Saturday, December 27, 2008

I love Ligeti

Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes
After seeing a performance of his music while in New York with Molly, I've been an ardent fan.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Free Sheet Music & Saint Louis Symphony Educational Videos

Free sheet music at the Mutopia Project:
The Mutopia Project offers sheet music editions of classical music for free download. These are based on editions in the public domain, and include works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, and many others.

Music education videos:
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) is proud to introduce the SLSO E-Symphony Series. This program includes educational and inter-active video presentations featuring members of the SLSO. Each video is designed for specific grade levels and focuses on different musical topics, instrument families, and cross curricular elements.

Via Third Division

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Never-ending Scales, Practice Sightreading

Shephard Scales--check out this audio illusion:
You may notice that the scale always seems to be going down, but not getting much lower. It’s an auditory equivalent of an old-fashioned barber pole. But how is it possible in a sound pattern?

Practice Sightreading
Rhythm is the most important part of sight reading. If you play wrong notes but the correct rhythm, you will be in the correct place. If you play the correct notes but the wrong rhythm you will quickly become lost. This site helps musicians improve sight reading by creating random measures of Rhythm. Just choose the time signature, number of measures and the level.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Scrollworks Piano Students Perform at Hill Elementary

Seven Scrollworks piano students participated in the Hill Elementary Christmas Program this morning. We are so pleased to be part of the Hill family and wish them a wonderful holiday break!

Resume, pls

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You can't rescue people

All three of my dogs are 'rescues'. Darwin came from a breed rescue group. Tesla came from a Walmart parking lot. Libby came from a Girl Scout camp. They have it pretty good at my house. But Libby keeps digging out of the yard to go adventuring. We live a 1/2 block from Highway 31, so this is a dangerous habit. The other day I found her more than a mile away, wet and hungry. Sunday we got a call that she was 3 miles south on Hwy 119. When I arrived at the Boy Scout tree lot to fetch her, she was in hog heaven. They had fed her pizza and cookies and given her tons of love and attention. She got in the car like a movie star entering a limo, not realizing in her doggy brain how very lucky she was to have people who cared about her at both ends of her journey.

I've come to realize that you can't rescue people. They have to do it themselves. All you can do is provide the opportunities. If they choose not to take advantage of those opportunities, no amount of persuasion or hand-wringing will change that. Scrollworks is an opportunity for so many on so many different levels: a chance to learn, a chance to play, a chance to teach, a chance to give. I celebrate those who take what we offer and give it back a thousand fold. I regret with all my heart not offering enough to those who turn away.

A partner in using music to change the world:
The Middle East Peace Orchestra

The Middle East Peace Orchestra is a unique collaboration between various ethnic groups of musicians, all connected to the Middle East , playing concerts for peace.

Initiated in 2003 by Henrik Chaim Goldschmidt, the principal oboist of The Royal Danish Orchestra, the orchestra is build up with Arab and Jewish musicians playing the treasure of music from both the great traditions.

The musicians come from Israel, The Palestine Areas, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Scandinavia and USA and are all handpicked virtuosos representing the best of their tradition and furthermore they all have the courage to engage in this project. The musicians are Muslims, Jews and Christians.

The music performed has elements from Jewish "Klezmer", from Middle Eastern "Makam" and from the classical Arab music. The Orchestra has been received with the greatest enthusiasm from both audience and press, since the very first concert.

A Capella : A Gift Exchange

Yesterday when I hopped out of my car to check the MYO mailbox, a tall muscular man approached me, reaching out with a hand holding what looked like a postcard. I thought he might be asking for money--an unfortunate feature of this post office. I always feel bad because I have no money to give--every penny goes to MYO.
The man said, "Tell me about your free music lessons!" So I did. He began to tell me about how all the churches in the area are hungry for musicians. The congregation and choir are singing a capella because the church can't afford to pay $350 a service for accompaniment. He asked for details on Cave9 and I gave him a stack fliers from the Nutcracker performance. He asked how many people we could take at one time. I told him that we have the occasional vanload arrive. He was almost shaking with excitement, asking if he could make copies of the flier. He said he'd bring his 9 year old son down to Cave9 this weekend to check it out. He shook his head and said it was wonderful news. I told him that, yes, it was wonderful and that we'd welcome him, his son and anyone else who walks in the door.
The gifts passing between us were intangible, but as fulfilling and meaningful as any under the tree.

