Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Kids Continue to Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Styles

One school's audition ├ętude is marked Maestoso, and of course, I'm teaching the definition of that word quite frequently....

ME: The word "maestoso" means majestically. How would you play something majestically?
KID: Good?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Style Markings

Many of my middle-schoolers are auditioning on a piece of music with a section marked "stately march tempo." But that doesn't mean they all know the definition...

ME: So what does "stately" mean in terms of a march?
KID: It's known all over the state?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Musical Exercises

A little backstory first: Anyone who's been in my studio in middle school will remember a set of technical exercises I've dubbed the "vegetables" (because they may not be the most fun things in the world to play, but they're really good for you). Working on overtones with a more advanced student, I fashioned an exercise for him that strongly resembled the "vegetables" in format (play twice or more, end on a long note)...

ME: We're just genetically engineering our vegetables here...
KID: Cool! Then they can glow in the dark!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Alarm Clocks

A student was talking about having trouble waking up that morning; despite having a loud alarm clock, it evidently paled in comparison to his previous one: "My old alarm was evil. It broke your soul in half. It just made you want to lie back down and cry."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Music

A student was sightreading a piece with me that had a slow intro, played in 8/8 time. Though it was s challenge for him to read in that time feel, I noted that at least the piece was fairly short--less than one page in all. The kid replied, "It's so short because it's so long."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Principals Say the Darnedest Things

On the announcements at one of my high schools, a principal was discussing prom, specifically the special prom shirts that the senior class has made every year: "Prom shirts must be approved by my office in advance, or you might be in jeopardy of attending prom." the objective is to not attend prom?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sometimes, Teachers Also Say/Do the Darnedest Things

When trying to open the metronome app on my phone (second from left, top row, second screen), I accidentally opened my calendar app (second from left, top row, first screen). I then told the student that, while the calendar app did indeed keep time in a way, it wasn't useful for our current purposes.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Kids Continue to Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Terms

This time, it's the word dolce (pronounced DOLE-chay), the Italian musical term for "sweetly"--familiar to many as the name of the cinnamon latte at Starbucks...

ME: What is that word?
KID: "Dohlse"
ME: Not quite.
KID: DOOL-say!
ME: It is like the Spanish dulce. Are you familiar with that word?
KID: Yes!
ME: Whst does it mean?
KID: I don't know.
ME: I thought you did.
KID: I lied!
ME: Any more guesses?
KID: Two?
ME: No, although "doce" is twelve in Spanish.
KID: Blue?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Former Classmates

One of my recent combo members is an elderly gentleman who returned to music after a 50-year hiatus from playing (before taking another hiatus this semester); I use him as a shining example of how it's possible to come back and play even if your career takes you elsewhere. His name came up in rehearsal recently...

ME (to new combo member): I'm sorry you never got to meet (older guy's name); he's quite a character. He's a 74-year-old retired pilot.
KID #1: With one leg.
ME: Correct; the gentleman is an amputee.
KID #2: With one leg? So did you say he was a 74-year-old retired pirate?
WHOLE CLASS: (*uproarious laughter*)
ME: I'm not sure that pirates retire, but...yeah, good one.
KID #3: This is going on Facebook, isn't it?
ME: Yup.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instructor's Playing

I player-coach in both of my combos this semester because of a scarcity of horns in the program, and one of the students had this to say after a tune where I'd taken a solo: "Do you remember what you played in the last two bars? It was very sleazy...and I really liked it."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kids Continue to Say the Darnedest Things About Classical Composers

Many of my sixth-graders are preparing for their first solo and ensemble contest next month, and one had finally decided on which solo to play--a piece by Mozart.

ME: This is a good one, and it was written by a very famous composer.
KID: (Blank look)
ME: Oh, you haven't heard of Mozart? He's one of the best-known composers of all time. They even made a movie about him!
KID: I'd think that would be Beethoven with the movie.
ME: Yeah, they made a movie about Beethoven too. He's also very well-known.
KID: Wasn't he an orchestra singer or something?

("Orchestra singer"?? And I hope the Beethoven movie the kid was talking about wasn't the one with the dog...)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Music

With this one, we were done with scales and ready to move on to the audition music...

ME: Ok, let's go ahead and start the ├ętude.
KID: From the beginning?
ME: Unless you want to start from the end and play it backwards...
KID: No, I think I'm good.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Five years ago this evening, I took an unscheduled ride on my rear end down the basement staircase at Recycled Books in Denton after my legs slipped out from under me at the top of the stairs. If I had continued the slide to its completion, I might have had nothing more than a bruised ego...but instead, I grabbed the banister to stop myself, which resulted in one leg stopping and the other one continuing. I felt and heard a loud popping sound from the stopped leg, followed by excruciating pain. A trip to the doctor later that week revealed a ruptured quadriceps tendon and a torn meniscus.

