Wednesday, December 23, 2015
During the last lessons before Thanksgiving, I was asking people how much practice time they had over the break...
ME: So are you driving or flying?
KID: We're flying...and that means I don't get to practice at all! I'm glad we're taking the trip, but I hate that I can't practice.
ME: Well, it's not always easy to fly with a horn, so I guess I can see the point.
KID: But why can't I bring my instrument for Thanksgiving? I bet old people would love to hear me play.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
ME: Those were eighth notes there, and you played them as quarter notes.
KID: Maybe they got a promotion.
ME: So what does "meno mosso" mean?
KID: A little bit of moss?
Friday, December 11, 2015
Monday, December 07, 2015
KID: I've never come in sixth before. I wonder what it's like to come in sixth and miss it by one...
OTHER KID (who actually did come in sixth and miss it by one, and was sitting on the floor out of view, but within earshot): It's pretty depressing.
KID: No! I thought you left! You weren't supposed to still be here! I'm so sorry!
ME: Well, that's awkward....
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
KID: That bass clarinet case is taller than most girls.
ME : It is pretty tall.
KID: It's taller than people!
ME: Girls are people too.
KID: I was just going for a broader spectrum.
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
(It turns out this was true; one of his classmates is too sick to come to school, so he has a robot "attending" class for him, and it was my student's job today to navigate the robot to its next class.)
Thursday, October 29, 2015
KID: I need to do more diminuendo! Some people call it a decrescendo, but I prefer diminuendo.
ME: Eh--they're the same thing... like sofa and couch.
KID: No, it's only couch for me! Sofa reminds me of...a potato.
KID: Yes, a potato.
(I later realized that it should have been "couch" that reminded her of a potato. She acknowledged that phrase, but still said that it was "sofa" that triggered the association.)
Friday, October 23, 2015
ME: What's the first rule of sightreading?
KID: You don't talk about sightreading?
ME: No, that would be Fight Club.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
ME: What is the rule for accidentals--what do they do?
KID: They mess you up.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Friday, September 18, 2015
(After explaining the difference between the samba and the mambo, we were able to establish that the mamba is, in fact, a snake.)
Friday, September 11, 2015
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.)As I repost this in 2015, we know that the evil in our world is far from being eradicated (indeed, the past few years have seen evil showing its face even more, so it would seem). But I say once more, may we never forget, and may something of this nature never happen here again.
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.
Friday, January 16, 2015
And while I've blogged about Region for almost the entire twelve years in which this blog has been in existence, the post has been very similar each year, with only minor edits. But last year was a departure in several areas, and this year even more so. (As always, this post doesn't pretend to be a review of the concert, just whatever random thoughts popped into my head as I was listening.)
- For those unfamiliar with Region, this event really isn't one
concert--it's five mini-concerts. Each band has a 45-minute slot, and the start time for each band is listed in the program; even if a band runs short, the next band won't start till its posted time.
There is a substantial amount of turnover between bands, but that may well have made room for everyone to attend, though there were seats to spare during each band. (I've never done the math to figure out whether anyone's auditorium could hold a cumulative audience, but I have my doubts, especially if kids stuck around to watch their friends in later bands.)
- One of the things I've always observed is that the concert runs like clockwork. And for the first time in recent memory--perhaps since the set-time thing began--it wasn't exactly a Swiss train tonight. It appeared that one band didn't come out quite on time, and it made the rest of the concert run about five minutes behind. Not that it really mattered, of course, but it was just different.
- I make a point every year to state that I prefer the new "wind ensemble" music (whose composers show a strong influence of contemporary film score writing) to the older "band" music (with its smaller sonic palette), but the two things that most resonated with me tonight were older pieces that I had played in high school and/or college. The best conductors and performers can bring new energy to old music, especially that which is an outstanding example of its genre in the first place.
- Of the new pieces played tonight, the one that most caught my attention was "Ruckus." by a composer listed only as Standridge (let this be my annual appeal to include the usual composer info--at least first names, if not birthdates--in the programs), but a quick Googling suggests that it's this guy. Lots of fun, and there's even a jazz-sounding sax part in there.
- This yeasr, they returned to the theme of having the top two bands conducted by college directors, and this year's duo (in order of appearance), Robert Carnoghan and Jerry Junkin from UT-Austin, were outstanding. (I also pointed out to one of my students that there was a pronounced difference in the conducting styles of the college directors, who work in a more orchestral style, with less reliance on a steady beat pattern. My quote was, "Some conductors direct beats, but these guys direct style." They're really fun to watch...
- I always stay for the entire concert, whether or not I have students in the top band. But I would have done so anyway this year, just because of the Wind Ensemble's program. It was all of one piece, but..that piece was Carmina Burana. The entire band transcription. Played by high school students, after a mere day and a half of rehearsal. I was more than blown away. Congrats to Maestro Junkin and the students on an amazing job.
- I was very happy that the practice of having both parents/siblings and directors/private teachers of the students onstage stand before each group performed. Most of what we private teachers do is very much behind the scenes, but it's cool to be recognized once a year.
- Let's hear it for well-rounded musicians! Looking through the program, I counted five members of the Region Jazz band I directed back in November, and three of them were on other instruments than they played in that band--my pianist was on percussion tonight, one of my trumpets was on French horn, and one of my trombones was on euphonium. Nice work, folks!
- And because of that experience conducting the Region Jazz band, tonight gave me an unprecedented feeling of collegiality with the directors on stage. All in all, eleven individuals were chosen to lead honor bands in Region 3 (tonight's five high school clinicians, the four from last week's middle school concert, and the two of us who led the jazz bands in November). It's a privilege to be among that number, especially in the region where I've grown up as a teacher, and also to be able to see the work of all ten of my counterparts this school year--I bet that geography alone prevented anyone else from enjoying that experience.
Did you really make it through this whole post? Congrats; you're a marathon winner in much the same way as those of us who stayed for the entire concert!
I'm sure I'll be writing a similar post next year. Stay tuned!