In the holiday spirit

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Jimmy as hRom: Dance or Die

Jimmy Hrom, Director of Programs and Administration, Scrollworks 'enforcer' and guitar teacher extraordinaire, performs music of his own composition on the Nintendo game system.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

'Stick a fork in me, I'm done!' -- a unique graduation announcement

(Click to see a larger image.)
Kim is the creator of Music Snob Trivia at Bottletree--which donates almost weekly to our programs.
Notice who she directs donations to at the end. Thanks, Kim!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

We're Trying!

From the Baltimore Sun via the AfriClassical blog:
Although the classical music arena enjoys a reputation for being a color-blind meritocracy, few blacks perform in the nation's orchestras. Just 1.9 percent of the nation's orchestra musicians were African American during the 2006-2007 season; the most recent report available from the League of American Orchestras; the figure was 1.3 percent in 1994-1995. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has one African-American full-time player among 92.

The lack of diversity is increasingly a sore point as barriers come down in other areas, from corporations to Hollywood to the White House. And as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other music institutions push to attract broader audiences in a difficult economy, the need to improve diversity has become more critical.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brian Eno Believes

Brian Eno speaks about singing, but I believe it applies to instrumental ensembles, too:
When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings—to stop being me for a little while, and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Scrollworks at Cave9

Some photos from yesterday's lessons at Cave9. Thanks so much to Craig Hultgren for teaching our strings! And Jason has proven invaluable on drums, guitar, and winds. I can't believe I've known this fine young man since he was in grade school!

The Sigler twins are also real assets to MYO and Scrollworks. Yesterday they looked so handsome in their concert clothes. We appreciate their help teaching sax and trumpet.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

YouTube Symphony: You can audition

From the LA Times:
Want to apply? Go to YouTube's symphony channel and download the sheet music for your instrument for the Internet Symphony No. 1 "Eroica," a new work by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Then make a video of yourself playing your part -- and another playing a different composition -- and upload them to YouTube. If you need tutoring, there's a clip of the London Symphony Orchestra performing Tan's piece as well as video master classes from individual players.

Semifinalists will be chosen by judges from some of the world's major orchestras. The final picks will be selected by -- you guessed it -- YouTube viewers. A performance at Carnegie Hall, led by San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, will take place in April.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are you a Pusher or a Placeholder?

Placeholder. We've all had that kind of job. There's lots of work, perhaps critical work, but it doesn't matter that it's YOU who is doing it. Maybe it matters that you show up every day or work overtime or help plan the office Christmas party, but it doesn't matter if you are doing the work--or the person who submitted the next resume in the pile. Perhaps when you took the job you thought you could add some special touch, make some changes. But that didn't happen and now you're just that mythical cog in the machine.

Years ago I was rushing to the kids' school with a car full of tie-dye supplies. It had taken longer than I expected to prepare t-shirts and mix dyes for the class, so I was running late. As I flew down the straight-away of Broken Bow Circle, my way was blocked by a pick-up truck across the road. Two ladies were trying to push it into their driveway, but couldn't get it over the bump of the gutter and up the slight incline--they repeatedly lost momentum and the truck rolled back into the street. I could have gone around on one of the passes when they had it almost up the hill, but I turned off my car and helped them push it out of the street for good. Even with three of us, it took several tries.

There are no placeholders here. Everyone involved with MYO and Scrollworks is a pusher, from Craig, the chairman of the board, to Dion, who pretends to take drum lessons just so he can have brownies. We are pushing the world to a better place. If you think that's too idealistic, too ridiculous to associate with music lessons and youth orchestra, you haven't seen what is happening here.

Our organization is small, so every action, every dollar, has an impact. Entering student registrations in a database is cog-like, but at this point you can design the database or change the registration forms. A single dollar buys a clarinet reed or a cake of rosin for one of the strings. Fifty dollars pays for a month worth of lessons for one of our students.

Feel like a placeholder? Become a pusher with MYO. You can volunteer--just come to Cave9 on Friday or Saturday afternoon. You can push right here, right now by donating.

Push the world to a better place! Donate to MYO--a 501(c)3 organization!

Friday, November 28, 2008


(This is a blurry photo of our appearance on Ms. Tripp's show 'The Almighty Eyes', Brighthouse Channel 4 on November 15.)

We've been in a huge transition over the last month. It's proving to be a very good thing. There's an undercurrent of excitement and the new watchword, 'Excellence', is already producing results.

I'm getting good at explaining what I don't want to do, while realizing that what I am trying to do is impossible for one person. So many have come to my rescue and I greatly appreciate it. The board, the staff, the parents and the students: Craig, Rick, John, Edwin, Dwight, Harry, Jimmy, Janet, Jenny, Cindy, Leslie, Carrie, Claudia, Brian, and many more. Thank you!

