Rethinking “Home”

My, how things come full circle sometimes.

Back in August of 2008, as I prepared for my second year here at UM, I wrote a post explaining how Miami had become my home… how this was now the place where my “domestic affections were centered.” Back then, I could not wait to leave my hometown of Northbrook, Illinois and come back to Miami. Don’t get me wrong – I never really minded being in the suburbs of Chicago, but I certainly didn’t look forward to leaving UM for Northbrook. Now, here I sit, on the eve of my last day of undergraduate classes before student teaching, just over 6 months from completion of my undergraduate degree, and I feel the exact opposite. I can’t wait to go back to Northbrook, my real home.

How long have I felt this way? It’s hard to say, but I would estimate that it’s been a few months, but it has been more obvious in the past few weeks. Why the change of heart? That’s even harder to say. It’s been a roller coaster of a semester for me, physically, academically, emotionally, and mentally, so I may just be burned out on this stage of life. This is also the longest single period of time that I have been away from Northbrook; I was last back for three days over Memorial Day weekend in May, and before that was very early January of this year. Additionally, I think the Miami mindset is finally getting to me. My patience has worn thin with people who don’t take others’ thoughts into consideration whatsoever, and who make idle┬ácommitments┬áthat they don’t follow though with. This, along with many other probably subconscious thoughts, has caused me to truly miss Northbrook for the first time in the four years I’ve been here.

I was never the homesick type. I adjusted to life away from Northbrook very easily back in ’07; probably a lot more easily than my folks would have liked! Maybe it’s because Miami was new and exciting. Maybe it’s because I wanted to get away, no matter where I was. But now, as I look back on my four years here (not a moment of which I regret, by the way, despite the tone of this post), I realize for the first time what being homesick is like. It’s missing the little things… being greeted by our yellow lab Angel each time you walk in the house, even though you know it will result in all your clothes being absolutely covered in dog hair… being pestered by your mother about finding a job, even though you secretly appreciate the kick in the behind and know she is doing it because she cares… getting to catch up with a sister who has been away at her first few years of college and you only get to see a few times a year… hanging out with the boys at Buffalo Wild Wings (affectionately called “B Dubs”), watching some UFC fight we don’t really care about because we’re only there for the wings and the friends (and don’t forget the potato wedges!). That’s home to me.

Mom, Dad, Jess, Angel, Jay, Aaron, Zurad… I miss you all and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.

My Presenting Debut

Tomorrow morning (Friday, October 1), I will be making my debut as a presenter when I speak to the Music Education students at the University of Miami on blogging in the music classroom. I am extremely excited to have been given this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting to share some of the concepts I have discovered in my “online life” with my peers at school. The presentation is titled “Music Teacher 2.0: Blogging Your Way to a Better Classroom,” and focuses on how blogging can help improve a classroom by helping the teacher with professional development, ensuring that administrative tasks are accomplished efficiently, and engaging the students in their assignments. I have included a few polls and interactive portions of the presentation to help engage the audience more, but it doesn’t stop there!

I NEED YOUR HELP!

The end of my presentation focuses on the use of Twitter (a micro-blogging service) for professional development. This is where I need a hand from my wonderful Twitter network. I have set up my presentation to automatically tweet certain thoughts/ideas/questions during my presentation, using the hashtag #mt20. If you are on Twitter and available from 9:00 until 10:00 am EST tomorrow, please fire up your favorite Twitter app and respond to some of my thoughts/questions as I present! I will have TweetDeck open, and we will be checking in using hover notifications to see your thoughts throughout the presentation! I’m hoping, as well, to get even a few people in the room involved with Tweeting through text message. Let’s show them the power of Twitter!

As an aside, my presentation materials (including an audio recording) will all be available on a landing page at MusicEdMajor.net during and after the session. I will update this post with a link to the landing page once it’s up, and I’ll also auto-tweet a link to it during the session.

I look forward to seeing you on Twitter tomorrow morning!

