Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adults Say the Darnedest Things

As I was teaching lessons at the home studio tonight, the doorbell rang a few minutes before the next kid usually arrives. I had the kid who was finishing up his lessons continue to play as I answered the door.

But it wasn't the next kid; it was a lady that I had never seen before.

ME: Hi, can I help you?
LADY: Oh, that's just beautiful! What is that sound?
ME: It's a saxophone.
LADY: That's so nice. I'm just in the neighborhood seeing if you'd like to have your rugs shampooed. (Hesitates a second, still listening to saxophone.) And that's your doorbell? It's still going?
ME: No ma'am, that's someone playing saxophone, and I'm teaching him a lesson right now.
LADY (looks embarrassed): Oh, I see. But that sound really is beautiful!

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Jazz Standards

I had mentioned something about how undesirable it is to play robotically, and this kid was trying to reference the video of the robot playing Giant Steps...

KID: I was looking for John Coltrane on YouTube...what was that song called, Small Steps?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kids Still Say the Darnedest Things About Geography

The kids are on a roll today: We were discussing slow tempos today, and I mentioned that one of the slowest ones, Grave, was usually reserved for funeral marches...

KID: Oh, like in Louisiana, right?
ME: You mean like a New Orleans jazz funeral?
KID: Yeah, like they do in New Orleans and Louisiana.
ME: New Orleans is in Louisiana.
KID: Oh man, I couldn't remember; I thought maybe New Orleans was in Florida.

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Physical Ailments

Overheard in the hallway this morning on a cold day: "I'm gonna get no-monia from workin' out." (As one of my Facebook commenters pointed out, that's better than having some-monia.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Themselves

This morning, one of them was happy about an upcoming birthday...

KID: I'm so happy! Next week is my birthday!
ME: Oh, you'll be 16, right? The drivers license birthday!
KID: (gives sad look)
ME: Oh, you haven't completed driver's ed yet. Well, you can still go get a job!
KID: I don't know. I don't think I could get like a fast food or server job, because I don't like people...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Adults Say the Darnedest Things, Especially When Kids Set Them Up For It So Well

At the beginning of a lesson...

KID: So what are we going to do today?
ME: Same thing we do every day, Pinky--try and take over the world!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Good Grammys/Bad Grammys

Good Grammys: Having Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Kenny Garrett doing a Brubeck tribute. Bad Grammys: Having that tribute last about 2.5 seconds.

Good Grammys: Their support of music education and the announcement of an outstanding music educator recognition award starting next year. Bad Grammys: Of all the musicians in the "in memoriam" montage, the studio audience applauds the loudest for MCA of the Beastie Boys. (Not slamming his skills in the genre, but more applause than Brubeck or Andy Griffith?)

So Your Kid Wants to Be a Music Major...

Perhaps you should let him. It is interesting how supportive some parents can be in terms of their kids' participation in band, orchestra or choir, right up until the point when one of them decides to pursue it as a career...
A weird thing about a lot of parents is that they beam and glow when their kids get solos in orchestra, band and choir in high school, but they freak out when the same talented kid says “I want to study music in college.”

I don’t get it. You raise a kid to have pluck and self-determination, and then when the kid says “I love playing my instrument more than anything, and I want to pursue my passion as a career,” the parent flips out.

Right now is the time of year when parents call me in a frenzy of parental angst about their children’s musical aspirations. They sound panicky on the phone. A child has decided that he or she loves music, and the parent is certain the love of music is going to send an accomplished, self-directed kid straight to Skid Row. They ask me, “Am I dooming my child to a life of poverty if I let him major in music?”

That's from a wonderful new blog post by Liz Ryan, CEO/founder of Human Workplace, and, yes, holder of a vocal performance degree. She calls her post "Let the kid study music, already," and she makes some great points about how the study of music has value that carries over to other disciplines, even if the student doesn't end up doing music full-time after graduation.

I know I mentioned it on this blog before, but a good friend of mine--a tuba-playing mortgage broker--feels that his music education degree is his ace in the hole; the discipline, time management, and multitasking skills, along with other good qualities noted by Ryan in her post, have given him the edge over many of his coworkers over the years who may not have had such a rigorous course of study.

