Thursday, October 31, 2013


A colleague once told me, as a young-ish teacher, that regardless of how one feels about one's principal one should always remember that the principal has the title of B-O-S-S.

That advice has stuck with me all these years.

Not just in regards to my principal or supervisors, but also in my music.

In the classroom the teacher is usually the B-O-S-S.

In the ensemble - band, chorus, orchestra, etc. - the conductor is the B-O-S-S.

Despite not always agreeing with the directors I have had in my nearly 40 years of ensemble work, I have always respected their position as "the one in charge."

40 years.


I started ensemble work in 5th grade with both band and choir.

I have played/sung in nearly every type of ensemble possible.

Mainly because I'm a music nerd.

But also because I have had wonderful opportunities which resulted in wonderful experiences.

When I think about all the directors I have had since 5th grade I really can't begin to name all of them [some I can though], but I can recall the places/times I've rehearsed/performed over the years.

Counting all the directors at schools, music camps, honor bands/choirs, workshops, community groups...

A guess of 150 is plausible.


I have been "under the baton" of nearly 150 conductors.

I have observed perhaps 75 more.

To their credit I have respected each one and have been privileged to be in one of their ensembles.

Sure, I've seen the majority of these directors throw some sort of fit - in varying degrees of anger from: stomping from the room and slamming the door, a baton thrown to the floor, suit jackets flung across the room, to megaphones bouncing down the practice field, to chairs and/or stands thrown being smashed against the wall.

Sure, I've been the target of some of these fits. And usually deservedly so. (My precocious behavior of my youth is not the topic of this post.)

However, I have been fortunate to have never had one of these conductors abuse their role of B-O-S-S and direct personal jabs at me or a fellow band/choir/orchestra mate.

Fits were a response to behavior, frustration, ....whatever.

But none...out of 150...have made the tirade a personal tirade against any one student.

I believe that when a conductor, especially one who is also in the role of teacher (but then, they are all teachers in some way, are they not?), abuses that position he/she loses a bit of respect in the eyes of the ensemble.

And once that is lost, it is difficult to regain.

Part of the responsibility of being a conductor is self-control, integrity, patience, and understanding.

Actually, the characteristics of a conductor could go on and on.

Don't get me wrong, there are countless phenomenal conductors out there.

Sadly, the few rotten apples ruin the whole basket.

Today's post is dedicated to them.

Sadly, they more than likely don't know who they are.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Stage Musical

Tonight I went to see Disney's Tarzan, "The Stage Musical."

I really enjoyed it. Though I know the story of Tarzan I was interested to see how this version told it.

The celebrity star was Eden Espinosa.

However, for me the stars were the young singers from a local high school who got to perform featured roles as the young Tarzan and young Terk as well as serve as back-up gorillas, I mean, singers.


A question came to my mind upon reading the program for this show.

An opera, by definition, is a drama that has music, costumes, lighting, dance, special effects, soloists & chorus, and orchestra.

This is also a close/loose definition for Broadway musical.

An oratorio, by definition, is a drama that has music and soloists, chorus, and orchestra, but does not have the other aspects that opera has.

Using the comparison of opera to oratorio and following the reasoning that a Broadway musical is comparable to an opera, would/could a "stage musical" (as in the title for this program) which has the music, soloists, chorus, and orchestra and limited lighting and special effects be called a Broadway oratorio? 

(Yes, I know those do not exist, to my knowledge, as a musical genre - I'm just thinking out loud.)

Any thoughts?

I'm going to keeping thinking on this.

Occasionally. :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Saudi "No Woman, No Drive"

I drive a lot.

I love to drive.

I sold my first car with 153K miles.

The second car with 137K miles.

My current car is 122K miles.

I drive many, many miles.

As I drove yesterday I heard a news story about how some Saudi women are fighting right now for the right to drive.

To my knowledge, despite countless jokes and disparaging comments, American women have always been driving.


Today there is news about a parody of a Bob Marley song that has gone viral.  It is titled "No woman, No drive" and talks of the opposition to Saudi women driving.  (To me, with my 21st century view of rights, it is silly and ridiculous oppositional reasoning.)

Recently there was a PBS program that told of the equal rights movement here in the United States.

As I watched history unfold I found myself appreciating the women who have gone before me to make it possible for me to do whatever I want to do.

This is not saying that I agree with them politically or that they went about securing equal rights in a way that I condone, but I can't help but be grateful for them.

You see, because of them I can drive my car wherever I wish.  I can do anything within God's will and the law.

Unlike the Saudi women.


In music, women have struggled for equal footing with their male counterparts.

Amy Marcy Cheney Beach was a self-taught musician - she translated foreign instrumentation treatises to learn how to orchestrate music.

Upon learning she was writing symphonic works, critics said if she insisted on writing music as men did then she should stick to writing art songs for those were sung by women and would thus be an appropriate direction for her to devote her talents.

Just listen to some of her symphonies and see if she was not capable to write symphonic music.

In the early days of jazz it was believed that women did not have the "strength, temperament, and talent to compete with the men." (Gotta love that quote!)

During the World War II era when the men were off to war someone had to carry on the music here at home.

Enter all-female swing bands.

I imagine many were speechless when the International Sweethearts of Rhythm took the stage.

(I remember an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and her friends were trying to form a band with Desi directing. They were so bad that in the end Desi and his band (dressed in drag) played the benefit.  I wonder now if that was a reference to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.)

Classical. Jazz.
Women have had to make their presence known in all genres of music have been.


In my life I have had some experiences that might be somewhat discriminatory.

It was not uncommon for me to hear comments about my trombone playing ability and that I was a "girl" in the same conversation.

I recall one judge at solo & ensemble contest watching me as I played through my solo.  He just stared as I played. I felt extremely nervous - more than I normally did whilst playing.

When I finished I looked up. He continued looking at me for a few more seconds then said, "That was not bad...for a girl."

I'm not sure if it was Guilmant's Morceau Symphonique or Pryor's Blue Bells of Scotland or Rimsky-Korsakov's Concerto for Trombone that year.

But he was right.

I was pretty good...for a girl.


