesting thoughts anyway. It's on if you want to look it up - but you have to be a subscriber.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


February is one of my hardest months to get through.

I know some of you out there agree with me. It's just...blah. It's routine. I know there's Valentine's Day, and that's cool, but it's not anything more than a day. It's not like you decorate the house and wait for it to happen.

Unless some of you do. Which is fine. (Maybe that's how you get through your February?)

I usually end up being somewhat depressed around this time of year and it totally has to do with the weather and lack of fresh air. It's really cold in New England for a long time. This southern-born girl does not appreciate a winter that is 4 months long. Sometimes (most times), longer. And February is right smack in the middle of that long stretch of miserableness. If it was up to me, I might have moved to warmer regions by now and just dealt with finding all new friends. My hubby doesn't go for that idea. He says winter is beautiful.

And today, there was a snowstorm. Well, a sort of snowstorm. As in, they predicted this huge snowfall and horrible commute and we got barely a dusting. Ah well. The nice thing is, the old snow looks fairly new again. And it was a change. It was nice to have something besides cold, dry, and windy. Falling snow is beautiful. Not the change I would have asked for (70 degrees and sunny, anyone?), but it is the change that was given.

So, I praise God for his willingness to bring some different into this February, even if it's a sensible different. It is the small graces that keep me alive and kicking.

Thank you, Lord, for the snow.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Flip at F

The latest vocal issue I've been tackling comes with the territory: practicing. I actually love to practice, mostly because I just love to sing, so it's always happening. But the kind of practicing I need to learn to do is more in the category of "workout." I had a lesson the other day with my fabulous teacher, and she told me that the only way my voice will be able to bridge those incredibly awful passagio gaps between middle and chest is by strengthening from head voice down and chest voice up. I was relieved to hear that, since all I had ever been taught was head-voice-down-head-voice-down-don't-put-it-in-chest-it'll-sound-too-harsh.

You mean it's ok for a mezzo to use her chest voice? To mix it in, but also use it fully!?

"Of course," she replies. "As long as it isn't strained."

Fabulous. I am on a roll. So, I am to create a regimen, a vocal workout that will strengthen the notes in the breaks, but also give me a general shape up in my singing. Things like:

*5 minutes of panting in 30 second intervals
*10 minutes of the Shakespeare exercise in head voice only up and down by half steps to the metronome set at 60
*10 minutes of Shakespeare exercise in fuller voice at same tempo and pitches


I like this plan. Like all good workouts, it will be exciting for a while, and then become mundane and like work. But, I know it will be better for me to do this and then add any warm ups and repertoire. So I will work and not have a little flip at my F above middle C. :)

Monday, February 01, 2010

DONE! (almost)

I am finally finished with my Master's application. :)

The hardest part by far was dealing with my incompetancy involving anything to do with technology. UGH. I had a simple task of recording myself for 15 minutes doing a lesson with some students, and transfering it onto a DVD. Simple.

Not so simple for cretens such as myself. I literally wanted to throw either myself or the computer at the wall. Jon decided to take over at that point.

He very nicely stayed up way too late last night making it all work (and was exhausted this morning). So, I brought my laptop to work today and spent my prep trying (and failing and trying again and failing again) to get the introduction-to-the-lesson video and the lesson video onto the same DVD. Finally (I have no idea how), I did it.

And I tested the DVD by playing it on a normal DVD player, and IT WORKED.

Now I just have to get a test done to make sure I don't have TB and I'm done.

(who gets TB nowadays anyway? Is this a problem in suburban America?)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

monkey see, monkey do.

my little one does whatever I want to do. Sometimes I think this is great, I can go where I want and he won't cause a fuss (most of the time), or we can hang out at the house and do chores or sing or dance or watch a little kid show (or a big kid show) or just putter around doing nothing but enjoying the day.

Right now, he is watching a show on Noggin and happily crawled next to me to snuggle and watch me type and check email and such.

While this is nice, I must also remember that the "pliable-ness" in his personality will lend itself to mine and Jon's example. If we sit around all the time, so will he. If we use our energy to get things done and be active, so will he (at least in this point in his life). This is a very mellow child, easy to get along with, not one to cause waves. I must remember to help him be active...and that means using the time I have with him to be active and get him moving and helping around the house and playing with all his toys.

This gets tough since I have less and less time at home lately. I don't want to be running around and doing the chores. I've been working all week, and want a break. I like having the TV on sometimes...yet I know it's not always good for him. I like being lazy and not doing much, but I know if he sees that every week I'm with him, he'll think that's what we're supposed to do. And he will get used to it.

I want to do the right things. God give me grace. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

what music means to me.

Photo slideshows and music just make me cry every time.

Add to that some sort of narrative or reading, and I'm done. In writing my philosophy of Music Education, I have to include a section on why music should be kept in the public schools...a good idea since so many programs are not high on the admin's profile. I don't think I'm very articulate when I describe what music means to me...but it means the world to me. A life without music is almost empty. I try to think that God would fill the void with something just as good, but I can't think what it would be. Music puts thoughts where there are none. Music gives life to nothingness. Music creates expression for things that are stuck. I think without music, I would be very much stuck inside myself with little to no outlets. do I write that in an oh-so-professional paper for my Masters program?

Hope you all have a beautiful long weekend.