spiralflames: (music)
2 you-tubes of jake at my students' recital tonite. kiddo's 14..been with me since he was "five and three-fourths." this is the year when he came into his own...


life is good.
spiralflames: (Default)

there are 3 things i do. teaching, making music (playing piano), photography.

teaching= my business.
music= my training
photo= my stress-free love.

i find my teaching emotionally stuck on ground level. my personal piano...eh. it isn't totally stultified, but hasn't made a break-through to sunsets and high trees.

i need to bring my teaching and my playing to this same loving place.

it should all be about working with Light.
spiralflames: (nanpractice)
may 22nd was my students' annual spring recital. (yeah, i'm behind.)

this was an odd program- usually i have a pretty even distribution of kiddos- a few tinies, some 2nd and 3rd year intermediates, then some older kids and a few high school kids at the end. this year it was *seven* 'old-mac-donald-had-a-farms' and then zap into 14 yr olds playing Real Music. i've never had so many tinies at once. it was really adorable..so serious. will be fascinating to see which of them progress, who sticks with it, who falls behind.

it's interesting- usually, if one kiddo in the middle has a "memory malfunction", you can just FEEL the nerves fraying.."if SHE forgot, and she's really good, what if *I* can't remember...." and there's just a growing sense of "what if" that's palpable. the waiting in line in a gang recital like that can really be gruelling, and truthfully ISN'T often a situation that happens in professional life. this time, everyone in the middle played wonderfully- and THAT confidence seemed to grow and generate and be passed along. one after another, almost note-perfect, best-ever performances. somehow, the tunes and the kids seemed to work really well- people were confident, prepared, and happy to be there. my last high school sophomore tore up the piano with a whiz-bang performance of the khatchaturian toccata. i'd nominated her as my studio's candidate to perform at st thomas college and receive a scholarship (80 teachers choose one kiddo each, and 10 are chosen- 1500 kiddos altogether, 70 or 80 kids are chosen to try, 10 chosen to perform. and she was among the winners. w00t!)

after the performances, since there was SUCH a group of 1st year kids and so many older ones, i gave a speechette about seeing these older kids growing from ag 6 through high school, and see what could happen if a person sticks with a thing. i think people Got The Message.

especially the one mom who was pulling her 7 yr old out of lessons because darling was "too over-committed"...mom was conspicuously absent at kiddo's last lesson, no comment or thank you. yeah, you. mom. moron. i'm sorry, but you've got your priorities screwed up.

ANYway. not to rain on my own parade, here. 25 kids, honorable, dressed up, attentive, polite.

OHHHHHHHHHHH. and the monday after the concert? church janitor comes up to me- someone AT MY RECITAL vandalized the women's bathroom sometime during or after my concert. ??????????? yeah...took all the "female supplies" from the women's bathroom, shoved them down the toilet in the MEN'S bathroom, and..get this..crapped on top of the whole mess. and left it like that. i of course had no words..nothing like this has ever happened under my watch. i mentioned it to a few piano moms and one said "that doesn't sound like a little kid- that's an 8th grade boy with a chip on his shoulder- probably an older brother who'd been forced to come watch his sister play."

the next morning, i get a call from a dad. they'd asked their son, and kid had admitted to doing it. he's going to have to apologize to me, the church, and do a service project for the church. gotta hand it to dad for not just grounding his son and not telling anyone. i just hope this doesn't result in me either being booted from the church or not being able to give my recitals there- they don't charge me, and it'd be awful to have to try to find a new space after ten years of teaching there. so que sera' and all that. people.

spiralflames: (the_soul)
a perfect day.

this saturday, my piano students, ranging in age from 4-17, will perform. i'm always glad when it's over- it's a lot of organizing, preparation (typing programs etc), schlepping (food, nuclear punch, boxes of trophies), cleaning (getting the church civilized again after 100 people eating junk food)....the whole process breaks my heart- they are so serious, they are so pleased when they're finished, and beforehand, you can cut the tension w/ a knife. woo!

i am so looking forward to practicing, writing, photography and hanging out this summer!

