Thursday, September 29, 2005

a bit of selfish (and somwhat misdirected) pride

At a beginner level, the thrill of seeing your student begin to make music is beautiful. The simple, pure pleasure they have in their new ability is profound.
With most students, there are some less pleasurable years that follow this initial excitement. When the 'newness' wears off, some quit. Some get lazy. But most struggle through it...with a few glimpses of actual beauty along the way.
Eventually, it is a joy to listen to them perform again.
A few of my students have reached that place. And two of them have now become teachers as well. The strings program is growing so quickly, I don't have time to teach all of the beginners, so two of my advanced highschoolers have begun teaching private lessons.
Both of these girls auditioned and were accepted into the West Shore Youth Symphony- a community youth orchestra made up of the best young musicians from every school in the area. The experience is so good for our school only offers them a small String Ensemble for performance.
This week Amanda, my only Senior student, went to Youth Symphony rehearsal unaware that chair auditions were being held that night. (She had missed the previous rehearsal....because she's performing as one of the lead vocal soloists in a Civic Theatre production downtown)
Since it was sight-reading, she was able to complete the audition....and take the Concert Mistress position! She's first chair.
Of all the students from every school in the student...took first!
I'm beaming with pride.

So...this is not really *my* accomplishment. She's just one of those students...excells at everything. But I am still revelling in the glory of it...maybe even more so than when it was me. Am I a little delusional? too excited about some one else's accomplishment?
oh, well.
At least, I feel like I've done something right with my students. Well-timed validation.
I'm so glad that we worked on sight-reading in her lesson that day.


It's not my style to blog about T.V. shows. Lately, I hardly ever even watch them.
I never really got into the show last year. I missed a few episodes, so I always felt a little I was missing some important information. Apparently that is how you are supposed to feel...even if you watch religiously.
I just saw the first two shows of the season last night.
I think I'm hooked.
After watching the opening show of the season, I (and all the other LOST devotees) wondered...'who is that australian guy down in the underground hatch? has he been waiting for Jack all this time? did he know all of this when he met him the first time in the stadium? he was connected with such a beautiful story in Jack's life, how can we not trust him?'
As I suspected, none of my questions were answered.

Ryan thinks that they are all dead. Everyone on the island. That's why people keep seeing 'ghosts'. It's like pergatory. Everyone is there to 'work through' something big from their life.

any other theories?

Monday, September 26, 2005

a good weekend

Mondays are a decadent pleasure I never feel I deserve after a restful weekend. However, I think without the extra day, I would lose my sanity.
Today, after having my blood drawn and an eye appointment, I picked Ryan up on his lunch break to enjoy the Olive Garden.
Never-ending Pasta" for him, and "unlimited soup, salad, & breadsticks" for me. As he dreaded going back to his "office space" world, we dreamed of how we could both have flexible that we could be home more and together more. It's only been three years, but we never tire of spending time together. For being such opinionated, cynical, fault finding people, we seem to like *eachother* a whole lot. I'm sure there is some danger in that. But I think I'm pretty lucky.

Saturday morning, we woke up without an the sun streaming in our windows and our long sheer curtains blowing in the wind. The rest of the morning was filled with cleaning, laundry, and baking banana bread. On our way to the beach for a hike in the dunes, we stopped at our favorite local bakery for a peach-strawberry smoothie...and the "Sardine Room" restaurant for some crab mournet.
Sitting at the top of the dune, we ate and tried to soak in the beauty around us. It was just cool enough to wear sweaters and sweatshirts. Right now, I can hear the restful sound of the leaves being rustled by the wind, but there is nothing like the sound of the waves at Lake Michigan. The path through the woods in the dunes was covered with leaves and smelled like cedar and pine and earth. I felt like I was in the woodshed at the cabin, breathing in the smell of freshly cut firewood. Why don't I spend every spare minute at the beach?

Saturday night, I got to play again at the Dogwood Center's Black Box theatre. It's fun to be performing again. In late October, I'm going to record some violin/cello accompaniment for one of the artists. It'll probably be a 'free' gig, but very rewarding and fun.
I realized on Saturday, as I saw lots of the same people genuine they were. The musicians I met a month ago asked the usual questions about my job...about Ryan, etc. But they really wanted to know. One new friend even asked Ryan if he was excited to be finishing school this week. How did he remember that? I barely talked to him? I was humbled by their real sense of acceptance and community...outside of my usual 'church' kind of community. I don't think I'm a very good listener. But I want to be that kind of friend.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

another week has passed...

...and we are about to leave for our dance class. Tonight we are learning a type of 'swing' dance.
Strangely, this dance class...which only occupies a little more than an hour of my week seems to be the only thing I feel like blogging about.

School is fine. Exhausting. Usually fun, rewarding. But always exhausting. Towards the end of my day, I find myself feeling less patient with the students who haven't practiced, who aren't playing it right. I just want to beg them to please play the right note or at least *a* note in tune!