I’ve Been Busy…

Well it’s been almost three months since I’ve posted here and I’m feeling, in a word, ashamed about it. This was intended to become a blog to chronicle the goings-on of my life, and has turned into a dormant feed filled with old thoughts and outdated information. So while I try to figure out how to increase my posting frequency here (any/all suggestions on what topics you want me to write on are welcome!), here are a few updates on what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been posting here:

  1. New Website Design – As you may have noticed, my website has a new design! I chose this for a few reasons: first, I want this website to act as my virtual resume and portfolio, so I chose to showcase my “vitals” on the homepage as opposed to displaying outdated blog posts. Secondly, and on that note, I try to “market” myself as someone interested social media/blogging in music education. While I do have a regularly updated professional blog, I thought it was a poor representation of me to have my personal homepage display a very outdated blog. Finally, I wanted to add more social media integration into my site, which I have done through the Twitter integration on the homepage, and my new “Connect” page. If you have any other thoughts/suggestions about the new design, please feel free to let me know!
  2. Personal Life – This summer has been fairly low-key for me, as I’ve been working two jobs. The first is a 9-5 day job at the IT Service Desk for the UM School of Business Administration. This job lets me exercise my “techie” side, as I help professors and business students troubleshoot their technology issues. My other job is for the Frost School of Music, working in the concert halls as an usher/set-up-person/whatever-else-they-need. Outside of work, I celebrated one year with Liz in early June, and I’m already gearing up for next school year!
  3. Online Activities – I have been very busy online since my last post. On Twitter, I created #MusEdChat, an online twitter chat for Music Educators. The chat has gained a significant amount of popularity, and I had the opportunity to give a short presentation about it while I was in Washington, D.C. for MENC’s Music Education Week in June (I live-blogged the event with three other pre-service music teachers). Additionally, I have been continuing my posts at MusicEdMajor.net, with the help of my co-editor Andy Ritenour. Finally, I have been participating as a member of the launch team for the new MusicPLN, which launches tomorrow at noon. It has been an incredible project, and I would encourage any Music Educators (or Music Ed Majors) to join us!
  4. The Future… Scary isn’t it? I only have one year left of school before I’m out there on my own, doing who-knows-what! I’ve spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what I’m going to do come June, and I’m still not completely decided, but I know in my first few years out of my undergrad, I want to do two things: teach high school band (and music technology, if possible), and start a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology. Whether I pursue this degree full-time and if I start it right away remains to be seen, but as I’ve spent more time exploring technology for music education, it has become clear to me that this is the way I want to take my career. Stay tuned for a more detailed post about my future and a call for advice soon!

Holy cow! As I said, I’ve been busy. At any rate, that’s just a small sampling of what I’ve been up to over the past three months. I’ll try my best to keep this blog updated more frequently over the coming months, as well. If you would like me to blog about any specific topics, please leave a comment, and I would be happy to oblige!

P.S. – Only three days until I celebrate the first anniversary of my 21st birthday!

Concert Tonight

Hey all! Just a quick announcement that tonight, I will be performing with the Frost Wind Ensemble in my final concert of the school year. The program will include:

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – Bach/Arr. Hunsberger
Serenade for Winds – Strauss
Fantasy for Winds (Bedtime Stories) – Lindsay *World Premiere*
Symphony in B-flat – Hindemith

I am playing on the Bach, and Lindsay pieces, which will be conducted by Gary Green, Director of Bands at the University of Miami. I will also be playing on the Hindemith, under the baton of Jamie L. Nix, a DMA Candidate in Instrumental Conducting. Jamie conducted the Hindimeth and Strauss works this past Sunday in his recital, along with works by Bernstein, Lauridsen and Ives. I am looking forward to performing the Hindemith again tonight!

The concert will start at 8pm in Gusman Hall on the University of Miami campus. If you are not in Miami, you can tune in starting at 7:30pm to a live audio stream from the concert hall by visiting the concert’s page on the University of Miami Calendar. I hope you enjoy the show; please feel free to leave any feedback you have if you get to listen!

Easter Morning

As I write this, I am staring across an almost-empty beach at 9:00 am on Easter morning. I’m up in Palm Beach getting ready to play a gig at an Easter Mass, and decided to take a walk around since I arrived a bit early. This is what I found (see bottom). How beautiful!

So often in our lives we forget to pay attention to the small but beautiful things we encounter each and every day. This Easter, try finding all the beauty in your life-I bet there’s more of it than you think!

Happy Easter, all!