spiralflames: (obscure)


teaching continues and is mostly enjoyable. student recital upcoming on may 22- almost all of my students from age 4 through high school. everyone's prepared. tunes will be played, trophies distributed, much chocolate consumed. i have a handful of extremely cutie tiny-tinies this year, and that's always fraught with such hopefulness.
my student liza was chosen as one of the 10 students who performed at an honors concert- each teacher (over 90 of us) choose one kiddo to try out, 10 are chosen. the ones chosen are 10 of 90, and the 90 are 90 out of 1500. that's a pretty huge honor. she knocked the living crap out of the khatchaturian toccata and performed brilliantly. 10 yrs from now she will marvel at the fact that she walked out cold in front of 500 people and whomped into the fastest thing she's ever played. ah, youth :-D
if anyone would have told me even 6 months ago that i would be sitting w/my 84 yr old dad at a belly-dance hafla at the croatian center in south st paul (there's a croatian center in SSP? who woulda guessed) waiting to go on stage as part of a womens' a cappella singing group who sings chippewa, sanskrit, west african and southern gospel, i would have asked you whether the hallucinatory drug was fun. such was my friday night. i love my life.
when i asked my dad if he wanted to come watch belly dancing and singing, he responded "women?" i said "yeah dad, i don't think they HAVE male belly dancing." he said "sure, just don't tell your mother about the women part." i don't know what's cooler- having an 84 yr old dad who's still interested in watching women, or an 82 yr old mom who'd still be jealous?
speaking of belly dancing, how awesome was THAT. it was a school's 'recital'- all ages, sizes, levels, abilities, appearances..what a wonderful way to celebrate onesself.
wishing you the same. :-D

spiralflames: (fractal)

in MUCH better spirits this week in general. i've been taking photos by the score, which makes me happy. i'm glad i got out tuesday- it might have been my one shot at DOAF- Day Of All Flowers. last year, it stormed as the buds were opening, and everything was smashed. it's been cloudy since, and might storm tonight. but...lavender, purple, pink and green are MINE! muahahaha!
liza, one of my students, was chosen to perform the khatchaturian toccata at st thomas university on sunday. in the festival/contest i enter my students in, each teacher chooses 1 or 2 students to compete for a space to perform. out of the 2000 or so kids who play, about 75 are sent onward, and of those 75, 10 perform and win a little cash. i'm pretty chuffed about this.
i did write my letter complaining about the judge who checked her Yahoo mail while some of the kids performed. i'll mail it next week. it's a good one- i'll copy it here when i get a chance. i'll also send a copy to the parents of the 3 kids whom this ditz made cry. NO excuse for that.
one of my piano kiddos, who'd previously said i made him feel "like a little mole" b/c i played things so fast, said he'd helped his brother..and that made him feel "like a proud eagle." sometimes life is just too good.
student recital coming up on may 22.
i cannot WAIT to have prime time for my OWN music. huzzah!


Apr. 27th, 2010 12:32 am
spiralflames: (obscure)
made it through an extremely long day. i need more sleep.

a handful of students bailing for the summer. i hate that...i love and need the "me-time" that summer sched offers, but it's so often financially nerve-wracking. LAST summer i ended up working almost full-time at the failing Studio and having no break whatsoever. this summer, there Will be piano-playing. especially after seeing ann yesterday, it's stupid not to do what i want to do. always was, but now even more so.

this week is starting off calmly. pray it continues.

i admit the only real reason for posting tonight is sharing this photo. this spring is heaven.

22lips6, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (Default)

things are going to even out...how can they not?

for me, it's keeping things in perspective. i've learned it myself, i always think, and then i get side-tracked.

and then things get decided for me. after bitching about the idisi? they're probably going to move their gathering to a week-day, at which time i'll not be able to go.

it's the one thing i truly hate about my job- teaching piano requires me to work every weekday and saturday. guess when the basic world schedules things? and i'm one of the things it schedules on the after-work, after-school time. grateful for the work? of course. isolated? yep. about the only things that happen noontimes are mommy-and-me groups and senior outings.

don't take away my idisi!

smart ass

Mar. 31st, 2010 10:55 pm
spiralflames: (seasonal)
today, teaching. michael, aged 7.

me: hi! c'mon in. close the door please?

M: "why? are you so old you can't get up?"

me: no, but i'm old enough that i can still kick your butt."

