“…a little bit of this, a little bit of that”

the ramblings and musings of an elementary music teacher and aunt extraordinaire

Changes in the works June 28, 2010

Filed under: my life as a music teacher,what I'm learning — marlise @ 2:34 pm

This summer has been a great one for my private piano studio.  I have gotten a few unexpected calls from people wanting to start themselves and/or their children.  The timing couldn’t be much better. It makes great motivation for getting my house in order. The extra income that comes with these lessons is an added bonus. At the same time, these new students are bringing new challenges.  A few of my new students are adults, and two of the others have special needs.  I enjoy all of my students, but I have not had a good retention rate for either of these categories.  I believe the cause for this is that these particular categories of students don’t learn nearly as fast as they would like.

This brings me to my first change.  Almost five years ago, I heard from a music teacher friend of mine that she had started teaching a new method and loved it.  It’s called Simply Music.  I researched it, and have come to the conclusion that it offers an opportunity to fill in the gaps in my teaching.  It seems to address the areas of music that my teaching has been weakest. At the same time, I believe it adequately covers the areas where my previous method was strong. I’m excited to learn this method and see where it goes!

The second change is something that I have done on and off for a while–taking care of my health.  I do well with eating and exercise for a while, but my persistence has been less than stellar.  I recently joined Weight Watchers online program.  I only started a little over a week ago, but I’m loving it so far.  The point system seems like a great fit for me.  It’s concrete and flexible at the same time. I re-started my exercise program at the same time.  This has yet to become a real habit, but I’m making progress. The best news of all is that I’ve lost 2.5 lbs. so far.  One major mistake I think I’ve made in the past is balancing my tracking methods. I would either weigh/measure too often or not enough.  With the WW program, I’m measuring once a week and completely avoiding measurements between weigh-ins. Another way I’m hoping this program will be good for me is that I’ve paid for the first three months.  I’m hoping this will make me less likely to back out. We’ll see how it goes!


Back to normal?? January 10, 2009

Filed under: family,my life as a music teacher — marlise @ 9:30 am

So, it’s been a month, and I feel I owe you an update. Now that things are finally getting back into my normal routine, I can give you that update. I feel like I need to do the update in list form, though, because I’m not sure how to make it all tie together any other way. So, here goes:

1. The Christmas concert was scheduled for Dec. 16th.  However, roughly two hours before the event was scheduled to take place, a nasty, slippery snow/freezing rain mix started falling.  So, the concert was moved to Jan. 8th.  This was the first time in my teaching career that I’ve had to move the Christmas concert to a date after Christmas break.  It does lose a little of the excitement, but it was really nice to feel completely rested as I faced the week.

2. Our Family Christmas celebration was nice.  We celebrated on Dec. 24th, and then I spent Christmas Day cleaning and preparing for a vacation.  We really missed my sister and her family who are in Germany right now.  Our original plan was to have an early dinner together and spend the rest of the evening on gifts and family time.  Then, a Christmas Eve service was planned at church at the last minute.  I was asked to play piano and sing, my brother was asked to set up sound and sing, and my sister-in-law was asked to sing.  So, we ate a quick, early Chili dinner.  Then, we ran off to the service at church.  Then, we came home and exchanged gifts.  Then, we went home and went to bed.  While it was fun, it felt very rushed.  I really missed the family time.

3.  My vacation (yes, I said vacation) was nice and relaxing.  I enjoyed warm weather, sleeping in and being able to move and exercise outside.  My friend, Emily, and I spent a week in Jekyll Island, GA.  It was fun, and I would totally do it again.

Now,  my life is getting back to normal (or as normal as it ever is.)  I’ll leave you with a few pictures from my vacation.


Fashion Police September 1, 2007

Filed under: my life as a music teacher — marlise @ 6:40 pm

I was questioned by a four-year-old fashion police officer this week. I think I’ve managed to recover from the trauma, but it will definitely make me think a little more seriously about my choice of outfits for school.

