Tuesday, October 18, 2016

S.A.M. Workshop Weekend 2016

Creative Ability Deveopment in Action


My Honors Recital Kiddos 

A Moment at the Tour Group Recital 

Rhythm Machine

The little ones in class

SAM's Creative Ability Development Trainees-- minus me

A selfie of the trainees and Alice

Part of the workshop committee and Alice
Last night I slept for eight full hours. This morning I consumed a reasonable amount of caffeine. I went to yoga and had something healthy for breakfast, as opposed to a pumpkin waffle with whipped cream, brown sugar, pecans and maple syrup.

I'm doing all these healthy things again because the workshop is over.

We had an amazing, amazing weekend. Our guest clinician Alice Kay Kanack, arrived Thursday night. We did teacher training in Creative Ability Development on Friday. We went to dinner Friday night. We had 41 kids and 30 teachers at the workshop on Saturday. All the kids got a mini institute. They got a masterclass, a group lesson, an origami class while parents soaked up info from Alice, and each child got an improvisation class with Alice. We had our annual SAM meeting.

We had a lovely faculty and student honors recital after lunch, and a creative ability development concert at the close of the day.

Here's the story. Creative ability development uses improvisation, but that's not the total deal. The end goal is kids and adults using both sides of their brains to meet their potential.

Alice has a music school in Rochester, New York. It's a whole program. Her kids are graduating to conservatory and music school, but also doing amazing work in everything they do. Great doctors. Creative lawyers. It's undocumented but fabulous success.

A bunch of those kids came from New York and a sister program in Chicago, to show us what it's all about. It's everything Shinichi Suzuki wanted. Good kids with good hearts playing expressively with good tone and good intonation. Connecting together with music, through improvisation. Their whole hour concert was improvised.

The kids stayed for pizza and what else? A brief trip to Nickelodeon Universe at the MOA. Thank you to the families who hosted them!

On Sunday, we continued our teacher training with Alice.

We all got a wealth of experience and ideas to take back to our studios. I also got 17 new friends. Well--to be honest a few were already friends--but you can't sit in a room with your instrument and go round and round the room doing improvisation exercises for ten hours without gaining some love and trust. We were all on the high wire. Alice's rules? There's no such thing as a mistake, applaud everyone and be quiet for everyone, and never criticize a friend.

There's no way to completely say thanks to everyone, but here's my best shot:

Cindy Uhlemann --Workshop Chairperson--my best friend during workshop season. She gives and gives and gives.
MJ Glawe --  all the website info and the registration tool. All the email blasts and communication, the poster and registration desk.
Carolyn Borgan -- checks for clinicians and food and everything.
Beatriz Aguerrevere -- the amazing workshop program--the booklet with EVERTHING! (My dream).
Cherie Bjur --day of registration checklists and name tags--totally pro and clear and wonderful.
Randi Kvam Hellman and Jill Thomas --food, food, and more food.  And coffee and God bless you, half and half. They planned all the food.
Meredith Vaughan--staffing the volunteers in her usual fashion.

Karen Stiles, Mary Gustafson, Cheryl Mahin, and Jill Thomas for hosting kids. And waiting up for them and getting them to and from the airport and their rides.

Beth Turco and Linda Trygstad for judging the honors recital kids and providing such lovely feedback to all of the children.

Our clinicians: Alice Kay Kanack, Lisa Hirschmugl, Erika Blanco, Susan Crawford, Wendy Tangen-Foster, Suzanne Greer, Annette Lee, myself, Alan Johnston, and Adrianna O'Brien. Special thanks to Annette for accompanying the recital with late notice.  Pianists don't need accompanists so you can maybe see how I forgot about that. . .

Rochelle Mazze, Julia Bartsch, Jill Thomas and the origami helpers--you know who you are and you know what frogs you did or didn't practice making ahead of the class. We survived. I used to have an anxiety dream that I was playing a jury in front of the professors and I hadn't practiced enough. I now have the dream that I'm in a room with 40 kids and I have no idea how to fold a piece of green paper into a frog shape. I'm joking, it was a very fun hour. Which seemed like 20 hours.

Keyboards--thanks for bringing keyboards, Calvin, Mary G, Jill and Mary Kay O'Neil.
Calvin--for helping out with the keyboards and every other random thing on Saturday.
Adrianna and David Holmes for the loaner cellos.

A special thanks to Karen Stiles and of course Cindy, who stayed till the bitter end on Sunday. I have a special appreciation for folks who stay till the very last juice container is out of the fridge and every chair is stacked, every keyboard loaded and every room locked and the little half and halfs are collected and the miscellaneous stuff is all loaded into the car. We did it. Every last napkin and program.

