Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Moving On In My First Piano Adventures

My First Piano Adventures Students are moving into Book B. There is a huge lesson to learn in Book B which still applies to all levels. The lesson gives principles for sight-reading. Sightreading means to play through a piece for the first time.We can use the word CLAP to help remember the principles.
1. Count- count and clap the rhythm. Never having heard the song this counting gives the sense of time to a sight-reading piece.
2. Look- at the first note. Is it on a line or space? Find it on the piano. This principle sounds obvious but many students launch in without looking.
3. Attention- on what's next. Do the notes go up or down or stay the same? Looking slightly ahead of where you are actually playing requires attention.
4. Play- To begin set a steady beat by saying "1-2-3 Go." Playing very slowly allows the brain to process the information and send the signal to the fingers.
So what does CLAP stand for?
Count, Look, Attention, Play
As a parent you can help your child remember this skill just by allowing her to tell you what it means when we clap our hands in piano lessons.

The First Adventures Students are looking at how notes move on the staff.
We sometimes use the i-pad piano to play at the table while we read notes.
Are these notes going up or down?
N. gives his full attention to the moving notes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zoo Part Two

To get the most from my zoo membership I went back to the zoo with the other Grandkids. This time the animals were even more active due to the cool weather. 
The elephant was playing in the water with her trunk. She would go from sand to water and back. A trunk is a most interesting animal body part.
The tigers who roam in their large habitat are usually too hidden to see but on this day one was in the monkey cage. He was not interested in us at all.
We spent more time in the petting zoo. The goats were being groomed and the children were invited to help.
Amazing Grace had a gentle touch and she was rewarded with a still and peaceful goat. I found the few moments with the goats to bring us back to center and calm. Until...we got to the playground. Why do my grandkids love the playground the best?
The Spider Boy tumbles around on every toy. Nothing is too high to climb except the slide. He let his cousin A. enjoy that alone.
Around the bend
Down so soon.
See Anemones?
And then just before we go home we have to ride the Carousel.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Paintings of the Month for Spring

There have been some lovely paintings hanging above the fireplace this spring. We are doing "paintings of the month" with two local artists, Karen Dale and Ted Kutscher. The painting we are borrowing from Ted is a scene from Maine with Lobster boats in Early Morning.
Lobster Boats in Maine at Sunrise

His paintings are varied and full of life.

I haven't seen these three myself but they give a feel for his subjects.
Summer Fruit Stand in Front of Hardware Store
The one above is especially fitting right now, as the fruit stand is open this summer.

Ted has vibrant colors which appeal to me very much.

Our Karen Dale paintings have featured her new work and some older works she pulled out of hiding.
Chartreuse Tablecloth

Brass Teapot
This new work was a favorite to live with. I like that it has books by the side.I see all of my senses invited to attend. Beautiful words to read, beautiful taste to savor, lovely smell of citrus and tea, and the feel of the sun through the window.
That is what still life brings to me. A charming moment in an uncharming day.
Here is an older post with more "paintings of the month"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm Going to the Zoo,zoo,zoo

So Grandma finally cleared up some time to take a group of Grandkids to the zoo. I bought a membership last year but this was only the second time I've used it. The day was another summer day, unlike most of our days this week. It was perfect weather.
A., Miss Maggie and the other A. went along.
We took a ride on the horses. They were ready to go but they only trotted in one direction. 
The ride was smooth, though.
Miss M. tried out a new house. The accommodations were pretty small.
There were poop exhibits this time. What can you learn about animals from their doo doo? Alex had "to go", too. We enjoyed the display that let us push buttons to hear the word poo in 10 languages.Ca-Ca caused the most giggles. That is Spanish and I am sure I'll hear it over and over again.
We were almost swallowed alive by a giant shark. Luckily we jumped out in time.
Miss M. did like imitating the lazy elephant behind her. The elephants are the most fun when the keepers bring them their food. Then you see some action. Stay tuned for round two in a few days; more Grandkids, more zoo time.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Image to Accompany Breathing

    Part of my yoga practice is breathing and bringing my attention to my breath. I do this for two reasons; one, to give my mind a task so that it will be steady and stay in the moment, and two, to quiet my nervous system to prepare it for movement.
Breathing....You should try it!
A comment by Mary Catherine Bateson, an anthropologist and yoga lover, got me thinking about how the body and mind can move together and have the result intensify. She drew from the New Testament the words of Paul about Faith, Hope, and Charity. With every inhale breathe in Faith. Faith is a gift from God, we can't make ourselves, so let us imagine breathing it in, generously, for the faith God has no limit.
   With every breath, I take in remembrance of Christ's covenant with his Father to bring me home.
As I release my breath I imagine breathing out hope. My hope is that with my open heart I am enough.

As I breathe I visualize hope filling a bubble that can surround me and eventually engulf my whole being.

With this new cleansing breath I feel my spirit start to move towards.....what? Towards others. My husband, my children, my friends, my neighbors, and on.
Charity is the vehicle with which I can move my faith and hope forward.
In and out, on my yoga mat, I can practice this life giving breath so that off the mat I will remember my faith, my hope and will act in charity.
(The Spirit In Me Recognizes The Spirit In You)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tips For Summer Piano Lessons

The Ice-Cream Contest is coming along. Some students do not like contests where they are compared against others but there is ice-cream for anyone who participates, I hope I was clear about that. 
H. gets her second scoop of ice-cream
Writing down the number of minutes you practice is a way of staying in touch with your assignment book and staying focused on the plan. If the assignment book is not making it to lessons you will likely see book marks on the pages assigned. It would be a good idea to page to those songs and see if you have heard them during the week. My blogging colleague Laura Lowe makes a great point in her recent post about piano teaching. 

