Dear Mr. Dengler…with much love

Two weeks ago, I called my dear high school music teacher, Mr. Dengler, to tell him that I have been appointed as the new Director of Vocal Music at the Hill School. Instead of the usual lively greeting, “Hello?~”, I got the answering machine. I left him a message. Four days later, I heard back from Mrs. Dengler; she said Mr. D had been sick for the past seven months. She paused and said, “He is really sick.” After our brief conversation,  I contacted several of my classmates who were part of our singing group and we decided on a date to go visit him. 

A day before our visiting day, we found out he had passed. Tomorrow, I will be driving to Mr. Dengler’s memorial service to join Mrs. Dengler and many people who had been touched by his life. I am writing a letter to my dear teacher and friend. I wanted to say these words to him… 

 

Dear Mr. D,

As I drove home today, feeling a little numb and thinking about the drive tomorrow to your memorial service, I saw a car with the plate, “BUD5734″ (OK, I can’t remember the 4 numbers, but the first three letters spelled out your name). Yes, I have been thinking of you - a lot. And missing you. I know that you are alive and well in heaven, conducting choirs of angels. Although my heart is heavy and sad, the thought of you makes me smile.

When we first met at AIS, I was an awkward new 7th grader (by the way, today’s teens would use the term, “fetus” to point out how young a student is), you immediately became my fan. Hearing my piano playing, you gave me opportunities to accompany the Upper School Glee Club and the Bel Cantos. Although I was in middle school, you let me mingle with the big girls to make serious music. It wasn’t a big deal that there were schedule differences in the two divisions – made the schedule to work for me. Who does that? Seriously, what did you see in me back then?

You let me learn through two different major tours with the Bels, one in Ohio and the other in Texas. How did you manage the logistics and bring Mrs. Dengler along to travel with a group of teenage girls? How did you deal with girl-dramas and keep your cool? How did you make such beautiful music every day? How is it that we ALL learned to love music and sing as much our hearts can possibly experience?

My favorite memories of you are the times you talked to me. Remember how I was the only student in AP Music?  You sure talked my ear offand thank you, I got a 5 for that exam because of you… But more than many classes or music theory discussions (or even the analysis of the most intricate classical piece you and I loved), I remember our conversations. I was surprised when you made a series of dot matrix paper banner that spread across the whole side of the music room that read: “The Pursuit of Excellence”. You knew I was falling apart as a passionate, but naive perfectionist. You listened. You let me make mistakes, and showed me how to keep working.

I don’t know if I ever told you: I loved every early rehearsal we had. You were dedicated to the music you introduced to us. You were more dedicated to us as young people and that drew us in. I loved that Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Porter, Gershwin, Berlin, and the hottest pop songs of the 80′s were our repertoire. You set the bar high, so we were never bored. And you let us know that you were proud of us.

I loved that we met up at an ACDA conference when I was in grad school as a conducting major. Although you didn’t see me conduct, you saw me singing. You said that I improved in my breathing and that my posture got better! I felt so grown up hearing you said that.

I am so thankful that my family got to meet you and Mrs. D. I loved writing you letters or telling you our family updates over the phone. It was such an honor to tell people how you, my high school music teacher, still called me on my birthday. That’s a lot of birthday phone calls!

I am sorry the 93′ Bel Canto girls – Meredith, Kelly, Meggin, Laura, Ellen, Tanya – and I missed visiting you. We wanted to sing you a song or two. The spiritual, “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” would have been one definite selection. We remember how vibrant and full of life you were – smiling, directing us, convicting us. But the lyrics to “Every Time We Say Goodbye” lingers in my mind right now and will not go away…

Mr. D., I hope I make you proud. I still feel like I need to learn so much as a teacher – to give selflessly, to always care for more than what is required, to love people boundlessly. I know that many will come tomorrow to pay tribute to you. You shared a beautiful life with us. Thank you so much, we celebrate you.

 

I hope you know that you will always live on in the music I make.

God bless you, Mr. D!

With much love and appreciation,

Yoon

Finding New Choral Music – Ola Gjeilo

Lately, I’ve been longing to hear great new music. New choral music to be specific. Sometimes, you just need to hear a beautiful SATB choir to fill you heart. I am excited to share my discoveries with you.

Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo

Norwegian-born composer who moved to the States to study  composition at the Julliard School. As a pianist-composer, he features the piano often as an equal partner to the choir much like how Schumann or Strauss set vocal-piano pairing in lieder. Take a listen to Ubi Caritas II with Piano Improvisation sung by the Central Washington University Chamber Choir (Gary Weidenaar, director), with an improvised piano accompaniment played by the composer:

As a choral conductor and singer, this music makes me want to  conduct, sing, and play it! Gorgeous harmonies and lyrical lines float on top of such well-written piano part. I think it was originally conceived as an a cappella piece; this particular version with piano works wonders. The music is uplifting, reverent, yet free, joyous, and moving. Being a pianist, I was really curious how the accompaniment is written, and how much of the video recording was Gjeilo’s improvisation. Gentle, but stylistic jazz piano licks are very nice. I found him on Twitter, so I mentioned him:

There you go! I’d love to see that transcription!

I also love Luminous Night of the Soul, scored for SATB, piano and string quartet; lyrics are by Charles Anthony Silvestri (lyricist for Eric Whitacre’s Sleep) and St. John of the Cross. I feel like I’m watching a movie when I listen to this piece. Like good storytelling, this music builds well into an epic symphonic ending.

 

And let me say that although I never heard of Central Washington University Chamber Choir before, I am now a fan. Kudos to its director, Gary Weidenaar, and music faculty! These students are musical. How fortunate that these students had the chance to work with a prolific composer!

I think any collegiate or adult choirs would love Gjeilo’s music. Perhaps, they will also suit some ambitious high school choruses.  You know, those choirs who love challenges and sing great  music. If you conduced Gjeilo’s music before, let me know which ones you have performed with your group. If his music is new to you, which one would you want to give a try?

Interesting fact: The Phoenix Chorale’s 2012 album, Northern Lights: Choral Works of Ola Gjeilo, featuring was voted “Best Classical Vocal Album of the Year” in iTunes Best of 2012. Way to go, Charles Bruffy & The Phoenix Chorale!

I am grateful for composers like Gjeilo who fill our world with compositions that make our hearts dance. I look forward to learning more about his music. I’m calling his style Neo-Romantic. What would you call it?

Check out his site or look him up on Spotify.

Be well & see you next timego and discover some new music!

@Doremigirl

 

Walking This Way

What Do You See?

What Can You See?

It’s been a great teaching and learning year. As I look ahead, there are just 5 more weeks of school; I can’t help but reflect on my experiences.

A New Beginning

I became the chair of our school’s technology department in addition to being a chair of the music department at the beginning of this school year. I wasn’t sure how it was going to unfold or how I would feel about heading up another department. I have always been passionate about tech in teaching, but have not thought about using this passion for my career. I have to admit: I’m really enjoying it! Some things I have learned are:

  • I enjoy working with teachers and helping them to build their tech skills
  • I enjoy conversations about instructional tech with my team and the admins
  • I enjoy exploring tech ideas and writing out details to implement them. Participating in #edtechchat  & #digcit chats several times have been great to connect to other edtech PLN!

My team and I have initiated the following this year:

  • Compiled and implemented 3rd-8th Digital Citizenship and Literacy Curriculum
  • Hosted Parent Coffee to have conversations about the digital world and students
  • Send out Tech Tip Tuesday resources out to staff and curate them on 9 Flipboards
  • Help each other to keep learning

And I am glad that I teach music during the day because my students keep me curious and creative. Although there are many things I don’t know yet and will need to learn, it’s been a great learning journey! I’m grateful for this opportunity!

GIVING PROPS

Beautiful {Re}purpose

Beautiful {Re}Purposed PIANO. Photo by @Doremigirl

Isn’t this beautiful? We had a baby grand in our department, which was not repairable. I hate throwing instruments away so I looked up on Pinterest if we could repurpose this piano. Lo and behold, I found some images and asked Greg, a groundsman/maintenance, and all-around hardworking friend, if he had any idea what we can do to make bookshelves out of this old piano. Greg graciously took on this project on and used whatever free time he had to work on this beautiful bookshelf. This beautiful bookshelf is in the main hall and will hold arts books for our students to read. Thank you Greg, for this labor of love! It is so inspiring. Our community will enjoy this art piece for a very long time!


