In the Music Room

The PIANO Classroom

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Think back to your childhood. Did you take piano lessons? If so, did you stick with it? Did you enjoy them? Another thought, what was your first piano teacher like?

I remember sitting on the couch in silence, waiting, as my sisters went through their lessons, afraid to make a peep. I remember that my piano teacher wore long skirts, was fairly old, and had a hummingbird feeder. Do I remember what she taught me? Perhaps I learned the concepts, but I really don’t remember anything specific. Or was your piano teacher like my mother’s?  Blind and not seeing as she (mother) snuck candy while taking a lesson? Or did she rap you on the knuckles when your fingers were not properly on their fingertips? Or was your teacher like my dad’s?  He played by ear so he slid by,  but never really learned to read music and it’s entirety (a lifetime frustration of his, as music was such in central part of his being).

Here’s another question. Were you a part of a band or chorus? Do you have any memories of making friends there? Of connecting with people? Of connecting with the director, or perhaps even shared musical experiences?

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I looked at piano as a solo learning opportunity until I got to college. There, my piano professor had each student in his studio participate in master classes in which we learned together.  Let me assure you, my practice increased because I did not want to be embarrassed in front of my peers. We were able to share practice ideas and tips.  Listening to each other motivated me to be better, and I believe it did the same for the other students. I remember learning together, and sharing a musical bond.

What my take away is from the band model as well as the piano master class is this: we learn together, we create experiences together, we appreciate music together and our learning experience is higher when we do it together.

If you look at any other instrument, most are learned in the band or orchestra as a collaborative effort. This is not the case for piano, and I believe that it is simply the size of the instrument that has been the road block. With technology advancements, and the ability to use digital pianos that function as real ones, this road block has simply been removed.  We are able to create a very effective piano classroom where music can be shared and we learn together.  With the master class model extended, rather than just listening to each other, we teach each other, we assess each other, we critique each other, and we encourage each other.  Piano lessons become another way in which music connects people!

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Need a quick gift?  Grab an Amazon Gift Card, it always fits!

 

In the Kitchen

Fresh Peach Cobbler

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Fresh GEORGIA peaches…does it get any sweeter? Only in a cobbler, or maybe homemade peach ice cream!

While traveling this past week through the Georgia mountains, we took time (this is huge for me, I’m always in a get-everything-done rush!) to stop at a neat roadside stand with fresh vegetables and fruit. Corn picked straight from the adjoining field, cabbage, peas, local honey, and PEACHES! While I cut up some of the peaches to eat as “dessert” that night, the rest made a great cobbler.

Years ago, a friend shared this perfect and simply easy recipe with me. Enjoy!

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Positive Thoughts - Just Because

Random Acts of Kindness

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There’s a Jolly Rancher wrapper tucked in my wallet.  (No, I’m not a trash hoarder!)  I put it there to remind me of someone’s kind actions, to remind me to pay it forward this week.

I could not quit coughing (seems to be the asthma-norm these days) in church yesterday.  Though I was trying to tough it out, I sent my daughter out for my inhaler, and at the same time the thoughtful soul next to me left the sanctuary.  I thought he was leaving to check on his child in the nursery.  I even gave away his seat to one of the praise team members!  Instead, he came back and handed me help in the form of candy.

Seemingly little acts of kindness are huge, and I’m thankful for my reminder to DO for others!

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In the Garden, Positive Thoughts - Just Because

Just a Pretty Flower Arrangement?

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I picked these flowers from my garden this morning. It might look like a simple flower arrangement stuck in a mason jar, but there’s so much more…

A month ago I thought this rose bush was dying. It had lost all of its leaves and was obviously “sick”. It broke my heart to lose this bush, because my daughter spent her own money to buy it for me for Mother’s Day.

With Miracle Gro and love, the leaves slowly started reappearing. I’ve watched it every day, hoping and willing it to live.

I think life is so much like this pretty rose bush. We have struggles, times where we lose our leaves and can barely hold on (I’ve certainly been there!).

One morning as I had my coffee on the patio, I noticed that not only was my Mother’s Day rose bush full of leaves, but it was bursting with blooms, waiting for just the right moment to blossom.