Have you every thought about the role of women in music?

This brief discussion just barely gets thoughts started....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Holiday Word Activity

When I was a little girl it seemed like every holiday a teacher would have students create statements using the letters in words associated with a certain holiday.


               Valentines Day

I'm sure there was something academic behind the task - like using our vocabulary, but I only recall it being a holiday activity.

Somewhere in my stash of childhood papers I probably have those creations.

Today it is not uncommon for music teachers to have their students create sayings from the letters in the  word "MUSIC."

Here's my attempt.

M o t i v a t e s
U n i f i e s
S y n t h e s i z e s
I n s p i r e s
C o m m u n e s

(We have something like it as a bulletin board at my school right now.
I can't recall the all of the words, but that really doesn't matter.)

Do you have any ideas?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ear Worms

there's a song stuck in my head
ba da da daaaahhh...
not a lot, but a bit of a bar
ba da da deeeee...
spinning 'round my ears too near
never able to get out of there, i fear
it'll never set me free

From "muddy melody" by Goode Guy
(I'll be honest - I couldn't bring myself to post a pic of an actual worm.
I don't want to have nightmares in addition to the earworm.)
Have you ever had an ear worm?

It can be quite disturbing.

It can be very irritating.

It can be ticklish.

No, it is not an actual worm.

Thank goodness!

It is that little snippet or phrase of a song that gets stuck in your head.

It is that song, jingle, or tune that you can't shake. 

You just keep whistling it...humming it...singing it.

And when you plays on... in your brain.


Ear worms cause enough of a sensation that researchers have investigated it.

A WebMD article reports that women are affected by it more often than men.

Strike 1.

It goes on to say that musicians and music lovers were afflicted more frequently and for a longer period of time.

Strike 2.

Then the article states that neurotic people seem to suffer more.

No comment.


The Top 10 Ear Worm Songs
  1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
  2. Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" jingle.
  3. "Who Let the Dogs Out"
  4. "We Will Rock You"
  5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle ("Gimme a Break ...")
  6. "Mission Impossible" theme
  7. "YMCA"
  8. "Whoomp, There It Is"
  9. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
  10. "It's a Small World After All"
Did you find yourself singing/thinking of any/each of the above tunes as you read the list?




While there is no ready cure for this, I usually try to sing or listen to another song to get the ear worm out of my head.

Regardless, I just try to distract my brain towards another direction.

Perhaps by singing

"Take Me Home, Country Roads"


"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"


"Amazing Grace"


Mean, eh?

At least I ended with a pleasant one to direct your mind and your thoughts.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Invisibility of Living Composers

"The invisibility of living composers" is a profound statement.

Sadly, it is a true statement.

Sadly, it is not a new statement.

It was made by Ned Rorem who turned 90 years old on October 23, 2013.

There are a few festivities planned to celebrate his birthday. 

Rightly so.

However, these few festivities are nothing compared to the often yearlong celebrations of big anniversaries for birthdays and deaths of long dead composers.

This year alone there were world-wide celebrations for Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, and Benjamin Britten.


Why should Rorem's career be celebrated?

He is after all still alive.

He studied at Northwestern, the Curtis Institute, and Julliard.

Not bad.

He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his "Air Music."

Not bad.

He has written over 500 art songs.
A feat comparable to the over 600 lieder of Franz Schubert.

Not bad.

I could go on, but this gives a brief idea of this prolific composer's contributions to music.

Some quotes of Rorem:

"I consciously said to myself that I wanted to write at least one of everything. And I've written for everything but tuba. I'm not a tuba thinker."

Tuba thinker.  That made me laugh. I imagine there are a few tuba players out there that would be honored to played a work by Rorem.

"I feel very, very deeply about music.... Why live if you don't feel deeply?"

True words. Reminds me of a recent blog about my "all consuming passion" - music.

"Writing music is a very serious affair, technically as well as emotionally."

Those outside the music world often do not understand the process of composition.  Yes, there is a technical aspect that is obvious; less obvious is the emotions that a composer embeds into his work.

Have you ever thought about what a composer was trying to express in a piece of music? 

Listen closely next time and you will learn.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Firm Foundation

Over the past few years I have reconnected with former students, classmates, and a few teachers on Facebook.

Today was a whopper!

I reconnected with my 5th grade classroom teacher as well as my elementary music teacher.  Over the years I have thought frequently about both of them wondering where/how they were.

And the childish thought: "Did they remember me?"

In one simple "Throw Back Thursday" post by a former classmate I "found" these two women.


My heart is smiling now because my elementary music teacher sent me a friend request. Then almost immediately I received notification of a message.

We've exchanged several messages in the past 45 minutes.

I shared with her memories I had from being in her classroom.

  • It was from her I learned the song "High Hopes" in 5th grade choir.

  • It was from her I learned how to play xylophones. She had a cart full of them - one for each student.

  • It was from her I learned I did not want to push a piano from one classroom to the next.

Luckily for me, during my entire 25 years as a music teacher, I have only had to teach from a cart one year - my first year. (Later on I did have a little over a semester where I was without a classroom but that time I only carried satchels - I didn't want them to think I was going to do it forever!)


And I also sheepishly apologized for some misbehavior that she said she had long forgotten, but which I have remembered over the years.

Lest you get the wrong idea here, my misbehavior was purposefully mispronouncing a word in a song.

You see, we were singing the song "Shenandoah" and the last phrase of that song is "'Cross the wide Missouri."

Well...a friend and I, in 5th grade juvenile fashion, would also LOUDLY sing "'Cross the wide MISERY!"

Wasn't that awful??

I know as a teacher it would have irritated me to have students doing that.

So, I have apologized.

After  nearly 40 years.

Better late than never! :)


She made one comment that I will quote here. She said: "Pretty soon many of my former students will have more degrees than me!"

I responded with, "We wouldn't be getting these degrees if it wasn't for the foundation you gave us. Be proud of the influence and legacy you have "begotten.""

And I mean it.

Foundation is everything.

Now as I teach, I try so very hard to establish a firm foundation upon which my students can build their own careers.

It is my prayer that I might be one iota as successful as my elementary music teacher.

