A Day In The Life


The Light
December 12, 2007, 10:11 pm
Filed under: School Buzz

I am finally catching a faint glimmer of light at the end of the holiday season school performance schedule.  I’m by no means finished with performances, but still, I can see that glow in the distance. 

We had a violent thunderstorm last night about an hour before the elementary choir concert was scheduled to begin.  I drove the 12 miles from my house to the auditorium dodging fallen limbs, fighting heavy wind, peering out my windshield through driving rain and praying that enough kids would show up to do justice to the music.  I was also listening to our local radio station as I traveled.  I wanted to know if there were any tornado warnings in the area.  It was amusing, to say the least, to hear the DJ telling me that the evening would be breezy with a chance of thunderstorms.  I mean, couldn’t the dude look out the window and amend the forecast based on what was actually happening outside?!!  This morning I heard that we had had winds in the 50-60 mph range.  And the lightning last night was incredible.  It lit up the entire sky. 

I was surprised to find people waiting for me to open the doors when I arrived at the auditorium an hour before show time.  We ended up with a standing room only crowd and very few absent singers.  The kids really out did themselves and put on an excellent show despite the inclement weather.  It was another magical evening of young voices singing beautiful music. 

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These students make up my senior high auditioned groups, The Spotlight Singers and Sweet Harmony.   They sang Christmas carols outside our historic armory last Saturday night as guests arrived for a charity ball.

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Here they are again acting goofy.   Or maybe I should say acting goofier.  You can certainly tell that my students never have any fun when we get together to sing.  🙂

Tomorrow this same group will be doing a program for the Rotarians during the noon hour then I have back to back rehearsals at the elementary school which will take up the entire afternoon.  My fifth grade choir will go over their music one more time before we make the trip to Little Rock on Friday to sing in the rotunda of the State Capitol.  And finally, the entire fifth grade ( around 150 kids ) will rehearse their Christmas musical.  The musical will be my next to last school performance of this year on Tuesday the 18th.  The final performance will be the high school choir singing the National Anthem at the basketball game on Friday the 21st.  Then I will be through the tunnel and into the glorious light of sweet freedom for two weeks!! 

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And We’re Off!
December 2, 2007, 9:35 pm
Filed under: School Buzz, Seasons

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Yes, it’s that singing time of year once more.  Don’t you just love it? I do!!  Our holiday performing season kicks off tomorrow night with a program for a community organization.  The third grade Harmony Stars and high school auditioned ensembles, The Spotlight Singers and Sweet Harmony, will be the featured singers.  Tuesday night is the annual high school and middle school choir concert.  Wednesday brings the fourth grade Harmony Stars performing at the senior center and Thursday night I will be a member of the audience at the high school and middle school band concert.  The high school choir will sing the National Anthem at the Friday night basketball game.  Saturday night I’ll be Christmas caroling with the high school auditioned ensembles.  We will be greeting the guests who arrive for a charity ball with songs of the season.  Sunday we will attend the stage production of High School Musical in Little Rock.  Add in all the day time rehearsals and preparations in the auditorium and it’s a very busy week.  But it’s fun and it’s festive and I’m ready!

The following week slows down a bit.  The elementary choir concert is Tuesday night and Wednesday we will begin on stage rehearsals for the fifth grade Christmas musical.  We have a program for the Rotary club on Thursday and Friday I will journey with my 42-member fifth grade choir to Little Rock where they will perform a 20-minute program in the rotunda of the state capitol.  Throw in a couple of church Christmas eve program rehearsals and the second week of December is complete.

The third week of December brings the fifth grade Christmas musical performance on Tuesday.  Then I can collapse and start planning for spring!  Well, I really can’t collapse because I still have that Christmas eve program at church to prepare for, but things will definitely be slowed down when the school performances are over and done. 

Here’s hoping your holiday season gets off to a joyous and song-filled start!



The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil
November 28, 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Odds and Ends, School Buzz

The high school drama teacher, JK,  and I are taking a group of our students to see the stage version of High School Musical in Little Rock on December 9.  We found out about the show in October and I called the ticket handling company to make arrangements.  I talked to a very nice lady who told me we qualified for the group rate of $46.00 per ticket for the Sunday afternoon matinee show.  JK and I collected money from our students and around the first of November I called the ticket lady back to confirm that we needed 21 tickets.  I was super surprised and excited to find out that our seats were in the central orchestra section, eight rows from the stage.  These seats would be $20 higher without the group discount.  On November 13, I had to call the ticket lady once again because our bus driver decided to attend the show and I needed another ticket.  There were no more seats available in the central two rows where JK, myself and our students would be sitting, but the ticket lady got the bus driver seated fairly close to the rest of us in a section to our left.  I mailed the ticket lady a check for $1,012.00 for our 22 tickets on November 13. 