"Reading the assignments helps you know whether your child is organizing his practice time to cover all of the assignments or spending all of his piano time on one piece, or maybe even playing things that weren't assigned. One of the most frequent things I hear from students is, "Oh, I forgot that I was supposed to work on that piece," or learn that scale or study those terms and symbols, even though I had written the assignment in the notebook. We end up repeating part of the lesson from the week before, and this is not a good use of your investment in piano study! "

Playing music other than assigned pieces is wonderful, but make sure the assignment for the week is accomplished so that progress is steady.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Papa with the Grandkids at the Air Show

       Well, the blog today is by me the guest blogger; whose account of the day with the Grandkids at the Air Show will go down in blogging history as the most/least interesting of any at this location. It all began with an article in the Air and Space Magazine mention of Paul Allen's (Microsoft founder) new Faulk Wolf model 190A-5 restoration being completed down in Arizona and being trucked up to Everett, Washington; where it would be flown as part of the collection of toys by said billionaire.

As the Fw 190A-5 has always been my favorite aircraft model to build when I was a kid; having constructed seven that I can remember, I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity to have the chance to experience this event; a bonus was that I could interest my immediate/local family members in accompanying me on this excursion. I e-mailed the Music Man Son and The Analyst Son about it and called them on the phone and got commitments from each of them. But when it came time to follow through, enthusiasm flagged and only three Grandkids were interested in going; Miss Maggie, 'D', and A.

After careful planning and packing basic necessities the four of us headed up I-5 to Everett, Washington; with the weather the worst possible. Here the three Musketeers are in front of the B-17 flown in for the event, but grounded because of the Western Washing Weather. Now this rainy day did provide a bonus in that the fee to access the B-17 and it's accompanying P-51 (Mustang) was reduced by 50%! Since the planes didn't fly, access to them meant getting into the bomber!!

So, here are the reluctant boys on the entrance ladder. I refer to them as reluctant because by comparison to their Miss Maggie, who scrambled right up the ladder and was gone from my view; taking precautions, I hollered up through the entrance hatch to her, "Don't push and buttons or switches!" When I asked the boys why they were hesitant, they replied that the steps of the ladder were, "So far apart and the plane was so big."
I'd have done more to verbalize with them their "concerns", but several adults were lining up behind us waiting for the boys to ascend into the plane; so, I "bossed" them up the ladder and into the bombardier section below:

Since this is the E model of the B-17, the Bombardier ran the Norton sight as well as the twin "chin" turret .50 caliber machine guns; leaving the other two .50s for the navigator and flight engineer. The radio operator ran a single .50 out the top of the craft while the top gunner ran the twin .50s in the top turret. Once I got the boys past the open bomb bay catwalk (literally narrow enough for just a cat), we entered the waist section below:

As you can see, Miss Maggie is all ready to do the shooten.

We next got out of the bomber and walked over to the P-51 and there I attempted to explain just how a propeller actually worked to propel the aircraft forward to the point that the same shaped wing section got enough "suction" (lift for all you plane-o-files out there) on the top of the wing's surface to vacuum the plane off the ground and into the air.

This "education" concerning how the Bernoulli principle actually worked didn't seem to penetrate into their understanding until the new Fw 190AS-5 was rolled out and the engine started and the plane taxied around the tarmac; being pulled forward by that "propeller" as below:

Once the Fw 190 is out onto the tarmac you can see the kids are having so much fun in the cold rain as we wait for the ground crew to prepare the plane for starting of the engine:

Now the pilot gets in and starts the engine with a very, very, very loud roar!!

It was so load that all three kids plugged their fingers into their ears. Next the pilot taxied around the tarmac and it was this forward movement of the plane, being propelled by the propeller that finally got the concept of flight through the minds of the kids.

Next we went into the Heritage of Flight Museum (which I refer to as Paul Allen's "toy box") and looked at the aircraft on display:

The one above is an old Jenny build back in 1918 and used as a flight trainer for those military personnel doing the fighting in Europe. Some of you may wonder why I have a fascination with flight, yet will not fly? Well it is like art; I admire and collect works of art yet I'm no artist.

Here the kids are in front of the "business end" of the B-25 and one of the questions I asked them is, "how many guns does this one have?" 

Here they are in front of the D model of the Fw 190, which differs from the A model in having an inline engine rather than a radial engine. When I asked them what nationality symbols were used to identify the aircraft, Miss Maggie referred to the "squiggly" thing on the tail as German. The red round circle was Japan, the white star was American, the red star was Russian, the red, white, and blue circle with in circles was British. But alas, they became confused and never did get the symbols identified with who was who.

Now this one is the Bf 109E (Emile) by Messerschmidt, not to be confused with the 190A; yes I kept telling the kids, there are a one, and a nine, and a zero in each of these planes designations, but try and keep them strait, OK? What nation built this one? German they all shouted out!

Well, the Boss of this blog is telling me that I'm making this the most "boring" one on the Internet; so I'll terminate the guest blogging by relating the facts that I got each of them a model airplane at the museum store (Miss Maggie getting a P-47) and when asked why she replied, "Because it was the biggest model the store had".

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day Walter Burgess

I would like to honor my Father-in-law today. He lives far away in Texas and we don't see him very often. 
Great-Grandpa Burgess with four little Burgesses
We see him on special occasions and then his being there really makes it a special time.
Mark and me with our Dad
He has been pretty lonely without Grandma Beth. She was the butter to his toast. But we still get some great e-mails from him reminding us that he can still make the keyboard click.
Thanks for all the times you came up from the south and celebrated with us. By car or plane you were with there.

At weddings.......

At graduations.....
We do think of you and look forward to seeing you in Utah.
You do look good in a black suit!!!!!!!