Thursday, October 29, 2015

Night of the Living Dead

 Jesse, Jonathan, Paige, Jacob

 Jonathan showing off his make-up!! Awesome job!!

 "You can take the boy out of the Valley,
but you can't take the Valley out of the boy."
Palm Valley, that is.  Rock on, Kevin Brown!!

Fall Drama Production.  There were lots of my chorus kids in the show, but they were all dressed up like zombies and I didn't recognize them to take their photo.  Sorry guys!!

Until next time...

Nikolai and Andrew

Nikolai and Andrew
Playing Test - Keyboard I
"Lavender's Blue" complete with vocals

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Personal Steam Inhaler

So I'm a vocal coach and every now and again, I come down with something that negatively impacts my ability to phonate (produce sound) from my larynx.  That is problematic for someone in my field.  

When I was living in Southern California, I kept getting sick.  Whatever the creature was that latched onto me, it always landed in my respiratory system.  Tonsillitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, strep throat, sinus infections galore.  After further research, I discovered that moisture in the airways keeps bacteria and viruses from multiplying and spreading, wreaking havoc with your vocal mechanism.  Drinking gallons of water keeps cells hydrated and is necessary for optimum cellular function. I'm no doctor, but I began to see where the root of my problem lay.

The weather is extremely dry in So Cal and I'm a Florida girl where we are drowning in humidity much of the year.  Once I realized what was causing me so much grief, I purchased a cool mist humidifier and ran it nightly in my bedroom so I could sleep.  This also helped relieve the "lizard skin" that had overtaken my entire body.

At that time, my sister was singing in New York and had discovered the Vick's Personal Steam Inhaler.  She said it had helped immensely and that I should try it.  She sent me one for my birthday decades ago.  She would be glad to know that I still use it when the respiratory bug hits.  I've been sick for the past 5 days and am still feeling pretty miserable. I am steaming my sinuses, pharynx and larynx several times a day.  I have not yet turned the corner, but am certain I am farther along than I would have been without the infamous "vocal steam machine."

Today is my sister's birthday and I felt compelled to write a blog post in honor of her special day.  We are forever connected by this little piece of equipment.  (BTW, I checked at WalMart last week and they still have them on the shelf...)

Keep a box of tissues handy when using this gizmo.  It will definitely open up your sinuses and bring relief from the misery all of us have experienced at one time or another.

Happy Birthday, little sister!!

Until next time...

The "Quez"

I teach at a public high school.  I am the chorus teacher.  I also have been called upon to teach beginning keyboard and World Music.  Last year, I had a student in my beginning keyboard class named Donquez.  This kid was a sophomore at the time and came to me with quite a bit of sass and attitude.  I spent the entire year trying to build into this student an "attitude of gratitude" in place of what he was slinging around in my classroom.  He left at the end of the year and never looked back.  I watched him as he walked down the hallway in June.  As he walked away, I was left with the perceived impression that he hated me.  I am certain he thought the same of me.  I figured I'd never see him in one of my classes again and resigned myself to the fact that "what's done is done" and I needed to focus my attention on the ones who are teachable, so that both teacher and student feel good about what we are learning in the classroom.

Fast-forward to 2015-16.  All faculty and staff were given the opportunity to "Adopt a Senator" from the football team.  Some of these guys love the game, but struggle in the classroom.  We were told that a list would be published and we could choose the one we wanted, as long as no one else had chosen that student.  Our task was to follow the student through the football season and make sure they were meeting the demands of playing a sport and staying on top of things academically.  We were given their class schedules with a list of their teachers so we could check on them.  We were given a jersey with their number on the front and their name on the back.  We were also given a Certificate of Adoption, which I proudly displayed on my white board at the front of the classroom.  I jumped on this opportunity.  I chose Donquez.

The day he showed up in my classroom with his academic schedule, I smiled.  I said, " thought I hated you, but I don't."  He did not know what to think about my purposeful decision to choose him.  I checked on him at mid-term and he was doing well in every class but math.  I told him I wanted a grade no lower than a "C." He said he would try.  He popped into my classroom every Friday to see me.  He had a really great game one night and his picture landed on the front page of the local newspaper.  I cut it out, decorated it and laminated it.  I personally walked it out to the driver's ed range to hand-deliver it.  He was astounded.

When he got hurt two weeks ago and spent the rest of the game with an ice pack strapped to his knee, I was there.  He showed up on Monday with his crutches.  He wanted me to know he was o.k.

Our football season is almost over.  Our last home game was played Friday night.  We lost.  There is no hope of a district championship this year, but reaching out to this kid has brought me hope.  I pray I made a difference in his life.  Life lesson learned...never give up on a kid.  Any kid.

"The Quez" and me

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Move Over Mozart!

Today, I experienced an astounding performance by a student of mine in my very own classroom.

Noah is playing in an adjudicated piano competition this weekend and asked if I would allow him to perform his pieces for the class.  Since we were between the fall concert and the holiday show, it was the perfect time for him to do so.

I knew this student had skill on the keys, but I had absolutely no idea this young man could play the piano at this level.  He has been working on the Beethoven piece for two years.  The others, for six months or more.  I am sorry, but I see very few 17-year olds with that kind of dedication to their craft - whatever it may be.  Those of us who were listening and watching were left feeling overwhelmed at the conclusion of his performance.  There were mistakes made, but the ratio of right notes to wrong notes was on the correct side of the colon.  He played with energy and and he played from his heart.

I was breathless when he finished and uncontrollable tears were streaming down my face.  I had absolutely no idea this level of talent lived in my classroom.  I told him that when he purchased his "coat, tie and tails," to please remember me.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Homecoming Dress-up Day

We usually play Wolfson High School at Homecoming.  It's been a tradition for decades.  This year, we played Duval Charter School, which meant that "Weirdo Wolfson Day" didn't happen for us.

"Weirdo Wolfson Day" is a dress-up day where you wear the craziest, mixed-up wardrobe choices you can dig out of your closet.  Although we had something similar, it just wasn't the same.

However, for Hippie Day......they killed it!

Alex and Jacquelyn
Until next time...

Character Shoes

So this year.....I decided to do something a little different.  I was tired of my girls showing up in everything from black ballet flats to lace-up army boots for our concerts.  I waited until my third year to require uniform shoes for the ladies.  Choral Boosters provides them with a floor-length, black concert dress and purple accents.  This was the year I decided to address the feet.

I invited a local dancewear company to my parent kick-off meeting this year.  They brought purple bags brimming with Capezio Character Shoes for the ladies in my choir.  They fit each of my women and handled the sale right then and there.  If they didn't have their size, they ordered a pair for the student and delivered them to the school within two weeks.  It was the easiest fitting/shoe purchasing extravaganza ever!! - ask for Katie
Tell 'em Mrs. Tamburrino sent you!

Until next time...