Thursday, January 26, 2012


Today I sat through a seminar on assessments.

No, not the scantron, fill-in-the-bubble kind. This is the annual Music Teacher Conference. (Well, they don't actually CALL it that, but that's what it is.) So the presenter was talking about how she assesses her kids, and what she assesses them on. Then we talked about the CO State Standards, and how we include those in what we teach and what we assess.

I know, right about this point you are moving your mouse toward the little "x" in the upper right corner of your screen, and thinking about what you are going to have for a snack in a minute. It felt about that exciting to me at some points too. But stay with me.

Isn't it important to assess?

Isn't it important to take some time on a regular basis to assess? Not just in state standards and music lesson plans, but in life? In your family life? In your spiritual life? In your home life? In your work life?

Isn't this the basis of New Year's resolutions?

What if instead on assessing on December 30th, and marginally thinking that "I'd like to read more books this year" (which is an admirable goal, by the way) we stop on a regular basis and asses? What would happen then?

What if we regularly built into our life time to reflect and assess whether we are where we want to be, or way more importantly than that, if we reflect and assess whether we are where God wants us to be? What if we put our lives into perspective, and took our eyes off the daily grind to focus on the long-term?

I think that assessment is a great tool, and we should move it to the top of our life's toolbox.
I'm going to head off to do some assessing right now...What do you need to stop and look at with new eyes?

Monday, January 23, 2012


Right now, I'm sitting in my classroom, listening to Jazz. Well OK, I'm watching my 1st graders also, but we are talking about Jazz.

I get to answer questions about Jazz:

"Who started Jazz?"

"What kind of instruments play Jazz?"

"Why did people always dance when they heard Jazz?"

I get to teach little people about this quintessentially American art form, and we get to listen to it.

We all get to talk about how much fun it is to listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing "Old MacDonald Had  a Farm".

We get to learn what scat is.

I get to enjoy their gasps when I play "It's a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, and inevetiably one of them says, "That song is in ____________________" (insert name of movie here).

I have the best job in the world. :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012


OK, the first thought: I just put clean, warm sheets on my bed. That could be one of my *favorite* things, like in the song. I could hardly walk away from the bed, and not just crawl in RIGHT NOW!

The real thought for today: I am SO lucky to have access to great music. In staff meeting last week, my Principal was talking about one part of our core values, and how important it is for kids to have access to original and classic literature. I said that the art teacher and I deal in original and classical works all the time. We teach art and music that has been around for hundreds of years and has stood the test of time. These paintings (the Mona Lisa, etc.) and this music (Mozart, Beethoven, etc.) has not only been around for a long time, but has stood up to countless tests of quality. And it is still considered valuable enough for us to teach it to our students.

A couple days ago, my choir got back to practicing. After the Christmas concerts, which I was sick for most of, we always take a couple weeks off and then reconvene in January to work on music for the Spring concert. Well, this was that week. We got our music out, and sang through the whole program. Predictably, I didn't immediately connect with all the pieces, but it was a fun program and I think I will enjoy preparing for it.

As I was driving home, I thought about our school discussion about original and classic works, and then I thought about all the music that I sang that night.

I am so lucky to get to sing music from composers like Mendelssohn, and Copland, and Purcell, and Handel.

I am so lucky to get to own these pieces of music. Earlier in the week I got down on the floor and pulled out all of my music to get out any pieces of music I own, mostly just so I don't buy it again. But as I was sitting there with hundreds of pieces of music spread out around me, I thought about how lucky I am to have sung all these songs, and to have enjoyed so many of them.

I think it is incredible that we can go to museums whenever we want, and get right up close to art masterpieces, but that is not nearly as close as when I get to sing a masterpiece. I get to get INSIDE the song, and be the one (of many) that get to put that music out to the audience.

I'm the one who cries whenever I hear Beethoven's 9th Symphony finale. That song is almost 200 years old and one of the most famous pieces anywhere. And it's in German. But still, it makes me cry whenever I hear it.

What a gift to not only have access to masterpieces, but to get to be a part of them. Where else can you crawl into the arts and  become them?

Saturday, January 7, 2012


This week, we all went back to school, after the Christmas Break. I always like to hear a little about their break, and what they did, and such. But if I let everyone tell everything about their break, it would go on FOREVER! So I call it "one fun thing". It could be a present, or it could be something you did, or it could be somewhere you went. But this way, everyone gets to share at least one fun thing about their break. I shared about going up to the cabin before everyone, and the huge accomplishment that was buying/unloading/setting up the Christmas tree, and unloading the car,and shoveling the driveway all by myself. I even got applause in one class. :) Made me smile and take a little bow.

Anyway, I realized that after hearing about everyone's break, the most important thing in everyone's share was family. Either family that came to see them, or family they went to visit. Everybody shared about their christmas, but I can't think of one student that didn't talk about their family.

It makes me glad to be a part of these kids' lives, and it gives me hope for the future. One would think that an open-ended invitation to share about Christmas would be a litany of presents received. But lots and lots of kids didn't even mention presents. They shared where they went to see family, or their family that came to visit. They shared about how special it is that their family got to all be together.

I not only realized that family is important in my life, but that it makes any holiday. It's not a question of whether I will see family, but when. I feel so blessed to have a great family, and a family to whom family is important. That means not only are they important to me, but that I am important to them.

And I'm glad to hear about my students families, and not just their toys. :)
Here's to family, wherever they may be.