Thank you, Miss W.

Do you have a favorite memory of a music teacher?

Feel free to share!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Storytelling Through Music

I love a good story.  It transports the imagination to pretty much anywhere.

I have gone to storytelling festivals and have taken some lessons in storytelling.  It can be magical.

Storytelling has been a part of music making for centuries.

Two forms come to mind as I think of storytelling in music: ballads and program music.


Simply put, a ballad is a song that tells a story.

It is a centuries-old genre of vocal music. 

Ballads were typically sung by a solo singer and occasionally might be accompanied by some sort of instrument.

Through ballads, news, both current and historical, was shared in towns and villages.

Often the ballad would tell of a folk legend, about the death or injury of someone, about a tragedy, about the actions of pretty much anyone.  It might tell of an event or a celebration. It might tell a funny story that happened.

In olden times those who sang/shared ballads were often travelers.  They would hear of a story in one place and while on the road to the next location they would create a song - a ballad - about that story. 

These songs were then shared in the new location where the traveler would learn of something new and the process would begin again as he continued on his journey.

Ballads were, and still are, shared through oral tradition.  Oral tradition is the passing on of songs - in this case, ballads - through oral tradition from one person to another and from one generation to another.

Ballads often have many, MANY verses. It is not uncommon to see some old ballads with 10, 20, 30+ verses.  The number of verses comes about because of how the song is transferred through oral tradition. The singer may alter an existing verse, create a new one (when he might forget the real one and had to fill the space in the song), or delete a verse. In this way a ballad takes on a life of its own, ever changing in the musical continuum.

Ballads that come to mind: "The Raggle Taggle Gypsies, O," "Froggie Went A-Courtin'," "Mama Buy Me A Chiney Doll."  More recent one (old, but not centuries old): "Puff, the Magic Dragon"


Program music is instrumental music that is associated with a story, poem, idea, or scene. Like the ballad, program music tells a story; however, unlike the ballad, program music tells the story through instruments only.

Like the ballad, program music has been around for centuries, but the genre really came into its own during the Romantic period of music.  The time period for this is 1820-1900.

Composers would write a work and through the music express an experience, rather than describe something.  In order to convey this experience to the musician and the listener the composer not only used the actual music, but he would also include some sort of descriptive statement in the music and/or score.  This might be in a paragraph describing the inspiration for the work or simply by descriptive titles placed before each movement.

To my memory, my first experience with program music was in high school during a music history class.  My teacher played Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture (aka Fingal's Cave, 1830). Prior to listening to the work he asked us to write about what we were hearing. I recall writing some farfetched story (luckily I seem to have misplaced it).

More recently I have listened to Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique (1830) which tells a story in a symphony through 5 movements.  (This in itself is an expansion of the traditional 4-movement symphony of the Classical period.) The story is quite fantastic (hence, "fantastique") - it has been described as having "opium-fuelled obsessions, flower-like dancers, rural idyll, rolling tumbrel and danse macabre."

Today it was the Smetana's idyllic The Moldau (1875) - a description/expression of his experience whilst floating down a river - how it began as two streams and grew into a river - observing on the shore a hunting party, further down a peasant wedding, then water nymphs gliding about in the moonlight, then the startling rapids, finally calming as the river widens near an ancient castle.


The music is like a good story - it transports you.

Enjoy the journey.

Or better yet,

Enjoy your musical sojourn! :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are You Ready for Some Football?!?!?!

Football season is here.

Can you feel the brisk, cool air?

Can you see them warming up?

Flashy uniforms.
Twirling. (?)
Going through the paces.

Do you hear them?

The Drums.
The Brass.
The Winds.

"Oom-pa-pa" go the tubas.

What else would I be talking about other than the marching band?

That is what football means to me.


Standing at attention.
Marking time.
Learning the drills.
Memorizing the music.
Playing solos in front of a packed set of bleachers.


Did you know it takes 8 steps to march between the lines on a football field?
It does!

Did you know that AstroTurf is slippery when it is cold outside?
It is!

Did you know that the spit in a trombone drips back to your mouth when you lift your bell high to blast the sound to the top of the bleachers?

I know....Ewwwww!!!!

It does though.
(Sadly, I know from personal experience.)

Some of my favorite memories of high school are the time spent making music with my fellow band mates on the practice field and on the football field.

Here is a recent video of my alma mater's marching show.

They are very good - award winning, even - I am so glad the legacy of the Geneseo band program continues on.

I might mention the size of this group is about a third of what marched the while I was in school.  I don't know the exact numbers, but we marched 150-175 instruments, 20 flags, 20 pom-poms, 4 twirlers, and a color guard.

We were a power to be reckoned with.


I'm pretty proud of that.


Some other field shows that I love

A Tribute to Michael Jackson (OSU)

Who knew a marching band could moon walk???

Video Game Show (Cal Band)

How many video games did you recognize?


So...are you ready for some football??

I'll be there...

For pre-game and half-time.

See you!

Monday, October 21, 2013

No Excuse

Fair Warning:  This has turned into a bit of a soapbox.

Exoticism in music refers to a style of music most notably from the Romantic period (1820-1900). Exoticism in music can be defined as writing music in the style of another country despite having never been to that country.

It has also been described as "Music of Elsewhere."

I like that.

During the Romantic period exoticism was not uncommon.


An composer, _________, might write an opera, _________, that is set in another country, _________.

Verdi > Aida > Egypt
Puccini > Madame Butterfly > Japan
Puccini > Turandot > China
Bizet > Carmen > Spain

This brings to mind the idea of authenticity in music.  Exoticism definitely was not authentic. They more than likely did not go to the countries they were trying to portray in their music.

Communication was limited during this time period. This limitation affected the authenticity of a great deal of music that we now label as "exotic."


During the 20th century elementary music textbooks were notorious for including songs that were not authentic.

Folksongs were labeled as being from a country and, while the tune may be from that country, it might be stylistically simplified or altered thus losing its authentic flavor, and the lyrics were either poorly translated or had nothing to do with the original words.

Fortunately, great strides have been made to rectify this lack of authenticity.