Yesterday I received an email from the ticket lady in which she stated that the $46.00 ticket price was actually for evening performances NOT matinee performances.  She also said that we were seated in the VIP section and if we wanted to keep those nice seats eight rows from the stage, we would have to pay an additional $5.00 per ticket.  I couldn’t believe what I was reading!  I had talked to this lady not once, but three times about our tickets.  In each conversation we had discussed the date and time of the show and the price of the tickets.  Not to mention, I had received an invoice which plainly stated we owed the ticket company $1,012.oo for 22 tickets at $46.00 each for the Sunday, December 9, afternoon matinee performance.  It just wasn’t fair to charge us more or move us from our VIP section seats.  I stomped around my room and ranted and raved for awhile then set about replying to her email. 

I began my reply by saying I was very sorry the ticket prices had been misquoted.  I recounted each conversation I had had with the ticket lady over the phone ( good thing I took notes for each phone call) .  I mentioned the invoice I had received.  I summarized by saying that my students and chaperones were expecting seats in the central orchestra section and I respectfully submitted that we be allowed to keep these seats without paying any additional dollars because we had paid the quoted price for said seats.

I was pleased to receive another email from the ticket lady late yesterday afternoon.  She agreed that the price had been misquoted (by her) and that we should have the seats we had reserved for the original price we were quoted.  She said she would make up the difference in cost since she had made the mistake. 

So everything is hunky dory, right?  Then why do I have this little niggling feeling of guilt that the ticket lady is having to fork over $110.00 out of her own pocket to make up for her own mistake? 



Another One Bites the Dust
October 27, 2007, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Music, School Buzz

Well, another junior high all region audition day has come and gone.  Nine of my junior high students made all region choir which puts the total this year at 18 ( nine senior high students made all region choir on October 13).  Not bad, if I say so myself!  Sixteen junior high students auditioned today.  Competition in the girl’s voice parts was brutal.  A total of 221 young ladies auditioned for a spot in the alto section of the all region choir.  I had two altos who made the cut one of whom is Tiggerlane’s  lovely daughter, Amber.  A total of 235 young ladies auditioned for a spot in the soprano section and three of my sopranos made the cut.  All four of my young men who auditioned made the all region choir.  All in all a very good day!



Time Flies and Planes Make A Lot of Noise
October 11, 2007, 9:02 pm
Filed under: My Life, School Buzz

Another week has flown by and I’m trying to decide if I actually got anything accomplished since Monday or if I only managed to add more tasks to my list of things to do.  We are leaving tomorrow for our first big choral competitive event of the year; senior high all region honors choir auditions.  I have fifteen students who will audition on Saturday. 

Last Saturday my two auditioned ensembles, the Spotlight Singers and Sweet Harmony, performed at the annual Wheels and Wings Festival held at the airport and sponsored by our local chamber of commerce.  The ‘stage’ was a 40-ft. flatbed truck and at ten in the morning (our performance time) there was no sound system.  The middle school band director told me today that a complete sound system, mics, amplifier, CD player, etc. was available when his jazz band performed later that afternoon.  But my kids had to sing using a very small non-amplified CD player which they could barely hear over their voices.  To make matters more interesting, planes were taking off and landing on the runway directly behind the ‘stage’ the entire time my groups were performing.  I was so proud of my students because they were so poised and they put on an excellent show even in adverse circumstances.  

I finished purchasing costumes for the third grade musical this afternoon.  Unlike my friend and fellow music teacher, Melanie, I am severely challenged when it comes to anything remotely related to sewing.  Melanie has her sewing machine in her music classroom and whips out the cutest costumes as though she were a professional seamstress.  I, on the other hand, have to look up directions for sewing on a button. 

I also waded through 114 order forms for my elementary choir T-shirts, sorting them by size and grade level.  Three choir students never did return their T-shirt order forms with the accompanying $8.00 to pay for the shirts.  I repeatedly contacted their parents and sent additional order forms home.  In fact, the orders were due September 14 so I delayed ordering all the other kids’ shirts almost an entire month for those three orders. 

I spent part of the day entering grades in my computer  gradebook.  Tomorrow is the last day of our first quarter of the school year.  Did I mention that I have to enter almost 500 grades?!!  By noon on Tuesday, October 16.  I give every student at the elementary school the same grade which helps, but I still have to enter those 300+ identical grades. 

I took a short lunch today so I would have some extra time for getting things done.  And I had better stop writing tonight so I can get organized for tomorrow.  Have a great weekend!  I’ll ‘see’ you sometime next week.



Getting To The Point
October 4, 2007, 8:56 pm
Filed under: School Buzz

One of the most difficult parts of my job involves making choices.  At the elementary level, the school year begins with honor choir auditions.  So many children want to be in one of the three grade-level honor choirs at my school.  I listen to hundreds of little voices yearning to be selected.  Then I have to choose.  My fourth and fifth grade choirs have 40 members each and the third grade choir has 30 singers. 

