Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘student’ Category

Yes I Really Do Have 700 Friends On Facebook

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The other day I attempted to “cut my friend list” on facebook.  You know how it goes – you have an account for a while, and pretty soon people just start “appearing” on your friend list until you have near 1000 people!  This happened to me a few years ago.  I heard the snickers and taunts from my other facebook friends, “no one has 100o friends!” and set out to cut it back and only have people there I actually knew in person and had a connection with.

That was 2 or 3 years ago.  Then over time it crept up again as I slowly added those that were “late adopters” in joining the social media world.  Students, former students and people I had a relationship with on some level all came on board and asked to “friend” me.  Usually I did – because I knew them, or a friend knew them.

And like you, I have also been forced to eliminate some who I don’t need to be seeing every little thing they do, have contact with – or who for some reason have made me feel uncomfortable by status updates, pictures and comments.  And some people I do not feel comfortable with them seeing every little thing about me either.  But luckily this number is very small.

The other day I noticed my numbers were climbing up there again.  “NO ONE has 800 or 1000 close friends”, I said to myself.  I went through my list of “friends” and started eliminating based on whether or not I ever had a conversation with them.  As I was cutting back my list – I noticed something.  Most of these people are students, former students, past ministry life, or current friendships and church connections.  And because I love being connected with those I have had a part in the investing process – I don’t want to cut it loose.  Students grow up, get jobs, get married and have children – how much I would miss if I didn’t have them on facebook.

I guess the bottom line is this:

Yes I REALLY DO have 700 friends in my life.  I would not have known that until I went to look at them closely, individually, one by one.  Each face is a reminder of an event in both our lives that made that special connection.  Some are people I know only through the blogging community and many of them I have been able to talk with on Skype, although I have not met them in person.  They are daily contributors to my world of writing – and we have a common faith in Jesus Christ.

For those of you who are not aware who is on your friend list – I encourage you to do the same thing.  Look at your list and for each person you keep, remember why they are in your life and what brought you to this point in time.

I love making new friends – but mostly the people who I remain in contact with are the relationships that have stood the test of time and have meaning in my life today.

I am thankful for facebook.  It has allowed me to stay in touch and be a part of those I love as we share pictures, love and laughter together, encouraging and praying for each other – it helps to fill in those times when we can’t be together in person 🙂

As a teacher – facebook has been a great tool for keeping students and parents informed.  I have a page for my music studio as well as one for my blog.  These have both been great tools of communication!

And I’m a sucker for former and current students “dropping by” my page and saying “hello” to me 🙂

How many “friends” do you have on facebook?

God Bless

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Priceless “In The Moment” Moments

The city of Burbank, CA looking east from Univ...

Image via Wikipedia

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the last time I was single and living at home.  I went right from my parent’s home at 20 years of age to another way of life – without ever have lived on my own.

And although it worked out for me – I also see great benefits to living on your own before being married.

Both of my children have had opportunities to live on their own after finishing high school.  And although this can be hard, financially – I believe the lessons learned while living on your own are very valuable.  Some things just can’t be taught while living at home.

With our daughter – she was so determined that she would make it – and it took two jobs for her to do so – she’s been very proud of herself that she was completely self sufficient by the time she was 20 years old.  She learned a lot of about room-mates and finances that she’s never forgotten – and when it came time for her to get married – she was already very disciplined with money and her work ethic.  She’s one of the hardest working young women I know.

Shawn, who will be 20 in October – has moved to California to pursue a music education and hopefully a career with his music training.  He lives with room-mates in Burbank and has struggled to maintain his rent with only a part-time job.  We are grateful he got a job, when so few are available.  And we’re also thankful that his loan money will cover his tuition AND his housing this fall.  But it’s still tough to make the rent and pay for things like food – until then.

Experiences like this are so valuable.  And he will look back on these times as “the good old days” before real bills, a wife and children to support.  All of this – priceless in the big scheme of things to come.

As I chatted on the phone with him last night – I reminded him that this too shall pass – and his present circumstance is what great songs and writings are made of  🙂  Maybe not while he’s struggling – but sometime after as he looks back…

Living “in the moment” – trying to be present – even during hard times of struggle. Being available in the mind.  On purpose and on task.  Learning to get by on very little – to be engaged and still positive about life.  This is what living “in the moment” is all about.

Are you alway “in the moment”?  Does your mind wander to “better times” either in the past – or somewhere in the future?  Can you be content and very present?  Now – today?  Especially when things are not ideal?  And you may be struggling?  Can you find the priceless of the here and now?  Knowing this moment will pass you by – and be no more?

Did you live on your own before you were married?  What did you do without during those years?  What’s your story?

 

God Bless

Music Of Your Life

Piano

Image via Wikipedia

This should be on my music blog – but because it is something that I have been thinking about for a while now – music being a HUGE part of my daily life – I thought I would write on this subject and  make it a part of my regular blog site today.

Music does so much more than just teach another language  and skill – or help you focus in another part of the brain – Music actually makes you feel happy.