In the process, I've discovered that so many didn't know the big picture. So I wrote out my vision:
Cave9 was an accident. I think all real innovation is. Our original intent was to duplicate El Sistema, with Hill as a model school. Cave9 was just going to be another node or 'nucleo' as they are called in El Sistema. But Cave9 has turned out to be something so important that I can't find words for what happens there. I wish I could convey it. The teachers see it. The students and their parents see it. The ensembles have to be a product of this. We need 9000 ensembles--ensembles for adults, ensembles for  piano and guitar, whatever will bring people to sit side by side, make music and communicate. But it all begins with that chaos at Cave9, the core tenet of which is free music lessons for anyone who walks in the door. It is unique and Birmingham needs to exploit that in all sorts of ways.

I want to take Cave9, figure out how to make it possible for anyone to duplicate with their own resources, distill it into a 5 page brochure and distribute it to everyone. I want someone in Hale County to do it at their church, someone in Mississippi to take it up at their school. Molly's already doing it every Thursday at a Unitarian church in Louisville. Maybe they can do it under our umbrella, maybe they have to do it independently.The Julia set is my mental picture of how that would look. I want the students to feed into ensembles that start local and become regional. (That IS like El Sistema.) I want those ensembles to represent a true cross-section of the underlying community.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scrollworks Louisville update

Facebook message from Molly:
Scrollworks Louisville is going great BTW. Last week I taught a 5 yr old girl piano, and she wrote out a song using finger numbers. It was pretty cool and actually sounded good, so I'm looking forward to this upcoming week. Hopefully I will remember my camera.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Giving Thanks

I'm stunned. To find that others believe so strongly in an idea that it is no longer is mine alone, that it is being championed by a much larger community, is surprising, gratifying--and a tremendous relief. But most importantly, this means that the benefits to the children and the community are more likely to be realized. I have no special skills that can make this happen. All I have is passion. That's not enough.

Here is just a sampling of the folks who are championing MYO and Scrollworks. There are more. Many more. I am grateful to every single one. And every day I hear of someone helping us that I've never met, someone who sees the power of the idea and wants to be involved.

Rosa Hill
Rosa's grandchildren, Brian and AnLeia, are members of MYO. Brian teaches violin every weekend at Cave9. AnLeia is in the jazz ensemble and comes to Cave9 for lessons on multiple instruments.

Rosa is one of the most determined people I have ever met. She has decided that this program can help with a lot of problems she sees in her community. She doesn't have much money, but she is a powerful advocate. Rosa has visited many local agencies to pass out our literature. And then she goes back to push MYO & Scrollworks again, to make sure they are thinking about us, to find out how we can help each other.

Yesterday she brought fistfuls of tickets that she'd gotten from one agency for a performance on Sunday. She figures if she can get enough of our people there, that will make the agency take note. She went around Cave9 persuading parents to take their children to the concert.

Rosa passed out brochures at the Magic City Classic Parade and at dozens of churches. Every Saturday she takes every bit of promotional literature I have--and that's not as much as she wants.
At the community meeting, she said she was going to sit in Mayor Langford's office and stare at him until he took notice of Scrollworks. I have no doubt she will do it--and get results.

Obviously, Rosa's spirit permeates her family. Yesterday she brought along Tommie, her nephew. Tommie plays drums and offered to teach. He charged up the stairs two at a time and had the drum students learning and laughing in seconds. Rick--stretching his talents to teach percussion at my request--was relieved and impressed, shaking Tommie's hand in appreciation as we were packing up. Tommie was glowing, announcing he would be back and describing his teaching plan.

Kim Waites
Near as I can tell, Kim descended from on high to help Scrollworks. Her Music Snob Trivia Game at Bottletree has already raised hundreds of dollars for our program. She tirelessly promotes Scrollworks as an integral part of her project.
Kim dropped by Cave9 yesterday to deliver a $100 check that she collected on our behalf. She was bursting with excitement as she prepared to raffle off VIP tickets to City Stages. Her goal is to raise $1000 for Scrollworks. Wow.
I also found out through a parent that a couple of music teachers from Art's who participate in Music Snob Trivia were inspired to collect used instrument method books for us. These are very needed.

