Time Flies…

First off, I think I’ve figured out why my blogging has become so infrequent. I try to make every post I write a huge “production,” with lots of planning, proofing, and editing. I have come to realize that blogging, especially on a “personal” website like this one, can (and perhaps even should!) be spontaneous, short , and off-the-cuff. It’s my hope that I’ll be able to post more frequently on this site with that principle in mind.

That being said, on to my topic. I wrote in August about how some events this past summer caused me to feel “old” for the first time. While that idea has continued to permeate my life, the more present thought lately has been how quickly the past few years have passed by.

It feels like just a month ago that I was having my first experiences as a student leader in the Band of the Hour, going through my membership candidacy process in Tau Beta Sigma, and taking introductory classes. Now, a full year and a half later, I’m applying to continue as Band Captain and have seen three more groups of potential members go through the candidacy process of TBS. It’s unbelievable to imagine that I am just a few short weeks away from being 3/4 of the way through my undergraduate degree. As a matter of fact, a year from now, I will be teaching full-time in my internship, and most likely looking for my first job. And I’m not talking about a part-time, get-you-through-school job, I’m talking about a full-time, salaried, in-charge-of-young-people’s-education job. Scary, huh?

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the last year-plus that I have here, and make the most of it!

It’s Elementary…

I’ve always known I wanted to go into music education. Even as an elementary school student, my biggest idol was the school’s music teacher. When I reached middle school, though, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a band director. This was confirmed even more as I graduated to the 9th grade, and by the time I hit my Junior year of High School, there was absolutely no question that I was going to be a High School band director when I “grew up.” It was with this attitude that I began my degree at UM. High School band or bust!

In fact, I never really had any experience teaching or working with elementary students at all until this semester. I had one teaching experience back in the fall of my freshman year with a beginning trumpet player, but other than that, all my experience so far had been with high schoolers. After all, it’s those students I wanted to work with as a teacher-why bother with the elementary kids, anyway? In all honesty, I think a big part of it was intimidation. I was comfortable working with teenagers, but I had so little experience with the younger kids that I was worried if I would be as effective working with them.

Despite my reluctance, this semester presented me with two opportunities to hone my skills working with elementary-level students. The first came through one of my courses at UM-entitled “Classroom and Behavior Management.” The course title is very self-explanatory, and the class comes with a 20-hour field experience component which must be at an elementary school. I was assigned to Frances S. Tucker Elementary, with Mr. Kurt Engbretson in the music classroom. While most of my experience in Mr. E’s classroom has been observing, I had the opportunity to do a mini-lesson with the kids a few weeks ago, in which I taught them about the families of instruments (brass, woodwind, string, percussion) and demonstrated my trumpet for a bit. It went surprisingly well, and the kids really loved the trumpet demo. Their favorite part was my demonstrating the “wah wah” characteristics of the harmon mute. I ran into a bit of trouble with talking/behavior as the students became more excited with the material, but once I reminded them that “the more time you guys spend talking the less fun trumpet stuff we get to talk about,” the room quieted down! All in all, the lessons (I taught three of the same lesson-to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders) went extremely well! I left the school feeling great about how I was able to create such interest in a subject for the students!

My second opportunity came to me as a member of Tau Beta Sigma. TBS, which is a service organization for the college band, also has a national initiative for chapters to help local troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts gain their badges/patches in music. As such, we welcomed about 35 girl scouts to the UM campus this past Saturday, for a music workshop. The girls ranged in age from 3rd grade to 6th, and were split into four rotations. The members of TBS who were present also were split up, and I had the opportunity to work with my good friend and fellow sister Tyson and the scouts on “action songs” for the afternoon. In our rotation, we sang songs that had actions associated with them. We chose four songs, with increasing levels of difficulty, which culminated in the “Joe” song about the man who works in the button factory-by the end of the “lesson,” everyone in the room was pushing pretend buttons with their elbows, knees, head, butt, and tongue! It was a blast, and all the girls had an incredible time. It was a blast having the opportunity to sing these songs with the girls, and have as much fun as they all were! It was another successful day of working with elementary-age students!

Have these experiences changed my preference as to which level I want to teach? Not at all-I’m still gung-ho towards High School band. That being said, though, I am no longer afraid of the elementary classroom, and now am looking forward to my course in teaching elementary general music next fall! These experiences have helped me expand my teaching ability and confidence, and hopefully will open the door for my becoming a much more well-rounded music educator!

Greek Concert Weekend

I had the opportunity this weekend to participate in two concerts organized by the fraternities and sororities on campus. On Friday night, the three music organizations (the brothers of Phi Mu Alpha, the sisters of Sigma Alpha Iota, and the brothers and sisters of Tau Beta Sigma) performed in the first annual joint-concert between the three organizations. A joint-concert has been attempted before, and talked about many times, but finally thanks to the organization and dedication of some members of each organization, the three groups finally combined to do a concert, which included solo vocal acts, a trumpet sextet, larger vocal ensembles, a few low brass solo acts, and a jazz band.

The jazz band was comprised of mostly members of Tau Beta Sigma (the co-ed honorary service sorority that I am a part of), and is a very similar group to the one that I organized for TBS’s Fall Showcase. We performed a jazz ballad version of the traditional Irish song “Danny Boy.” The Paul Clark arrangement came off really well, and everyone seemed to enjoy it! I also had the opportunity to perform with the trumpet sextet, who played the Star Spangled Banner and a short arrangement of Loch Lomond. For those of you on Facebook, you may be able to see a short video of Loch Lomond here. Finally, I performed the Tau Beta Sigma Loyalty Song with the brothers and sisters of TBS. All in all, the joint-concert went extremely well, and everyone who attended enjoyed the concert!