I was laying on the couch, almost asleep, before my last student of the day arrived for her lesson. As I attempted to appear alert, excited, and inspiring...she got her instrument ready and said, "I practiced *a lot* this week!" I wanted to hug her. She really had practiced dilligently. A nine year old, playing tune, with correct timing, even style. It was actually beautiful. A rare moment from this week. She's already thinking about being a violin teacher when she hits high school. Even if that's not what she does, she'll always love music.

The rain today is peaceful. We have old metal awnings over our windows that create this beautiful sound every time it rains.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Ryan is petrified to go to our dance class tonight. I have hardly had time to get excited this week, but now there is just one more meeting this afternoon, and then...we dance.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

teaching highlights...

After a long and exhausting week last week, I finally feel like a teacher again. I made it through my two twelve-hour days (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) for this week, and I'm still feeling lucky to be a teacher.

My choirs are now singing together (after the initial 'first week back' singing placement tests and surveys). Tuesday, we spent several minutes on a choral warm-up...working on specific parts, careful intonation, breathing, listening, clarity of tone, and diction. It was becoming tedious, until...they performed the simple song again, all together. It was beautiful. The female voices were finally balanced by the strong basses and tenors. It was the first music we read together this year, just a warm up. But it was enough to encourage me for the rest of the day.

The beginner strings class is overwhelmingly large this year. It's fun. But it will be a challenge to keep them all focused...finding the delicate balance of keeping the more advanced students interested and engaged while not leaving the true beginners behind.
One little girl today was early for class, so she decided to impress me by telling me that she already knew how to play "Twinkle, Twinkle." Most of the time, when I tell her how to do something she just says "I KNOW," so I was interested to see if her claim was true. As she sawed violently back and forth accross the strings with her bow, she attempted to cover the sound of the poor shrieking instrument by singing (loudly) "Twinkle, Twinkle little star..." I tuned her violin for her. I knew it wouldn't help. Just before I handed the instrument back to her, she looked at me and said "Are you gonna give me my violin back or not!"
Most of my kids are really sweet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Some of my favorite things...

...last night I had a dream about isaac and will. There was no plot. Just lots of happy smiles and Will's 'cooing' laughter. It was so comforting and beautiful.

...I had this dream around 7:45 AM. Yes, that's right, I was still sleeping then. I have Mondays off.

...Before I went to sleep last night, I got to spend time with my very best friend, Mandy, who lives too far away. While we shared warm bread and olive oil, we enjoyed talking about lots of fun things. I always feel so loved and comfortable with Mandy. She is the best kind of friend. I miss her already.

...On Saturday, I had a total of 6 phone calls that all started with singing (usually the whole song) "Happy Birthday to you..."
One of the phone calls included several singers...of whom a few continued to sing the song over and over for the entire phone call...screaming "CHA CHA CHA" each time they ended.

...Living next door to these two amazing kids allows me to hear their laughter in the backyard and see their tricks on the trampoline. Sometimes we can hear them outside of our window in the morning, leaving for school. I even get to be their music teacher at school too. I think that is my favorite part of my job.

...This Thursday, Ryan and I will be starting a dance class in Grand Haven for eight weeks. He is the best gift-giver I have ever known. (This is truly a sacrificial gift. I think he is dreading it, but he knows how much I love to dance with him.)

...Tonight, I will be going to my art class (another present from my sweet husband-from a birthday two years ago).

...In less than a month, I get to spend a long weekend at the cabin with this wonderful man, and two of our really good friends.

...I have many encouraging friends who listen when I whine about my disapointment and wounded pride. People who know the right things to say to help me heal and remind me of all the joy in my life too. Thank you.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

they didn't need me.

I'm feeling down. but not as much as i thought.

I kind of knew after the audition that I didn't get the job. The pieces they chose were the most difficult, and I didn't play them flawlessly. And hearing another violinist in the warmup room next door helped me know what I was up against.

The personnel manager for the symphony just called to say that they had filled the positions that they needed and couldn't offer me a job in the symphony this year. "There were some really good candidates. It was a tough audition." The'll keep my name on their 'sub-list' in case they ever need one.

Sadly for me, this is kind of a first. I *imagine* the feeling of disapointment much more than it actually happens to me. So I guess it's good for me. I've never really taken a risk like that before. (We'll see if I ever do that again now!! :)

So...I really should have just kept this whole audition thing to myself. I know it shouldn't be, but public rejection is really worse.

Some recent conversations and circumstances in my life have put this in perspective though. It's disappointing, but my life is already too rich and full to complain. I have a near perfect life. An amazing husband...a really loving, fun family, and a job I love (that already takes up too much time). I am so blessed. A little disappointed today, but when I'm enjoying a few evenings at home this year, I'll think of how much more exhaused I could have been had I been allowed to take on one more thing.

