Friday, September 26, 2014

(College) Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Instrument Selection

During a recent combo rehearsal, I was asked how I came to choose the saxophone...

ME: I really can't remember; it looked like a lot of fun; a bunch of my friends were playing, it wasn't exactly "all the cool kids age doing it," but that was a factor.
KID: I've seen those selection sessions at school before, and it's crazy. These people who are going to be's like picking your Pokemon at the beginning of the game, and it's yours for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Big Horns

Surprisingly, the top-band bari players at all three of my middle schools are seventh graders this year, and needless to say, there's been some adjustment to the big horn for all of them, and some new accessories for it...

ME: That's a cool harness you have there. And I bet you like it a lot more than you would a neck strap.
KID: A neck strap would break my spine!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Principals Say the Darnedest Things About Technology

An assistant principal at one of my schools came up with this beautifully misspoken sentence during a recent announcement: "If you are listening to music on your devices, you must be using headbuds."

(Reminds me of the time in my youth when my dad--the official starter for the neighborhood swim meets--called out an event as the "13-14 year-old girls' breaststyle.")

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instruments

The bari player mentioned in yesterday's KSTDT had an interesting thing to say about his horn during his own lesson time...
KID: This is my bari. Actually, he's more like my friend that I completely control.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Transposing Instruments

A kid was looking at my roster as he signed it, and noticed the name of one of his bandmates, who had recently switched to bari...
KID: So you still teach (other kid's name)? Do you bring your bari or something?
ME: I don't have to bring my bari to teach a bari player. We play the same exact notes an octave apart. The bari is an Eb instrument, just like you and I both play the Eb alto.
KID: Oh yeah...
ME: So do you remember why we play Eb alto saxophones? (I was hoping he'd remember that our C matches the Eb on the piano)
KID: Because we're cool?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Commerce

A student recently showed up with a new horn, and we were both very pleased with it...

KID: This horn was supposed to cost $4000, but it's used, so it was only $2000.
ME (thinking $4K was a bit steep for that model, and doing a quick online search): That's interesting; I see one here on Amazon for only $1300.
KID: But you have to remember tax.
(I assured the kid that the sales tax on $1300 wasn't $700, and found out that, here in Texas; you'd have to spend almost $8500 to generate that much tax.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Instructor's Analogies

This year's All-State music has a passage where there are four sixteenth notes with the articulation "tongue one, slur three" for multiple bars. I tell my students to think "Tatiana, Tatiana" to play the articulation correctly..

ME: I think that's the easiest way to imagine that articulation. Just think of some Russian gymnast or figure skater; Tatiana is a nice Russian name that's easy to remember.
(Kid plays passage with correct articulation, but his fingers fumble and he adds a few extra notes to one beat.)
ME: Nice grace notes there.
KID: Tatiana fell down.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Foreign Languages

Most musical terms are in Italian, which is very close to Spanish, so studying the latter helps a lot with the former on many occasions...

ME: So are you taking Spanish? You might recognize this term if so.
KID: I just don't have an interest in taking Spanish. I'd rather take a more interesting language, like German or Irish.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget

Fourteen years ago today:
I was on a break from teaching, like every Tuesday, and actually spent the time of the attacks in blissful ignorance at the Rockwall Starbucks. I had CD's on in my car instead of the radio, so I totally missed the news on both the way over and the way back. I did hear someone listening to a radio on the patio and they were talking about "the second plane," but it didn't register with me at all. (It amazed me later that nobody walked inside and told us about it.)

When I got back to the school, the flute teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked me if all my students were being pulled out of school (evidently hers were). I said, "No, why?" and she told me what had happened. I spent the rest of the day like everyone else, in shocked, depressed amazement, catching the news when I could. There I was, not even two weeks into being a homeowner, and the world suddenly felt so different. It added to the pall cast over everything when I found out that the sister of a girl I graduated from high school with was on Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. (Since it's common on this day to have roll calls of the people who were lost, I'll state her name here, with a link to her foundation: Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas.)

The whole thing felt so surreal; how could anyone hate us that much? The concept of the suicide hijacking was unprecedented as well (before that, hijackers just usually wanted to go to Cuba, and that's why airline personnel were taught to cooperate with them rather than try to subdue them).

I know there are still terrorist plots being hatched, and people capable of carrying them out...but I hope nothing like this ever happens on U.S. soil again. Or anywhere, for that matter.
As I repost this in 2014, we know that the evil in our world is far from being eradicated. But I say once more, may we never forget, and may something of this nature never happen here again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kids Continue to Say the Darnedest Things About Unfamiliar Key Signatures

This student was playing the Eb Major scale for the first time in a while...

KID: I've never played in this many sharps before. What's the new flat?
ME: There are no sharps in the Eb scale; the new flat is Ab.
KID: *facepalm*

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things When the Teacher Uses His Typical Analogies

This is a two-fer--same kid, same lesson, same concept.

ME: So I'm going to explain this in terms of food...and you know, it seems like the vast majority of my analogies involve either speaking, or driving, or food.
KID: Ha, that's true. But really, except for sleep, those are the most important things in life--talking, driving, and food.
ME: True enough--and the sleeping part is covered in music by the use of rests.


ME: So here's my philosophy on vibrato; A lot of people approach it as if it's an addition to the sound, when to me, it's really a part of the sound. So if you think of your sound as a pie...instead of treating vibrato like it's the Cool Whip on top of the pie, it's really baked into the pie. Does that make sense?
KID: Yeah, it does...and now I want pie.
ME: Yeah, I want pie, too.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

You Know You Post A Lot About the Rangers on Social Media...

...when auto-correct pumps out a sentence like "I look forward to hearing from Yu" in an email completely unrelated to baseball.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Timekeeping

The All-State Jazz ballad for saxophone this year is at quarter note = 60, so it's really easy to get the tempo, providing you own a device that most kids nowadays don't have...
ME: So remember, you can get the tempo for this off your watch (looks over at kid)..,oh, wait--you don't have one.
KID: I've been planning on getting a watch, but I just haven't had time.
ME: I see what you did there.