It seems like people are always saying there is no growth without struggle. Alice preached it this weekend. We have to work out our own salvation. I'm not sure I can ever do another workshop like this again, but I must say I grew. Everything we do we learn--how to be organized, how to communicate with folks with different communication styles. A million ways we learn and grow. I'm sorry for the moments I was grouchy, but I think we did pretty darn good.

God bless everyone for their help and work to bring this weekend to our students and teachers. I have nothing but love, love and more love for this group. My kids loved it--I hope all the kids loved it. I loved it, I hope all the teachers loved it.

Amen. See you next year. I'm not even entertaining those little thoughts of who we should have and how things should go. . . really.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Teamwork and Anger Management

Calvin and Jessica at Homecoming

Three of the Littles

Big Foot Lodge in his final resting place 

Scott, Me, Stefanie and Kathryn at Stefani's Rehearsal Dinner

Origami training for the workshop leaders

The Entire Eastview Football team kneeling in prayer for an injured teammate

Calvin tapping off the band

A trip down memoriy lane

This girl turned 18 yesterday. Unbelievable. 

Baking in his jammies

Diggin ferns--LOVE this old photo--miss my grandma


Uncle Dave's way of picking apples, ahem, that's my husband up there. . . 2005?

Baby Mary. Her birthmark is all gone

Christmas 2004

Life is spinning by, isn't it?
My niece turned 18 yesterday. Her senior pictures are on Bill's camera, not on my computer yet. . . but this is not acceptable. She's actually just three and Bill and I are flying her back and forth from Texas.

My uncle turned 75 last weekend. That's 75 balloons.  75 candles. 75 years. We got to surprise him in Grundy Center, Iowa.

Today I'm missing my 30th high school class reunion. Read that and don't do the math and then forget about it.

Calvin is 6'1". This too is math that doesn't compute.

My studio is back to having a lot of little people. And babies in arms. Sweet.

We learn and learn and learn from our students, and one of the myriad things that I learned from these kids that are graduating from college and getting married is that there is no stopping time.

Part of enjoying the passage of time has a lot to do with managing our emotions. Part of being a grown up and a parent and maybe even a leader has a lot to do with managing one emotion in particular.


Seems kinda dramatic doesn't it?

But anger is the sneaky little guy that creeps into our interactions every day. Dr. Suzuki asks us to keep an anger graph. Track our anger. One of the fruits of the spirit is being slow to anger.

This means disciplining our kids without letting anger sneak in. Correct the behavior. Correct the behavior. Correct the behavior. Don't get sucked in. This is our job. To correct the behavior. Turn down the anger and turn up the consequences.

The other big tool for anger management is listening without reacting. This is one I work on everyday. Sometimes with the Suzuki Association of Minnesota. I confess, truly, when someone emails me a concern, my first reaction is often irritation. How could they complain about something when I've worked so hard on it? I'm sorry for the times when I shoot back a snarky email. And I have done that from time to time. When I'm being my best self, I just listen. And wait till the snark passes. Put us back on the same team. We are all on the same team.

I was feeling snarky at the football game. I'm not into high school football. Surprised? Friday night as Mary was reading her book in the stands and I was posting snarky things on Facebook waiting for the band to perform, Eastview scored a touchdown. After the cheering, it became apparent that an Eastview kid was down on the field. Without hesitation and with total unity, the entire team on the sidelines and those still on the field dropped to their knees to pray for that kid. I can't even write about this. Many of those jerseys joined hands. They stayed there until the kid was able to get up and walk off the field. A cloud of prayer.

We are all on the same team. I believe that this might be the single most important thing to remember in daily living. I'm on my kids' team. I'm on my husband's team. I'm on my studio's team. I'm on SAM's team.

Another friend has cancer. Curable. But it still sucks.
Life is too short. Kids grow up too fast.
We have to take care of our anger.
We are all on the same team.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

First Day of Tenth Grade. My favorite tall kid. 

First Day of Middle School--Sixth Grade. My favorite girl. 

My favorite man doing one of his favorite things. . . fixing cabin screens

That's me. Baking in my spare time. My favorite cookies. 

Gifts for the Studio. . . from my favorite store, Toy Joy. Thank you students. . . 

One of my favorite things. 
Another one of my favorite things?
Getting into the routine.
Sing to the tune of "I Love a Parade."
I love a routine. . .

Give me a sustainable routine and I can change the world.