Research has been conducted to collect authentic folk music.  Kodaly, Bartok, Lomax - each of these men and countless others worked diligently to collect folk music accurately. Field recordings which were meticulously transcribed and notated have now become part of the heritage of many countries.

Some of this collected folk music has made its way to choral music.

Again, many composers/arranged have worked diligently to arranged this folk music as accurately and authentically as possible paying close attention to stylistic representation.  As a result there are many amazing choral octavos of "World Music."


We have the collected music.
We have carefully arranged stylistic representations of the music.
All that remains is authentic performance.

Sadly, some either do not do the necessary research OR - and this is what irritates me - they do the research but still perform the music as they think it should be performed DESPITE having the knowledge, recordings, and videos of what it should sound like.

For example, if you are singing a South African piece, and you hear a South African choir sing said piece, then PLEASE try to have your choral group come as close as possible to sounding as the South African group.

There is a difference between South African and American styles of music.

Just saying.

Just singing the notes accurately is not enough.

Think stylistically - even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.

In today's world of technology where at any given moment you can hear music of nearly every culture on earth there is just no excuse to be performing world music without attempting to be stylistically authentic.

Sometimes, it's not just about the notes.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fearless Performance

I went to a workshop called Fearless Performance. It was presented by Jeff Nelsen, horn professor for  Indiana University. He has played for several symphony orchestras, soloed with others, and was the horn player for the Canadian Brass.

(About this picture: Nelsen said it was not edited nor was the horn suspended. He actually tossed it in the air for the pic. He said the hardest thing was putting his hands down so the pic could be taken. I am curious how many "takes" it took to get this one.)

Obviously throughout his career he has had to audition for many positions. He admitted that he had auditioned for many positions that he didn't get in addition to the ones he was successful with.

Before every one of these performance opportunities he would get nervous to the point of anxiety.  This prompted him to look into the concept of performance anxiety...or stage fright.

He mentioned that the only difference between how you play backstage and playing on stage is that you had to walk onstage thereby crossing the magical line between practice and performance.

Here are some notes from the Fearless Performance workshop
  • Sometimes the chains that prevent us from being free are more mental than physical.
  • You cannot control perception. You can only control presentation. (Meaning you can't control what the audience is going to think. They will think it anyways. But you can control what they hear.)
  • Fearless performance occurs when you make what you are doing - in that moment in time - the only thing that matters.
  • Performing music is a FANTASTIC laboratory.
  • Through studying performance in music we can get great at life!
  • 3 Keys: Love well, Learn, and Let Go
  • Have patience with all things, but first of all, with yourself.
  • You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make, period.
  • Know 1) Where we are; 2) Where we want to be; and 3) How we are going to close the gap.
  • Build: Diligence (care); Intelligence (know); Management (balance); and Courage (act)
  • Share: Perform (perform); Perform (perform); Perform (perform); Perform (perform)
  • Create Inspirational sheets to encourage you when your courage starts to falter.
  • No one can make me feel anything without my consent.
  • The difference between Practice and Performance. In Practice there is a past and you can go back and fix it. In performance it is all now, Now, NOw, NOW! No going back.
  • Growth is dependent on Success-Based Practice
  • Don't troubleshoot - solution find.
  • Know why you're practicing.
  • Set Goals
  • Ask yourself, how was it better?
  • You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.
  • Practice performance opportunities.
  • Say something positive 100% of the time. "I played _______________ well."
  • Strive for: Mastery, Meaning, and Autonomy
  • Every note is going toward something or going away from something.
  • Mark your music - "More destructive than clutter on the page is clutter in your mind."  The marks are there to help you. You should not be struggling to remember what you were to remember just because you don't want to mark your music.

Finally, Fearless Performance is the choice that there are things more important than fear.

I'm glad I went to the workshop. It did give me some things to think about and apply to my own teaching and performance.  Many things I have been doing but Nelsen just put it into a format that is easily understandable.

Please forgive this note-based blog post. Posting my notes will make them readily available wherever I might be as well as maybe inspire some reader.

Aside: About Jeff Nelsen. His presentation style is rather frenetic. He reminds me of Robin Williams. Constantly following the thought in his head regardless of whether it is on topic or tangential. This is not meant as a criticism more an observation. His presentation was organized and well-planned - it just came off this way to me.  It is all about performance, after all, isn't it?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Symphonic Reflections

Tonight was my local symphony orchestra's concert featuring the conductor candidate I wrote about the other day.

Some things I noticed this evening -

~*~ I found myself watching the conductor's left hand. It was so very expressive. One minute it was flourishing and encouraging the strings. The next his fist might be raised rhythmically for the power of the brass. Then it might be pointing at specific soloists cuing their solos.

I don't know about you, but my left hand is stupid. I am right hand dominant and am happy that when I conduct the meter pattern that it is a mindless task as my focus is on the cues and expressivity of my left hand. 

Many young left-handed conductors fight having to show the beat pattern with their right hands - their non-dominant hand.  I tell them they are lucky as they already have such control of their left hand.  For me, it is definite work.

~*~ I watched the conductor's face and saw joy and smiles as he encouraged the players to play their best.

I enjoyed the concert more because I could see he was enjoying it.

I've often wished they would put a camera on the conductor and project his image on a large screen.  I've been on the other side of the conductor. Many audience members may not have been. It give a different sense of enjoyment to hear the music and see the players and conductor.

~*~ For the first time since I've been attending symphony concerts the soloist played an encore before the intermission.

Hearing a blues piece - played by a (French) horn - at a symphony orchestra concert

Is a rarity.

~*~ I believe the conductor write the program notes for the printed program.  This gives the listener some insight into the works being performed.

Often there is a pre-concert discussion of the works to be played.

Tonight was the first time the conductor talked about the final piece during "Half Time" as he called it. Few people left for intermission.  Some might have wished they could, but since 75% of the audience remained in their seats some who would've have left perhaps thought it impolite to do so.

He talked about Tchaikovsky's Symphony #4 talking for the most part, imitating the sounds the orchestra would make, and even singing the folk tune (Birch Tree) that the fourth movement is based upon.

