Tuesday, September 22, 2015

You're invited to Thursday

Dear Reader,

It's easy for me to take my routine here for granted. From time to time I'll try to give you a glimpse into what daily life is like in this community. No two days are exactly alike, but I'll invite you to walk with me through last Thursday here at BFA. 

Pre-8:50am: My alarm goes off around 6:30 and I go through the necessary preparations to presentably make it through a day. I have been making a conscious effort to spend quiet time with God at the beginning of the day, and I am so thankful for the perspective that this brings. Recently I've been studying in Galatians, and have been encouraged by the reminder that "not I, but Christ lives in me." On Thursday this week, I left my house at 8am, which was much earlier than normal. The internet at our house has been down, which meant I had to get to school early to finish up some things before the start of the day. Once I get to school, my first order of business is to brew some coffee. It's kind of an essential element in my life.

8:50 am:  Normally at this time, students report to class, and we have a brief time of devotions and announcements before starting on course material. However, this past week we had a visiting group from a church in North Carolina to lead us in a time of worship before the start of the school day. The impact they had was incredible, and the students have really enjoyed starting the day this way. I'd ask you to pray that they would continue to be sensitive to what God is doing in their lives as we get back to our regular school schedule.

10:05am: My first hour Piano 2 class arrives; the day is overcast and they're sleepy! They were thankful to be indoors today though; yesterday was school Impact Day, during which the entire school helped with service projects in Kandern and in surrounding towns. It rained most of the day.
We talked briefly about their experiences, and I reminded them that their practice charts are due tomorrow. They're required to practice for 80 minutes per week. After that, we delve into scales and also a discussion about the Baroque period. I've been wanting to help my students grow in their abilities to improvise because of the musical freedom this can give. We delve into some group improv, with me playing broken chords in the lower range of the piano, and the students improvising a melody or melodic pattern in the upper range. The bell rings, and we grudgingly end our time of creativity.

10:45 am: Time to switch gears! This is my prep time, and I review the slides I've prepped for my 3rd period Music Appreciation students. My desk and workspace are in the same classroom where I teach, so I have a seat and get to work.

11:30 am: Shortly after the bell sounds, the seven bright minds who are part of my Music Appreciation class file in. They also look a little sleepy, but their efforts to stay alert are valiant! They have a project, analyzing a favorite song, which they will be presenting to the class tomorrow. We take some time for questions, and then delve into a discussion about Hildegard von Bingen, a female composer from the Middle Ages who lived only a few hours drive away from Kandern.

12:15pm: Lunchtime! I enjoy this short interlude between classes, because it's my chance to engage with teachers outside my subject area, or students who may not be in my classes. I try to alternate eating in the kitchen on the third floor of my building and the staff room down the hall from my 2nd floor classroom.

12:50pm: Time flies! Another prep period, and it's time to focus on lesson planning for tomorrow and the following week. Back to my desk...

1:35pm: We are blessed to have lots of pianos on our campus. The nicest one of these is found in the Auditorium, which also happens to be one of the rooms with the highest use on campus. I'm thankful to have two hours a week reserved in this room on that instrument. This may not seem like a big deal to some, so think of it as having two hours a week driving a Ferrari all to yourself when your everyday car is a Chevy.  I have no problem with a Chevy, but the time with the Ferrari is incredible!

2:05pm: In addition to the classes I teach, I also have some private piano students. *Laura comes this hour for her lesson. She is quiet and perceptive, and will try anything musical I show her how to do. I'm really excited to see how she will progress this year!

2:55pm: Switching gears yet again, it's time for the Performing Arts Department meeting. Today I'm sharing some of the student listening forms I use with the group. We always have a lot on our agenda, but I really enjoy the way that our department interacts! Everyone is gracious, good at listening, and conversing about their opinions. We also laugh quite a bit as well. I'm so thankful for each of the people in our department!

4:00pm: The school day is over, and I head home to work on dinner. I'm grateful to have a crockpot I can set up and let cook through the day. One of two grocery stores in Kandern in situated between school and my house, so I stop in quickly to buy some zucchini to sauté for the evening meal. My roommates and I will eat together tonight. I always look forward to these times, because all four of us have extremely busy schedules. Again, there's no shortage of laughter in this group.

Earlier in the week, I have various activities in the evening that include helping out at one of the dorms, and leading a small group of Junior girls. Thursday evening tends to be full of prep for Friday, sometimes some exercise, and an attempt to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Friday morning comes early.

Thanks for taking a stroll through my day with me! I hope that you've had a great day as well, and that God is teaching you much about Himself. I'm thankful that no matter what I do and where I go during the day, He is always with me.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Week of Classes

The first week of classes can be hectic, exciting time, and this past week did not disappoint! While schedules are still being solidified, I feel as though I have a good handle on what the semester could look like. My Piano 2 students have a wide range of musical experience, and are already catching on quickly to the material I present. We have even enjoyed a bit of group improvisation already! On Friday, they were assigned to play a piece for the class that represented what they enjoy about playing the piano. Their pieces reflected a variety of things, from pieces they learned in Piano 1, to songs that evoke a reflective mood. This assignment gives me a brief glimpse into how they think and what they value, and also helps as I assign pieces for them to learn in the future.

Music Appreciation is also going well. I have several students who simply need the class for credit and have marginal interest in music, a few who enjoy making music as a hobby, and two who are considering it as a career choice. Their common ground is that they enjoy thinking and making insightful observations. I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of their work already. The challenge I face is putting words to something I feel so deeply about, and communicating effectively to my students. This week we'll be doing more in-depth discussion about early music as well as ways to discuss music more effectively, including terms to use to describe it, etc.  The discussion is bound to be interesting, and I look forward to keeping you updated!

This coming week is Spiritual Emphasis Week, and every day will start with a chapel service. Please pray for open hearts for both students and staff, and that we will have ears to hear and tender hearts to receive what God has for us. This Tuesday night I'll also be meeting with my small group for the first time. I have a group of junior girls this year which I'll be co-leading with a dear friend. I'm really excited to start to spend time with them!

There is a lot going on, but through the busyness of the season, my heart is encouraged because of our God Who never changes, and is always faithful.

Praise God with me:
1. For the safe arrival and provision of support for our new housemate, Sarah Mol!! We are so excited to have her in our home!
2. For God's continued provision of my own support, and for YOU my supporters!!
3. For God Who never changes.
4. For a great first week of classes and for the opportunity to grow in my teaching ability.

Please pray with me:
1. For Spiritual Emphasis Week - for those leading, and those attending
2. For Impact Day on Wednesday, when the entire high school will be involved with service projects in the Kandern area.
3. For wisdom and insight for my first meeting with my small group.
4. That my personal time with God will be deep and sweet.