(he thought that was hilarious.)

spiralflames: (question)
ok. every time an adult student calls me for lessons, i SO want to say "don't bother...you won't practice, you won't show up, you won't pay me...." but i don't want to surrender to the Dark side. but.....AAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

i LOVE it when, after 4-6- lessons, they explain to me why they don't have time- as if THEY DIDN'T KNOW THEY HAD A LIFE before THEY decided to CALL ME!

a pleasant young man, late 20s or so. bought a spendy/trendy keyboard, REAAALLLY wanted to do this, back and forth emails blah blah. lasted 7 weeks. last night: "well i work out on monday, wednesday, friday." (really? you didn't know this?) "if i have my lesson tuesday, there goes another night.." (so sorry to BOTHER) "and then i really only have thursday, and then i wanna watch television and stuff...." uh uh. you forgot you had a job full-time, and choose to go to the gym after work 3x a week? i get so amused when these people list their lives as if they never thought of it before they- THEY- decided to CALL ME. (emphasis- they called me, they could have done it next year or never)...and then i'm supposed to UNDERSTAND.

um, no. you don't have 30 minutes per day you could practice? how would you ever handle..gasp..a RELATIONSHIP? can you imagine using the above paragraph to a women..well, i work out, then i have a piano lesson, so that only leaves me thursdays, and that's ME-time..what would a woman DO with someone like that? just decide it was OK that she never saw her bf/squeeze/mate/husband? just schedule her own life so she was uber-busy also, and if so, why bother? cheaper than paying 100% of mortgage/rent?

another student, new, this week. a first year LAW STUDENT. bwahahaha! i'll give him maybe a month.

now one might ask, nan, why do you take adult students if they constantly cancel? because i don't want to admit that i'm right about adult wannabe students. at least i HAVE stopped giving them prime time in my schedule- i offer them the beginning or the end of a day, so that *when* they quit, i haven't turned down someone who might be with me for years.


PS addemdum- yes, i know there are individuals out there who study, practice, and are wonderful. i've known them, and taught them. i'm more or less talking about the common pattern, here, and the humor of how people explain their schedules to me as if they're surprised they didn't think of them before.
spiralflames: (sweet)
evening! first, have a photo of what i love most about minnesota: flat-out APPRECIATION for ANY small gift from the Weather Goddess. below: random dude, dressed in bike/ski pants, winter jacket. sitting in his lawn chair, on the frozen lake. he can has sun nao?

last week was a good one. got 38 students' parents to pay me for their upcoming festival competition. took me 4 hrs to fill out all the apps, figure out the money and get it written up, and then hand-delivered on tuesday. (couldn't mail it b/c of course some didn't pay me on time, and they're VERY strict about deadlines- over 70 teachers and 2000 kids city-wide play in this event.so now comes the 'freeze-drying' period, where i bitch, moan, stomp, cajole, threaten, whine etc etc for these kiddos to get their tunes learned, consistent, memorized. good thing i think it's worth it- piano is one of the few things where helicopter parents can't fix it/ do it for them and these kids live or die by the consequences of THEIR actions.
next saturday, verna is having a small party to celebrate my (upcoming) 5 yrs cancer-free. she called today to enquire whether i wanted chocolate cake, carrot cake, or both. such choices. :-D
we are finally getting a break from Hell Winter and i am loving it. today the sun was bright magenta due to unhealthy air quality..shit unfreezes and there ya go. beautiful, tho.
and next friday is the Idisi meeting...singing goddesses galore! :-D AND i get my new glasses sometime this week. one practical pair, one slightly trendy. woo! i did pay dearly for them, but then [livejournal.com profile] goingdriftless introduced me to http://zennioptical.com , where a mortal may purchas PRESCRIPTION GLASSES, FRAMES INCLUDED, for between 8 and 35 $$ a pair. WOO! funky purple glasses, heeeeeeeeeeeere i come!
i am happy. life is good. thank you. wishing you the same.

spiralflames: (sweet)
today, i told a student, "better start practicing!"

he responded, without missing a beat, "or what...you going to put me in your oven?"

bwahahahahahahahaha....never been called an old witch to my face before! this kid is 8, cute as a button, and funny and involved and so sincere he breaks my heart.

