A Year of Growth

DJ and I took a walk with Bryce today, and we had a chance to talk and reflect on the last year.  In some respects, it feels like it has been about five years, but in other ways it has really flown!  Bryce of course had many, many milestones.  Last year, he was still a chubby little baby, and now he looks more and more like a little boy every day.  DJ and I both had some major personal and interpersonal growth.  We had to relearn how to be a couple in the midst of navigating parenthood, as well as figuring out our individual new identities and roles.  Ten years ago, DJ and I were waking up late from an amazing Cinderella-like New Year’s Eve at the Kennedy Center.  I had JUST discovered Orff Schulwerk,  I was still scarred from teaching middle school, I was so in love with DJ and we were less than two months away from getting engaged.  I definitely feel much older and wiser at the close of this year, but life is so, so good, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Some major events and memories for me this past year:

I successfully nursed Bryce until he self-weaned at 13 months.

I presented two sessions at the Denver AOSA conference.

I was invited to teach a summer Orff Level 1 course at Winthrop University.

I had a miscarriage.

I joined a playgroup.

I quit a playgroup.

I reached out to a random mom I met at Wegman’s, and we are becoming really good friends!

I met all my neighbors while out walking with Bryce.

I discovered FlyLady.net, decluttered my life, and reclaimed my sanity.

I made it out to Mobtown Ballroom a handful of times, but discovered that I don’t miss dancing as much as I thought I would.

I learned how to grill pizza.

I maintained my health and my weight, in spite of having a baby (and in spite of learning to grill pizza.)

I found my first gray hair.

I got my 25 year waterski club trophy at Woodloch.

Running finally felt good again.

I still really love my husband, not quite the same way as I did at the Kennedy Center on New Year’s Eve ten years ago, but with less flash and more depth.

Some Bryce memories I don’t want to forget:

Nursing him; the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve done.  I was sad when he weaned without me really realizing it, but I got some closure when he signed “Milk” while watching me put my bottles and pumping equipment away.  There were three sad little bags of pumped milk in the freezer.  I defrosted them, and he drank them all up, signing “milk” the whole time.

Bryce’s signing taking off after his first birthday.

Bryce singing “Uh Oh” along with Pink’s “Just Give Me A Reason” and totally getting down to “Blurred Lines,” “Lucky Strike,” and “Light ‘Em Up.”  He would say “Yay!” every time he heard a song he likes on the radio.

Taking his first few steps at the Lilly Reunion.

The gigantic poop explosion on the way home from the Lilly reunion (maybe I’d rather forget that….)

Bryce saying “Grandma!” every time he saw my cell phone.

Bryce saying “Hi!” to everyone we see at the grocery store and out walking.

Many, many miles logged on his pushtrike.

Bryce saying “Ball! Ball!” while picking up big green walnuts at the playground.

Meeting my neighbor, Maureen, and her grandson Owen at the tot lot.

Bryce saying “Uh Oh” and alerting us whenever we forgot to latch a cabinet lock.

One snacktime, I was singing “Bryce likes to eat grapes grapes grapes” to the tune of Wheels on the Bus, and he totally on his own inserted “Bar bar bar!” because I was eating a granola bar.

When he first learned how to give kisses.

He is such a sweet, friendly, playful little guy, and I am really treasuring this time with him.  I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!

 

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AOSA Conference Reflectons, Part 2

This was the third Orff conference I have attended, but the first one where I have been a clinician!  This was the highest profile audience I have ever addressed; music teachers from Maine to Alaska come to this conference, from college students to seasoned teacher-educators.   I was more than a little excited and nervous!

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My session was entitled “Jump, Jive, and Patsch!  Processing Swing Music and Dance for Children” and I presented it twice.  This workshop is the intersection of my dancing experience, and my Orff Schulwerk teaching experience, and I am really proud of how it came together!  So much of Orff teaching involves creative movement improvisation and folk dancing, and swing dancing is a natural fit for both of those.