In other news, I *will* be playing later this month at the Dogwood Center Black Box theatre again with two of the performing artists ('Mother Soul' and Chris Cordle) on September 24th. That will be a fun outlet. Maybe I'll get to do more freelance and studio playing this year than I thought.

Friday, September 09, 2005



Doesn't that sound old?

But I've always been a sort-of 'old soul' a more mature age doesn't really bother me. I've always pictured myself as an old lady...except for the disturbing premonition I used to have that I would die young. That's just my morbid, dramatic way of thinking (even when I was a little girl). Maybe it's because my mother, everytime she left for a trip...or even just to go out...would hug me violently, often sobbing, telling me that she loved me...and that I could have her piano and her dishes if...

That dark way of looking at life did help me to understand human frailty. I don't usually take time or relationships for granted...knowing that I am not guaranteed tomorrow. But I do feel things a little too deeply.

Right now...I'm feeling deeply overwhelmed by tomorrow. Not my birthday. Usually I look forward to that.
Tomorrow, at 2:40 I have my audition in Grand Rapids.

I may have news to post tomorrow. (gulp) Thanks for all your encouragement and accountability to at least follow through on this.

If they choose someone else, I think I'll take it as a sign that God is showing me that I can't handle one more thing this year.

(Actually, that is just what I'm using to deny the reality that I just might not be good enough--It's much easier to identify my failure as God's will. So we'll just call it that.)

I don't have every note under my fingers. There's just too much music...and difficult music. I've improved my playing noticeably though (at least to me). And I feel really good about what I've accomplished as a violinist...something I haven't felt in a long time.

So regardless of what tomorrow brings, I know that this is good. (Even if *I'm* not good enough.)


On Fridays, I have three different kindergarten classes.

Today was my first Friday.

After introducing myself as "Mrs. Corbin" and singing our silly attendance song, I was carefully explaining how "good listeners" act in music class. But I was interrupted....and then again as I later introduced a new song, and I introduced the students to my violin. A little boy kept standing up. As he raised his hand he would ask, "are we gonna watch a movie on that screen?"

After reminding him to wait until being called on to talk, I told him "no, we are not going to watch a movie" and that "the screen is up for singing in chapel later today."

Still, every few seconds, he would ask again, "are we going to watch a movie?" "what's that screen for?"

but my favorite moment of the day...was when after failing to get my attention, he finally blurted out very seriously and with some annoyance, "Mrs. Corndog??"

Thursday, September 01, 2005

It was true...

Some readers predicted long periods of silence when school started.

Sorry. They were right.

I just finished my first week with students. ( a short week, no school tomorrow!)
I enjoyed it so much more than the previous week...organizing, planning, meetings,...more meetings.

One thing I love about being a music teacher is that I keep getting the same kids back every year. I get to watch them change and grow, and my relationship with them only deepens.

It was a fun beginning, but I'm ready to enjoy the long weekend now.

* * *

The concert at the Dogwoood... was so exciting to be a part of. I am always amazed by musicians who can intertwine meaningful thoughts and words with complex and beautiful music. Someday I think I'll start writing a lot of music.

Phoebe was there performing 'smelly cat'. Actually her name was Anisa, and she *was* a talented singer, unlike her "Friends" look-alike. But she *did* sing a song that had the word "stinky" and the word "cat" in the same sentence.

"Two Dog" came onto the stage alone...wearing jeans, a button-up flannel shirt, and an ill-fitting baseball hat over his long gray braids and earings. He had one of the most soothing, peaceful voices I've ever heard. He spoke about gratitude and hope and generosity. His English and Ottowan words were full of grace and genteleness. He sang unaccompanied. It was breathtaking.

Meeting so many talented musicians was inspiring. I might even get to play on some of their recordings in the future.

* * *

I'll be auditioning for the WSSO next Saturday. Until this week, I've been so worried and preoccupied by this.
For some reason, I don't feel like my whole identity hinges upon this anymore. I desperately want to play this year. But life will continue if I can't. And life will still have plenty of beauty and happiness...despite the disapointment.

* * *

In my long silence, I've even neglected my blog reading!
But I've heard rumors that all three of my brothers are now blogging again!
You must promise to still at least feign interest in my blog though.

* * *

Ryan has given me a guilt trip for writing endlessly about myself while there are multitudes of people starving, homeless, and hurting all over the world.
He was only teasing.
But he's right.

We watched an incredible film tonight about some beautiful children living in a 'red light' district. "Born into Brothels"
The children speak eloquently about their unlikely dreams for their future, their fears of acquiring their mothers' life work, and their love of art and beauty despite the filth and evil surrounding them.

Again, we were reminded of our vast wealth and privillege.

* * *

okay. i'm done.