He was very dramatic in his "Chat"

~*~ I watched the soloist when he wasn't playing. It was interesting to see his stage presence during moments of rest and how he interacted with what the orchestra was playing.

~*~ The timpani player was new. At least I did not recognize him. He was not your normal timpani player. He mouthed along as he played - while that was amusing it wasn't the most noticeable thing about his.

You see, the timpanist had a rather long ponytail hanging down HIS back. As a told a student, you don't often see ponytails on the male members of a symphony orchestra.

~*~ This concert featured the wind sections more than normal. There was power in the brass.  (I could tell the conductor was a brass player.) Delicacy in the woodwinds.

Every section seemed to have a solo part at some point in the program.

It is not every concert where each instrument is featured during a concert.

~*~ I realized tonight how diverse the orchestra players are. I saw at least 3 distinguishable ethnic groups represented - and several of each. There seemed to be equal men and women. There were older and younger players.

It is not common for orchestras to have such diversities.

Diversity, in this case is a very good thing.

~*~ The podium was not a square podium as one normally sees. The podium was in a T-shape.

The conductor commented about how he and the players were wondering if he would fall off of it. I can see why.

I overheard him at the reception mentioning that he usually doesn't fall off the back of the podium, but that because his conducting is so expressive he always had a stand in front of him, regardless of whether he is using scores or not, because he might step off (fall off) the front of the podium.

~*~ Someone congratulated the conductor at the reception saying he'd done a fantastic job. His response was, "That was all the orchestra. I just stand there and wave my arms."

Humility in a conductor is rare.

It impressed me that I saw that.

I have tried to be the same way with my own performances. When people would compliment me I would always say, "Thank you! The students did work hard and did put on a great program, didn't they?."

I have told my future music teachers that they should remember to do this.

It's not about the person standing there waving his/her arms.
It's not really about the performers.
It IS about the music.

And tonight was a great showing of it being about the music.

Friday, October 18, 2013

They Touched It!

A bird's wing span varies with the size of the bird and the length of the bird's actual wing.

It is advisable that a trombone player have long arms so that 7th position on the horn can be easily reached.

It is said that Franz Liszt, 19th century piano virtuoso, had a wide hand span as he played the piano. There are varying opinions on this. Some say he could reach a 12th interval on the white keys; others say just a 10th interval.  Some say he had small hand just a wide stretch; some say he just didn't have much webbing between his fingers.

I have heard pianists say that many can not play some of Liszt's music because the expectations for the music he created were too "big" for most musicians' hands. That it was a physical hindrance, not a lack of ability to play his music.

Whatever the exact story is, this is the one thing that caused several students to stay after class today to check to how many keys their hands/fingers could reach.

Each one was eager to s-t-r-e-t-c-h his/her hand on the piano keys to see what they could reach.
(Most could reach the 10th-11th interval.)

Whatever the reason, about 10 students put their hands upon a piano today.

For some it was the first time ever.

Hopefully it won't be the last.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Red Grooms

"What are you doing here?"

This was the question I was asked this evening as I took my seat at a lecture about the artist Red Grooms.

I can't remember what I said.

Right now I hope I said something like,

"I'm here to learn."

Because I did.

Learn something, that is.

I wasn't really sure what to expect - other than a very good presentation.  I had just told my sister on the phone that I'd hoped to get some sort of inspiration for today's blog.

I had my iPad with me so I could take notes. (I get my note-taking habit from my momma.)


Certainly the obvious inspiration for this blog would be the following creations.

From the Fox Trot Carousel

Fats Domino

The Everly Brothers

Chet Atkins
And then these representations of musicians
                                  Elvis Presley                                                  
Chuck Berry
This is the coolest thing - I can't remember what it was called. It kind of reminds me of a paper doll set where you create your own dolls.
This is Fats Domino. The first image is the pattern. The remaining four pictures are pictures of the image from different angles.

Who needs 3D printing when you have this?
Certainly the artwork is the obvious inspiration, but I did learn some interesting characteristics of his artwork that has been and can be applied to music.
His attitude toward the input of others and collaboration is admirable. He is said to be very generous for giving credit for collaborations. You don't find many great artists or musicians who are willing to share the spotlight.
I like the description that "he just goes with things" as opposed to thinking, or overthinking, things through. This tells me he is laid back and goes with the flow.
It was mentioned that Red Grooms was very prolific.  This made me think of Franz Schubert who wrote 600 songs and Irving Berlin who wrote over 1500 songs. What about Haydn and his 104 symphonies? What about Duke Ellington's over 2000 pieces - jazz charts and others types of music?
See, something can be learned at an art lecture.
And something musical can come out of it.
I encourage you to explore not only the artist Red Grooms, but also other artists.
One never knows what will be learned!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Collision Course - Update

Today was the second collision course collaboration. (Try saying that three times fast!)

Lest you missed the previous post. A colleague and I combined our classes to discuss the concept of music and crimes - which comes first? does one influence or cause the other? In the first gathering my colleague and I each talked about a certain song to give an example for our students to follow.

For today the students were to report back what their groups had explored then participate in a class discussion.

Nearly all the students agreed that the song choices they were given were fairly dark - meaning there was something sinister about each one because of their association with crime.

Most groups believed that while there is a connection between music and criminal activities there was some disagreement as to which caused which.

Personally, I believe it can be both.

Some songs are written about crimes. In so doing they are either narrating the event or giving commentary on it, or giving both narration and commentary.

This concept is not new.

Look back to folk ballads over the century. They were effectively storytelling songs that reported events. Many tell of rapes, murders, robberies, and other crimes.

Look back to the music of the European Troubadours, Trouvères, and Jongleurs.

And then there are the innocuous songs that for whatever reason some listener places unintended meaning to the words.  Like my example of "Helter Skelter" in the previous post. 

Most songwriters do not set out to write a song intentionally hopeful that it will cause someone to commit a crime.  Oftentimes the commentary the songwriter expresses may lead the listener's thoughts in certain direction, however the destination of those thoughts is not in the scope of the songwriter, but of the listener.