On Thursdays, my music class teaching schedule includes two sessions of the 4-year-old preschool. The morning class is large and very active. The afternoon class is small and very affectionate. I was enjoying the afternoon group when one of the little boys said, “Hey, those are the same clothes you were wearing last music time.” Now, I have a feeling he’s probably right. The last class was a week earlier, and my outfits for Thursdays are always chosen with consideration for the fact that I will be teaching the preschool classes which involve sitting on the floor. I don’t remember what I wore last Thursday, so I had no reason to think he was remembering anything untrue. So, I said, “Wow, you must have a very good memory to remember that from last week.” He fave a shy little smile. I could tell that something was still bothering him, though. Finally, he couldn’t take it any more. He leaned in close to me and quietly asked, “Did you wash them?” I laughed and said, “Yes, I did.” A look of relief passed over his little face, and he said, “Oh, good job!”

Well, from now on, I’ll give a little extra thought to my choice of clothes for Thursdays. I don’t want to be “that teacher” who always wears the same five outfits. However, I was relieved to have passed the most important test this little guy had to give me.


Hanging in there…. May 16, 2007

Filed under: family,my life as a music teacher,what I'm learning — marlise @ 7:39 pm

This has been a weird week so far, but I think I’m managing to hang in there. My quick update:

Sunday was pretty normal. The morning church service was great. Then, our morning Bible study was very challenging. Our group is doing a unit on the church and challenging why we “do church” the way we do. Sunday’s discussion was about diversity in the church. Well, first I had to exercise all the self control I had to keep from laughing out loud. Diversity itself isn’t funny, but I am a fan of The Office, and all I could think about when the leader announced our topic for the day was an episode from the first season when Michael held his own very misguided Diversity seminar. Needless to say, this Sunday’s discussion was much more focused and appropriate. It was also much more challenging. Where do we draw the line between accepting others as they are and standing firm in our own convictions? We certainly didn’t draw any hard conclusions, but it was a good reminder of my need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I knew Monday was going to be rough from the moment I woke up. Of course that moment was 10:24! I couldn’t believe I slept that long. I had felt a little off on Sunday evening, and I had been up a few times during the night. I’m still not sure if it’s just my allergies or something else, and I didn’t ever feel all that bad. My body must have gone into self-protect mode, though. I didn’t hear either of my alarms, and I had set two. I didn’t hear my housemate get up and leave. I only panicked when I finally did wake up. I was really wondering why the school never called me, but apparently they tried and I didn’t even hear that. The rest of the day went pretty well. The faculty and office staff teased me an awful lot, but I think it was well deserved.

Tuesday’s big event was a storm. The day was normal enough. The weather at the beginning of the day was beautiful. That worked out well because that meant both of my first grade classes were able to go on their field trip, giving me loads of extra prep time. After school, though, the weather got dreary pretty quickly. We kept our eye on the news of the impending big storm. I’ve been on the east coast for a while, and I’m having a little trouble adjusting from hurricane news back to tornado alley news. Anyway, we normally have a ladies Bible study meeting at my house on Tuesday night. The lady who leads it called me around 5. She had heard predictions of large hail and vicious winds, so we decided it might be wisest to cancel. I should add that this Bible study has been cancelled almost as many times as we have met, and I’m a little bummed about that because I’ve really been looking forward to this study.

In this case, though, it was a good thing we cancelled. At around 5:45 our power went out. It stayed out for around six hours. It reminded me of how thankful I should be for electricity. I take it for granted until I have to spend six hours in the dark. Life is boring when I can’t read, watch TV, listen to music, or clean. I did go back to school for a little while. The power there was on, so I was able to get some more schoolwork done. (Tuesday was a very productive day for me for school stuff.) Then, when the power still hadn’t come back on at 9:30, I called my parents who very graciously agreed to let me stay at their house for the night. I could have slept in the house without electricity, but especially after Monday’s incident, I wanted to make sure I could get up on time.

Wednesday was considerably better. My mom woke me up since I didn’t have an alarm clock, and my dad had a pot of brewed coffee all ready when I was ready for breakfast. I told them they need to be careful or I’m going to consider moving back into their house.