brr4...wright co, MN (fx3), originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

in other t'ching news, i have 8 kiddos at GGM, my new teaching job up in andover. they're ALL boys..and..i kid not..FOUR of them are named jacob. 2 new jakes today..both of them serious Young Men, one of whom i really had to work to get to smile. this job has really become pleasant to me. all righty then!
spiralflames: (freedom)
i can never get a handle on the piano student retail thing. a few years, i've accumulated so much random stuff from students (mugs, candles, chocolate variety) that i've had to make 2 trips to the car. once, i brought a shopping bag...didn't need it. sometimes, it actually seems appropriate that families give me a gift- if i've known them for years, watched their children grow up, coached them through festivals/competitions/recitals, helped them with their college choices. other times, i barely know the kiddo, there's not much bonding there, they don't practice much, they move on.

this year, it's been truly weird. the 5 families where i travel to their homes- in the country- in the snow (aboveandbeyondthecallofduty).. nada. one of my monday students, a 6 yr old who literally only touches the piano at her lesson? mom gives me a $100 target gift card. go figure.

the families from the former Studio that i taught for FREE out of the kindness of my heart? NOTHING. (nor did any of them thank me for that, and ALL of them acted like they were doing me a huge favor by driving the extra THREE MILES to my other location)

i really think next year, just to alleviate oddness, i'm going to include, in my notice of when vacation is (yes, virginia, i actually got emails of "we might have to reschedule our lesson for christmas day" um no, *I* plan to not be there, either.) a note to parents to say, if you were thinking of getting a piano teacher gift, please bring a pre-paid phone card, which i will send to the troops in iraq, (too easy to blow it off if i just say "make a donation.")

people. it's sweet when people remember me, but i never WILL get a handle on when or why/why not.

btw, have a winter sunset. last week, the water was still open. this week, frozen, and the first man-huts (ice-fishing huts) on the lake. amazing.

spiralflames: (trees)

xmas card...bwahahahahaha, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

somehow a theoretical xmas card with zombie font just makes me smile.

first big snow-dump today- we didn't get it as badly as other parts of the state. the lovely dome of pollution and heat usually makes the worst of storms pass over us and re-convene in the more pristine air of wisconsin... so, if i can make it out of my driveway, i should be able to Proceed With Caution the 30 miles to my teaching gig today.

having to drive 30 miles minimum to everywhere i work? occasionally inconvenient. not having 30 students, their parents and siblings in my HOME? **PRICELESS.**

keeping warm. wishing you the same, in whichever ways that's appropriate ;-D

i love...

Dec. 2nd, 2009 09:49 pm
spiralflames: (integrity)

first ice4, wright co MN, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

i am actually ENJOYING my teaching.

this is a rarity- i've gone through times where i've been miserable every time i've started out for work. i'm trying to convince that this is truly my doing- it's not. i've just lucked into a bunch of students who are practicing, cheerful, respectful and occasionally funny. i've also had years where i the first student frustrats me and i end up exhausted, pissed, headachey and generally dismayed. it's amazing to look at a schedule of 10 or so lessons in a row, and realize i actually look forward to every single one of them. woo! life is good.

thank you, universe.


Oct. 29th, 2009 04:42 pm
spiralflames: (the_soul)

surrounded by kids in costumes- insanely cute..and so glad they're other peoples'.
got a call from one of the russian former-studio teachers, still crying and hysterical and talking about old business. i was completely detached- that 'closure' ritual i had WORKED. wrote a note to another studio where a handful of the teachers re-located, so see if they needed anyone, but i think they're wanting people who have students to bring with them.
one of my students is 'auditioning' teachers currently. they have a 22 yr old kid coming to their house who "didn't have much to say." uh huh. and kiddo says she's had 7 teachers in the past 3 years. convenience uber alles, i guess. sad for the kid.
tomorrow i send out a bunch of "your free lessons are finished, this is what it costs to study privately." we'll see. amazing nobody's thought to THANK me for the FREE LESSONS i've given them so far- they seem to think they're 'entitled'. i realize i should have handled this differently- told them i'd give them their lessons *IF* they signed to study with me thereafter. on the other hand, if they don't want to be there and don't care, better off without them.
i need to do a relationship house-cleaning in my life.
spiralflames: (Default)

1) first time SINCE WEDS the clouds have broken, and evidently only for a short time.