As one student put it:
There will always be music.
There will always be crime.
There will always be attempts to connect the two.
Does one influence the other?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Conductor's Interview

Our local symphony is looking for a new conductor.  They began the search process in January of 2012.  In the spring of 2013 they had a final three conductor candidates.

As the executive director said today at lunch: "We are looking for a partner for me. We are looking for a music director."  She would later say, "Being involved in the arts allows you to be creative every day."

I like that. :)

I'd never really thought of it that way - the executive director and music director as partners.

Makes sense for in so many ways they are.

Today I was invited to attended a luncheon at a local school where the second conductor candidate talked with the adults present then talked with some middle school students during their lunch period. (A month ago I attended a luncheon for the first candidate; the third candidate luncheon is in January.)


Here are some comments made by the candidate to the students in a discussion about careers in music. [Yes, I took notes.]

(On what he does)

     "My job is like that of a traffic cop.  I stand in front of them and tell the musicians when and how to play."
     "I work professionally as a musician. I get paid to make music."

     "I help the orchestra decide what the music is going to be about."

(On practice)

     "Stinking at something is required before you get better."

     "I liked music and worked really hard to get better at it. Now I'm pretty good at it, but I still must work hard to get better."

(After telling about what he has done in his career)

     "I've had all these experiences and it's all because of music."


This meeting with the students was just one function on the schedule of this candidate. 

Keep in mind the conductor candidate has been in the candidacy/interview/waiting process since January of 2012.

Here is an overview of his WEEK-LONG interview printed in the local paper.

1 p.m.       Meet with Executive Director and Personnel Manager
2 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m.    Rehearsal with musicians

11:30 a.m. and Noon    Live TV appearance
5 to 7 p.m.    Board of Directors meet and greet reception patron's home

8:15 a.m.    Meet with president & executive director at local bank (sponsor of symphony concert series)
9:30 a.m.    Coffee with the Symphony League (volunteer organization)
11:10 a.m. - Noon    Lunch at local school, discuss “careers in music” with students with Executive Director
1:45 p.m. (taping at 2 p.m.) Live TV interview

Noon to 1 p.m.   Lunch & open forum for the community at local church
2 to 3 p.m.          Meeting with executive director of local arts council

9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.   Meeting with Local Mayor at City Hall
10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.   Meeting with County Mayor at County Courthouse
12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.   Conversations with students at local university
4:35 p.m.   Radio interview
6:30 p.m.   Visit with symphony's youth orchestra

9 a.m. to 10 a.m. School concert rehearsal
10:30 a.m. School concert
7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Orchestra rehearsal

2 p.m. Orchestra rehearsal, Q&A with orchestra musicians at conclusion of rehearsal
7:30 p.m.   Concert, “Twists of Fate,”
Post-concert reception



This makes me think that my 7.5 hour interview for my current job was nothing.

I wish this candidate and the other two the best of luck.  I feel privileged that I have had a small part in the process.  I've enjoyed meeting them, learning about their views on music, and watching them conduct.

I can't wait until Saturday's concert.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Collision Course - Helter Skelter

Each semester my school does something that is called a collision course.  Cool name for what people in the education world would call an interdisciplinary unit.

I got to team teach with another teacher today. This teacher teaches criminal justice. Since I teach music this meant we needed to combine music with criminal justice in some way.

The past few weeks as we collaborated (read yesterday's blog) on our presentation for this week we decided to talk about how music at times has been blamed for influencing people to commit crimes and about songs that tell about, in some causes glorify, a crime.

My partner talked about Bonnie & Clyde by Jay-Z and Beyoncé. He said it was a modernized recounting of the story of Bonnie & Clyde in a song.


My song of choice was Helter Skelter. I thought maybe it was time I learned about this song for, you see, while I remember Helter Skelter from when I was a child I only remember it as a song my parents wouldn't let me listen to and a movie my parents wouldn't let me see.

I knew even then that Charles Manson had something to do with the song, but didn't really understand why.

This project allowed me to find out some basic information.

Charles Manson was a cult leader who influenced his followers to kill people.

Manson felt the Beatles had spoken to him through their White Album.  He saw the album as a depiction/plan of a race war.

This is where Helter Skelter comes in.

I watched a video of an interview with of the followers/killers. She was so unmoved by the actions she had taken. She calmly talked about taking part in the killing of a woman then actually wearing the dead woman's clothes back home to the ranch.

She was unmoved.  

I was appalled and sickened.
(I am thankful that my parents protected me from this when I was little. I could have done without learning about it even now.)

That was in the 1960s.


Fast forward to 2003 in Pennsylvania. Four teens would kill a classmate "just because" with a hatchet, a hammer, and a brick.  During interrogation the teens would reveal that they had listened to Helter Skelter 42 times to prepare them for the killing.

A second generation for Helter Skelter?


I had to find out about the song Helter Skelter though I was not looking forward to it since it had inspired such heinous crimes.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote Helter Skelter in response to some who had said their music was not "solid" rock - that they only played wimpy rock music.

Helter Skelter was written to demonstrate their ability to perform in a hard rock manner.

Some say that this song is a precursor for heavy metal and punk music.   As I listen to it I hear elements of each in this one some.

A look at the lyrics reveals a basic song. Nothing evil jumps out at me.
Helter Skelter
When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.

Do, don't you want me to love you
I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you
Tell me, tell me, tell me, come on tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Helter skelter, helter skelter
Helter skelter.

Will you, won't you want me to make you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Look out
Helter skelter, helter skelter
Helter skelter.
Look out 'cause here she comes.

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide
Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride
Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.

Well do you, don't you want me to love you
I'm coming down fast but don't let me break you
Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer
You may be a lover but you ain't no dancer.

Look out
Helter skelter, helter skelter
Helter skelter.

Look out helter skelter
She's coming down fast.
Yes she is.
Yes she is

Actually, Helter Skelter refers to an amusement park ride.  It is a long curved slide that one rides down on it on a rug.  (See below.)

Here is a studio version of the Beatles singing the song.

While I prefer their "Hey Jude" and "Let it Be" to this song, I hate that a song that in and of itself is not evil was used to commit horrible crimes.


What I like about the collision course is that I have learned something.