As a music performer and instructor for most of my life – I can say that those of us in the music profession – actually feel joy in a real way that comes from our pores.  On more than several occasions I have seen it visibly lift the spirits of depression and sadness. Even those not thrilled about practicing the piano – will actually feel better after they do.  Those experiencing sadness, even grief – will feel better after singing for 30 minutes.

Yesterday I had the privilege of singing with a couple of young teenage girls – singing their hearts out  to Rascal Flatts and other artists they were familiar with.  It was great to see them come out of their shells and enjoy the moment – releasing the endorphins while singing – making them feel joy and happiness and a sense of well-being.  All three of us sang at the top of our lungs – and it felt good.

Now sometimes – music doesn’t bring a smile.  When it is forced.  When it is not rehearsed enough.  And sadly – when the student or artist does not know the difference.

I am a firm believer in the fact that when you rehearse something in haste – often times it can be learned wrong.  The brain cannot make a quick adjustment when corrected.  I have seen this many times in a student who learns a passage of music wrong – and then does not have the “ear” to be able to tell that it is wrong. They rehearse it wrong all week – and then when being corrected for that “wrong” part  – cannot make the shift in their brain.  It is almost too late for them.  Better to have learned it right – and have it take longer to learn – then to learn it wrong in the first place.  This takes patience, knowledge and an “ear” to tell if it’s wrong.

The reward for learning it correctly is in the happiness it brings – to both yourself and to others listening.

Music is not just learned and played correctly – but it is also felt.  Anyone can learn it – not everyone can feel it.  Ever heard a bad musician?  Then you know what I mean.  Ever hear a really good artist that feels what they play and sing?  Then you also know what I mean.

I want my students to both learn it correctly – and to feel it.  In this way – music can be learned and enjoyed – and truly bring a smile.

We all make music.  Whether we are musicians or not.  What do you do with the music of your life?  Do you go through the motions – like some of my piano students – learning things wrong with daily reinforcement?  Or do you have an “ear” to tell the difference?   Do you feel the music and rhythm of your life and as you do – does your life bring a smile of joy to others?  

May your music be pleasant to others today – bringing peace and joy to whoever it touches.  Amen.

God Bless

Little Moments

I can’t remember where I heard it – but I know it’s true.  Life is made up of many “little moments all strung together”.  We wait for the BIG moments to find us – or for us to find them – and we take a lifetime searching for and waiting for something to happen to us.  Something bigger than ourselves that will propel us into another level of existence.  Something that will preclude our present circumstances.  And all along – while we are waiting – we live our little moments – over and over again – unrecognized and insignificant. 

I have had many of these moments, though at the time – they did not seem like much – nothing to write home about, and nothing worthy of any attention – or worth mentioning.  However as I think about where I am today and the significant changes along my journey – they are because of many little moments along the way.

These frozen moments in time are unique and personal – and no one can live them for me.  No one can experience the joy and pain of being me.  No one sees things in exactly the same way – no one loves and expresses like I do.  God made me just the way I am.  And my “little moments” are special and just for me.

I had one of these last weekend at the close of “Bugsy Malone”.  I have been a musical theater director for the last 7 or 8 years at a local Christian School and this was my final production.  I did not know – but several Alumni were invited to come for the final production and all were given a single rose.  At the end when the teachers and those in charge came up to the stage for the final applause – the students started singing one of the songs from the musical, “You give a little love and it all comes back to you – you know you’re gonna be remembered by the things that you say and do…”  And they stood in the audience and one by one came up on the stage and presented the rose and gave a hug while still singing.  It was what I call a “little moment” in time.  Frozen in my memory forever.

I’ve had many such moments like this.  Here are just a few:

When I accepted the Lord at age 4

When my family moved to Seattle from Canada when I was 8

My first day of Junior High

My first day of High School

When I knew I was in love for the first time

When I met Greg

My wedding day

When both babies were born

When my friend lost her husband to cancer

When I had to say goodbye to a friend

When a struggle became a strength

Each one of my student recitals

Spending time with friends

Speaking encouragement into someones life

Living out a difficult family issue

These are some of my “little moments”.

What are some of yours?  How have they defined you?

God Bless

“Bugsy Malone” Weekend

Well it’s finally here – the weekend we have all been waiting for.  The junior high theater production of “Bugsy Malone”.

I have been the music director for several years now and we have done “Bugsy” before – about 5 years ago or so – different cast and crew – but it seems a little different somehow this time.  Every time you have a different group of students – the dynamic changes.  It has been exciting and terrifying all at the same time, trying to pull this one together – and not a lot of time to do it.

The set is great and the costumes are wonderful – but most of all – the students in this are AWESOME.

Opening night is tonight.  I know that everything will come together just in time – it always does.  And I know that I will look back on this one – as being the best cast and group of people I’ve even had the privilege of working with.

