A Day In The Life

March 13, 2009, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Music

I bought a copy of Tom Moon’s “1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die.”  It’s a thick  book.  I’ve been wading through it for two weeks and have only scratched the surface.  Reading it is a very humbling experience for a music professional.  Makes me realize that even though I eat, sleep and breathe music, there is always more of the art form to experience.  What Mr. Moon has compiled is so much more than a list of  “must hear” recordings.  It is a comprehensive tribute to the one truly universal language……music. 

I love the Henry David Thoreau quote found on one of the opening pages.  “When I hear music, I fear no danger.  I am invulnerable.  I see no foe.  I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.” 

If you’re into music, this is a book you should consider adding to your reading list.


Monday, January 19
January 19, 2009, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Music, My Life, School Buzz

I love teaching music. There is something so intrinsically satisfying about coaxing the perfect sound from a group of young singers. It’s magical. Otherworldly. Eternal. Made all the better when their faces light up with the recognition that they are creating something  beautiful and intensely personal with each other.  A precious gift for anyone who is fortunate enough to be listening.  A gift for themselves that will stay with them long after their tenure in choir is over. 


I have sixty-two singers in my senior high choir this semester. By far the largest high school choir I’ve ever worked with. And they are an excellent group. Not perfect, but really good kids that I enjoy working with so much. Six of them will be auditioning for membership in the Arkansas All State Choir on February 6. What a joy if all of them make it!

April 7, 2008, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Music, Odds and Ends

My high school and middle school spring concerts are fast approaching. I’m very excited about this year’s concert themes.  The middle school choir will present a revue that I put together entitled “Freedom, Peace and Love: A Musical Journey Through the Sixties.”  The high school program theme is “A Time For Peace.”  Both of these concert ideas took shape around two individual choral arrangements that I really wanted my kids to sing.  While making all these musical decisions last fall, I had no idea that April 4, 2008, marked the 50th birthday of the peace symbol. 

I hadn’t given much thought to the history of the peace symbol even though peace is the predominant theme that ties all our concert music together.  An article in a recent issue of Time allowed me to educate myself. 

According to the article, Gerald Holtom, a British textile designer who had been a conscientious objector during World II, created the peace symbol.  The symbol was to be used on banners and signs in a 52-mile march organized by the Direct Action Campaign.  This march was to be Britain’s first major demonstration against nuclear weapons.  Holtom combined the semaphore signals for the letters N, for nuclear, and D, for disarmament.  This combination resulted in what is now known as the peace sign or symbol.  The four-day march began when protesters assembled in Trafalgar Square on April 4, 1958. 

Something I found extremely interesting  was the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a participant in the Direct Action Campaign march.  Dr. King is credited with bringing the peace symbol to the United States where it was quickly associated with the growing civil rights movement dedicated to nonviolence.  April 4, 2008,  also marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  How bitterly ironic that his death occurred ten years to the day of the debut of an icon so closely related to nonviolence and peace. 

I find myself in a very serendipitous situation where historical events are converging with current day affairs.  Amazing how people and events overlap and unrelated actions merge to form deeply meaningful results.  “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.”  (Matthew 5: 9)  Dona nobis pacem.


Wednesday’s Song
March 4, 2008, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Jasper, Music

“Like the wallpaper sticks to the wall. Like the seashore clings to the sea.”


“Like you’ll never get rid of your shadow, you’ll never get rid of me.  Let all the others fight and fuss whatever happens, we’ve got us.”


“We’re closer than pages that stick in a book. We’re closer than ripples that play in a brook.”


“Me and my shadow strolling down the avenue. Wherever you find him, you’ll find me, just look.”


“Not a soul can bust this team in two. We stick together like glue.”


“Me and my shadow, and to repeat what I said at the start; they’ll need a large crowbar to break us apart.”


“We’re alone but far from blue. Life is gonna be we-wow-whoo!”

Me and My Shadow ( as sung by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.)

Wednesday’s Song
February 26, 2008, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Music, Nature

“When you’re weary, feelin’ small, when tears are in your eyes I’ll dry them all. I’m on your side.


Oh, when times get rough and friends just can’t be found, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.


When you’re down and out, when you’re on the street, when evening falls so hard I will comfort you. I’ll take your part.


Oh, when darkness comes and pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.


Sail on silver girl, sail on by. Your time has come to shine.  All your dreams are on their way.  See how they shine.  Oh, if you need a friend, I’m sailing right behind.


Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.”

Bridge Over Troubled Water  (words and music by Paul Simon)

Heart Warming
February 12, 2008, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Music, School Buzz

My all state choir student and I will be leaving bright and early Thursday morning for the all state conference and clinic in Hot Springs. I told my student I was sorry he had to spend Valentine’s Day with me instead of some hot chick. That dear boy told me he didn’t mind. How sweet is that?!! He will spend most of his time in choir rehearsals and I will spend most of my time shopping attend the workshops that are offered to keep us directors busy. The conference ends on Saturday with the all state choir and band concerts which are held at the Hot Springs Convention Center.


This is the big bulletin board in the hall outside my elementary classroom.   I put up a big ‘welcome back to school’ display on it one year and the next thing I knew I was taking care of it on a permanent basis.  I don’t mind.  I use it shamelessly to promote the music program. 

I recently had my senior high and middle school choirs do a writing assignment.  They had to write several paragraphs telling me what role music had in their lives and why they were in choir.  Here are some of my favorite excerpts from their papers.

Choir helps us find our heart song or the song inside of me.     6th grade

The role that music plays in my life is making me feel good about myself.    6th grade

I want to learn all I can and pass it down to my children….    12th grade

You get all these beautiful voices blended together and it sounds really good.    10th grade

I believe that if your life has no rhythm then you can never accomplish your goals in life.      9th grade

It (choir) makes me feel like I am needed, like I’m a part of something.    10th grade

I am in choir because I love to sing and it makes me feel good, it lets me be who I want to be!      8th grade

Music helps me be strong and gives me inspiration to make the grades I make and to be the person I want to be.     10th grade

The sound of our voices are completely cool especially how they blend.    9th grade

Music helps me express how I am feeling.  I hate to talk to people about my feelings, but music helps me alot.    8th grade

Choir helps me feel more brave and confident.    6th grade

The Song That Is Me
February 10, 2008, 12:35 am
Filed under: Fun Monday, Music, My Life

These Fun Monday assignments just keep getting more difficult.   Julie has asked us to chose one song that truly describes ourselves; the one song that is me.  An impossible task for a music teacher!  I started singing before I could even speak plainly.  My life has been and still is filled with songs.  How could I possibly narrow it down to one song that describes me? 

I’ve been thinking about it all week and here is what I came up with: 


On the other hand,  this poem that I wrote several years ago in honor of my senior choir students also very aptly describes the song that is me.

I can’t imagine a life without music.
It fills my heart and soul.
It’s a constant companion, a voice within
when the world seems bitter and cold.

And you, my dear students, are my greatest song.
Your lives are a sweet melody.
And no matter how old or how far you’ve gone
You are still the music inside of me.
Your smiles are the harmony, strong and true
Your voices the notes of my life.
Why seek fame or great wealth when I know what I do
Is perfectly, perfectly right?
And you, my dear students, are my greatest song
Your lives are a sweet melody.
And no matter how old or how far you’ve gone
You are still the music inside of me.


Now stand up straight, breathe deeply and sing your way over to Julie’s for more life-defining songs! Do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do…….