AnnieOur Middle School musical was Annie Jr. We had a wonderful group of students who exhibited perseverance and creativity in their acting and singing. I am always amazed at the help given to us by parents, teachers, and other non-musical students for costumes, set design, and backstage help. It was a great way for the community to come together and put on a great show. Excellent job by all! This picture is of our Annie, one of my students named Erica. She will be graduating this June. She is a sweet, intelligent, and humble young lady whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for nine years. She and her classmates will be graduating this June. The commencement will be bittersweet as we send them on their new journey!


On Thursday, April 17th, our Middle School Choir was invited to sing the National Anthem at the Citizens Bank Park! The Phillies were playing against the Atlanta Braves; my students were nervous, but did a good job singing and representing our school. The choir prepared well and adjusted pretty well to the echoey stadium. It was a great day for us! You can watch the video here. (WP won’t let me embed iFrame code :-)

MS Choir @Phillies Game. Photo by Heddy Bergsman

MS Choir @Phillies Game.
Photo by Heddy Bergsman

The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl

The Phillies Win! Photo by @Doremigirl


And each year, the second grade class performs a little musical production. This year, the production was inspired by Eric Carle’s picture book, I See A Song”. I will blog about this amazingly fun and collaborative project  later– I just wanted to post this picture of my students singing their song yesterday. I love their spirit –they have taught me so much through the way they saw songs around them. I promise to post how this project came about and share my project with you. Here are my students performing on Friday, April 25th.

I See A Song! Photo by @Doremigirl

I See A Song!
Photo by @Doremigirl


Blip Update (Daily photo + Music Project) So far, I have 115 Blip entries and haven’t missed a day! All the images above, except the choir singing directed by me, are my photos. It’s been really fun and rewarding to keep this project going; I am learning to use different lenses and compose my shots a bit better. Starting this project with my husband on January 1st was a fine idea! So can you scroll up to the first photo you saw at the top of this post? What do you see?  Sometimes, things look and feel messy, out-of-order, and downright chaotic, just like the ink settling in the vase. What I have learned is that pulling back and being still at crazy times helps me to refocus and see things more clearly. The first photo is a picture I took for a MonoMonday challenge. I decided to experiment with ink and water. Can you see a face? I know what face I see. Who do you see – Mark Twain or Evard Grieg, or someone else? I hope your school year is full great memories and challenges that made you grow. Until next time, @Doremigirl

For the Love of Reading!

{I have been quite reticent lately due to my involvement with the middle school musical – which I will reflect later. I wanted to quickly write this post while it’s still  the Read Across America week!}

There’s been quite a celebration this week for

Reading!

Inspired by two second grade teachers, this reading project was born. They got many teachers to read a page of Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You! for the Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day, March 2, 2014). They efficiently uploaded mp4 files  and scanned PDFs into a shared GDoc folder; I took the recordings and PDF pages into Keynote and  iMovie. We introduced the video in the morning to our PreK-3 this morning and the response has been great! Guessing names of the teachers will not be that fun for people outside of our school, but the students and teachers had fun guessing who is reading.

The following are my take aways from this project:

  • The project was simple and manageable.
  • It’s fun when teachers collaborate. (Teachers want to make more of these books!)
  • It’s a great way for the students to see how teachers collaborate.
  • The project benefits everyone in the school community – the shared link may inspire families to read together or even older middle school students to make similar book projects for their younger buddies.
  • This video was designed such way that it can be used in multiple ways. It can serve as an audio book, as a reading book and for reading practice, and to inspire students/teachers to read and create digital storybooks.

There was another event that took place yesterday to celebrate literacy: Book Swap. K – 5th grade students brought books they already read and are willing to part with. The library was set up with tables with these books for classes to swap books. I thought it was a brilliant way to recycle and distribute books. I can see how the Book Swap can be an on-going literacy event.

Wait, there is more. All the remaining books have been donated to a local children’s library.

I’m thankful that I took a part in this win-win project! If you would like more details, or have better ways to create a project like this, please leave me a comment!

 
Here is the video:

PS: My music classes and I will see about adding music that will go with this video. I will follow up when this has been completed!

 

~@Doremigirl

Interactive Music Class Olympics

Happy February!

Over the last decade, I have come to really appreciate the Olympics  (and another one here) -maybe it’s a maturing process. :-)

My students love listening to classical selections and learning about various composers. So I thought I would combine these components – composers, their music, the game of the Olympics, and some technology – together.