2) i truly appreciate my f'list. would be MUCH more psychotic without you.

3) if you'd like to friend me on facebook, i'd love that. i'll screen comments- since my name is a common one, it's probably easier for me to find you. i'll screen comments for privacy, but if you'd like to connect via FB, please leave me your contact info.

4) send me good juju for tomorrow. 13 students in a row, half of them finding the new location for the first time.


Sep. 2nd, 2009 12:01 am
spiralflames: (goddess)

the above photo got chosen "photo of the week" in the Flickr group "clouds and trees." i'm chuffed.
organizing fall sched. put notices out in buffalo..i could use a few more students out there.
there's definitely a touch of fall in the air, in the light (light gone by 7:30) and in the first touches of red in the trees. i'll miss my Golden Summer.
got a gig for january to perform the poulenc trio at one of the schubert club's "courtroom concerts" at the landmark center in st paul. i've been stalking this gig for ages- that'll really get me off my pianistic ass. woo!
i like being able to keep up with Studio's email on my own time rather than having people annoyed because they haven't gotten answers to time-sensitive Q's. i felt like i'd been given a major gift today when i didn't have to go into work this morning!
i think i shall set my sights on meeting someone new this year. not quite sure in what capacity- friend, amour, traveling companion...you're out there. c'mon over.
spiralflames: (wise_words)
one of my german students told me last week that her grandfather had told her, (translated) "studying music is serious. it is like driving a nail through your knee and hanging a piano from the nail. then you get an idea of how (serious/difficult) "schwer" music study is."

well, perhaps...but..mid-ground, please? somewhere between unbelievably grim unreasonable misery and the diastrous mis-interpretation of "good self-esteem" lies reality. do you want to scare your kids away from trying? nope. but, in an effort to be "nice" do you tell them that everything they do is fabulous? i find that to be downright cruel- their 4th-grade colleagues are going to be merciless. the world is not kind to children, and the pecking order is established early on.

kids are still being harassed/bullied because they WEAR GLASSES (one of my students, a delightful 6th grade boy who's going to be breaking hearts in 6 yrs or so) is going through glasses pair #4 THIS YEAR. so where's the parenting now? where's the 'self esteem' that parents work on when their kid gets injured because he WEARS GLASSES?

music study is serious.

5th grade, even more so.

cem2 of blakely, MN church, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (question)

i guess i'm just going to have to trust that karma will reward me on this one.

at the end of spring, one of the teachers here at the Studio announced he was moving out of state, and did anyone want his 6 private students, who happened to live in my neighborhood? well, of course i jumped on this action, and have been happily teaching 6 delightful germans- he taught at the german immersion school in st paul. well? he's ba-a-a-a-a-a-c-k-...new job fell through, and CAN HE HAVE HIS STUDENTS BACK?

i was crushed- this was literally my hope for not being so damn financially strapped next year. he's back teaching at the Studio, and most of his students will come back to him, since he's the only jazzer on staff. i sort of decided that psychologically, i'd give him back the family of 3- i'd really only had a handful of lessons with them, and he'd had them since the beginning. had i really bonded over a year, got them through contest/recital, and they loved me, i would have said forget it- not my fault your job opportunity fucked up. BUT that's not the situation- and, had he said, i'm gone for the summer, would you take over my students til fall? i would've been grateful for the summer income and been done with it.

teaching is so incredibly weird- you HAVE to care, because it's such an unfair relationship-- you are giving 95% to their 5% for years, and if you don't care about the students as people, it's just a ridiculous way to make money. but then, they dump you- disappear without a trace (like a family i'd worked with for a few years, call them after a 2 week summer break, phone disconnected, no forwarding number- never heard from them again. ???)

so psychologically, i'm splitting the students- i'm keeping the elegant german lawyer who does like me, and the other family of 2 who live closer to me- but he can have his other 3 back. i don't want negativity to follow me, nor do i want us to be uncomfortable around one another in the Studio. so- one way or another, it'll come back to me, and it was the right thing to do.


spiralflames: (Default)

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