This blog is now 1 year old! Actually, I missed the true 1-year-mark in May but since my 24th birthday is tomorrow, I thought I could smear the two together.
What has happened in the last year? A new school, a new job, new friends, new repertoire, new performances, new failures, new achievements (because of the failures), new students, new… everything. At the same time, however, there are facets that do not change. The desire and will to improve, a love of music, and a passion for people.
I have to ask myself, after an entire year of publishing excerpts of my musical life online, what has this blog become and what is the purpose of it all? The answer is that I have no idea. Is it interesting? I don’t know... I think it is (which by no means necessitates that anyone else does…) and I am also aware that "blogging" is an inherently self-indulgent if not narcissistic activity.
What I'm attempting to do is open a window through which people can peek into my life. This is a filtered window of course but a window all the same. Now the question becomes, why would anyone want to look into my life? What makes me special? Not much.
Nonetheless I just keep writing. Normally, anything that is “undefined” or "purposeless" drives me insane until I find an answer or a reason. Perhaps it is not for me to decide “what it is.” In fact, I have no idea who actually reads these posts unless someone in the non-virtual world comes up to me and says “hey, I read your blog the other day.". All I get are stats from Weebly that say “you had 76 unique visitors on June 18th.” Who are these “unique visitors?” What do they think? Do they have opinions they would like to share or are there things they would like to hear more or less of? What is it that they see through the window or will someday the window become a mirror (cue Inception sound).
Anyone can always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think it would be fun to break down the “Fourth Wall” once in a while and have some reader participation. Then it could become a dialogue rather than a monologue.
Here’s a toast to my minor internet accomplishment and a majorly fantastic year. Cheers!
While I am not at liberty to confirm whether or not I have practiced the dark arts of “musical theater,” I will say that Les Misérables is one of my favorite shows (good thing since it has been going through my head nonstop...). I Dreamed a Dream makes me cry, Stars sends shivers up my spine, and that catchy descending arpeggio line is, well, catchy. Naturally, I was excited when I signed on to work with Spiro Productions and The Other Mirror. I got the gig from Warren Oja, WMU cellist and my partner in crime (aka standpartner) for the last year in USO. Because of the Oja family’s hospitality, I was able to stay in Royal Oak and commute with Warren to the rehearsals. Added bonus, I reconnected with a friend that I had not seen in person for 5 years (Heidi Kim, who was concertmistress of the 2009 Michigan Youth Arts Festival Orchestra). Besides working with a fantastic cast, crew, and pit (though we weren't much of a pit since we were center stage), here are some of the highlights of the long weekend in photo form (captions included).
Events not listed in the slideshow include:
1. A late night trip to White Castle (to eat a steamy slider is to see the face of God).
2. I bought a violin. Thank you Laurie for helping me find a great instrument package for a great price! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Psarianos-Violins-Ltd/163235600364648 (http://www.psarianosviolins.com/)
3. Ate delicious home-cooked meals with the Oja family.
4. And this (see video below):
I am very proud of both the staff and students of the Kalamazoo Kids in Tune. This last week we pulled off an ambitious orchestra concert program including Mahler 1, Dvorak New World Symphony, and the ever classic Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It marks the finish line of a very busy school year.
Teaching is paradoxical. On the one hand, as the teacher, your purpose is to guide students in their own learning process. And while you may think that you are the one charting the course and steering the ship, it is in fact the student who makes the journey. The teacher really doesn’t teach. It is the student who does the learning. Yet at the same time, as a teacher, you are a student also. Instructors have told me how much you can learn from teaching. If you have done it, and you understand it, then you can figure out how to pass this experience and knowledge to another. Teaching is in and of itself a form of learning. After a full year of teaching both university students at WMU and elementary students Woods Lake Elementary, I would like to share some of my reflections on what has transpired.
1. Everyone just wants to be heard.
Oprah Winfrey, in her last episode of her show, said that she "talked to nearly 30,000 people on [the] show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common -- they all wanted validation. ... They want to know, do you hear me? Do you see me? Does what I say mean anything to you?” This proves true for all people, both children and adults. Whether their statement or expression is positive or negative, constructive or destructive, it is the song of the human soul. In a sense, the expression is valid because it is an expression.
2. Don’t be reactionary.
That being said, expressions may be valid but they are not always appropriate. Prof. Uchimura has this theory of “reactionary personalities”. We have reactionary tendencies, after all, we want our voice to be heard and we have selfish (though not necessarily bad) motivations. However, in situations of confrontation or times when we are not getting our way, we can all act quite badly. There is very little difference between the student that throws a temper tantrum and the adult who tries to drink their woes away. Really? Is that what you’re going to do every time life throws you a curveball? Buck up Chuck, life’s tough so you better be too. Our initial reactions in a situation may be true but that doesn’t make them right. The foundation of civility is being able to filter and compartmentalize effectively. Rarely does it “feel good” but generally it is the right path to take.
3. How does that make you feel?
In the soulful words of Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Dedicated individuals in education know this to be true. What really matters is the personal connections you make with students. And when it comes to life at large, doesn’t this rule also hold steadfast?