I look forward to the next time we meet together to find out what the students have learned.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

In Collaboration With...

As musicians we learn early on that music is a community activity - something one does with other people.

When we sing in church services or in a chorus we are participating with a community.

When we play an instrument in an ensemble we are participating with a community.

Both of these scenarios - singing and playing - involve not just community (because more than one person is involved), but also collaboration because those involved are working together.

Collaboration is a buzzword in education nowadays. In other words, it is encouraged. (Buzzwords tend to be trending ideas in education.)

Collaboration has no need to be a buzzword in the field of music because it is and has been a part of musical experiences for literally ages.

While performing in a large ensemble is collaborative in nature, I believe it is more community oriented.


Collaboration, to me, is highlighted in small group experiences.

The most common small group experience is that of the soloist (vocal or instrumental) and accompanist (usually piano).

[Historical note: Some early piano sonatas featured the piano as soloist accompanied by the violin or flute.]

When I was in grad school many years ago all the piano students had to take a course titled "Accompanying" where they accompanied for soloists in the department.

Now that course is often called "Collaborative Piano."

Because, really, the soloist and the pianist are collaborating equally.  Using the term "accompanying" relegates the pianist to a secondary role which is so not the case.


I have always enjoyed working in small ensembles.

The most lasting ensemble was a trombone duet I had for five years while in junior high and high school. My partner, G, and I worked so hard to perform well. We spent hours together practicing. Each year we took a duet to solo & ensemble contest. Each year we got a 1st place medal. We occasionally had performance opportunities for local civic organizations. Our collaboration was a success.

While we have both put our trombones in the case (as far as our duet playing is concerned) the partnership I had with G has resulted in a good friendship - and not only musically.

While in college I played in a brass quintet. I would repeat this experience when I returned to my alma mater 20 years later.

Now I play in an early music ensemble as well as sing in a chamber choir.

The collaboration experienced in the small ensemble is fulfilling.

It hones one's musical skills, focuses one's hearing, and develops one's independent musicianship.

Today I collaborated musically.

I look forward to tomorrow's musical collaboration - whatever it may be.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Musical Refuge

Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
                                                                                                                                      ~ Maya Angelou

As I talk to others many share with me how much music means to them. Many demonstrate this through performing music, but nearly all experience refuge through listening to music.

For many - most - of them, music is a refuge in many situations.

For some, it is a refuge in all situations.

> When they are downhearted and discouraged many have a song or some piece of music that either commiserates with them or lifts them up.

> > When they are frustrated and need calm, music provides that.

> > > When they need to be motivated, music propels them onward.

I believe everyone finds refuge in music in some way.


I find that when I need a break or need to change my focus, I find myself turning to music.

> It might be sitting at the piano and playing/practicing/analyzing a passage.

> > It might be playing my Irish whistle and transporting myself to another land.

> > > It might be drumming on my congas and/or bongos and just letting all that is pent up flow out.

> > > > It might be singing a hymn or folk tune or some other song that lets me express what is inside.

> > > > > It might be turning on the radio or a cd or a playlist and just passively listening, letting the music flow over me, washing all thoughts from my mind.

> > > > > > It might be studying a piece of music, following the score and hearing the music in my mind.

Whatever method, I am thankful that music is a refuge for me.

I am thankful that I have so many musical outlets that are available to me.


Is music a refuge for you?
In what way?
Have you ever thought about that?

Perhaps now would be the time to do so.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Did You Know About...."This Land is Your Land?"

Did you know that as an adult looking back to one's childhood and the songs that were sung puts a different slant on those songs?

Looking back as one who has studied music and currently teaches music I have found that time and maturity deepens that understanding.

This song comes to mind - perhaps you know it:
          Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" written in 1940.

These are the verses I sang as a child and the ones I have had my students sing:

This Land Is Your Land
(Words and Music by Woody Guthrie)
This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

Verse 1
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

Verse 2
I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
Verse 3
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.
Did you know about the following more radical verses?
Verse 4
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
Verse 5
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Verse 6
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
Did you know Guthrie borrowed the tune from a couple of Carter Family songs? This is something new that I just stumbled upon.
(It is completely unintentional that I mention the Carter Family so soon after another post that harkens back to one of their songs.)
Check these out:
"When the World's on Fire" (1933)

"Little Darling, Pal of Mine" (1929)

Did you find yourself thinking the words to "This Land is Your Land" as you listened?
Guthrie would often borrow tunes. As he once put it, 'Well, if they already know the tune, they're halfway to knowing the song.'


Apparently the Carter Family reused tunes too.
Did you know that "This Land is Your Land" was written in response to a sickening dislike for Irving Berlin's song "God Bless America" (made popular by Kate Smith)?
At first it was titled "God Blessed America for Me."  In fact the words that also served as the last line of each verse were to remind the singer/listener of the title.
The final three verses were intended as a reality check for a country that embraced the rose-colored vision depicted by "God Bless America" despite being entrenched in the hardships of the Great Depression (the 1930s for younger readers).
It is a bit ironic that “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” are often performed together in school programs and on albums.
Did you know?
Now you know a little more...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making Memories

Through out my life certain experiences are highlights.
I'm thinking of the ones where I got to spend time with my music teachers outside of the classroom.

I recall watching the high school band director playing basketball with the boys even before he became my high school band director.  The high school band members were building a Homecoming float at our house one year. As the little sister I tried to know everything that was going on and be involved even though I wasn't a high schooler.

And yet I remember him playing basketball.

While in college I was welcomed into the home of my choir director. I was only there a few of times - some times my friends and I would arrive unexpectedly. Expected or not he always welcomed us in and told his wife to go make some hotdogs. Simple fare, but blessed company.

And today when I drive by his now empty home I remember the times I spent there.

I recall in grad school as a graduate assistant for the orchestra I would cook meals after Tuesday night rehearsals for the itinerant orchestra conductor.  He was with a different orchestra across the country every day and I thought it was the least I could do to feed him a home cooked meal. While I was making the food he would study scores or, my favorite, practice his oboe.

And even today I can remember that beautiful oboe sound.

