Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Flight of the Concords

Anybody hear these guys? I think they are crazy funny.



I guess I don't normally talk that much about my experiences at school. For the most part I really love my job. It isn't stressful and the kids are fun to work with. However, one thing that is always difficult about teaching strings is that sometimes kids drop out. Even if you are super fun and creative and you give out donuts every day some kids just decide to quit. It is hard to not take this personally.

Two kids have dropped out so far out of about 70, but both drops were a little hard on me. Since I am not a terribly mean teacher most of my kids drop because of "the workload" that is involved with strings. Kids have to practice for my class and that gets in the way of other things. Now is when I am particularly nervous about my kids leaving because things are getting a little harder. At the beginning of the year in the music they wrote the names of the notes on the note heads. They don't do that any more. Now they have to actually read music! That gets some kids a little frustrated. Especially the ones who don't practice.

The other thing that I am worried about is that I don't give out candy. One kid in particular is always telling me how the band gets candy and that they get metals when they learn certain stuff. I don't give out candy because we aren't supposed to at my schools in order to teach good health habits. Does that make me a lame teacher? Maybe. But they are starting to sound quite good and I am excited about what they are going to show their parents in their upcoming concerts.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Latest kick

One of the two of us (Cali or I) always get on some life altering kick. This could be the way we eat, what we watch on T.V, or what we do with our spare time. The new one deals with the last of those three. This evening I had all kinds of time to call friends, play with the cat, and to read because she decided we should only watch two hours of T.V. a night. What freedom! I never imagined how much time T.V. was actually taking up. I've been feeling of late that I haven't been a very good friend or family member. I am not good at calling people and consequently I feel like I am losing touch with old friends and having trouble making new ones. I think this really has to do with the way I spend my time. In the movie we watched tonight (during our two hours) Steven Fry said that the greatest adventure we have in life is getting along with those who are all around us. He said that the truest test of character would be to get along with strangers if we were randomly dropped into their homes and essentially that is what happens when we are born. He was quoting someone and I can't remember who, but I thought this was interesting. Perhaps I will try getting to know our neighbors. Do people do that anymore?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Do 5th Graders Own Pop Culture?

Since I have started teaching elementary school and high school I have been able to compare the two age groups. One of the differences is that the elementary schoolers have a tremendous sense of what I should be able to do as an "old" teacher. If I so much as mention pop culture I am met with groans and requests to stop. Once when I said "word" the girl asked me not to do that again. I then gave her the speech about how I was saying "word" before she was born. High schoolers on the other hand want to compare tastes and ask me about the music I like. They also don't complain about the clothes I wear. A fifth grader on the other hand asked me why I couldn't just wear a normal shirt someday. How did they become so confident when it comes to pop culture and tastes. When I was in 5th grade I wore sweat pants and had never heard of any current bands. I was only aware of my brother's and sister's favorite music. Is it Disney that gave them this sense of empowerment? To the tell the truth I kind of enjoy it. As a teacher there is nothing more fun than getting in to childish arguments with people a third your age.

Bad Music

"I am pretty tolerant of Christmas music but I draw the line at soprano saxophone."
-Calista Martin

On our way to Macon Calista and I listened to the two Kansas City radio stations that are playing continuous Christmas music. It was pretty obvious that the best recordings and versions of songs for the most part were made at least 30 years ago. For the most part new arrangements of Christmas tunes just aren't so good, especially if they are performed by some Christian artist. We complain about this all the time, but why does Christian music have to be so bad. In the car we did our best to decide how these versions could be fixed. Mostly it boiled down to a few basic rules (Christian producers should start taking notes): 1. Use real drums, not funking sounding synthetic ones 2. Go easy on the strings, strings are nice just don't have them swell so much for every climax of the piece. 3. Avoid most keyboard sound effects 4. Cut down on the reverb 5. No chimes whatsoever. I think if we stick to these simple rules and maybe just simplify a little bit Christian music won't be so bad.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Various Kansas Stuff

Calista and I have been helping out with music at church. She has been doing mic and speaker setup to put her theoretical knowledge from grad school to work. I got to play cello with the music team a couple of weeks ago and it was great. It was a moving experience for me and I hope I get to keep doing it. It has been a while since I have performed by myself and I'm glad it was in front of church folks. Nobody appreciates volunteer musicians like the church. Several people have come up to me and told me how much they enjoyed it and my parents got to come to the service. We actually are starting to make some friends at church with the worship leader, with people in our bible study for young adults, and I have started going RCIA. I kind of feel like I am jumping on the catholic band wagon. Mainly because for the first time in a while I get up on Sunday mornings and I am excited about going to church. That I guess says something about the church and has lead me seriously consider becoming Catholic.

On a totally different subject, WE FOUND OUR CAMERA! It was in my van under the seat. Its amazing the things you find when you clean out your car. Although it would have been nice to have it for such events as my brother's wedding and moving into our new house at least we finally have it. We have been recovering pictures from our camera such as our last days in Urbana with pictures of our favorite diner and the U of I. Oh the leisurely days of college life how I miss thee.