There are so many more: Craig Hultgren, Mary Lee Rice, Mary Whitley, Cindy & Ralph Nelson, the Cleverdon family, Jenny Brengelman, Anne Donaldson, Dwight Houston, Kevin Leon...all of you! Thank you, thank you so much!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Diamond Shines Thanks to the ASO

Thanks to Meagan McCollum, Community Engagement Director of the Alabama Symphony, Diamond, Christan and Christan's mom, Teresa, and I were able to attend the family concert today. Judging from the smiles, everyone had a great time. I was delighted to find Diamond a true pleasure to escort. From Cave9, I knew that the Loftins would be good company on this beautiful fall day.

Diamond was suitably impressed by Glinda's flute playing and got a hug from the 'good witch' when we explained that Diamond is studying the flute, too. Diamond loved learning the Thriller dance and Christan joined her until the silly fun of the choreography was overwhelmed by her 13-year-old angst for being noticed.

The spooky selections on the symphony's program were all new to Daimond--except for the Funeral Dance of the Marionette, which she'd heard in a commercial. She didn't squirm at all--only danced in her seat in pure enjoyment of the music. And she asked lots of questions.

Christan studies piano at Cave9. Her mother is learning guitar. Christan has a grace about her, and a wry sense of humor. She tends to be shy, but when I push her, she will teach piano to young beginners with such gentleness and care. When I asked how she liked the concert, she said it was OK and gave that twisty smile of hers. From Christan, I'm sure that's a rousing endorsement.

Teresa really seemed to relish the day. She learned the Thriller dance. She even sat and listened to the storyteller when Christan and Diamond wanted to explore. She said she'd been by the Alys Stephens Center, but had never been inside.

While we were waiting for the concert to begin, Diamond spent a few moments carefully surveying the audience. She leaned over and whispered, "There aren't very many black people here." I grinned at her. "Yep. You're right. Let's you and I work on changing that!" She grinned back and nodded.

Thanks, Meagan! Thanks also to the ASO!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

You can call me Arthur

Today at Cave9, our unusual violin student was back. This man has some difficulty with speech, not so much a stutter as forming the words without any sound happening. He has lived through some rough times, but his eyes are gentle--perhaps even a bit apprehensive of rejection. I asked Claudia if she was comfortable working with him. She said, "Sure!", but I signalled to Jimmy to keep an eye out, which he already was.

Claudia worked with him for a long time, maybe an hour, and I could hear his progress through the pages of the violin method book. As he was leaving, he waved at the donation jar and said something that I understood to mean he didn't have anything to donate. I told him not to worry about it. He pushed the door open, then very deliberately turned back and said, "Thank you!" He hitched up his sagging and ragged pants and headed down 23rd Street.

Claudia came up to me excitedly because he had left her two of his poems. This is a person who I've not asked to fill out a registration form for fear of scaring him away, so I asked if she'd gotten his name: "Tovarias, but you can call me Arthur." She said Arthur stopped often to pray during his lesson, once for more than a minute.

Arthur left me with a still center. We gave him music and he gave us poetry. And he gave me peace, knowing that I am participating in something profoundly beautiful and spiritual and human, knowing that I am sharing that with Claudia and Elliot and Rick and Jimmy and Mary Lee.

Mary Lee keeps warning us that her piano skills are limited. But like each of our teachers, she has something beyond music to give that no one else has. Some of the youngest and most difficult children from the housing project bounce in the door and scan the room for her. Not the brownies, not their friends. They want to sit at the keyboard and learn from Mary Lee Rice.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mother 2 Daughters

Here's today's story:
Mike flagged me down as I came out the door of Cave9. He said someone in a car had a question. The lady in the car said she would just park and come in.
Juanica came in and asked me to tell her what was going on. I told her we were offering free music lessons for ages 7 to adult. She almost fainted with delight. Her daughter, Charnell, immediately ran upstairs to do drum lessons. Juanica called her college freshman daughter in from the car just to check it out.

This woman told me she gets her hair done at the salon across the street. Many times she's heard the pounding beat of the music at Cave9, but today she saw a half dozen children climb out of a van carrying instruments and go inside. So she was curious what could be going on that would draw the interest of these children.

Juanica and her older daughter have a singing group called Mother 2 Daughters. She writes original music for them. They sang for me and it was beautiful. But she doesn't know how to play piano or notate the music. Scrollworks might be the answer.
Charnell took lessons on drums, violin and piano. Jaunica waited for piano lessons, but Mary Lee had her hands full, so she took a guitar lesson from Jimmy.

