Friday, October 30, 2009

Let Me Get This Straight...

Obama's healthcare plan is being written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a congress who hasn't even read it, signed by a president who smokes, funded by a treasury chief who who did not pay his taxes, overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that is nearly broke.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Week in Review...lessons learned

Me with Jenny Oaks Baker outside the Barrus Concert Hall in Rexburg. She had just performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto at BYU-I. (Spring 2009)
Jenny with us, the Teton Chamber Orchestra; Eric Wenstrom, quite possibly the planet's coolest conductor.
We had two dress rehearsals with Jenny: each about 3 hours long...lesson learned: Use half a bow and only play on 2 bow hairs if she is playing. She got after us several times about playing too loud. She said, "Guys, when I played with the NSO, I never played using more than 3/4 of a bow. Ever." If you've ever studied with Dr. Kevin Call at BYU-I, you never make that mistake. Soloists earn their title. Lesson learned: less is more.

It has been a wild ride this past week. Joseph got the H1N1 virus, affectionately referred to as the 'swine flu.' He was very ill for 5 days. It had me worried. Lesson learned: Never regret purchasing hand sanitizer by the gallon. And no smooching when the Mister complains of aches and pains...

Today was the ward primary program. Annually, in the fall sometime, the Primary children all over the world present a program in sacrament meeting. They sing all the songs they have learned the past year, and each child usually has a speaking part as well. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest meetings of the year. Unless you're the parents of a 4-year old tornado who had his hands down the front of his pants for half the program. On the front row. Of choir risers. Because he's a sunbeam. ~clear throat~ Ahem. It was wonderful, though. I cried through the last half of it. (And not because Caleb was playing with his unit.) Children singing songs with zeal about who they are and their knowledge of God's Plan for families. We had some non member families in the congregation as well. I hope they felt the Spirit. Lesson learned: The lifeblood of this Church rests with those little ones we love with every ounce of our hearts...and also: no elastic waist band pants for boys.

I just finished a performance with the Teton Chamber Orchestra and Jenny Oaks Baker last night. It was a great performance. She was talkative in between numbers and it was fun to hear her describe her love of the music. (And what her kids are going to be for Halloween.)

I wanted to describe the 2 grueling dress rehearsals with her...and the lessons I learned. I loved that she was direct and graciously demanding, and down-to-earth. (Not to mention passionate and gifted.)

The first night we were rehearsing an arrangement of "Come, Come Ye Saints" when the chorus finished singing, "...and should we die before our journey's through..."

She immediately cut the choir off and said, "Choir! You have just buried your baby in the ground. Now you are trying to find hope and joy by moving forward. Even though life is hard, we can and must still find joy! Please sing with that in your mind!"

Lesson learned: Everybody has heartache, but be of good cheer.

Then we were rehearsing Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Pie Jesu." Again, she cut off the choir and emphatically asked, "Choir, do you know what the text to this means??? Then please, please sing like you really believe He is what He says He is!" ("Sweet Jesus, who takes away the sins of the world, Lamb of God, grant them everlasting rest.")

Lesson learned: Even though a musician may be performing every note perfectly in rhythm and in tune, unless the musician is passionate about the text or subject matter, it is only 2-dimensional. Give it your all. Convey the real meaning of the music.

Finally, one of the greatest things I admire about Jenny Oaks Baker is her priorities. (Read the quote on the last post by her father, Elder Dallin H. Oaks.) She left a prestigious post with the National Symphony Orchestra to have a family. Lesson learned: there is a time and a season for everything. She is probably sitting on the front row in her sacrament meeting cheering on her little ones in their primary program.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Finding Balance

"Faithful Saints cannot afford to look upon children as an interference with what the world calls "self fulfillment." Our covenants with God and the ultimate purpose of life are tied up in those little ones who reach for our time, our love and our sacrifices."
~ Elder Dallin H. Oaks

When I was in college, as you may know, I studied music. Music is my passion. I played and performed and practiced constantly. I had some professional gigs and offers that were challenging and exciting. During my senior year of college, our first son Josh was born. I have not played professionally since then. (except for playing in church, nursing homes, etc.) I chose to put on a different hat and teach. I have been teaching privately for 10 years now, although I did have students prior to that in high school and and in college as well. Teaching private violin has been a GREAT blessing for our family, as it provides a good income from the comforts of our own home. Both of our mothers worked outside the home when we were young, and Joseph and I have always wanted something different for our children. Luckily, teaching accomodates our financial needs, and our children's emotional needs. I have however, missed performing...

