Mistakes

When I was a senior in high school I was the 3rd chair flute in our school’s audition band. The 2nd chair flutist was a junior I’ll call “Kayla”. Kayla and I were friends… to a point. She actually drove me crazy. The worst was that whenever she made  a a mistake during rehearsal she would turn to me and tell me what to fix. “That was a B flat”, she would say in what I heard as a sickly sweet voice with a simpering smile. Blech! I sat next to her and could hear that she was the one who played B natural instead of B flat. Not I. I played to correct note. I hated being “corrected” for something I never did wrong.

In the spring we both auditioned for and made an all-region honor band. It just so happened that I actually made second chair and she made third chair. In the middle of sight-reading a piece, I made a mistake on a note. I couldn’t help myself. I turned to Kayla and said, “That was an F sharp, not an F natural” and gave her a big, fake grin. She gasped, “Oh my gosh! You’re right!” and quickly marked her music. She never made that mistake. Just me. But I wanted to get back at her. Not my finest moment.

Last night I got an email asking me not to do something. I can’t really go into the details here, but it was from a family member and it was asking me (with several other family members) to specifically not do something to one of my siblings. I felt like I was being admonished and chastised for something I have never done and would never do. If anything, I felt that this family member treated this sibling much the way I was being asked not to. It reminded me of sitting next to Kayla in band again. I bristled at the email, but the more I thought about it, the less angry I got.

You see, we all make mistakes. We all know that. It’s part of being human. However, it is often just so hard to admit when we have made mistakes. Sometimes it’s harder to admit the small mistakes than the big ones. So we point it out in others, perhaps to take the attention off ourselves. Perhaps to make us feel better about our mistakes. Perhaps because we assume that if we’re making these little mistakes, others must be, too. Sometimes we may honestly be blind to the fact that we make those mistakes and we really do want to help others that we see making those mistakes. I don’t know, honestly. I just know that I am going to try not to let the admonitions of others bother me anymore. They are not telling me something because they hate me. And maybe I am blind to the fact that I really am making those mistakes.

Here’s to me, recognizing my mistakes and striving to be better. That’s all we can do, right?

Glee and Music Education

I read one of those stupidly gossipy “news” articles today that said the creator of Glee was upset and went on this angry rant about the Kings of Leon refusing to sign off rights for their song “Use Somebody” to be used on an episode of Glee. I knew that Kings of Leon had refused a long time ago, and thought that should be that. So this little rant comes a little out of nowhere to us lowly, normal folk. Anyway, Ryan Murphy (the creator of Glee), gave a huge “F– you!” to the band and said, “They’re self-centered a–holes, and they missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of Glee all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music.”

Kings of Leon, meanwhile, apparently didn’t mean to snub Glee so much. They said, “This whole Glee thing is a shock to us. It’s gotten out of hand. At the time of the request, we hadn’t even seen the show. It came at the end of that record cycle, and we were over promoting [“Use Somebody”]. This was never meant as a slap in the face to Glee or to music education or to fans of the show. We’re not sure where the anger is coming from. We just said no to a license for a TV show, which we do a lot.”

Now, I’m not trying to become a gossip site myself. Just want to give you some background as I go on to my main point.

Is Glee really about promoting music education?

For me, Glee is a guilty pleasure. I loved the first episode. So did Ches. He hasn’t loved it since then, so he doesn’t watch it anymore. I love love love the musical numbers, and yeah, I even get into some of the outlandish story lines. I adore the interaction between Kurt and his his father. Those are often my favorite scenes. I don’t want to like Glee, but I do. It’s that musical geek in me.

I don’t know that it is a show that should be saying it’s promoting musical education. Of all the “agendas” of the show, that seems to be the bottom of their list. Their story lines are full of teenage angst, pregnancies (fake ones, teenage ones…), falling in love (seriously, is there anyone on the show not in love with someone?), and this crazy rivalry between Mr. Shue and Sue Sylvester. Their musical numbers all further the story lines. They have nothing to do with actual musical education.