Tuesday was the first day of school in Minnesota. That means getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier and a lot of driving. And practicing piano. And packing lunches. Mary came home from school so excited! I don't know how these middle school teachers do it. It's like they connect with the students before they even meet them. God bless them. Mary already loves so and so and so and so and so and so. I heard about it for almost six straight hours. I'm thankful that I'm on good speaking terms with my pre-adolescent girl. Really good speaking terms. Actually, I don't do that much of the actual speaking. Mary, I'm going to bed and shutting out the light. You will have to save the rest for tomorrow.

Calvin came home with the prerequisites for obtaining a driver's license in the state of Minnesota. Let's just start the year off with that thought. In order to stomach the putting of your barely out of diapers six foot child behind the wheel of a car and actually trusting that there is any hope at all that they will not hurt themselves or someone else, you have to be so COMPLETELY fed up with driving back and forth to marching band that you throw your hands up in relinquishment. God's perfect plan. Jesus take the wheel, but not before the 30 classroom hours, 6 hours driving with the instructor, 50 hours driving with a parent--15 of which need to be documented as night hours, and your birth certificate or valid passport. Independence day? July 18, 2017.

Last night we started choir with the new interim music director. It feels good to be in the routine.
Today the SAM board met at my house. Feels good to be in the routine.

Next weekend is Stefanie's wedding--where I get to play Stefanie's favorite piano repertoire for her to walk down the aisle. What a blessing to me. Also featured? Her brother Scott playing Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, and sister Katherine on 1000 Years. What more could I ever, ever have asked for then a family to keep piano music in their lives as part of their best moments. Births and deaths and weddings. Music. This is why we are here. It's my favorite thing.

Next Monday the piano kids come back. I'm busy getting my ducks in a row for that. We are going to have recitals, chamber music, accompanying and duets. I'm also on a scale kick--and the theory books are on order. It's all about the routine. The practice routine.  I love a routine.

Help me light the fire of the love of music in the hearts of these kids and parents. Let my love for music and children be contagious. Bless each and every hour we have together in the studio. Let it all be to your glory and delight. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Saving Big Foot Lodge

Big Foot Lodge
Fortunately, it comes without the contents. . . 
1,2,3,4 Moved Pines









Big Foot's Destination
Labor Day Weekend.
Manual labor day weekend.

Our neighbors have gifted us the little structure named "Big Foot Lodge" by the original owners because of the dad's big feet. The actual footprint is twelve feet by sixteen feet. The only problem with this little sleeping cabin, which is the same vintage as our cabin, with the same windows and window hardware and the same fir flooring and the same fir paneling is. . . . drum roll please. . . it's not on our property. It's about 150 yards south of our property line, right where Dan and Mary, the generous neighbors, wish to build their new house.

The little sleeping cabin is SO cute. It could have electricity someday. It will never have plumbing.

So, Big Foot needs to move. We spent the weekend making a new home for it. We cleared a space between our driveway in front of the cabin, and the road. There were a lot of dreams about where Big Foot could go, but in the end the 25 year old guy from the city with the clip board and the measuring tape determined it's final resting zone.

That resting place had about 400 little white pines on it. That's 192 square feet, close to two pines per square foot. This is why our main cabin is named "Little Pines Lodge." Of course, just like Big Foot is a very small cabin, Little Pines Lodge actually has about 100 hundred year old pines surrounding it. This is our humor. It's bad.

Bill and I and Bill's dad dug and dug and dug trees. And dug and dug and dug holes. Then Dan came by with his bob cat tractor and took thirty more seven foot trees in the time it took me to wipe the dirt off my shovel. He went and put them in the bob cat holes he drilled during my coffee break. Life is not always fair. Dan will not have the satisfaction of quite so much dirt under his nails, and probably his wrists and back and shoulders and knees and hips are not yelling at him this morning either. See what Dan the bob cat driver is missing? Yeah.

It took Bill and Bill's dad and I about 37 hours of standing across the driveway with four stakes, determining EXACTLY where Big Foot should rest. Where was city guy with survey equipment then? This is pressure. Not exactly performance anxiety pressure, but the very strange pressure of knowing that a building is going to be here for a very long time and if your four stakes are a little off it's not just a picture hanging on the wall crooked. We ain't gonna be able to shift this guy over. Or twist it a little clockwise. When you get an engineer and a spreadsheet guy and a piano teacher trying to put four stakes in the ground straight with the world, it's gonna take about 37 hours. And coffee will turn to wine. At some point you just give up and come to peace with the fact that it's not gonna look straight from every angle.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Well, we are pretty dull around here. Bill did take the kids out tubing and Calvin did make it up on his birthday skis! Yeah! We also had a very lovely dinner at the Italian Garden over at Grandview Lodge. That was timely because I don't think I could have lifted one more finger to put a meal on the table.