Now we're contemplating doing a performance with Mother 2 Daughters and the orchestras.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Little Things

I took this photo with my cell phone. This gentleman came to the door and asked for a violin lesson. He was here one busy Saturday weeks ago and waited a long time for a lesson. His behavior at that time was odd. Today he seemed better. Nick gave him a lesson and he sat for a long time practicing. He waved me over and offered an apology. He said he had to leave because he had a 5 page paper to write(!), but he'd be back next Saturday. Nick said this man was thrilled to play Mary Had a Little Lamb!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Why are you in youth orchestra?

Been thinking a lot about my last two posts. I want all of our youth orchestra members to think about why they are in the orchestra. The number one reason should be to play in an ensemble, to learn how to join with others to create harmony on many levels.

If you are in the youth orchestra because you want to be a professional musician or you want 'section principal' on your resume, I've got news for you. You'd better follow the Leittens to Atlanta because Birmingham youth orchestras have no cache. No one was more driven than my Molly to build an impressive resume. Yet I had to force her to finish her last year in the Alabama Youth Symphony. By her senior year, she'd realized that being AYS principal cellist for two years meant little to her future. Aspen Music Festival and 'From the Top' meant everything. When Molly applied to Tanglewood, the person she talked to kindly explained that they don't generally consider students from Alabama!

Since we began Scrollworks and reached out into the larger community, our youth ensembles have become something more than an opportunity to work through the classical repertoire. We now have students who've never taken a private lesson sharing a stand with those who've spent thousands on lessons. We have students with instruments that cost as much as a car sitting next to students who borrow Scrollworks instruments when we're not using them for teaching. (The effort these students and their parents make to get the instruments and return them says an awful lot about the importance of music in their lives.)

Everyone in the youth orchestras has something to learn and something to give. We can share musical knowledge and skills. We can share life experience and attitude. We can build a community that ripples out beyond the rehearsal hall.

MYO, MCYO, and Scrollworks haven't even gotten to the 'terrible twos'. We're bound to stumble and stutter. If you feel that your musical and personal development is going to be stunted by participating in the sometimes awkward growth and development of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestras, we hope that you will search out an organization that will serve you better. We'll miss you, but we'll keep going and growing.

Scrollworks has gained worldwide attention. We're listed on the El Sistema and El Sistema-NYC websites. We get inquiries from all over the US as well as a couple from England and Italy. Maybe participation in our program is a resume item that'll make those outside Alabama take notice.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Going too far too fast? The story of my (recent) life

One of our most passionate supporters told me that he's holding back on recruiting for fear of the ensembles becoming all African-American. Wouldn't that be ironic? And, I suspect, a unique situation for an independent youth orchestra.

I told him that as far as I was concerned, what is important is giving ALL children an opportunity to play. Had there been a choice when Molly was in youth orchestra, I would have put her in MYO because of its diversity. I'm sure many feel the same way.

I say, bring them on. Bring us every single young musician who wants to play, regardless of color, regardless of instrument, even regardless of skill level. If we need to rewrite the music, we will. If we have to create more ensembles at different skill levels or playing other music genres, we will.

A rainbow of faces in our ensembles is my dream. But it means nothing if it is forced or arranged. Let the musical chips fall where they may and we'll hope that with time, the dream will come true.

We have our community meeting this Saturday at Cave9 from 6 pm to 8 pm. (If you haven't gotten an invitation, consider yourself invited now. It's open to all.) I am so pleased with the broad range of people attending. I hope we can have a frank discussion about some of these issues because I'd love to know--need to know--what others think.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let them go. We'll make more.

The hardest part of this endeavor is the sharp roller coaster of emotions. Shooting up to the crest, followed by a swift drop down twists the insides with something not quite motion sickness multiple times a day.

I started out the day by discovering Armani's video of the Barrage rehearsal. That was a delightful lift up.

I was preparing the video camera for his mom to use to record Armani's cello performance at his school's PTO meeting tonight. Scrollworks made this performance possible! (Crest approaching.)

Later today we learned that many of our orchestra members are being recruited by the Alabama Youth Symphony with promises of a more complete orchestra, more challenging music and, I'm sure, other enticements. Sadly, we are losing some to this siren song. MYO is all about the students, so we don't mind the switch if AYS will better serve their needs. In fact, we encourage it. What bothers me is that I sincerely thought these young people and their families believed in our mission and were willing to work with us toward achieving the organization's goal of bringing our community together through music. (Swoop into the trough.)

The roller coaster started back up when I began editing today's photos from the wind classes at Hill Elementary. What a joy to watch these children grow, mature, and learn to play an instrument. Their smiles and the twinkle in their eyes is what really matters. LaTavia got to take a flute-o-phone home. Lawrence dropped his saxophone 3 times. I don't think he'll get to take an instrument home for a LONG time, but maybe he'll surprise me. Others have!