Even through its struggles, obviously this bush didn’t lose its will to live, and understood that in God’s perfect time, it would bloom again.

Each time I walk by the mason jar arrangement, I’m reminded that healing, beauty and strength come in God’s time.

Give some love in a mason jar!

 

 

In the Music Room

Kyla’s First Recording

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This girl had to be my first post “In the Music Room”. She sings with her heart and soul, and THAT is what music, life, is all about!

Enjoy!

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The first time I played piano for Kyla, my feelings were actually a bit bruised at her howling. As time went on, I realized she was matching pitch and occasionally even throwing in some harmony. She sang with my piano students as they played. One student even started practicing scales just so Kyla would sing with her (whatever it takes!). I can’t even tell you how much we’ve laughed over her singing, and how much fun we’ve had finding her favorite songs!

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What I’ve realized is that Kyla, my pretty chocolate lab, sings as a great example to her humans ~ the more heart and soul she hears us play from the piano, the more she gives. She’s the perfect example of “Then Sings My Soul!”, as she just can’t stop herself!

Side note: Lily, our sweet yellow lab mix, hasn’t quite moved from barking into the singing realm. She sure is cute, though!

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In the Kitchen

Corn on the Cob – Fresh & Easy!

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“I LOVE fresh summer fruits and veggies!” is not an exclamation that I though I’d ever make as a child.  When my daughter turns her nose up at this perfection, I just laugh.  She’ll love it soon enough, and kick herself for not loving God’s freshness sooner!

I’m all about efficiency in the kitchen.  Amendment – make that in LIFE.

Give yourself 10 minutes, and you’ll have fresh goodness coming from the oven!

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Fresh corn, your favorite seasonings (I love simple salt, pepper and olive oil), and aluminum foil are all you need!

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In the Kitchen

Pineapple Plant Perfection

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“Check out my pineapple plant!” including an attached picture, was the quick email I sent my Uncle Hugh.  Here’s a hint of the reason why I love that man, his partial reply:

It will be beautiful for a long time.

“Have you ever seen a pineapple bloom? It is beautiful and orchid like.

If you will upsize your pot to at least 2X what you have, water regularly and feed not too much every 6 weeks or so, in a year or two it will bloom and fruit. As wonderful a thing to watch and grow as there is. I’ve had one bear fruit about the size of your fist. Dad had a couple over the years to bear fist size fruit. But the bloom is exotic. As I remember he did not put it in full sun in the heat of the summer as it will burn it up, but I’m sure it can take 2/3 of a day’s sun in the Deep South. You will see if the leaves start to scorch and burn. They should be that dark forest green all the time, but it’s hard to keep your tips from burning.  The ideal spot was the south west edge of Dad’s south facing front porch, there it would get most of the morning sun, then miss the heat of the day and get a little afternoon sun.  You may be mild enough where you are not to have to put it in the garage or inside for a few of the coldest weeks of winter.  But I’m sure anything below 45 to 50 degrees is not good for the little apple plant. A larger pot makes it much harder and more awkward to handle, and the prickly leaves will grow ever longer and require much more space, not to mention cutting you quick.”  (Hugh Hays, 2011)

 

So today, as I sliced my pineapple, I thought of my uncle, always willing to share his time and talents!  He taught me how to slice a pineapple “the safest way” using a knife.  BUT I pulled out the EASIEST way, a  Pineapple Corer  that was a GREAT gift from my mother!

First, Uncle Hugh’s advice to me for picking out the perfect pineapple, ready to cut.  Make sure the inside leaves of the top are still a pretty and healthy green – alive.  Also, you want the pineapple to be a good mix of green and yellow to get the perfect ripeness.

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Pictured below are quick steps to using the fancy pineapple corer. Once you cut off the top, don’t hesitate to stick it in a pot of dirt to get your own pretty pineapple plant for those “exotic” blooms!

Extra tip:  keep the shell and fill it with seasonal flowers for a pretty table centerpiece!

Extra, Extra tip:  notice I put the pineapple in a bowl before I used the pineapple corer?  That’s so the juice isn’t lost, too good to waste!

The last step, placing pineapple chunks in my grandmother’s old bowl, makes it perfect!  Cover with Press n Seal and enjoy!

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