Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Planting Daffodils

As the academic calendar relaxes and my adrenaline pump slows down, my thoughts turn to Spring (even though it is December 21st - Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year).  I am a sun-bunny at heart and do not tolerate cold temperatures well.  Because my life is extremely hectic during the month of December, I make it a point to rest, read and get out in nature while I am not required to be at school.  The temperature is supposed to be in the low 70s on Thursday and I feel a fishing day coming on...

Today, however, I planted daffodils. 

There was something peaceful about preparing the soil and planting bulbs that were specially cultivated for warmer climates.  It will be months before they peek out from beneath the earth and greet the morning dawn with their bright, yellow flowers - but I am ready.

As I reflect on the previous four months of cultivating creativity in my classroom, I have been tilling the soil, fertilizing it regularly and encouraging growth in the area of musicianship where my students are concerned.  It is hard to believe we are already nearing the mid-point of the school year.  As I look ahead to the new year and realize what must still be accomplished, I fully expect to see "tender shoots of knowledge" and "quality musical experiences" springing forth from my "garden" in the months to come. 

We plant, expecting a harvest.  We teach, expecting learning gains to be realized and a deeper understanding of the content to take hold in each student entrusted to us.  Growing life-long learners is every teachers' expected outcome.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Tis the Season for Holiday Musicals and More

My life as a music teacher is cram-jammed and filled to capacity during the month of December.  It always has been.  The days are long and the nights are longer.  I walk around in a fog for weeks, waving at myself coming and going.  I've come to understand that my body will be pushed to its limits and my brain extended beyond its capacities in December.  It is simply an occupational hazard with which I must contend.

Before I began teaching seven years ago, I was a church musician.  Need I say more? Christmas Eve and Easter are the two biggest "high feast and holy days" on the church calendar.  We began preparing for Christmas Eve service in September and Easter services in January.  And so it goes with the second and third grade musicals.  Before I am finished with one, I am already "prepping the other."  It's just part of my reality.

This week, my work with 200+ second graders culminated in a grade-level production entitled, "Once on a Housetop."  I have been rehearsing the songs in this musical since August.  It is now mid-December.  Yesterday, I conducted 2 dress rehearsals, 2 musical programs and 2 Recorder Club performances - all in one day! Best part is, I get to do it again tomorrow for the other half of the grade level!

My after-school arts enrichment program also comes to life in December.  The Chets Creek Recorder Club has been rehearsing since September and performed at the Jacksonville International Airport last week as part of their Holiday Fest.  As a service project to our second graders, they perform pre-show music before all four musical productions.  They will also play at the Bennie Furlong Senior Center in Jacksonville Beach on December 15th and at the St. Johns TownCenter Mall (in the courtyard near Cantina Laredo and the Capital Grille) on December 16th.

Chets Creek Recorder Club Pre-Show Performance

As I ease into the Christmas holidays, I am grateful for the opportunity to create lasting memories for these children.  They may not recall what they made on the FCAT twenty years from now, but they will remember being part of a large musical production or a performance group that allowed them to bloom where they were planted.  Cultivating Creativity.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Food Court "Hallelujah Chorus"

Last year, it was the "Silent Monks sing the "Hallelujah Chorus."  This year, it's even better.  Enjoy!!

Click here: YouTube - Christmas Food Court Flash Mob, Hallelujah Chorus - Must See!

Merry Christmas, Ya'll

Until next time...

Holiday Fest at the Airport

Yesterday, the Chets Creek Recorder Club made its annual trek to Jacksonville International Airport to perform for their Holiday Fest.  Schools, both public and private, are invited to participate in this event each year and this was our third trip with the Chets Creek Recorder Club.

Half of my students had never been to the airport, so it was an educational experience for them as well.  We performed upstairs in the atrium near the food court where it is acoustically "live" and the sound resonates like you're in a cathedral.  It's a completely different musical experience from rehearsing in the music room.

The sound man is the Master Electrician for the facility, but attended the University of Florida on a full music scholarship.  His music studies began on the recorder.  He then moved from the recorder to the saxophone and finally settled on the bassoon.  He is so animated when he runs sound for me each year, it cracks me up. 

The students played extremely well and I was so proud of them!  There were more parents and grandparents in our audience than holiday travelers (it's still a little early), but they were a great crowd nonetheless.

Many thanks to the parents who transported children in their vehicles yesterday and a special salute to Mrs. Willingham for taking a gazillion photos of our group for the yearbook page.  A big "thank you" to Delta Airlines for providing a wheelchair for one of my students who had recently broken her leg.  I greatly appreciate everyone's support!!

Chets Creek Recorder Club - 2010

Performing Holiday Favorites

Robert getting his shoes shined

With this trip to the airport, our performance season has officially begun.  The group will play pre-show music at school on Tuesday, December 7th and Thursday, December 9th for our second grade musical entitled "Once on a Housetop."  Pre-show begins at 5:30 and 7:00 with musical performances at 6:00 and 7:30 p.m. each night.

On Wednesday, December 15th, they will perform at the Bennie Furlong Senior Center in Jacksonville Beach and again at the TownCenter Mall on Thursday, December 16th in the courtyard near Cantina Laredo.  I hope you can join us!!

Until next time...