Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Tis the Season to Make Music

O.K, Folks....It's December and with the onset of December comes much music-making.  The Fletcher High Chorus has certainly enjoyed their share of it!!

Actually, it all began back in November on Veteran's Day and has morphed into the holiday season.  We sang on Veteran's Day at Beaches Veteran's Memorial Park, at a fundraising event at the American Legion Post 129, and at "Holidays in the Village," a fundraiser for the Beaches Historical Museum.  The following weekend, we performed at "Christmas in the Park" for the City of Neptune Beach and supported Interact's fundraiser for "K-9s for Wounded Warriors" at Slider's.  Our Holiday Extravaganza concert with the band and dance team at Fletcher was last Thursday and tonight is "Deck the Chairs" - a fundraiser for the Volunteer Lifesaving Corps of Jacksonville Beach.  We will be spreading cheer to holiday travelers on the 18th at Jacksonville International Airport.  And so it goes....

It is a busy time of year for a musician.  I was a charter member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in my early 20's and I recall December being extremely busy with  performances of Handel's "Messiah."  In my former life, I was a church musician (worship team, children's choir director, adult choir director, soloist, etc.) Three to four services on Christmas Eve, "Holiday Hallelujah" performances, "A Bethlehem Visit" live nativity, midnight mass, candlelight service - you name it - I sang in it!

As I reflect on this aspect of my life, it makes me tired...but it also makes me happy to know that my musical gift has brought so much joy to thousands of people in our community.  My hope is that my students will one day look back on the madness and say, "I sacrificed my time and my energy to bless others" and it was worth it!

I will be planted in the crowd tonight at "Deck the Chairs" to encourage others to join in with the Christmas Carol Sing-Along at the end of the show.  I hope to see you there!!

"Deck the Chairs" - 2014

BEAM food collection station

My peeps!

Boys from the 'hood
 Until next time...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Holidays in the Village

Back in the day, our little town was affectionately known as "Pablo Village."  I guess that's where the organizer of this particular fundraiser for the Beaches Historical Museum got the idea for "Holidays in the Village."  Interior Designers from around the community decorated holiday tables and the Singing Senators were asked to perform along with the Sharkapellas of Ponte Vedra High School.  The organizer wanted the beaches communities represented, and represent, we did!

True to form, my students rose to the occasion and attended after-school rehearsals to prepare for this event.  We had no idea a polar vortex would drop down on NE Florida this particular evening.  I must give credit where credit it due - this event was scheduled over our Thanksgiving holiday from school, it was 36 degrees outside on November 28th and we were standing in wet grass singing Christmas Carols for an hour.  Brrrrrrrr..........

Love these students...they were such good sports!
Thank you, Noah, for being the only male in our midst!

December is one of our busiest months during the school year. You can catch the Singing Senators at the following community events over the next several weeks:

Friday, December 5th - Christmas in the Park at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach - event begins at 6 pm

Sunday, December 7th - Interact Fundraiser for K-9s for Wounded Warriors - Slider's - 5 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 11th - Holiday Extravaganza featuring the FHS Band, the FHS Chorus and the FHS Dance Ensemble.  7:00 p.m. in the Fletcher High Auditorium.  Tickets are $5.00 at the door.

Sunday, December 14th - Deck the Chairs at the Sea Walk Pavilion - free.  Performance begins at 7:00 p.m.  Nancy Dance Studio, a string quartet and a mass choir composed of singers from area churches, Fletcher Middle School and Fletcher High School will perform.

Thursday, December 18th - Jacksonville International Airport - 10:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Ya'll

It's Thanksgiving Day, 2014.  My eyes popped open at 3:00 a.m.  It would be hours before I needed to start cooking.  What was I to do?

Well....I decided to grade papers.  I brought a crate full of music theory books home, several concert reflections my Honors students had written and Christmas music on which my beginning piano students had to "write in the counts, letter names and fingering numbers" so we could learn it more quickly upon our return.

Only one eldest son is home from college and is sleeping in one room, my youngest son has the flu and is crashed out on the sofa in the living room, my husband is snoring in our bedroom and my 91-year old father-in-law has taken up residence in another room.  The only place I could find to work was in the bathroom.  The garage wasn't even a consideration; it's too cold outside this time of year.

It is now 5:47 a.m. and I am very happy to report that my work is done (at least for today).  I wish I were the type that could return to the bed, hunker down under the covers and go back to sleep, but I've never been able to do that.  I was trying to figure out how to make a cup of coffee in the kitchen without waking my sick child in the living room, but haven't figured that out yet either.  Lord knows, I could use one.  It's cold on the bathroom floor and my feet are numb from lack of circulation.  Time to get up, move around and greet the dawn with a grateful heart.  I have life, breath, a job, a family that loves me, a roof over my head, an old car that gets me where I need to go - and lots of sunshine!!

Wishing all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.  There is much for which to be thankful today.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Proud to Be an American!

Last week was filled with patriotism, pride and community performances!