I was nervous because they had me assigned to present in a really small room, and 130 (!) people had signed between the two sessions.  I squeaked as politely as possible, and the conference director was able to move me to a larger space, which really  helped with the success of the workshop.

I played swing music as people walked in, and I had bought Hershey kisses for the door monitor to distribute.  First impressions are everything, and I figured it would also give people energy for participation.  =)  The introducer read my bio (which is starting to sound pretty impressive!) I took a deep breath, and the lesson just started to flow.  Swing dance is something that I really love, and something that I am very comfortable teaching.  I had prepared the best I possibly could, so I was really able to be present and enjoy the ride.

It was so much fun to see all these teachers movin’, groovin’,’ and enjoying the music and dancing.  Swing is such a joyful dance, I really think that no other dance form can compare to it!  Seeing the delight on the participants’ faces as they performed in our final jam circle was priceless.  I was especially happy to see one particular person enjoying himself immensely.  Doug Goodkin is a nationally-known educator and clinician who specializes in combining jazz music and Orff, and he came to check me out!  I was really excited to get his stamp of approval.

I finished off the workshop by sharing the children’s book Jazzy Miz Mozetta.

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The story is about Miz Mozetta and her elderly friends who used to be swing dancers.  They are old and creaky now, but they end up teaching their young hip-hop -dancing neighbors how to jitterbug.  I read the story aloud, and briefly shared the story of Frankie Manning, an original lindy hopper who spent the last 30 years of his life traveling the world teaching the next generation of dancers.  I actually got choked up and teary as I urged all the teachers to pass this culture on to their students, and there were many moist eyes in the audience as well.  If I can make people cry (in a good way!) I think that means the workshop was a success. =)

AOSA Conference Reflections, part 1

I just returned from the American Orff Schulwerk conference in Denver, CO. Teaching music isn’t without its challenges, but music teachers have the Best. Conferences.  Ever.

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I started each day with Early Morning Song Sessions, led by past presidents of AOSA.  These were my favorite sessions of the conference!  The past presidents are all dynamic and inspiring educators, they have a presence that fills up the room and draws you in.  We sang and danced to an Argentine Joroba, harmonized and hemiola-ed to a Zulu play song, moved and sang in 4-part canon, and read some soulful feel-good choral music.  If every day could begin by singing “The Storm is Passing Over” with 50 trained musicians, I think my coffee would become unnecessary.

Over the course of the conference, I danced inside of a stretchy silver body bag, led a Chinese dragon dance (with train of people wearing a long vinyl table cloth following me!) learned a stick dance from India, sang 8 part double canons, and made silly backwards videos on my iPad.  I experienced some absolutely incredible children’s performances; trash Bands, marimba ensembles, choral groups, and more.

It is so energizing and inspiring to be around other teachers at these AOSA conferences.  Every presenter has a different strength to share.  Some are recorder gurus, some have amazing processes to teach mallet instruments, some know how to bring the dance out of the most tentative mover, and some are ethnomusicologists who collect songs and stories from all over the world.  It can be daunting to experience so much excellence.  There are so many great ideas presented, and most clinicians make it seem so easy and effortless you wonder how you could possibly be as great!  It definitely gave me some new goals for myself and my teaching!

Conference is educational, but it is also FUN!  Music teachers are mostly crazy to begin with, and Orff teachers are a special kind of crazy.  We burst randomly into improvised complimentary rhythm ostinatos, compose canons in the elevator, and don’t even blink when a clinician hands out scarf and tells you to create a water dance in five minutes GO!

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I wish I could have attended the late night folk dancing sessions, but I have become an early-to-bed person, and the 2-hour time difference didn’t help matters.

I probably could have caffeinated and sucked it up, but I was actually PRESENTING on Saturday and wanted to make sure I still had some juice left for that!  More on my presenting experience tomorrow!