There were a few things about the actual music education idea that always bothered me. First of all, they aren’t a glee club. They are a show choir. But I guess the title sounds better as “Glee” than “Show” or something. Anyway, there is a huge difference between glee clubs and show choirs. Quit calling yourselves a glee club already!! Second of all, not choosing your set list until the week of whatever competition you are in? Ummm, no. I know it’s not realistic for the show and would be boring if they show us what it’s really like. You work on the same few pieces of music for 6 to 8 weeks, then go to competition or festival. Because I don’t care how good you are, no one is going to be able to pick up a piece of music and suddenly the entire group can harmonize and know their choreography on the first shot. I just hate what a big deal they make of it, making it all “Oh no! We have regionals in two days and we still don’t know what to sing!” Whatever. Third, give the instrumentalists some due, please! These are supposedly also high school students. They can just come in at the beck and call of Rachel Berry and do a quick little number for Finn? Yeah, right. Personally, having been in band and knowing all the soap opera-ish drama that goes on there, I’d like to see the band members getting some lines and screen time. There’s a whole show on their own!

Anyway, if you want to push music education, then do so. But don’t try to pretend that the point of your show is give young kids something to look up to when it’s not so much about the music. If you want to send an anti-bullying message… yes! You are doing your job! If you want to send the message that being different is good… yes! You are doing your job! If you want to send the message that arts education is great and extremely important and everyone should try it… Sorry. I’m just not getting that message from the show.

Then again, maybe it’s working. A show choir has been started up at the high school where my husband teaches. Why? Because these kids all watch Glee and they asked for it. So maybe I’m just a stodgy, boring adult who doesn’t “get” it.

Sacred Music

There is something that bugs me. Well, there’s a lot of things that bug me, but here is one that has been really bugging me for a while. This is a message for anyone that goes to church. I don’t care what religion you are, I think it will apply.

When you go to church, please be on time so you can sing the opening hymn. Please.

Sing all of the congregational songs. Please.

There is a reason that we have music in our church services. It is not to hear only the people who have a degree in vocal performance. It is not to have a break between speakers or sermons. It is not to quickly check your phone for any texts.

The reason we have music in church is to bring the Spirit. Music brings the Spirit more than anything else. Again, I’m not talking to just my Mormon readers here. I’ve attended other churches, I have family members of other religions, and I have studied a bit of sacred music, being a music major and all. The hymns are inspired pieces of work. They are little prayers and sermons themselves. If you actually sing the hymns, you will feel the Spirit. You will feel your relationship with God grow a little closer. You will feel uplifted and edified.

The LDS hymnbook has a great little introduction that talks about hymns in our church meetings, hymns in our homes, and hymns in our personal lives. Under the section about church meetings, it says,

“Inspirational music is an essential part of our church meetings. The hymns invite the Spirit of the Lord, create a feeling of reverence, unify us as members, and provide a way for us to offer praises to the Lord.

Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end.

We hope to see an increase of hymn singing in our congregations. We encourage all members, whether musically inclined or not, to join with us in singing the hymns. We hope leaders, teachers, and members who are called on to speak will turn often to the hymnbook to find sermons presented powerfully and beautifully in verse.”

Now, back to the part about what bugs me. See, we have a large congregation, and I sit in the front so I can hear whether people are singing or not.

They aren’t.

Most of the time it’s because they are late for church and are messing with their kids and getting in their seats so they don’t even bother to open their books, much less sing. I am in charge of the music for Relief Society (the women’s organization in my church). People have already been in the building for two hours by the time Relief Society starts. No one is late. Still, no one is singing. A lot of the women too busy talking to the person next to them. Many women are just sitting there. They aren’t talking, but they aren’t singing, either. I just don’t get it. How can you invite the Spirit to our meetings if you aren’t singing? When someone prays, we all bow our heads, close our eyes, fold our arms, and reverently say “Amen” at the end of the prayer. Singing along with the hymns is the same thing as participating in the prayer.

