Friday, December 21, 2012

How I wish Jack Frost were nipping at my nose...

I have decided I do NOT like South Georgia weather. Actually, I already knew that. I've just re-confirmed it. When it is Christmas and/or winter, it should be cold. Period. The past couple days have been a little nippier, but still no wheres near where I think December is supposed to feel like. I want to wear sweaters, tights, boots, scarves, hats, coats!! Oh well, hopefully I will go up North for grad school. Until then, I will just pretend it is cold.

My schedule has been crazzzzzy and I have been holding on for dear life. Who needs to go for roller coaster rides when your life is a real one?? I have enjoyed playing at the mall though and have even been rewarded with some  tips from kind shoppers!! ;) Maybe they will help fund my Starbucks addiction...Speaking of which, I have discovered two wonderful new things about Starbucks.
         1. They have amazing double expresso drinks that will give you amazing levels of energy.

         2. They are handing out little cards where if you buy 5 holiday drinks, you get 1 free! I got my last
            sticker today - free drink here I come!! :)

I have started a new Christmas tradition of reading a Christmas story to Matt and Bethany in the evening. I think it is even more fun for me than them! I love children's Christmas stories!! We need to squeeze in Christmas baking and games and movies and fun times. There are only a few days left to cram all of the Christmas cheer and activities and fun and craziness in to.

ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! National crisis here!! I have not yet watched ELF, the most incredible Christmas movie of all time! I did start it yesterday when we were baking gingerbread, but still.....This terrible crime must be remedied soon.
On Sunday was the lessons and carols service at my church. It was the first lessons and carols for which I have been music director, so it was pretty exciting (and nerve-wracking!) We have been working our tails off for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, we got a late start working on Christmas music because I did not begin as music director there until October. However, we worked hard with the time we had and had 2+ rehearsals per week, with many of the choir members meeting outside of rehearsal for their own practice sessions. The result on Sunday was very nice. I was pleased, the choir was pleased, the church was pleased. I call it a successful first lessons and carols service. Afterwards, there was a very fun Christmas party at one of the choir member's houses. It was the first (and probably only) Christmas party that I have actually been able to attend this year, so I really enjoyed it an extra bunch. They had this amazing coffee there made with a Senseo maker. That was the first time I had sampled coffee from a Senseo, and I have to say, I now really want Santy Claus to bring me my very own Senseo coffee maker.

On a random side-note, you never know what you may find at our house. The other day, I took a break from practicing and walked into the kitchen to get a drink and this is what I saw:

 Apparently, cleaning the kitchen is not enough for some people and they feel the need to also turn it into an arctic scene for a coke commerical...

With all of the craziness going on, it has been difficult to fit in enough practice time, but I have been trying. Pretty much every second that I am not running around like a manaic, I am sitting at the piano, trying to make sense of all of this:

P.S. - I have been working this post for a while and today the weather has turned cold and Jack Frost actually is nipping at my nose - at least in a South Georgian kind of way!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

That Explains a Lot

I stumbled across this article from

It explains in some small way how difficult being a serious pianist is.

Before I started taking piano, I had always imagined the Conservatory students to have it so good – I mean, for their homework, they get to play guitar, or jam on their saxophone, or sing songs! What fun! Compared to sitting in lab for four hours studying the optical properties of minerals, or discussing Lucretian theories of democracy and politics, I would play piano any day.

But after almost three years of piano at Oberlin, I understand just how naïve this is. Playing music for credit is not “easy” or “fun” or “magical” or “lucky.” Mostly, it’s really freakin’ hard. It requires you to pick apart your piece, play every little segment over and over, dissect it, tinker with it, cry over it, feel completely lame about it, then get over yourself and start practicing ...again. You have to be precise and diligent, creative and robotic. And then – after all of this – you have to re-discover the emotional beauty in the piece, and use it in your performance.

Yeah, good luck with that. There’s no way, right?