It would take a while, but I would eventually have everything surgically repaired that June, wearing a knee brace until around September and using a cane until October. It felt like a long road to recovery with physical therapy and all that, but looking back, I was really only disabled for a total of six months.

My time of recuperation was not without its inconveniences (most notably related to driving; even when I could angle my knee enough to get behind the wheel again, I couldn't use the clutch until August), but I also gained some valuable perspective as a temporarily handicapped person, and and I learned out of necessity how to slow things down for a bit. But I also found out just how much I was able to transcend my challenges with dogged determination and hard work (I resumed teaching four days after surgery, and I hopped on a plane three weeks later to attend the Sinfonia National Convention, where I freaked out the rest of the Province Governors' Council by hobbling into the meeting room using a walker).

As I look back on the past five years, I'm grateful that I made a full recovery, with only a few visible signs of the procedure, and I'm grateful to my wonderful friends and family who helped me out along the way.

TL;DR: Today is my "falliversary." I can't believe it's been five years. TS; WM (too short, want more): Click the link under "Labels" at the bottom of this post to read the whole thing as it went by, week by week.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Extracurricular Activities

I mentioned to a middle-schooler that my next lesson was at his hated rival school, and his response was "Boo!" I reminded him that he would be uniting with kids from that school as a high-schooler next year, and besides, all the sports that held pep rallies had already completed their seasons.

KID I think there should be a pep rally for fencing!
ME: Is there even a fencing team here?
KID: No, but if there was, I'd be on it.
ME: Do you really think anyone would trust 7th and 8th graders with swords?
KID: That's why there are tryouts!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Peopel From Earlier Times in History

The same kid who was putting 4/4 bars in minuets last week was doing it again today, and I reminded him of the pretend ramifications of doing so...

ME: Let me once again remind you that your powdered wig dancers are very upset right now...
KID: But they're dead!

(He also noted that "there may be some imitators out there, but it's not the same.")

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Kids Continue to Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Terms

A beginner was getting to the point in the learning sequence where I introduce vibrato, so I was checking to see whether or not it had come up in class yet...

ME: So have you guys started doing vibrato out there?
KID: Vi-what-o? (pause) Oh, the wavy thing.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Thought fo the Day

If middle school hallway traffic consisted of cars instead of walkers, there would be about 47 wrecks within the first few minutes after the bell.

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instructors

The subject was people messing up when someone else was in the room...

ME: I don't really get the whole thing of people getting nervous playing in front of me, though. I mean, especially compared to some people in my profession, I'm not exactly the scariest person out there.
KID: Yeah, but you do kinda look like Chuck Norris.
ME: I do? I've never heard that before.
KID: Oh, you should.

(Do I really remind any of you of Chuck Norris? I don't see it. But if so, that's a big step up from the days when I wore glasses and didn't have a goatee, and looked like Bill Gates.)

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Not Something That Happens Every Day

This may have happened before: a random stranger comes up to me in Starbucks and asks me if I have a church home.

This definitely hasn't happened before: Said stranger turns out to be a former trombonist who studied jazz at UNT before changing her major. I think we may have gained a new Metroplexity fan (and maybe one of the Maniacal 4 as well).

Friday, April 04, 2014

If Today Had Remained As Bad As It Started, I MIght Have Just Gone Back to Bed

People sometimes refer to having a bad day by saying, "I woke up on the wrong side of the bed." Well, this almost literally happened to me this morning. I have two alarm clocks placed at opposite sides of the room, at four-minute intervals. I heard the far one (six feet away on the left) go off, and I inadvertently headed for the near one (two feet away on the right), which made me slam rather violently into my dresser. No actual injuries resulted from this, save for a mildly banged-up knee (yes, the one I had operated on five years ago) and some slightly stubbed toes. (Oh, and I may have said a naughty word when it happened.)

Thankfully, the day has been pretty decent since then. But what a start...

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About HIstorical FIgures

When I was recounting part of my Wyoming trip to a student, I showed a picture of the cool town where we stayed...

ME: This town is called Cody, Wyoming; it's named after Buffalo Bill.
KID: Buffalo Bill--he was a real person?

The Network Should "Tighton" Up Its Training in the Graphics Department

Just saw a nice closed-caption fail, as it referred to the NFL team from Tennessee as the "Tightons."

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Texas Cities

One of my schools' bands is going to Corpus Christi for their trip this year, and I wanted to make sure everyone knew that this trip would not cost them a lesson...

ME: So don't worry--I'll be scheduling around the band trip at the end of the month.
KID: It's crazy! Everyone is going to Corpus Crispy this year!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About People in Olden Times

While sightreading a minuet duet, a kid put an extra beat in a measure...

ME: Remember, a minuet is a dance in 3/4 from the powdered wig days. By putting an extra beat in that measure, you probably caused a few of your dancers to get mad at you, and maybe even fall down.
KID: Its not my fault they wore high heels!