Get to church on time. I get it. You have kids and it’s hard to find their shoes and comb hair and make sure everyone actually made it into the vehicle before you get out of the driveway. So leave earlier. Get up ten minutes earlier. I don’t care. Get there on time.

Open the book and sing. I don’t care if the woman in front of you is a professional opera singer and you didn’t even make it into your middle school choir. God gave you a voice. Use it. I firmly believe that everyone knows how to sing (there are some people who are just more talented and able than others. I am not one of those more talented and able). You have no excuse not to sing. Chances are, you’re better than you thought, anyway. And if you don’t have a voice, sign it. Some of the most beautiful singing I’ve heard I never actually heard. I saw deaf people signing the hymns.

Fellowship is nice. Fellowship is wonderful. But when it is time to sing, it is not time to fellowship with other members of the congregation. Cut the conversation short and sing the song. You can talk to your friends after the meetings are finished.

Music is one of THE most important things. I understand that I’m a little biased, but if it weren’t that important, it wouldn’t be there. Our church leaders wouldn’t ask us to sing so much. They wouldn’t sponsor musical events. We wouldn’t have choirs like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (which is awesome live, by the way. Even for a snobby instrumentalist like myself who doesn’t like choral music all that much). Think about how different your spiritual meetings would be if you didn’t have any music. It would fall flat. The speaker would have to work ten times harder to bring the right spirit to the meeting. The congregation would have to work at least that much harder to feel the right spirit! Music just makes it all possible. What else is there that can be a sermon, a lesson, a prayer, and praise all rolled into one?

So now… Go. Do. Get to church on time and make an effort. Sing. Sing! SING!!!!

Piano FAIL

I was not a piano major. I was not a piano minor. I went to college with very little knowledge about the piano (I had figured out on my own how to play a couple of hymns, but that was it). As a music major, one of the requirements for graduation is to pass a piano proficiency. When you walk in to the music building, one of the first things they do is determine where you belong in your piano skills. I was put into group piano lessons. I took two semesters and passed my proficiency. I still had to use the piano in many of my studies, but you can get by with little piano skill. I got by.

Fast forward about 15 years.

I was singing in the choir for a special stake conference at church on Sunday. We had to get there early for a sound check and to do a little bit of a warm-up. The pianist (who is amazing) was busy setting up mics to properly get the sound broadcast into the other church buildings (in our last stake conference I attended in another building and the sound was awful. The mic basically picked up one alto… and she wasn’t that great. They didn’t want that to happen again). So the pianist looked around and asked, “Does anyone play piano? Just some simple piano? Anyone?” No one was responding, so I said, “Well, I can do one handed.” He asked if I could do some five finger scales for warm ups and I said that yes, I could absolutely do that.

I sat at the piano… and started to shake a little. Now, if you remember, I taught 6th grade choir many years ago. I wasn’t a great choir director, but I did do the warm ups and I played the piano for that just fine. So I should have been fine. Something didn’t click in my brain on Sunday and I kept missing the notes. Grrr. And I realized later that I should have been going up the piano in half steps, but I only played scales starting on all the white keys. D’oh.

Next the choir director said, “We’re going to warm up by singing Come Follow Me. Can you play that one?” If you do not know this hymn (I’m pretty sure it’s a strictly LDS one), I can tell you that this is one of the easiest hymns in the book. I can play this one. I practice this one all the time. So I said, “Sure!” I was still quite nervous because in addition to the choir sitting there, all sorts of people were already sitting in the chapel so they could get good seat for conference. I looked at the choir and said, “Is there anyone else who plays better than I? Anyone? Because really, this isn’t going to be great.” People shook their heads or just didn’t respond. Apparently I was the only one who could play right then.