Except that so many people here can do that, and do it every semester. I swear, from just my 2-credit piano lessons, I’ve gained an entirely new respect for the musicians here at Oberlin. I honestly don’t know how they do it – how they play their music with such bravery and intensity, don’t buckle under the pressure. You have to be such a strong and confident individual to be successful in the Conservatory. Don’t get me wrong, you have to be strong and confident to be successful in just about anything you do – but with music, there’s a deeper emotional component to your failures and successes. If you fail a chemistry test, it’s because you either didn’t study enough, or just aren’t that good at chemistry (the latter of which is totally understandable). But if you fail at music, it can say something about your character. It could be because you didn’t practice enough – but, more terrifyingly, it could be because you aren’t resilient enough. Mastering chemistry requires diligence and smarts, but mastering a piano piece requires diligence and smarts, plus creativity, plus the immense capacity to both overcome emotional hurdles, and, simultaneously, to use that emotional component to bring the music alive.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's the Most Wonderful .. er I mean.. the Busiest Time of Year

I've decided that I'm going to stop making resolutions about how I'm going to do better about blogging. Maybe I will actually blog MORE if I don't make resolutions. It's worth a try anyhow. Anywho, life has been its normal extremely crazy self except with some abnormal extra craziness thrown in including some difficult trials which I don't want to talk about because I want this to be a generally happy post and it won't be if I start talking about all the sad stuff. Anyway, MoVing, Thanksgiving has already come and gone!! Unbelievable! We had a "small" Thanksgiving for us - in that we had no company and even some of our family wasn't there - namely Josh, Kristi, and Ashlyn. That meant we had a microscopic group of only 10 people plus Sofi. We actually fit around one table this year with even a couple seats left over. We probably should have taken a picture to commemorate that epic moment but we were all too busy stuffing our faces.

I have decided the reason I never feel rested after a "break" is because they seem to be even busier than regular life. Wednesday was the first day out of school. I got up at like 5:30 and got ready to go to my piano lesson in Macon. I was gone to it from 7 until 4:30 ish, then when I got back, Hannah and I ran/ walked a couple miles. After supper, I made the apple and pumpkin pies (from scratch) and did a bunch of other stuff that I don't remember anymore. At some point, I crashed into bed.

Thanksgiving morning, I was up at 4:00 am so I could get in a couple hours of practicing and some other stuff before we left at 8 to run in the Turkey Trot. I did my first 5K - still can't run all of it but I did a mixture of walking and running. Hannah and I did it together which made it extra fun. We came back and ate some of my Mom's famous pumpkin pancakes and bacon and then had the most relaxing part of the whole break - snuggling on the couch with Sofi, sipping hot chocolate, and watching the Macy's Day Parade.  I haven't been able to sit and watch it in a long time so that was pretty nice. Thanksgiving was the funnest and most relaxing of all the days because I also got to play a family game and watch a movie. All of those things have not happened in the same day in at least 47 weeks. We also went on a super long bike ride.

Friday, I was up early again, trying to get some work and practicing done before I headed out to work/ teach at Jamestown Piano from 10 until 6. It was the first time I have worked instead of shopped on Black Friday but I didn't have any money to spend anyway, so it was OK. Plus, I got to decorate the store for Christmas. The rest of the weekend brought more practicing, decorating for Christmas, playing at the mall, church music preparation, music directing at church, exercising, and at least 103 other things that were on my list which I no longer remember. I just know it was crazy busy and exhausting!!

Christmas is such a busy time of year for me. As if my current schedule was not insane enough, I now have rehearsal on Thursday night in addition to Tuesday night (and we will have even more if the music is not up to par by the Festival of Lessons and Carols service), all the responsibilites of special Christmas services/music at church to plan and prepare, playing at the mall for a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays - and all the music for that to practice, my students' Christmas recital, and a million other random things. Plus, I have to keep up with my 4 and a half jobs, all my practicing for my lessons, grad school prep studying, exercising, etc., etc., etc. I am also in charge of Christmas cheer at my house so I need to get on that. Yes. Hopefully, you get the picture. According to the movie ELF, elves only need 40 minutes of sleep a night. It is time for me to speedily develop elven characteristics. I will add that to my to-do list for today. Well, I had better go practice!!