Like any major, music isn't for everyone, but, as Ryan says, studying it doesn't necessarily doom someone to a life of poverty.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

KIds Say the Darnedest Things About TMEA, Parts 1 and 2

PART 1: I was reminding a student at the end of a lesson that I wouldn't be there next week because of the big music convention, and his parting words were as follows...

KID: Have a nice trip to San Antonio! Is your wife going with you?
ME: She'd have to exist first.

(He gave me a sad look, so i tried to alleviate his embarrassment by adding, "Maybe I'll meet her down there!")

PART 2: As I was reminding more people that there would be no lessons a few days next week because of TMEA, I explained the whole concept--that it's a big music teachers' convention in San Antonio--to a beginner.

KID: I've been to San Antonio twice! But I still can't spell it.
ME: Oh, I bet you can. S-A-N, space...
KID: A-N-O...
ME: It's just the name Antonio.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Heritage

I can't remember what prompted this, but it was funny...

KID: My family's mostly from Asia--the Germany area.
ME: Germany's not in Asia.
KID: OK...they're near Asia.

(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About the Role of the Bassist in a Big Band

I forgot to post this one earlier: During a rehearsal last week, the bassist kept dropping out at random times, much to the chagrin of the director, who's also a bass player. Finally, he had to make a strong statement...

DIRECTOR: Bass players never stop playing!
BASSIST: Even when there are rests?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Ten Years Later, We Still Remember

I can't believe that it's been ten years to the day since the Columbia disaster--part of which I witnessed firsthand without knowing what I was seeing at first. One year later, once I had become a blogger, I recounted my recollection of the morning, but I'll repost it here in its entirety as well:
GREENVILLE, TX: The sun rose brightly on the outskirts of town on a crisp Saturday morning. I wasn't usually up this early on a Saturday, now that I was freed of the weekend job I'd had off and on for over a decade. But this was a special weekend: my annual Province Workshop for Sinfonia, where all the chapters get together for a big weekend-long meeting. This year it was being held at Texas A&M-Commerce--a small school in a small town, but one of my stronger chapters.

Seeing as how Commerce wasn't a big place, I didn't want to tax their hospitality by staying with one of the local brothers, so I got a hotel in Greenville, the nearest big town. I had the place to myself, at least on paper, but James (my collegiate representative), Baker (who would be elected this morning to that post for next year), and about four other guys from UNT crashed on my floor that night. No biggie--it's all about the brotherhood.

Since I was running the meetings, I left around 8:00 a.m. to get back to Commerce. I went in the lobby to check out of the hotel; Baker, who was riding up there with me, stayed in the car. When I came out, I was greeted by a loud noise, the likes of which I had never heard before. Baker was outside the car, looking at the noise's source.

A large jet contrail, much bigger than usual, appeared in the morning sky above. It was I watched it, the main stream kept going forward but also split off into equal arcs to the right and left. I wasn't sure, but I thought I was watching an exquisitely-choreographed military training flight. Baker had been in the military before college, so it made sense why he was watching it, but I was equally enraptured.

The only thing was, I was pretty sure that we weren't anywhere close to a military base. That spawned an exchange that neither of us would understand for a while: "I wonder what we're near," I asked. "Armageddon," replied Baker. Even though that didn't make sense, we watched the display until it no longer could be seen, and then we got into the car to head to the meetings.

As the coffee-and-donuts hour drew to a close and we got ready to start the meetings, James pulled me aside for a second. "I thought maybe you might want to make an announcement or something; I just heard on the radio that the space shuttle blew up." Only then did I realize what Baker and I had seen, and our conversation now made sense (he knew it hadn't been a training flight and thought maybe it was an asteroid hurtling toward the earth).

Just like when Challenger had gone down so many years before, the viewing audience had gotten complacent, taking the safe return of NASA missions for granted again. To tell the truth, I had even forgotten that Columbia was still up there, much less that it was scheduled to land today.

Though the meetings continued, the thought of what happened was never far from anyone's mind. On the way home, my radio was glued to the news station. There was a definite pall over the day--that sadness that you feel because of what happened, whether you knew the people or not. Thankfully, other things weren't canceled either; seeing my buddy Lee in Grease proved to be a good escape from reality on this day.

Even a decade later, everything written above is pretty much seared into my mind for good, I'd think. We have not forgotten you, Columbia Seven.