I tried to do the introduction. FAIL. So we just started. My hands were shaking and my eyes kind of blurred. The keys on that piano are a LOT heavier than on my piano. The pedal felt really funny (maybe because I was wearing shoes and I don’t when I’m at home??) I couldn’t read the music, I couldn’t hit half the notes, and I just butchered that poor hymn.

Ches was sitting in the chapel with our boys. All sorts of people I know where sitting there. I felt like everyone was staring at me and thinking about what an awful pianist I am and cringing at the thought that we were going to be performing a piece for the conference. More than likely none of that is true, but at the time it felt like a giant spotlight was on me. I wanted to melt into the floor, never to be seen again.

Ches told me later that yes, he heard a couple of problems in the scales, but the hymn was just fine. (I think one of the boys must have hit him pretty hard in the head.)

After I was done playing, I went to my seat. The choir director wanted to run through the piece, but our pianist was still busy, so another woman got up and went to the piano. My jaw dropped. “Where were you ten minutes ago???” I asked. I didn’t get a reply. I’m still kind of upset about that.

The good thing? I think I have just guaranteed that as long as we live here I will not be asked to play the piano. Ever. I’m fine with that. I’ll keep waving my arm like I do now. 🙂

My apologies to my piano teachers at Ricks, especially Sis. Wilcox. You tried so hard to teach me and give me the skills I would need in case of Sunday mornings like this. It just didn’t work that day.

Oh, and I”ll have you know that last night for Family Home Evening the boys asked to sing Come Follow Me, and I played it perfectly. Over and over and over again, I played it perfectly.

The Case of the Crazy Dancing Woman

This afternoon I finally started to clean my kitchen (just enough to have room bake the cakes for Dallin’s upcoming birthday party). I set the iPod in our little dock on the counter and turned up the music. Dallin and Parker joined me in dancing to “Love You Madly” by Cake, then “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. I had the dishwasher going, the water in the sink running, the music loud, and I danced without abandon, singing along at the top of my lungs and laughing with my boys. My kitchen window is right next to my front door, and it faces the street. I was just thinking “Anyone driving by is going to see me and think I’m some kind of crazy dancing woman!” Not even 30 seconds later, I look up and some random stranger is standing outside my window.

I screamed.

Then I laughed.

He noticed a car parked outside our house with its lights on and wanted to see if it was our car. He may have knocked on the door, but with the cacophony of sound (Dallin was also pounding on the piano) I just never heard. It wasn’t my car and he actually found the doors to be unlocked so he turned off the lights.

The man was smiling. I’m sure he got a kick out of seeing a crazy dancing lady get scared and scream in her own kitchen. I would have laughed. I did laugh. At first out of embarrassment, but now I’m mostly laughing at the idea of what it must have looked like.

The man left, I turned the music up some more, and we danced on.

Check Your Ego

At orchestra rehearsal Thursday night our director gave a little lecture about egos. He hates them, he says he can smell them, and it stinks like nothing else. He does not allow egos in his choirs or orchestra, so if you have an ego, get rid of it now. We can not play/rehearse/perform well as an ensemble with individual egos getting in the way.

I totally agree, and in theory I have no problems with what he said. Too I have seen instrumentalists with these huge egos (and never quite the same amount of talent to back it up) treat the other musicians around them as if they were still in beginning band and too stupid to really “get” the music like they do. In one of our first rehearsals last fall a member of the orchestra had a question about a chord that was being played and was it correct? As our director looked in the score, this orchestra member said in what I perceived as a very know-it-all voice, “I’m a conductor so I’m trained to hear these things.” I rolled my eyes. The majority of us in that room are classically trained musicians with higher degrees in music. We are all trained to “hear these thing”. Sheesh. Get rid of the ego and just have fun with the rest of us, please.