Tonight I get to enjoy the meat that I started marinated last night but couldn’t cook without power. I’m also looking forward to an evening of being able to see, clean, cook, read, listen to music, watch TV, or any combination of the above. Then, I’m looking forward to setting my alarm and waking up to tomorrow’s adventures. Of course, I’ll have to spend this next little chunk of time resetting all the clocks, but I’m glad the power (at least for now) is back on so I can do that.


Music Teaching and the headlines…. May 7, 2007

Filed under: my life as a music teacher — marlise @ 1:38 pm

A music teacher is fired for making his student hit himself in the head with drumsticks. Read about it here.


One down, one to go April 21, 2007

Filed under: my life as a music teacher — marlise @ 8:30 pm

The Spring Concert was last night. It went reasonably well. I had serious doubts yesterday morning. The concert involved my elementary choir, band, and chimes groups. Yesterday morning, the chimes group was missing two girls who were home with strep. So, I quickly recruited two band members who are especially good at sightreading. They filled in beautifully. We were also missing a couple other students from band and choir. We missed them, but substitutes were not as necessary (or as easy to find) for those positions.

The Friday morning dress rehearsal went well. The audience was in awe, and gave great comments. Of course, I should probably mention that the audience was made up of preschool and elementary students with a few adults in the mix. In all fairness, I think they would have been impressed with shiny instruments whether or not someone was playing them.

Friday during the day, two more students went home sick. One of them played chimes, so I called on the sixth grade teacher to fill in on his part. She did a great job. I think it went well overall. We all had a good time, and I can now focus all my attention on the sixth grade musical. The performances are scheduled for two weeks from now. In fact, I had a meeting with the set builder for that musical immediately after the concert last night.

That’s my perspective on the whole thing, but I appreciated hearing a first grade perspective yesterday. A couple hours after the morning’s dress rehearsal in chapel, my first grade class came in for their music class. They were saying things like, “I saw you in chapel this morning.” These comments always make me laugh. In my head I badly want to say something like, “Really? I thought I was hiding very well.” I mean, honestly, I was leading the program and talking in front of everyone in there– OF COURSE they saw me. Since they are only in first grade, though, and I don’t think they’d get it, I hold my tongue. The question that really threw me, though, came from one of the boys in the class. The conversation went something like this:

He raised his hand with a very serious look on his face

I called on him, “Yes?”

He asked, “Why is it called a spring concert?”

I paused slightly while my brain scrambled to figure out how to answer that. Then I said, “Well, it’s spring right now, and we’re playing music for people, so it’s a oncert.”

He had an even longer pause before he asked, “Well, does somebody win?”

I was even more confused by that point. Then, it clicked. I said, “Oh, are you thinking of a contest?”

He got a great look of recognition on his face, then a slightly embarrassed look. He said, “Oh yeah, that’s what I was thinking.” He went on to explain that he has a recital and a contest coming up in his guitar lessons. I explained that the contest is a little more like a recital.

Problem resolved. I knew my gift of randomness would come handy at some time. I guess this was it.


Long time, no post April 10, 2007

Filed under: my life as a music teacher — marlise @ 6:11 pm

Life continues to speed ahead here. Last week’s spring break went way too fast. I ended up going to the only doctor in town who didn’t take a vacation last week–MedStat. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection. So, that slowed down some of the productivity of my week off. I’m not sure I really would have been all that productive, but I’m blaming the fever and the antibiotics, anyway. I did, however, finally make some progress on that basement room that has housed many boxes since I moved into the house last November. With just a little more work, it will be ready to serve as a guest room. (That was the original intent, and, yes, that is a hint for any of you who might consider visiting.)

The next few weeks are packed full of activity. Next Friday is the school’s spring concert. Then, two weeks after that is the sixth grade musical. Both activities will keep me hopping for the next month or so. Also, beginning band students just started learning their first songs. Thankfully, they won’t be performing in the spring concert. However, my note to myself for next year has me starting those instruments much earlier in the year. The squeaks, squawks, and headaches of those beginning stages of the instrumental music are especially painful when the stress levels are already creeping higher. For now, I’m pressing on and looking forward to being finished with all of the those large projects.