And we'll keep giving Tequila chances, too. She is so totally NOT into learning the clarinet, but persists due to peer pressure. Imagine that: peer pressure to learn an instrument. I'll put up with a few clarinets twirled like a baton if I can generate a bit more of that!

Janiya is beautiful, and knows full well how to use her pretty pout to get her way. I've doubted whether we could get past the pout to accomplish any learning. Today Janiya played half a scale on the trumpet--the most notes I've heard from any wind instrument so far. Dwight praised her and I gave her a thumbs up. She visibly held herself straighter and had that same secret smile that Donovan had a few weeks ago, not being used to attention for this reason.

Let them go to AYS. We'll make more. There are enough talented children in our city to populate a dozen youth orchestras. Scrollworks' destiny is to find them, teach them and reach them.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

'We can all do small things with great love'

From Stacey Monk at Epic Change:
I once read a quote by Mother Teresa who wrote:

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”

Yesterday MYO board member Mary Lee Rice taught piano at Cave9. Her first student was Drelion. I've written about him before. He's often banned for antics like spitting coffee on people walking in the door and hitting my car with a chain. He always apologizes and is readmitted. Mary Lee worked with him for a good 30 minutes and then later for another lesson. It's rare to get Dreli to sit still for even 5 minutes let alone focus on a lesson, although when he does he shows aptitude.

As we loaded out, all of us were stunned by the sight of tiny Drelion hauling load after load of instruments to the curb. He even tried to pack up the food and my 'office' crate. Jimmy insisted that Mary Lee must come back to teach because there are others who need her magic touch!

Janet Lewis brought Jonathan right at 3 for his violin lesson. Since she can teach beginning violin, I was so glad to see her. I was headed to the office for a second load of instruments and didn't want to leave Jimmy alone with the Friday crowd. Janet's mother, Jenny, has been helping us with PR for Barrage this week. We are so grateful for this family's very active support.

When I arrived with the drum set, cellos, and printer, I found Janet getting a violin lesson from Anne Donaldson. Anne is a second violinist with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra--and the first ASO member to come to our lessons at Cave9. She promised to come teach when she can.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Definition of Life: Time to Reproduce?

Scrollworks at Cave9 is not simply exploding, it's alive and growing:

The Cleverdons have been spreading the word. Many of their friends came in to get a few lessons and check us out. Now the main floor of Cave9 is filled with music stands and lessons. I don't know how many stands we have in the red bag, but they were all in use. We ran out of chairs, with parents standing against the wall. Elliot had a break around 2:30. He commented to me on the way to get something to drink that it was the most intense hour and a half of his life. I didn't bother to point out that it had been 2 and a half hours.

Sami dropped by, offering to teach when he can and getting a quick flute lesson for his daughter. He was amazed at the noise and general chaos. Nick agreed that it looked like an impossible place to learn, but he said that when the connection is made between teacher and student and instrument, the chaos fades into the background. You can see that as you look around. Everyone is focused and intent, from youngest to oldest.

The Vestavia Hills High School Music Honor Society came through at Cave9 yesterday. Matthew Kundler taught guitar. Alex Kyle and Heather Eggleston taught flute. Nick felt bad for these two. We didn't have many budding flutes on Saturday--but they would've had a line on Friday. Matthew, on the other hand, didn't get a break until after 4, even with Nick and Elliot helping teach guitar. Sarah Collins and a friend brought by a clarinet and sax donated by VHHS families. We can definitely use these at Hill Elementary this week! We so appreciate their support!

What struck me yesterday was how the parents of both students and volunteer teachers arrive to collect them at a pre-arranged time and then have to wait...and wait. Then they try standing right beside their child. Then they try persuasion and extortion. How often are music lessons like that for either student or teacher?

The Siglers were working with AnLeia and Eric to help Eric write a song. Their mom came and stood behind for awhile, finally going back to the car because the chairs were all taken. Matthew called his mom when the line for guitar students was gone. While he was waiting, he started working with Jarrell on the piano. His mom arrived and had to wait.

Another important development: I am now having teachers and students come to me because they've worked through the beginning method books and need the next one. Or they want sheet music to sight read.

Scrollworks has become a growing, living thing. The next step is reproduction. We're having a community meeting at Cave9 on Saturday, October 11 at 6 pm to 8 pm to brainstorm how to make this happen. Please join us.