It’s not hard for someone like me to get rid of the ego. I’m not that talented (I’m not kidding, so I don’t want to hear in the comments anything saying otherwise. I just work my butt off to play mediocre. Seriously. I’ve known this about myself for about 20 years.) and I consistently need more practice and more help than others. I’m usually okay with this. I enjoy playing in a good ensemble more than anything, and I’m willing to put in the extra effort so I can play decently. I have never been a first chair, I have never been a section leader, I have never been the principle player. I have never won any awards for my playing other than “participant” and I have never been the one sought out for solos. Even at church. I’m not that great. I just love it. I feel so blessed to have even made this orchestra, an honestly I think I’m in it because it was brand new and not enough flute players auditioned in the first place. Once you’re in, you’re in.

I had a major blow to what little ego I had at the first rehearsal a week ago because after I sat down and started to warm up and such, I was informed that the directors had decided to bring in a 4th flute. A piccolo player. I was disappointed because I had been practicing my piccolo so that I could comfortable play it in this concert. And the 2nd flute was more than willing to split the piccolo parts with me. But that’s okay, I thought. Now I can concentrate on my flute. No worries. The thing is, they don’t want her just sitting there, bored, so we have to double our parts. Normally I don’t have a problem with that. I’m used to playing in bands where you have more than one player per part anyway. However, in orchestra, you usually have 2 flutes and once piccolo who plays the occasional 3rd flute part. There are not 4 flute parts. So now I’m either doubling the 2nd flute part or the 3rd flute part and I’m feeling pretty superfluous. The piccolo player is obviously more talented than I am. I am feeling like I am only still here because they told us “Once you’re in, you’re in.” I feel like I have to fight to prove that I belong here.

The hardest thing about being a musician is learning when to let go. We are taught to play with perfection. Anything less than perfect just will not do. That is why we will spend weeks and weeks learning one piece of music. We will spend an hour in the practice room perfecting one measure. We do not stop until it’s perfect, and we aren’t happy until we can do it perfectly. I don’t know that it’s entirely healthy, but that’s the way it is. So when something happens and you have to just let it go, it’s hard. And whatever little bit of an ego you had is now completely shot.

I have to let go of this idea that I’m not needed in this orchestra and I’m some kind of “pity” member. I have to remind myself that I did audition and they didn’t tell me “no”. They accepted me. They didn’t have to. I’m sure they could have found other flutists to take my spot if the directors didn’t like my audition in the first place. I have to let go and practice and just do the best I can.

I checked my ego at the door. And now, I’m off to practice some more.

Overwhelmed

In September I received an email from a girl at church saying there is a new choral organization here in the East Valley (called the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization) and they are holding auditions for the adult choir. It also mentioned an orchestra. My interest was suddenly peaked (we all know I don’t sing. I can’t sing. Well, I can. Everyone CAN sing. I just can’t sing well. So of course I was interested in the orchestra).

Not much earlier Ches and I had been discussing our finances and we were busy putting several of our items up for sale on Craigslist. I considered putting my flute up. I just don’t play anymore, I’m not teaching lessons, I let it sit and collect dust. I’m ashamed to say that after all the schooling and work I’ve put into it, this is what happened. I missed playing in a good ensemble. My best memories of university life was playing in the Symphonic Band at Ricks College. I’ve played in lots of other ensembles in high school, at Ricks, and at University of Idaho, but there was something special about Symphonic Band. Maybe it was having Bro. Nielson for a director. Maybe it was rehearsing and performing in the Barrus Concert Hall. Maybe it was opening every rehearsal and performance with a prayer. Whatever it was, I haven’t had that experience anywhere else, at any other time.

So I was missing playing and considering giving up my flute entirely, when I got this email. I decided to give it a shot, and I emailed the organization for information about orchestral auditions. I immediately received an answer… auditions were in two days. TWO DAYS. I spent the next two days madly practicing a couple of pieces and some scales and just praying that I wouldn’t embarrass myself. I figured I had a slim chance of making this orchestra, but you know the saying: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I was so nervous, but the directors, brothers Brett and Brandon Stewart, were friendly and made me feel comfortable. I played, they listened, we talked for a couple of minutes about the pieces and if I knew any other instrumentalists (they were quite excited to hear about my trumpet player husband, but since Ches’ high school concert was scheduled for the same night at this concert, he didn’t audition). They told me I played beautifully, and I was really pleased with the audition.