Conveniently enough, TBS’s 3rd Annual Spring Showcase was the following day! The TBS showcase, which was similar programatically to the joint-concert, included a solo tuba act, some vocal acts, the jazz band, and even a performance of Trumpet Voluntary on… you guessed it… a recorder! I performed in the jazz band again; we opened this concert with a shortened version of the “Family Guy” theme song, and performed another Paul Clark work, this time an original composition, entitled “Baby Drives a Fast Car.” We also performed the Loyalty Song at showcase. The showcase this spring was a part of a TBS initiative to help local boy scouts get their music merit badge, so in addition to being attended by family and friends of the sorority, we had 15 6th/7th-grade boy scouts at the concert!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the jazz band that performed this weekend. In addition to being a great opportunity to play jazz, this band has helped me get an opportunity to work on my rehearsal skills with jazz bands, and I appreciate the patience of each and every person in the band as I worked with them. The members of the jazz band included saxophones Frankie Pereda, Chris Walker (also a Membership Candidate for TBS), Jackie Kraus, and Jessica Kirsner, trombones Luke Cramer (a brother of PMA), Nicholas Heilman, Raquel Shifrin, and Marissa Wites, trumpets Rachel Hanusa, Chris Kumetz, and Kevin Mazzarella, and the rhythm section of Michael Heilman (drums), Dan Wager (bass), and Andrew DeVine (piano). Andrew also was the person behind the fantastic arrangement of the “Family Guy” theme song.

As I perform in all the formal end-of-semester concerts with the School of Music ensembles, it’s nice to take a step back every so often and perform in a more informal setting. The concerts this weekend were a great opportunity to do that, and I really enjoyed each and every act. Congratulations to those who performed, and thanks to all who attended!

Weekend from Hell

Well the so-dubbed “Weekend from Hell” is over, and I’m still alive! This past weekend, which really started on Wednesday, included:

  • Marching Band, Basketball Band, and Jazz Band rehearsals (Wednesday)
  • Trumpet lesson (Thursday morning)
  • Last regular-season home football Game (Thursday night)
  • First women’s basketball game (Friday afternoon)
  • Last volleyball game (Friday evening)
  • TBS Showcase (Saturday afternoon, more to come on this!)
  • First men’s basketball game (Saturday night)
  • Women’s basketball game (Sunday afternoon)

This was about as much playing as I’ve ever done in a 4-day span, except for the Illinois All-State musical my senior year (think 3 run-throughs of Les Mis each day, for about a week!). I’m feeling pretty good after it, though, and I had a blast! In all these athletic events this weekend, the ‘Canes went 4-1, with the only loss being Sunday’s women’s game (which the ‘Canes lost on a fast-break with 4 seconds left after they came back from down 13 to tie it). My voice is all but gone from all the cheering, though.

It was an awesome weekend, for sure. Busy? Yes. Tiring? You betcha (I took a 4 hour nap today)! But very rewarding and so much fun getting to spend the entire weekend doing my 2 favorite things: playing music and cheering on the ‘Canes!

Update

So I know it’s been a while since you all have heard an update from me, so I figure I’ll give you a quick synopsis of the last few weeks, while I have time to breathe (read: procrastinate).

Firstly, I’ve really been trying to get you guys some video in the form of another “vlog,” but the webcam drivers for my laptop have been acting up, and I can’t even get the darn thing to turn on, let alone record anything, so at this point, a vlog may not be in the near future… I’m working on it, though, promise!

Secondly, I know that the links to the music don’t work… I’m going to try to get those fixed within the next few days, if possible. I’m also trying to figure out why the Twitter bar on the right side of the screen is not showing any of my “tweets,” because I’ve had quite a few. At any rate, until that’s working, you can find my tweets at http://twitter.com/Zweibz7.

Now, onto the good stuff. Where I left you, the ‘Canes had just come off a loss up in Gainesville, but I was optimistic. It turns out my optimism was warranted, as I had the pleasure of watching my ‘Canes rip apart the Texas A&M Aggies (for the second year in a row, I might add) by a score of 41-23. Quarterback Robert Marve threw for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the game, and Halfback Graig Cooper and the rest of the Miami offense made Texas A&M’s D-Line look just plain silly (Cooper ran for 128 yards and 2 TD, as well). It was a great game on all fronts, and the ‘Canes look forward to this coming weekend, where they play host to the North Carolina Tar-Heels in an effort to avenge a loss from last season.

In other news, classes are all going well. Life is busy, and now that the semester is in full swing, so is my process of being a membership candidate with Tau Beta Sigma, the co-ed national honorary band sorority. Between school, rehearsals for “Circus Maximus” (which are coming along fine–the composer will be on campus in just under 3 weeks, and our performance is in just over 3), and TBΣ, I never want for something to do nowadays!

I’ll try to give smaller updates more often in the future, but for a quick rundown of what I’m up to on a daily basis, be sure to check out my twitter feed, I tend to tweet a lot more often than I do post because of the speed factor.

I’m also looking forward to a few great jazz shows coming up in the next two weeks, so I’ll try to get some “reviews” of those up for you as well!

Until next time!