When you click here, you will get to a ThingLink page that looks like this:
The Music Winter Olympics ThingLink Page

Because iframe codes don’t work on my blog, I thought I’d just embed what the actual page will look like. When you move the cursor over each block, all the buttons will appear like the picture above. Each composer has 4 different areas of information:

  1. Biography (yellow bullet)
  2. Music selection (red play button)
  3. Flag of the composer’s country (blue bullet)
  4. National anthem (most current anthem; black play button)

Since this is the first of my online composer playlist, I started with mostly the “Greats” in classical music. The second page (forthcoming) has other interesting composers my students have not heard about.

Canva & ThingLink

  • I came across Canva through Twitter teachers who were putting out polished posters/infographics. It’s an amazing site to create newsletters, posters, documents etc. Why I like it: There are many choices for you for choosing layouts, graphics, colors, fonts, and sharing. It might take a bit of time to navigate and for you to create what you want, but it’s worth your time! If what you put on your project are “free” designs, it’s absolutely free for you to download your project as PDFs. All other premium items, you’ll need to pay $1 for each. I haven’t used any premium for any of my 4 projects so far. What I used for this project: Moodboard template. I modified the fonts, colors, and uploaded composers’ pictures. I highly recommend this site!
  • ThingLink is another terrific site for teaching.  ThingLink is a site where you can create touch points for students to touch your  parts of the image on the ThinkLink board to explore and learn. Why I like it: It’s interactive! When I use a ThingLink board for lessons, I can have the page open on the SMARTBoard and have my students interact within the lesson. What I used for this project: Uploaded image of my composers from Canva. I added 4 links on each corner. I used this board as a mystery game so many squares were filled with a question mark with only the country label. Right now, ThingLink does not let you replace the image so I had to re-add all the links every time I revealed new composers. But I highly recommend this site!

Useful Sites for Music Teachers and Students:

  • Biographies - I normally use New York Philharmonic Kidzone or Classics for Kids for bios, but while researching, I came across a terrific site called 52 Composers. I love it because it has a comprehensive timeline, quotes, videos of musical performances, composers in art videos, lists of related book and online resources. I highly recommend it!
  • Musical selections - Spotify is still my go-to app for music classes, but I decided to post a YouTube video link instead (all linked to Viewpure.com – this site only shows the video you want, not all the “you might like” videos). If my students come across other related videos about particular videos, I can always tag another link onto the ThingLink.
  • Flag from each country - I found Flags.net to be a helpful site. Images of the flags are big and the site has pertinent information about the country.
  • National anthems - This site is also new for me. It has over 400 anthems past and present. I love it because it has a big database of national anthems in many forms: PDF of the music, audio playback so you can listen to the anthems (recordings or Midi), and download the anthems.

Beyond these sites:

  1. Because my students will be watching the Olympic games with their families, at the end of each music class, I will challenge them to write down or remember what music they heard in skating events (if any – some event broadcasters will mention these pieces). I also encourage my students to explore and learn about composers who are not on our board on their own. Some kids bring their findings (or email me interesting facts) and have a chance to present facts and repertoire in class.
  2. After the facts and repertoire is learned, my students will be participating in our own Music Olympics. Due to snow and no power days, our schedule has been delayed. But my plan is to divide K-4th graders in 3 different teams (somewhat random and mixed grades). Some of the games will simulate the Winter games. I have to be creative with using different parts of our campus or by making some games. Once my planning is done, I will also post the games along with the second page of composers.

I am happy that my students are excited to learn!

Music is, really, all around. Let’s help our young learners to keep learning!

If you’re a music teacher, check out my playlist of useful resources I use for my music classes here.

~@Doremigirl

Happy Birthday, Herr Mozart!

Today is W.A. Mozart’s 258th birthday!

What Mozart said here speaks volumes to what kind of master musician Mozart was:

It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.  - W. A. Mozart. Mozart: The Man and the Artist, as Revealed in His Own Words

What’s a birthday celebration without music?

Here’s a great video of Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 D minor, K. 466 with the Camerata Salzburg, directed by Mitsuko Uchida. Ms. Uchida, an acclaimed pianist and a Grammy Award winner, is renowned for her interpretation on the music of Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven. Here, she is directing and performing as the soloist. The entire performance is brilliant!