Because it’s a new organization, it took them a while to find instrumentalists to audition and fill the sections of the orchestra. The first week of November I got the email: I was accepted into the orchestra! I went to my first rehearsal the next week, and found I was playing third flute and piccolo. (I have since passed the picc parts to the other flutists and hope to be able to play them for the next concert. Piccolo and I have a stormy relationship right now). It is a full symphony orchestra. We accompany five choirs (one adult, the rest children’s and youth choirs of differing ages). It is a major thing!

Our concert is this Thursday. We had a major rehearsal this past Saturday. As I play in this orchestra and listen to the different choirs sing, I am overwhelmed. It’s a good feeling, though. I am just amazed at the talent of the people sitting around me. I am amazed at the beauty of this music. I don’t know if I’ll make it through this concert without tears because of all that I feel when I hear this music. It is so awesome to be a part of something so big and beautiful. The other thing I have noticed is how much this reminds me of being at Ricks. I know that this music can be played by any great musicians and it will be beautiful. But it won’t have the same feeling. When we play and the choirs sing, I know the Spirit of the Lord is with us. I can feel it in the depths of my soul. This is no ordinary symphony. These are no ordinary choirs.

I wish that I could have each of you come to my concert. We are performing music that is all about the true meaning of Christmas… we are telling the story of the wondrous birth of our Saviour. I cannot properly put words to my feelings about this. It is all feeling. I want you all there so you can feel what I feel.

I am so blessed to be a part of this organization. There are many times where I feel inadequate as a musician, a mother, a wife or just as a person. I never measure up to what I should be. But when I am sitting in this orchestra, I feel strong. I feel full. I know that I may not be as talented as I wish I was, but I do have talent, and God gave it to me. I am blessed to be able to use that talent in His glory, in His name. It is truly overwhelming to be surrounded by this music and feel His love for me in the midst of playing.

I don’t often get “religious” when I’m talking or writing, but I do not apologize for doing so now. This has been an amazing, overwhelming, spiritual time for me, and I just want to share it with you, my friends.

Catch-up Monday

I’ve been wanting to do a Random Friday, but Friday just didn’t turn out to be a good day to sit and write on my blog. I know I’ve been horribly neglectful of my little corner of the webiverse, but I have good excuses reasons. Do I have to share them?? Well, once I do all my catch up I’m sure you’ll see.

I’ve tried participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. I was moving slowly in my writing, but it was steady and I honestly thought I would finish all 50,000 words this year. Life just gets in the way, however, and I got behind again. I think I’m giving up for this year. Unless I’m hit by some major inspiration and can throw out 40,000 words in the next few days, it’s just not going to happen. My story wasn’t that great anyway. I struggle to write adequately. I struggle to find the words to go with the pictures and actions in my head. I can do short stories, but drawing things out is just not my strong suit. And people don’t like short stories. You have to already know and love an author to read a book of short stories, usually.

I love to write and I really do want to write and publish a novel someday. However, maybe I’m just not a novel writer. Maybe I should stick to my little blog. Maybe I’m not meant to be a novelist until I’m much older. I just don’t know right now. I’m not sad about it or anything. Just thinking it through. Changing my plans and ideals once again.

*****

I saw New Moon opening night. In fact, I got to do a double feature. Some theatres here were offering a double feature of Twilight and New Moon for just an extra $5. You got early seating and stayed in one theatre for both movies. I went with my friend, Kelly, and had a really good time. We were in the theatre hours and hours before the movie started so we’d have decent seats (last year we were in the second row for Twilight. Let me tell you, that sucked. Big time.). We met some really cool people and had fun talking about all sorts of things… vampires and Twilight and other good books (Gone With the Wind, for one) and book clubs and Surviver and The Amazing Race and places we’ve lived and candy and school… I need to email my new friend. She was cool. Kelly was feeling a little sick, but she lasted through the first movie and most of the second. Thankfully she had actually been to the prescreening Wednesday night, so didn’t feel horrible about having to leave in the middle of New Moon.