On Tuesday, the Singing Senators performed at the Veteran's Day Ceremony at Beaches Veteran's Memorial Park in Atlantic Beach.  It was a lovely day to celebrate our veterans - past, present and future.  Local ROTC commands were part of the experience and our very own FHS Brass Ensemble performed pre-show music for the audience.  Several hundred locals from around the Beaches community were there to pay their respects and honor those who had served and are currently serving to protect our freedom. 

Last night, an ensemble sang at the American Legion #129 as part of a patriotic program that was written by a former classmate of mine.  Candace asked if we would be part of her production when we bumped into each other at our 35th reunion last summer.  I told her I would be happy to support her efforts and thus our collaboration was born.  Funds raised last night will allow the American Legion to adopt a naval ship for the holidays at Mayport Naval Base and also to help send students to "Girls State" in Tallahassee next spring.  My favorite part of the program was when the wives of the men who are carved into Mt. Rushmore spoke about their husband's individual quirks.  It was quite humorous from the women's vantage point.

My students served food, dessert and sang
in the production.

Until next time...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall Choral Festival 2014

On November 6, 2014, the Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High School Beginning Mixed Chorus traveled to Atlantic Coast High School to perform in the annual Fall Choral Festival.  This festival provides an opportunity for a chorus to perform in a non-adjudicated setting and for their peers from around the district.

Last year, we were unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict, but after experiencing the festival this year, I feel it is a valuable tool for my beginners to get a taste of what it is like at District Music Performance Assessments in the Spring.  Although there is no sight-reading component, the students begin in the auditorium, move to the warm-up room, walk out onstage, perform two songs and exit to the auditorium.  The process is very similar at MPA.  It is not my practice to take the beginning chorus to District MPA, but after the positive experience we had at this festival, it may be a consideration this year.

My students did well.  We only had 34 make the trip out of 48 in the class, but the group was very well-behaved and represented our school well.

Many thanks to Shelli Long for sight-reading our music onstage during the performance.  We only had 3 minutes in the warm-up room for her to look at it.

 Duncan U. Fletcher Senior High Beginning Mixed Chorus

Until next time...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Miss High School Pageant

On Saturday evening, I had the unique privilege of sitting in the audience and enjoying the Miss High School Pageant at the University of North Florida.  Our very own Rachel S. has been in chorus at Fletcher High School for the past four years.  Last year, she was crowned "Miss Fletcher" which provided her with the opportunity to compete in the pageant for the "Miss High School" crown.

Rachel is a charming and talented young lady who is poised, articulate and enjoys sharing her "gift of song" with others.  She is engaging in a dramatic presentation, a musical setting, or chorus concert and it's hard to miss her flaming red curls. She comes alive onstage and I was so glad to learn that she is going to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree after graduation in the spring.

Rachel was selected 2nd Runner-Up in the Miss High School pageant and we are very proud of her accomplishments.  She will be the featured soloist in our fall concert on Tuesday, October 14th.  She will also perform in the Drama department's fall show in November.  Congratulations, Rachel!!

Ellie, Rachel and Thea
Until next time...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Off and Running

It is true.  The school year has officially begun.  I worked most of the summer and found myself in teacher trainings during the months of June, July and August.  Most folks think teachers get an 8-week "break" from their daily routine.  Maybe that's true for some, but not for me.  I spent the summer shuttling my boys to and from work and to and from football practice.  I was an assistant swim coach from May through July and celebrated with family during our annual family reunion.  It blew by so quickly, I am still having a difficult time adjusting to the idea that school has officially begun.

I have 116 chorus students this year. We are currently preparing for several things - All-State auditions, the Disney Candlelight Processional audition and our Fall Concert.  Next week we begin our first fundraiser of the year - Enjoy the City coupon books.  The new "Smart Snack" law has put the kabosh on any candy sales during the school day (one of our biggest money-makers!) so we are looking for other ideas to re-build our operating budget.

I am also teaching two sections of Keyboard 1 and one section of World Music this year.  I have 236 students attached to me.  It is a good thing that I am neurotically organized.  If that weren't enough responsibility, I was called upon to mentor a new teacher this year.  Folks must think I am "Super Teacher."  As the Bible says, "To those to whom much is given, much will be required."  God help me.

Several weeks ago, I did a blind audition for soloists to sing the National Anthem at the varsity football games.  Seven singers made the cut and three of them have represented our program very well under the Friday night lights.  I was at the game last night to conduct the singer in the press box.  Just as I sat down in the bleachers to watch the game, the "heavens declared the glory of God" and it began to rain.  I didn't have an umbrella and neither did my sister.  Needless to day, we were soaked to the bone.

Not only did we get soaked, First Coast High
kicked our tails 18-6. 

My sister is such a gracious person and had agreed to help me prepare the materials for the fundraiser which begins on Monday.  Our plan was to go to the game, sit through the first quarter and then go back to the school and stuff envelopes.  We finally closed up shop at 8:30 p.m. and took our soaking-wet selves home for the night.

Life is always an adventure with me.  Stay tuned...