Another experience in grad school was visiting one of the professor's house each weekend.  I remember driving down the long drive to the house and seeing off in the woods a light shining from a building.  Turns out the light was shining on the grand piano in his music studio which was built in the woods.  The front of it was all glass and the light was the only light on when the studio was not occupied.

And now I have hopes of one day having a glass-fronted studio with a piano inside.  One day.  Since my property does not have trees I'd better plant some trees first. :)

During my doctoral studies I have been invited to several of the professors' homes. I have shared meals with them. One was a very classy backyard gathering. As an appetizer my prof served fresh mozzarella cheese balls in some sort of liquid. I'd never had them before, but they were good. I thought mozzarella cheese came in a bag. Shredded.

Now when I see fresh mozzarella cheese in the deli at the grocery I think of those times at his house. I also occasionally buy some. Like now, I have some in my fridge. :)

Tonight it was my turn.

Tonight for the first time I welcomed students into my home for what was billed as a "Musical Midterm Relaxer" with food, discussion, and impromptu music.

The food was a simple spread and the students seemed to enjoy it.

The discussion was just fun. I really enjoyed getting to know them better as people and not as students.
The impromptu music was GREAT fun! Somehow we ended up by my instruments. Next thing I know we are each playing an instrument and experimenting with them. Then I found myself, ME, sitting on the FLOOR (!) in what should be my dining room along with the students playing instruments. The instruments were spread out on the floor within reach and everyone played all the instruments, I think.  Before I knew it an hour had past.

Amongst a LOT of LAUGHTER...

We took pictures of each other.

We recorded our jam sessions.

We played songs by ear that we all knew.

We improvised together on melodic and percussion instruments.





I hope,

We made memories.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Things Better Left Unsaid

Sometimes I stare at the screen trying to think of something to write.

Usually there are a lot of ideas on my mind, but sometimes some things are better left unsaid.

Know what I mean?

In the same way there is some music that could better be left unwritten, unsung, and/or unplayed.

During every period of music there were composers who pushed the proverbial envelope in composition and in performance.

There was something always questionable at first, but as the ear grew accustomed to the sound it became more tolerable.

As my students and I explore musical eras of times past we will often comment about how raw, how incomplete, how unpleasant the music sounds.

I encourage them to describe it using the music vocabulary that they possess.

Often times it comes down to the fact that they are listening to 15th-, 16th-, 17th-, 18th-, 19th-, or 20th-century music with 21st century "ears" and expectations.

Expectations for melody, rhythm, harmony, tone colors, form, blend, dynamics.

This doesn't even begin to cover their expectations in regards to sound engineering.

I encourage them to be open-minded and to develop the understanding that the music we have today is directly influenced over the centuries by what has come before.

This being said.  I do not believe I will EVER understand or be able to develop a rationale for the music that is called "Screamo."  If the name isn't obvious enough, the following video will enlighten you.

[Make sure your speakers are on, but you may not want them up too loud.]

[Disclaimer: I cannot understand much of what is said in this video. I apologize in advance if you happen to hear something inappropriate. I didn't, but then I couldn't tell.]

I promise I tried to get the shortest video I could.

Oh, dear...see what happens when I don't have a specific topic.


I imagine for some of you this was your first (and perhaps last) experience with screamo.

I wonder what the future societies will think of this.

Maybe it will disappear by then.

One can hope.

There, I did succeed in sharing something new.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

M&M And Beethoven

Plain or Peanut!?!?!
Give me some....

What does Beethoven have to do with M&Ms?
Did he like chocolate?
     I don't know, but he liked coffee. 60 coffee beans were brewed for his morning coffee. Daily.
     (True story.)

So what about the M&Ms?

Read on....


Um, no.
Not M&Ms.




Oh, you mean that white rapper dude from Detroit who says awful things in his raps?



It is probably hard to imagine my writing here about a rapper, much less the rapper Eminem.

It is probably even more difficult to imagine my connecting this rapper with such a phenomenal composer as Ludwig von Beethoven.

I do understand for when the connection occurred to me, I could not imagine it.

Let me explain.

Beethoven was known for carrying around a sketchbook in which he would write down musical ideas that struck him during the day so that he could remember them and perhaps use them in compositions.

Who knew that Eminem also keeps a sketchbook, of sorts?

During an interview on the TV show 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, Eminem showed Anderson a box filled with scraps, notebooks, and pads of paper.  On each scrap was some idea, word, phrase, etc. that had struck Eminem as musical so he wrote it down.  He had yellow legal pads filled with ideas written in very random positions on the page.

Eminem calls his box of ideas "Stacking Ammo" for future songs.

Anderson commented that someone looking at these would think the person writing them would belong in a mental institution.

I believe any outsider looking at the creative process of a musician would consider that person fit for the asylum for often chaos reigns until order is in place.

I have been known to make notes like these.
No, I am not presumptuous enough to consider myself on either of these men's level.

For example: I have been known to write down the rhythms that the fireworks made during a 4th of July celebration.  Those rhythms were then incorporated into an activity with Handel's Music for Royal Fireworks.

[My brother, who walked all the way back to the car to get me some paper and something to write with, aided me in this endeavor. He probably doesn't remember it.]

Making connections is often intriguing and amusing and informative.

Please, excuse me.

I just thought of something.

I need to go write it down.

In my sketchbook.

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Surreal

                                          Surreal Music by Mario

It happens frequently.

Today's lesson was one that usually prompts its occurrence.

Today's lesson was about Beethoven and his Symphony #5.

It happened as I stood in class listening to the music.

The realization just washed over me.

The realization that I get paid to listen to such amazing music.

I've had similar realizations as I studied musical scores in preparation for music classes or choral rehearsal.

I often tell students that I get paid to do my hobby.
Not many can say that, but I can.
I have been blessed by an entire career of a job that is also my hobby.

It's kind of like a professional athlete who gets paid to do what he or she loves.

That's me.

Only without the salary that professional athletes get.

Anyway, at times it is surreal when I realize that I am just listening to music and then realize this listening to music is my job.

And I am thankful for it.

The music.
The job.
Both together are one in the same and interchangeable.