Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

It may not be my own faith tradition, but this is a lovely poem and there's a lovely setting by Gustav Holst.

In the Bleak Midwinter
Christina Rosetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide

So there's really no way for me to let my families know what I'm about to write without looking like I'm asking for gifts, and I'm absolutely not. Also, it's probably far too late to be considering this now, since Chanukah is over, and Christmas is a week away, but I'm writing this now for future reference.


Should you or your child have a music/art/reading/whatever tutor, and should you wish to give him or her a holiday gift 'round about now, here's one teacher's opinion.

1) You really honestly don't have to get me anything. The best gift of all is a student who practices and is attentive and respectful in lessons. Although, should you be the parent a non-attentive, only-occasionally-respectful, rarely-practicing student, I am still fond of your child, else he or she wouldn't be in my studio anymore.

2) The things teachers will keep forever are handwritten notes/letters/cards/drawings from your child. I have a box dedicated to such things. Photos of the student are also a plus.

3) Gift cards/certificates are also highly appreciated. I have one family who generally gives me a gift certificate to a local music store and a couple others who give me gift certificates to a local bookstore, and really, you can't go wrong giving any teacher a bookstore certificate.

Although if this trend keeps up, I'm going to need a gift certificate to IKEA for more bookshelves.

4) Food is also welcome, although I'm picky about certain candies and such, but if I happen to get something I don't care for, it will go in the break room and many other starving musician teachers will be equally grateful.

5) Knickknacks/jewelry/clothing accessories: I'm grateful for any token of esteem, but these are risky. Examples will not be forthcoming, because I would hate to hurt anyone's feelings.

Now, all this said, should you happen to be aware that the teacher in question...enjoys the occasional glass of wine/brandy/rum/grain alcohol (I was going to say just "drinks", but that has connotations I think I'd prefer to avoid), a bottle of cheer is very highly appreciated, if that's within your comfort zone.

Merry Giftmas to all, and to all a good night!

The snow lay on the ground...

The snow was rather lovely, really, and I took yesterday as a snow day, but I had to dig out the car this morning, and now I don't want to do anything...except I didn't see my Monday students last week, and I won't see them next week, and I really do make an effort to be a responsible teacher. Mostly. I'm sure I'll feel better once I get going.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fit to burst

I'm so proud of my students who just had their first solo recital today. They ranged in age from 4 to 8, and with one exception who just was too nervous and shy to play (and that was totally OK), they all got up and played their pieces with confidence and seemed completely comfortable on stage. And they all made friends with each other in the process, which was my secondary goal.

Also, there were cookies.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

more student entertainment

Different 8-year-0ld student: When I was little, I went skiing, and I fell down. And someone who was learning how to snowboard ran over me. Then someone else ran over me. Then one of my skis came off. Then my other ski went down the hill by itself.

His mom: And yet, he still likes to ski.

(I love any story that starts with "when I was little" when the kid's age is still in the single digits.)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I love my students

So the mom of one of my students was telling me that the recorder teacher at his school yelled at someone in the class the other day.

My eight-year-old student told his mother this and said, "Yelling is the opposite of music."

I'm keeping that thought close.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Those crazy...crazies...

So Westboro Baptist, Fred Phelps' know, the God Hates Everybody But Us And We'll Make Sure You Know About It people (to whom I refuse to provide a link) in town again, and since picketing gay people and soldiers isn't getting them attention anymore, they've turned their attention to the Jewish community.

I will link to Chris Mason's Phelps-A-Thon site, because his idea of turning the pickets into fundraisers for whatever they're picketing is brilliant.

So yesterday, they picketed several places in Boston; the only one I could get to was their picket of the Jewish Advocate office downtown. There were about 10 of them to start, which went down to four, two of whom were young boys.* So I rosined up my bow and played my fiddle hard, 'cause hell's broke loose in Boston and the devil carries placards.

I played all the Jewish music I could think of, including Chanukah music and selections from Fiddler on the Roof; they were out there long enough that I had to repeat myself a few times, and I was shivering and couldn't feel my fingers by the end, and I doubt I disrupted them in any way, but it was worth it. I took Chris's idea and put a sign in my case stating that proceeds would go to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. I think I made about $20 for Mazon. I should send WBC a thank-you note, like Chris does for the Phelps-A-Thons.

They'll be picketing the Cathedral of the Holy Cross starting in about 10 minutes. I thought about going out there too, except it's colder now than it was at 1:30 yesterday afternoon, and if I just go and listen to their rants, I'll get unnecessarily angry and won't be able to do anything productive with it. Also, I'm still in my pajamas.

*A note here: I think Fred Phelps is seriously mentally ill, and I think his daughter who's taken the role of leader is also mentally ill...even if she didn't start out that way, being raised in such an environment would warp anybody. I have compassion for them in the sense that living a life filled with so much pain must be so very difficult. I have no compassion, however, when it comes to their use of their children in these pickets.