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 – Jenn, 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

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

Thoughts on December!

Happy First of December!

If you’re like me, you’re wondering how 2013 has gone by so fast. And if you’re a teacher like me, chances are you will be busy during the 20 some days in school and not really enjoying the holiday season. Music teachers, you know what I’m talking about :-).

I’m making an effort this year to ready myself for a month-long celebration. I want to be awake and be present hearing the sounds and laughters from the children around me (especially my own), cry with those who are suffering, and living the moments with friends new and old during this month.

I have much to be thankful for!

Here are 3 ways that will help me to celebrate during December:

 1. iTunes Radio – let it work for you.

If iTunes Radio is new to you, you should try it. Although I’m a Spotify user, I use the iTunes Radio in the car because Spotify radio is only for paid users (read about it here). I love the iTunes Radio because

  • It’s free streaming music
  • It plays very few commercials (and most of the commercials are music/music concert related)
  • I can use it in the car
  • And I can look at the history of what I listened to and find new favorites

You can start by listening to featured stations like Guest DJ – Kelly Clarkson who picked her Christmas favorites. It’s fun listening to celebrities’ playlists and commentaries. You can also start a station by clicking on the + sign (see image below).  I’ve loved using the iTunes Radio since October (iOS 7 update) and found many stations that helped me to find new Holiday favorites. Can you tell how I’ve been looking for special holiday songs by looking at my stations? LOL!

iTunes RadioiTunes Radio

The Radio also works like Pandora when you star a song you like – the station will play more songs like the one you starred. Enjoy the season with music!

 2. I read an interesting blog post titled “Kindness Elves: An Alternative to Elf on the Shelf Tradition” this morning. I love this post because the  blogger shares her pursuit of kindness and character-building activities to kids during the Christmas season. I  share her sentiments about Elf on the Shelf being a bit creepy and about the whole behavior modification (or manipulation) through using Santa or Elf-watching. I’m all for wonderment and making magical moments for children. What I don’t like is that many things we do in our culture enable the children to play  the entitlement games. So what struck a chord with me is that her variation  on the Elf on the Shelf is about  Kindness Elves “who love to help and notice kindness in others”. I emailed the post link to my colleagues at my school already and want to see the kindness in my students each day. So here we go! Let’s look for kindness and give help to those who need it!

3.  Give a thought to giving. Anna, the Kindness Elves blogger, said that we give presents because we love those people not because they deserve to get them. I agree. Instead of buying random gift cards, wouldn’t it be great to find a meaningful gift? I know how hard it is to find a great gift, but I found one today. So here I want to share it!

I sure didn’t have to take 5 to fall in love with this amazing product ;-). I learned about Koostik from Kelly Tenkely (@ktenkely) who wrote a post about her dad’s craftsmanship here. I love that Koostik products are handcrafted in America with natural resources, aesthetically uber cool, and are highly functional. I think smaller models will be good for cars without Blue Tooth. I’m hoping to order one in the next day or two for my husband. I just have to make a decision for which device…(I hope he doesn’t read this post).

December 2nd update

The good folks at Koostik and I’ve been tweeting back and forth about some specs so here they are:

The Original is 8.5″ x 3.5″ x 2″ and is approx. 1 pound.

The Pivot is 7.25″ x 3.25″ x 2″ and is less than one pound.

They are super friendly and great with questions and follow-ups. Shhhhh – I ordered mine – you should, too!

So how will you spend your December? If you find meaningful gifts (the ones you make or find), please share them with me in the comments. Also share some good music you may find on the iTunes Radio. And please join me in celebrating the goodness of life with children.

May your December heart be filled with goodness, kindness, and music!

Cheers!

~@Doremigirl

Charles Hazlewood: Trusting the Ensemble

I can’t get this TEDTalk by Charles Hazlewood out of my head. It’s been months since @shaugland shared this link on Twitter.  Even if you are not a conductor, you should watch this. If you are a parent, a teacher, or a musician, you need to watch this and get into the conversation:

This brilliant presentation contains much food for thought.

TRUST is an important word. I would guess that many of us like being on the receiving end (ie. people trusting us). Boy, isn’t it hard to trust others? 🙂

This quote by an unknown author deeply resonates with Maestro Hazlewood:

Trust is the best medium for success. It creates an environment in which people feel free to be authentic, passionate, committed, and willing to share all they have to offer. ~author unknown

 

I reflected a lot, thinking about the simile (conducting is like a small bird in your hand) and the lessons learned through the South African Music project, the singing demonstration by the TED Choir (the F-E-D motive), the extraordinary story behind the Paraorchestra, and of Haydn‘s wordless, but apparent revolt in Farewell Symphony finale. The Maestro challenged me as a musician and teacher to assess myself as an artistic leader.

What am I doing to create a safe and passionate space for my students? What needs to change?

Musicians and music teachers, think of your ensembles. What is your story? What is your experience building trust with your group? How do you inspire the young musicians to feel free to be themselves, but give all to their ensemble?

And do you agree with this statement?

Where there is trust, there is music, and by extension, life. Where there is no trust, music simply withers away….

 

Why or why not?

~ Yoon (will post a post regarding my experience with my choirs)