I liked New Moon. I think it was done so much better than Twilight. While watching Twilight we were making fun of Bella’s blinking, head twitching, and stuttering that she did in every. Single. Scene. Very annoying. She doesn’t do it nearly as much in New Moon. New Moon stuck much more closely to the book and had more details from the book. The thing I hated about New Moon was the hair. Alice and Rosalie were both stuck in aweful wigs. Jasper didn’t look as much like Edward Scissorhands this time around, but he did look like he had just stepped out of a Jane Austen movie. And Alice’s wardrobe was NOT Alice. What was that smock she was wearing at school the morning of Bella’s birthday party?? UGLY. I wish we could have seen more of Dakota Fanning (two lines was not enough. She looked and sounded amazing.). The Volturi were done so well! The “bad” vampires in general looked scarier than last time. The eyes were redder and the faces more pale. Laurent and Victoria were both much scarier. Oh, and I loved how much more red Victoria’s hair was in New Moon. Fit more of the “fiery” description of the book. So, that’s a start. I am more than willing to have discussions on IM or Facebook with anyone about anything New Moon. You know how I love to discuss movies and books and stuff. 🙂

*****

Speaking of books, I recently borrowed my friend’s book containing all of Jane Austen’s novels. I have actually only read Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. I love P&P and I really, really like S&S and I really like Emma (although admit I love the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow more, no matter what Ches says about it. He hates that movie). I decided it was time to read the other Austen novels I had been missing out on. I started with Mansfield Park. I have to say, I don’t like it. I thought it was too quick of an ending, and the way everyone treated Fanny throughout the book was driving me crazy. And Fanny was just too weak and simpering for me. Elizabeth Bennett is a strong female with a mind of her own. Fanny Price just sits back and lets everything happen to her. I don’t like it.

So, after I have read the books I got from the library and this month’s book club pick (The Scarlet Pimpernel, if you were wondering), I’m going to read another Austen. I’m thinking Northanger Abbey, then Persuasion, then lady Susan.

What’s your favorite Austen, and why?

*****

In September I received an email from a girl at church talking about a new choral organization in the East Valley area. It’s called the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization, and they were holding auditions that week. AND they had a full symphony orchestra, also holding auditions. I pulled something together, and three days later I had auditioned for the orchestra. I felt the audition went really well, but I knew I would have to wait.

The first week of November I got the email telling me I made it into the orchestra! Rehearsals started the next week. Our concert is December 10th. Orchestra would only have 5 rehearsals (the choirs have been practicing since September) so I knew I’d have to be on top of my game.

I got to rehearsal and found I was the 3rd flute (I’m just happy to have made it!) and that I would be playing piccolo, too. Now that is a problem. I have a piccolo, but I’ve never really done anything with it. So I took home my music and practiced every single day (probably drove the neighbors absolutely crazy!), but I just couldn’t get out all the notes I needed to. Last week, for our second rehearsal, I apologized to the other two flutists and said I just couldn’t do it. I would continue to practice so I could do picc for a future concert, but it just wasn’t going to happen for this one. I didn’t want us to sound bad! The other flutists are very gracious and we switched around some parts. The next concert isn’t until March, so I’m going to keep working on my range and tone and hopefully I’ll get it!

This concert is going to be so good. I wish you could all come! If you are in the Phoenix area, our concert is December 10th at the Mesa Arts Center. You can buy tickets here. Or you can find out more information about EVMCO here. I’m really, really excited to be a part of this!!

*****

So, there you have it. I’ve been busy writing, practicing, and movie watching. Hopefully I’ll get a better handle on my life soon!! Until then, I’m off to attack the mountain of laundry.