With this production – I say farewell – my best wishes and hopes are in the future theater department – to Laura McGinnis, teachers, parents and students who will undoubtedly take it to the next level.  It has been a pleasure to work with music and to see how really great the students can be when someone believes in them – and how great they are when they believe.  I am lucky – I keep in touch with many of my students after they move on – go to high school, college and then go off and have their own grown-up lives.  They are all special and have a place in my heart – even when I don’t get to see or talk to them much.

And so – here we are – another group of students – some more pictures and unspoken memories which cannot be captured in a picture.  I keep those in my heart.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the dress rehearsal last night.

We Are NOT Broken

Broken Heart

Image by Gabriela Camerotti via Flickr

The other day while teaching a piano lesson – I fell out of my chair in my office.  I’m not kidding.  I have a new office chair with a really high center of gravity – and I was innocently leaning over to my right to pick something up off the floor – when all of a sudden – my chair slipped on the hardwood slippery floor – right from underneath me.  My natural instinct was to put out my hand to stop my fall – unfortunately it was my THUMB that took all the impact.  I heard a nasty ‘popping’ sound like a knuckle cracking – and thought to myself, “That can’t be good”  – but I was really in no pain so I kept on teaching the rest of the afternoon – even playing the piano for a few more voice students.

My 19-year-old son LAUGHED AND LAUGHED when he heard about it later that day.  And it would’ve been really funny to me too – if I did not have to use my thumb to play the piano.  But like any injury – it creates great drama – and a wonderful story for later.  My daughter Ashlee used to love  the saying, “It’s not funny until someone gets hurt – and then it’s HILARIOUS!”

Because there was no real pain – but was quite swollen – even turning black and blue yesterday – I kept icing it and then Greg fashioned a bandage to keep it immobile while I was teaching.  Last night it looked worse – so we called our 24 hour nurse hot line and explained the injury to a nurse.  She was very thorough and asked me a lot of questions about my thumb – the type of swelling – where it was sore – if any place.  By the time I was off the phone with her – I was confident that I had just sprained it.  I slept with a bandage on it last night – and this morning there is hardly any swelling at all!  So relieved!  The things we do to ourselves, right?  Nothing like self-induced injuries!

I also tried Acupuncture on my back for the first time yesterday and really liked it!  I’m going to go again – as well as keep my regular chiropractic  and massage appointments.  Getting older is not very fun.  And tomorrow I enter into a new decade.

Injured but NOT broken. Kind of like – life.

God Bless

Christmas Memories

Stef's Present with Handmade Wrapping

Image by ex.libris via Flickr

I was inspired by a few of my students this week.  I love talking to children about Christmas – to see their eyes light up and the excitement on their faces as they tell me what they are asking for – hoping Santa will bring for them.

This last week has brought joy, excitement and laughter as each student has come for their lesson – with a brightly wrapped present for me.  They love to watch me open their gift (I’m pretty much a kid at heart) because I get so excited to open it!  It makes them giggle.  And it proves that Christmas is WAY more about giving than getting.

I try to make Christmas special for each one of them.  We sing and play only Christmas music in the month of December after the recital is over – and it is REALLY fun!  Last week my grown-up married daughter, Ashlee was here during some of my afternoon lessons – and I invited her in to sing harmony with us as we sang Christmas carols for most of the afternoon.  Special memories.

I have many memories from my childhood as this season approaches.  I remember  taking my very first airplane ride the Christmas that I was 10.  It is forever etched in my memory – and nothing else will likely compare to that Christmas for me.  We were flying from Seattle to Calgary, Alberta – where I was born and lived for the first 8 years of my young life.  My Grandparents lived there – and we were flying up to spend that Christmas with them.  Calgary is very cold in the winter – and we were greeted with a ‘winter wonderland’ of snow!  Our taxi driver was very nice – he could see our excitement and stopped by a Christmas light display at a neighborhood park – turned off his meter and let us get out and enjoy it.  I will never forget that Christmas.

However – we make new and unique Christmas memories every year – without knowing it.  As I look back over my life – I’m sure what I’m doing right now in this season with my students will rank right up there with the most special memories.  And I do have many wonderful memories when our own children were small.

Sometimes we are not even aware that we are ‘making memories’ while they are happening.  It is only as we look back on them – some years later that we truly recognize it – smile and remember.

I’m not sure if we should try to recapture the past – as great as some of those memories are.  Life is ever-changing – and we are all on a journey, good and bad.  The present and future are still there to write upon – and I for one can’t wait!

What are your favorite memories?  Do you think the best is yet to come?  Do you try to recapture the time when your children were small – or still with you?  Or do you see the future as an opportunity to meet new friends and share yourself with others that need your encouragement and warmth?

I am praying for each one of you this holiday season – that you will surround yourself with those you love, who love you and those that cross your journey this season.  That you will have your heart open to embrace and love – and be in anticipation of the wonderful things ahead.  That you will have the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with those you come in contact and share your life with.  That they will be drawn to the love of God just by knowing you.  This is my prayer.

May God truly Bless you!

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