Monday, November 30, 2015

Hits and Misses (November 22-28)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....


  • Spending time with family was just what the doctor ordered. It was good to see everyone and be surrounded by love. I finally got to meet Jack-Jack. He wasn't a happy baby, but it was a strange place with lots of strange people.
  • While home, I was able to fit in several appointments with my massage therapist. I needed some work done on my forearms and shoulders. I'm ready to go for another few weeks of playing now.
  • I was thrilled to finish playing WBU's production of The Mikado at the beginning of the week. This week featured school performances. We experienced everything from a large group exiting en masse during the show to a fun group of little hecklers! The entire cast left feeling very tired, but we took pride in knowing that it was an excellent show.
  • CHRISTMAS HAS BEGUN!!!!! We put up the tree this weekend. Mom and I continued the tradition of watching Christmas movies together in the evenings. It's the most wonderful time of the year and I couldn't be more giddy!


  • A trip to the dentist was not how I wanted to start my vacation. While in the orchestra pit on Monday morning, I chipped a tooth while biting a piece of candy. Since I wasn't in pain, I decided to wait to see my dentist at home. I was glad to learn that the damage was mostly cosmetic and didn't require an injection.
  • Piano rentals are insanely expensive. I moved my piano to Texas, but I'm going to need an instrument while home next month as I prepare for several recitals. Imagine my shock when my local music store quoted me a price of over $600 for a two week rental of an upright. Really??? I have another idea that I think is going to work and ultimately save me a lot of money in the long run.
  • I miss having my own car. Mom and Dad have been super generous with their car while I was home, but I miss the ease of hopping in my own car without thinking about the implications to other people's schedule.
  • Just when I thought I was done, I faced challenges in the Geriatric Ward. Mom waited to order a refill for one of her prescriptions until she was almost completely out. Since she wouldn't need the meds until Friday evening, she opted not to pick it up until Friday morning. Actually, she was going to have Pop pick them up that morning.....which he failed to do. So we learned at 3:45pm that one her BP refills was rejected by the doctor because she hasn't been in for her checkup! GRRRRR!!!!! Did no one think it might be something to take care of before the holiday weekend in case there was a problem?!?!?!? So incredibly frustrating. I suppose I'll have to figure out a way to help manage this part of the Geriatric Ward from Texas.....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We Gather Together....

This morning, my heart is filled with thankfulness. What am I so thankful for, you ask? Let me give you a brief list.....

  • a job I love
  • colleagues that make me smile
  • health
  • rest
  • happiness

But most of all, I'm thankful for family. As this post is going live, I am high in the air making my way back to Arkansas for a few days of rest as my family gathers to celebrate Thanksgiving together. It's been over 3 months since we have been together -- and that's a lot longer apart than we are used to -- so we're all very anxious to be together again. I'm sure we will laugh about the continuing adventures of the patients in the Geriatric Ward and will make plans for our extended time together next month. Despite the quick trip and the busy pace that is part of Thanksgiving in Arkansas, I am looking forward to spending time shut off from technology and responsibilities for a few days. I'll return on Monday morning with more tales of how things are going as I continue Livin' Life.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hits and Misses (Novemeber 15-21)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....

  • I've had a blast sitting in the orchestra pit as we moved Wayland's production of The Mikado to the stage this week. There has been plenty of laughter and fun as we've made wonderful music together. The show ran this weekend and was a huge hit. It's nice to know that my first production with Wayland Opera went off without too many problems along the way.
  • In addition to opera rehearsals and performances, the week saw a lot of performances and rehearsals. As the semester winds down, I'm getting more opportunities to return to instrumental collaboration. Even though working with singers will always be my first love, there is nothing quite like working with young instrumentalists. On top of that, I got to work with bassoonists for the first time this week. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?)
  • I agreed to judge the local hymn competition when I first arrived in Plainview. At the time, I didn't realize that I would be driving back from Oklahoma City the night before. I was far too tired to offer any positive comments to the students and the competition was not what I was expecting. Live and learn, I suppose.
  • Production week of any show is always draining. It has been a week full of long days and late nights. It has been a great experience, but I have definitely missed crawling in bed by 10pm. That just means I'll need to get lots of sleep when I get back to Arkansas on Wednesday!
  • It comes as no surprise to anyone that orchestra pits are dusty. My allergies have given me fits this week; as I am writing this post (on Saturday afternoon), I'm coming to terms with the fact that my stuffy nose is most likely turning into a full-blown cold. C'est la vie!

Friday, November 20, 2015

What Do You Do?

Since starting my job this fall, I've repeatedly heard two questions.

  • How do you like living in Texas?
  • What exactly do you do?

I feel pretty confident that I have answered the first question. So let me give you -- especially my extended family and friends who know very little about musical training -- some insight into my work.


My official title is Assistant Professor of Piano at Wayland Baptist University. As you might guess, I spend the majority of my day sitting on a piano bench, but I switch hats throughout the day.


My primary teaching responsibility is the class piano sequence. Every student who studies music -- regardless of their principle instrument -- needs to develop basic keyboard skills. That's where my class comes in. Every non-pianist in the music program takes a 4-semester sequence that meets twice each week to build their piano skills. Much of our time is spent learning scales and chord progressions as we explore late elementary and early intermediate piano repertoire. After students complete the 4th semester of class piano, they take a benchmark exam to demonstrate their level of proficiency. The exam addresses solo performance as well as skills such as sight reading, transposition, and score reading. For many of our students, the proficiency exam is a major hurdle before they begin the upper division coursework in the field.