The Story of My Feelings

the story of my feelings Last year, as I was teaching toddlers and preschoolers, I came across this wonderful book by Laurie Berkner. (Laurie Berkner is a great children’s singer. She is often featured on “Jack’s Big Music Show” on Noggin, a Nickelodeon station for the preschool set. She does mostly original songs and kids just go nuts for her, as I saw in the preschool last year. Check out The Laurie Berkner Band if you are looking for something fun for a gift for a toddler) Normally I don’t like books with CD accompaniment, but this one is just great. The illustrations are beautiful, but even more beautiful is the song. It’s just a guitar accompaniment with Laurie Berkner on vocals and some simple harmonies. The lyrics are as follows:


This is the story of when I cry.
When I’m feeling sad, that’s when I cry
And it makes me feel better.
It makes me feel better.
You know it makes me feel even better when I cry.

This is the story of when I laugh.
When I’m feeling happy, that’s when I laugh
And it makes me feel better.
It make me feel better.
You know it makes me feel even better when I laugh.

This is the story of when I yell.
When I’m feeling angry, that’s when I yell
And it makes me feel better.
It makes me feel better.
You know it makes me feel even better when I yell.

This is the story of when I sigh.
When I’m feeling peaceful, that’s when I sigh
And it makes me feel better.
It makes me feel better.
You know it makes me even feel better when I sigh.

And when I cry.
And when I yell.
And when I laugh
You know it makes me feel better.

I love this book and this song. I called it my Magic Book at school because no matter how hyped up the kids were in class, as soon as the guitar starts playing each and every kid would settle down and look at the pictures and sing along to the song. I highly recommend this book and CD for all toddlers and preschoolers. I was listening to the song on my iPod today and I teared up a little because it’s just so beautiful.

I think too often we only want our kids to be happy children. We know they aren’t, and we know they cry and yell, but we tell them to stop. We do everything we can to make them stop. I am sure guilty of it. I hate it when my kids just cry and cry. Drives me bananas! However, don’t I often just feel better after a good cry? Sometimes I’m just sad and I need to cry. Sometimes I’m angry and I just need to yell, and then I feel better. If it’s that simple as an adult, why not with kids? I find myself telling my children “It’s okay to be mad right now, but don’t yell!” I am trying to change it to “It’s okay to be mad right now, but don’t yell at me. Go somewhere and just yell for a minute, and when you’re calm we’ll talk.” Kids need to express their emotions just as much as we do. As much as we all love the sound of a happy, laughing child, that’s just not going to happen all the time.

My favorite part of the song is the end. “When I’m feeling peaceful, that’s when I sigh.” We’re working on the peaceful feelings around here. The no TV, no fighting, no chaos feelings. I love it when we are all just sitting around, playing together or reading or whatever. And then I feel peaceful and I hope my kids do, too. And then I sigh because it makes me feel better.

**special note: I was not paid in any way for a review of this book and CD. No one asked me to review it. I just like it and wanted to share.**

Sad

I know everyone is talking about it, but I’m sad. I’m a bit in shock. I can’t believe Michael Jackson is gone. One of my earliest memories of good music was lip synching and dancing to “Billie Jean” with my best friend. When I was 12 and babysitting late at night, I would watch Friday Night Videos. I remember watching the videos to “Billie Jean”, “Bad”, and “Thriller”. I was scared to death of the last one, but those dancing zombies were amazing to me, even then. Michael Jackson with his moonwalk and one sparkly gloved hand was a huge part of my childhood. I just can’t believe he is gone.

The past several years have been tough on Michael Jackson. I’m not here to say what he did wrong or could have done wrong or whatever. All I know is that music lost one of it’s all time greatest performers today. My thoughts and prayers are with the MJ’s children, family, and loved ones.

Also, additional thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett. Ed McMahon is just an iconic figure in entertainment, and while I was never a fan of Farrah Fawcett, I can’t say that her loss doesn’t matter. It has been a very sad couple of days in the world of entertainment.