I'm taking about ten more trees home, speak now and I'll pass them on to you.  Most are about 12 inches and I've got two bare-root four foot guys I'm putting in my yard. Every tree is sacred. It's just really, really bad karma to let these little trees die. Once, during the measuring of the stakes, after he had reached mental and physical exhaustion, I caught Bill yanking a little six inch pine out by it's roots and tossing it aside. Like a weed. Hitherto we had a pretty successful marriage. Now scarred by the casual discard of this little, little precious baby pine tree. I searched through the brush, to no avail. It rained last night and if I can find the little guy this morning, I think forgiveness will come.

One last marital hoop to jump through? Getting the trees home in the car. If I shrink wrap them, I'll probably be forgiven as well. This is the dance we do. This is how marriage works sometimes.

School starts tomorrow. We will not be here for the arrival of Big Foot Lodge. Fair thee well on your 150 journey. I asked the house moving guy--what are the odds that the whole thing cracks in half when you lift it? He said zero. He's got dirt under his fingernails so we do trust him.

The grandson of the original owner stopped by a couple months ago, he slept in Big Foot as a child. When he stepped into the Little Pines Lodge, he said the sleeping porch, now the piano porch, smelled the same as it did seventy years ago. He was pretty sentimental.

We are preserving a little bit of Nisswa history. Thanks Dan and Mary, it would have been easier to bulldoze Big Foot. Now it will be a little closer to home.

Hope you get a chance to stop by and see it.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Welcome What Is

We had a big summer. Calvin went to Portland with my mom, and St. Olaf Piano Academy and two weeks of marching band camp. Mary had Colorado and MacPhail piano camps and YMCA camp and horse camp. I did Colorado with Mary and taught at MacPhail and did 107,437 hours of observation (actually 43) at my teacher trainer internship out in Connecticut. I taught six weeks of lessons. I drove about 732 miles back and forth to Eastview High School. Bill's just Bill. He's got a lot going on too. 

Two small words have been added to my Suzuki Association of the Americas profile page. 

Just a little clause on my otherwise boring list of accomplishments. 

I'm cautiously and humbly excited. I'm not in a hurry. I have a lot of organizing and planning and learning to do before I'm ready to teach a class of teachers. I do believe wholeheartedly in what I'm doing and I do believe in the future of Dr. Suzuki's legacy. To everything there is a season. Right now my season is my family and my studio and oh yeah. . . the Suzuki Association of Minnesota. . . and oh yeah. . . Easter Lutheran Senior Choir. I do hope we rename it. 

That's all I have to say about the teacher training thing. 

Lazy days of summer? 
A lot of music. A lot of family. A lot of friends. A lot of cabin life. A little gardening. 

It seems like the kids grew up about five years this summer. Not cool. Calvin is about way taller than me. And Bill. No one prepares you for this. I guess it's happened before in history--kids getting taller than their moms. But it's different when it's your kid. 

We're going through some changes. Calvin is officially signed up in the piano studio of Dr. Paul Wirth. This after much prayer and more than a little bit of sentimentality. If you know me you know that means about ten days of tears. The time is right, and I know it. It all came together like a total God incident. The pieces fell together like a beautiful puzzle. I don't know what all this is going to mean. We are just taking life one day at a time. I trust Paul. I like Paul. He's got an unparalleled track record. And I happen to think he is a very, very good person. Calvin's heart will still be moving in the right direction. 

I'm about thirty hours into the Fall SAM Workshop. . . since Monday. That's not counting the work Cindy and I have been doing all summer. It's something else. And choir is looming. 

Welcome what is. 

One of my devotions had that focus last week and I like it very much. Welcome what is. Welcome change, welcome the new school year, welcome busy family life and volunteer stuff. Welcome whatever comes our way. This is it. This is this day and this part of our life. It's busy. It's full. It's easy to leave your checkbook on one of the tables at the middle school Gymboree orientation. This will force your daughter into early independence because she will be forced to find all the new classrooms on her own while you go back and search every table where you wrote a check for gym uniforms and planners and lunch money and yearbooks. It's easy to blink. It's easy to busy the next precious three years away. 

It's time for me to officially put aside the fantasy of Sally. Sally is my personal assistant. She does all my administrative work and some laundry and she changes the oil in the car every three months. She does what needs to be done without even asking. She does everything I'm just not in the mood to do. 

But there is never going to be a Sally. 

Why would I want Sally living my life anyway? I like my life. 

Welcome what is. 

Dear Lord,
Thank you for this summer. Thank you for family and friends. For the piano kids and music. Thank you for our home and the cabin--let them be a blessing to everyone. Thank you for all the opportunities we have to make a difference. Keep our yes sacred, but help us to welcome what is.