As if I haven’t broken enough little hearts, I then have to audition third graders for singing and speaking parts in the third grade musical.  So I listen to approximately a hundred more children acting and singing for all they are worth.  Then I have to choose. 

This year one of the teachers in the elementary building has a daughter in the third grade.  The little girl frequently visits my room after school is out while she is waiting for her mother to finish up for the day.  The child, who I’ll call Suzy, loves to straighten my desk, dust shelves and perform other tasks that are easy for a third grader to accomplish.   Suzy made the cut and is a member of the third grade honor choir.  She auditioned for the lead female role in the third grade musical, but she didn’t get the part.

On the day that the third grade musical cast was posted, Suzy showed up in my room after school.  Somehow I just knew that she would.  She emptied both of the pencil sharpeners and began straightening things on my work table.  “Will the students who didn’t get speaking parts still get to wear costumes in the musical?,” Suzy asked.  “Yes,” I replied.  “Remember that each classroom is going to dress up like a jungle animal so every student will be in a costume.  Isn’t your class supposed to be monkeys?”  A smile of remembrance briefly flashed across Suzy’s face as she began to dust the table tops.  Several minutes passed as we quietly worked together.  “Why didn’t I get a speaking part?,” Suzy softly inquired.  I smiled to myself because I knew we had finally reached the true point of this afternoon’s visit.  “Oh, Suzy,” I said, “Remember I told all of you that more children auditioned for that part than for any other part in the musical.   And I could only choose one person.  But you still have a very important part, you are one of the singers!  The singers are the most important people in the musical because what would a musical be without the singers?!!”  Suzy nodded her little head in agreement.  “And don’t forget,” I added, “that many good singers didn’t make it into the honors choir, but you did.  I like to give some of those children who didn’t make choir speaking parts because they need to feel special, too.”  Suzy seemed quite satisfied with what I had said as she skipped beside me down the hall toward her mother’s classroom. 

The next day I had a visit from Suzy’s mother.  “Please be honest with me,” Mrs. Suzy pleaded.  “Did my daughter come to your room and ask you why she didn’t get a speaking part in the musical?”  “Yes, she did,” I replied.  “Oh, gosh, I am so sorry.  Suzy knows better than to do something like that.”  Mrs. Suzy blushed with embarrassment.  I quickly reassured her that I didn’t mind at all.  I told her the whole story of how Suzy worked into asking that most important question.  Mrs. Suzy laughed then told me how Suzy had seemed fairly nonchalant about not getting a speaking part the afternoon that Suzy and I had had our conversation.  But the next morning, Suzy began talking to her mom as they were getting ready for school.  “You know, Mom,” Suzy said, “I was sad that I didn’t get a speaking part, but I’m in the choir.  A lot of good singers didn’t get in choir so they had to have speaking parts so they would feel special, too.”  Mrs. Suzy told me  she knew the instant those words came out of her daughter’s mouth that Suzy had asked me about the speaking part. 

As for me, I was so pleased that Suzy took what I told her to heart and didn’t simply chalk it up as another adult lame excuse.   So many children and parents become confrontational and ugly over the choices I’m forced to make.  They have no idea how much I agonize over decisions regarding my students.  And, trust me…..I do agonize because I know how it feels to not get that part that you know you’re perfect for.  Learning how to accept defeat is just as important a life lesson as winning.  In fact, it may be even more important. 



Slow Down?
September 27, 2007, 10:03 pm
Filed under: My Life, School Buzz

It’s somewhat ironic that I just posted the lyrics and a link for the lovely song “Slow Down” while my life has suddenly burst into hyper-drive.  I have two membership-by-audition-only choral ensembles that are being asked to perform for so many community events that I was actually concerned about wearing my students out.  They have assured me that they can handle the pace!  Last Saturday we performed for the local community college 25th anniversary celebration in an outdoor venue.  It was a lovely, windy day  and both groups put on an excellent show even though music pages were turning on their own in the breeze and some of the girls kept having to pull their hair out of their mouths.  This Saturday another group of senior high students who plan to audition for all region honors choir are traveling two hours for an intensive workshop on the audition music.  The first Saturday in October brings another outdoor performance for my auditioned ensembles.  This event will be held at our airport and I was told the kids will be singing from the back of a flatbed truck.  Interesting, eh?!!  I’ve already told the girls that secure hair is a must.  The following Saturday is the big senior high all region honors choir auditions event.  After that, we actually have a free weekend…..as of now.  The last Saturday in October is junior high all region honors choir auditions day.  Hey…..I thought teachers were supposed to have weekends off.  Where did I hear that?!!  November brings the culmination of all the all region auditions when students who made the honors choir meet from across the region and work up a concert in half a day’s time.  The concert is presented in the late afternoon hours and is truly a treat for the ears.  November also means intense rehearsals in preparation for the Christmas season rush.  We already have the first two weeks in December booked solid.  Amazing how what seems to be a wide expanse of time actually boils down to very little time at all.