In addition to class piano, I currently teach applied piano lessons to one freshman woman. She is a early intermediate student who is not afraid of a challenge. We've had a lot of fun this semester, made some significant progress, and have already begun to plan our repertoire choices for the spring. I'm hoping to have the opportunity to do more private teaching as the piano program at WBU grows.


The rest of my week is filled with a lot of playing in rehearsals and lessons of all types. I currently work with eleven vocalists as well as the students enrolled in class voice. As the semester begins to wind down, instrumentalists are beginning to seek me out for accompaniments for their jury exams. At this point, I have received music from five of them. Monday and Wednesday afternoons find me spending 90 minutes with the men and women of Wayland Singers -- the department's non-auditioned choir. This week brings the end of the university's opera offering; we're mounting a production of The Mikado. Those who have known me the longest will be surprised to hear that my time in opera workshop is some of my favorite times of the week.


Then there's all the work that comes outside of the classroom and rehearsal studio. Thankfully, I was not assigned to any standing committees during my first semester of work. That has allowed me some time to do some recruiting (phone calls and emails take more time than you would ever expect). I'm working on a new course that will be offered in the spring. I could go on and on about student recitals, NATS competitions, LMTA meetings, master classes, and student rehearsals....but I think you get the picture. I've found myself very busy and very fulfilled.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Hits and Misses (November 1-7)

Here's a look back at the week that was.....


  • I love the fact that cooler weather has finally made its way into the Texas plains. I was really beginning to wonder if I was going to need to wear a sweater or sweatshirt ever again. It made me very happy to get to pull out some of my winter clothes at the end of the week as the fall-like temperatures rolled in.
  • It's been another good week of music making. Despite the busy schedule and tired hands, I do love getting to create wonderful sounds with my students and colleagues.
  • On Saturday, I finally ventured out to watch the Marching Pioneers of WBU perform. It was the last home football game of the season and a little windy in the stands, but I did enjoy spending some time outside watching the game and the band. I was truly impressed with what a small band was able to accomplish on the field.


  • My phone has been going crazy lately. Sometimes it won't connect to the hands-free system in the car. Other times, it randomly drops calls in a location where it has never had a problem before. I'm slowly facing the fact that my phone that has been with me for many years is probably on its last leg. I don't want to think about getting a new one, but I have a feeling it's coming sooner rather than later. That means I also have to think about the possibility of switching carriers....AT&T is not a great server in this area.
  • I've been experiencing a little hand pain this week. I hesitate to even mention it because I sometimes think that not saying something out loud takes away its power. Honestly, I think it has been due to the heavy playing that I've done this week and the massive chords that I've had to play in much of the repertoire. I am hoping that this is not the beginning of a larger problem, but I'm monitoring the situation daily. If things don't improve in the coming weeks, I will definitely begin the process of finding out what is going on.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hits and Misses (October 25-31)

Here's my look back at the week that was.....


  • The week was full of lots of playing. The culmination of the week's work was a successful performance of the fall choral concert. There were moments that I was less than happy with, but I heard good comments about the overall outcome. That always makes you feel good.
  • I received the first paycheck from my church job this week. The money is nice and will definitely help, but I am most happy to say that I truly enjoy attending College Heights and am looking forward to the exciting things that are in that congregation's future.
  • Since I got out of the office late on Friday afternoon, I decided to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant. When I walked in, I was greeted by two music students who invited me to join them at their table. We had a nice time together laughing and talking. It's nice that the common experience of making music can unite people of different generations.
  • On Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of judging the Piano Sonatina Festival here in Plainview. I heard some good playing for the most part and was reminded just how much I missed all of my kids from Bartlett Music Academy. There's just something magical about working with elementary and middle school students as they discover that they can make gorgeous sounds on the instrument. Although I probably don't have time to devote to a large number of students, I am definitely hoping to fit in a couple of young pianists to stay involved in this exciting part of music.
  • I've always been a sucker for a bargain. After the piano festival, I decided to hit the mall in search of a sweater. I wasn't thrilled with the selection, but finally settled on a nice blue one. The price was a little more than I planned to spend, so you can imagine my surprise when the register announced that it was only $14! (What can I say? If anyone is going to stumble upon a deal, it's me. I still take great pride in the shirt I purchased in Macy's for an obligatory gift for only a penny.)


  • Let's just sum it up this way: BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! This week has truly tested my ability to balance everything on my plate. There were a few things that I allowed to fall a little short of my standards, but for the most part I managed to keep everything afloat. Here's hoping that the next few weeks aren't quite as hectic.
  • Every pianist has times when it feels as though your fingers simply will not work. Normally we are able to work things out and get back on track. By the end of the week, my fingers were just in knots. On Friday afternoon, I really didn't think I had any control of the phalanges connected to my hands. I was beginning to wonder if I was experiencing a little pre-Halloween curse or something.
  • I tried to come up with a witty way to phrase this, but clarity is probably best. It is the pits to realize that your waist is expanding. I suppose that not having as much travel (and running from one place to another) has made me more sedentary. That combined with my horrible diet -- because I definitely don't feel like cooking when I get home -- means that pants are getting tighter. I do not like the results at all. Now I just have to decide if I'm unhappy enough about my changing condition to actually do something about it.