I have been contacted many times by the Idaho Falls Symphony conductor over the years, and good ol' George had all but given up on me. It seems to me that I either have energy for teaching or rehearsing/playing with an ensemble, but generally not both while I have a young family to take care of.

Then I saw the 2009-2010 concert season for the Idaho Falls Symphony: Beethoven's 9th Symphony. It's one of Beethoven's greatest works, if not one of the greatest symphony masterpieces of all time: "Ode to Joy" with full chorus and symphony. When would another opportunity come along again in my lifetime? The Mister and I discussed it, and we thought it would be a great opportunity, so I'm back in the thick of rehearsals. As if that weren't enough, I also committed to play with the Teton Chamber Orchestra as well. Jenny Oaks Baker is coming to perform with the TCO, and I have enjoyed following her career over the last several years, so...I am rehearsing with two great community orchestras and I have felt like an important, yet dormant piece of my heart has been revived again. It's been great. However, I couldn't do it if I didn't have such a stellar husband who also happens to be a tremendous father. The kids don't seem to notice much that Mom is gone a couple of nights a week. *He took all 4kids to Home Depot last night to purchase supplies to build the girls a bunk bed. Wow. I thought it was a feat to take all 4 to Super Wal-Mart where I at least have a shopping cart with straps...

However, I must say that I am exhausted, but with performances Oct. 24 for TCO and Nov. 6 and 7 for IFSymphony, it will all be over for this washed-up old player soon enough. I told both conductors to let me sit in the back of the sections, as I can't commit to every rehearsal on the schedule. It's been great so far. (Although I'm still faking some rough passages in the Beethoven! Sorry, Ludwig. Love ya, man.)

What I can't figure out is this: All week long, I dread rehearsals because it means I'm away from my family in the evening. And I get home late and have to get up for 5:30 a.m. students...I'm just plain tired. However, when I'm playing in the rehearsals, I love it. What does this mean?

I recognize that there is a season to everything, and the Lord who loves music perfectly, just as he loves the good women of the world who bear and rear His spirit children, will inspire me to know when the time is right to pursue other interests and hobbies. For now, one concert agenda is enough. And I feel whole.

For anyone interested in an enriching musical experience, but with different styles of music, here is the ticket info:

Jenny Oaks Baker and the Teton Chamber Orchestra will perform at the Civic Auditorium Oct. 24 @ 7:30. Tickets available at Dale Jewelers in Idaho Falls for $12 each.

Idaho Falls Symphony and ISU Collegiate Chorus will perform the Beethoven 9th Symphony on Friday, November 6 in the new Stevens Performing Art Center at ISU @ 7:30, and again Saturday night at the Civic Auditorium in Idaho Falls. (Contact the Idaho Falls Symphony ticket office for more info).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I have two best friends from high school that are still my best friends. This is Danielle Crosby. You know the kind of girlfriend you can go weeks or months without seeing or talking to, but somehow when you reconnect, you can carry on the conversation right where you left off previously? That's my Danielle. We've been through it all together-- cool boyfriends, not-so-cool boyfriends, college, full-time missions (she served a ASL mission in San Diego and Washington D.C. at the same time I was serving in Kentucky), marriage, child-bearing years, and of course in those pre-mission days, summers working and camping in Jackson Hole and college years working for her parents at Zina's Sandwich Shop. It's funny how we still laugh at the same things in between changing diapers as opposed to the summer nights on the banks of the Snake River 18 years ago. She helped me find my testimony and I helped her...well, let's just say I introduced her to 'life less structured.' She has an amazing life story, and I have so much admiration for her. Through thick and thin, as the saying goes, she's in it with me.

She was in Idaho visiting her family over Conference weekend and they graciously stopped by to visit. (I still want those chicken eggs, girl!)
This is the infamous Randy and Zina Peterson. You know, any of you acquainted with Rexburg, theee Zina Peterson of Zina's Sandwiches. Randy and Zina hired me through college to work at their sandwich shop. Danielle and I had way too much fun when we were scheduled to work together. No need to get into specifics here. I love them like family.