Happy Monday!

@Doremigirl

 

So it goes…

A couple of days ago, I posted a post about a project I started that combines daily photo journal with a song to go with it. I have to say that it’s been a great personal project because 1) I’m getting back to taking pictures (with my new camera) and 2) I’m researching for songs and listening to music more than usual :-)

I invited some friends to join me in my journey and some of them have started on their blips!

@Scott_Watson tweeted
Owly Images
with a perfect song, “Walk Like an Egyptian”.

@TriToneJones started blip here with “O Christmas Tree”.

@Reed_man’s blip here with “Simple Gifts”.

Here are the pictures I posted. For the stories behind them and why I chose these songs, you’ll have to check out my blips!

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I started a playlist for my sound illustrations. I think it’ll be fun to see pictures with the music. There are 5 pictures and only 4 music selections because I started pairing songs on January 2.

Here’s to making memories and music!

~Doremigirl

New Year Challenge: Sound Illustration

Happy 2014!

I hope your new year is off to a fabulous start!

I enjoyed a much needed break. During the two-week break, I came across a cool photo journal app, that got me to start a new daily photo journal. I’m enjoying seeing daily pics and enjoying the stories that accompany the images. I’m glad to take part in Blipfoto community!

This morning, I came across an interesting challenge by Cathaber who invited her readers to post their daily pictures with an appropriate soundtrack. For me, image + story + soundtrack = perfect!

Today’s blip is about cold, cold winter. It snowed about 7-8 inches overnight. This would not be that big a deal except that the local newscasters announced that our area is colder than Alaska right now!

So I got to think about what soundtrack I’d accompany my blip today. As I do for many of my classes, I just started listening to music and started making a “Winter” playlist….so here is the selection I made for many new winter songs I came across.

I’m tagging some people who are always listening to music and thinking about teaching connections:

@stepanpruch

@nobleknits2

@royanlee

@malynmawby

@reed_man

@TriToneJones

@scott_watson

For the friends I mentioned (or other readers): I invite you to start a daily picture-a-day (365 project) so that we can do it together. If this is too much ;-) I invite you to tweet or let me know if you write a post with a soundtrack that describes your day. I wonder how many soundtracks and songs we can track throughout the year. Life seen through music, doesn’t it sound just beautiful?

My blip post is here with my playlist!

Here’s to a great year full of music!

~Doremigirl

Thoughts on December #2

Christmas gifts.

I can breathe now. The Holiday Concert is over, comments (for student reports) are finished, and my Middle School Choir has visited three senior homes. In the midst of busyness, our school community was fortunate to receive an important message on Wednesday morning.

It was Mrs. B’s 5th grade class giving a chapel on generosity. The students walked us through their thoughts of tangible gifts (iPad, games, iPhone etc.) and abstract gifts.

Hold it, right here. Abstract gifts?

I have to admit, as an adult, I worry about buying the right gift for families and friends (I am extremely behind because of work). When was it when I thought about abstract gifts – gifts of thought and mind?

Remarkably, the 5th graders exchanged the following gifts with one another:

Love 

Friendship

Compassion

Philanthropy

Kindness

Time

Charity

Encouragement

Hope

Support

Hospitality

Laughter

Courage

Respect

Peace

Caring

Appreciation

Smiling

Some beautifully created posters from the 5th grade:

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This simple yet profound message touched me and our community. I’m grateful – especially during the height of commercialized-I-want-this-and-that holiday season, it is SO good to focus on the heart-felt love we can give throughout the year.

I love that these young people are mindful.

I love that I learn from my students.

What gifts from the heart will you choose today and share with your loved ones?

So Put a Little Love in Your Heart, y’all!

A huge thanks to my friend Ro and her great love for her students. She models kindness and care for those around her. I’m so blessed to work with her!

~@Doremigirl

Sounds of Music #5: December 16th

Singing Peanuts Gang

Happy birthday to Herr Beethoven, Miss Jane Austen, and my best friend (DH)!

Here is one of my favorite Beethoven pianists, Alfred Brendel playing Beethoven Piano Sonatas:

Jane Austen!

My DH and I love her works. Here are some great links for your reading and viewing pleasure.

2005 version of Pride and Prejudice soundtrack are just gorgeous. Enjoy listening to them, too!

~@Doremigirl