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Monday, May 16, 2011

Undecided...

There are so many opportunities in life that I am constantly wondering if I have picked the right ones for me.  I am not sure what I want to be doing with my life, so I am hoping that something will work out in the end.  I have been filling out job applications and practicing like crazy because I still don't know if teaching full time or playing full time is really what I want to do.  This summer will be a great time for me to figure out life and I'm looking forward to living with friends in a beatiful city and having a great first year after college!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crazyness

I can now officially say that I have complete a job fair.  The experience was slightly overwhelming, but good I think.  I had several interviews, and I'm hopeful, but I thought I would have a better feel afterwards.  I really have no idea if it was beneficial to go or not.  I spent a day and a half interviewing and filling out applications, but no concrete offers of employment or anything.  Just vague notions of "we'll call" or "I'd love to see your application online".  This is unnerving at best.  The worst part is I still don't know what they want to hear.  Oh well.  Lets chalk this up to a life experience and move on.

In terms of playing, I am lucky to be playing with the Greeley Chamber Orchestra on viola for their upcoming concert next week on Friday.  This has been a lot of fun for the past couple of weeks with rehearsals and practicing.  I'm realizing how much I miss orchestra and that I want to make that a priority in my life in the future. 

Well, that's all for now, I have several more job applications to fill out!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What happened to taking time to smell the roses?

This semester is just flying by!  I realized this morning that I have a mere 7 weeks until I graduate and have to actually do something with my life...that is scary.  I thought I had it all figured out.  Lots of jobs in Washington, so I'll move to Washington.  Reality has this sneaky way of changing on you when you least expect it.  All the paperwork is turned in, but I can't sub for the rest of this year...no that would be silly.  An education graduate subbing?  Ridiculous!  The kicker is that only one district will take a 1 year license even if I have my initial teaching license being processed.  So if I'm lucky, I'll get a couple of sub jobs, but nothing really viable and then I'll be trying to move with absolutely no money.  It gets better: Washington has instituted a hiring freeze.  The chance of me getting a job as a first year teacher is almost none existent in that state as well as this one.  So, my best option seems to be getting a sub license, free lancing and building a studio.  And crossing my fingers hoping to make enough money to live.  Somedays I just want to be a kid again. 

On the musical side of life, I have discovered just how many more hours are required of you to teach music at the secondary level.  Especially as someone just starting out, expecting to have time to teach a studio, even a small studio, or play in an orchestra would be stretching myself too thin.  That is a scary thought.  What gets me through the days and weeks are the chances I have to teach my students privately and to practice myself.  I don't think a secondary instrumental music teaching position is for me right now. 

If you thought college midterms were bad, I challenge you to be involved in a high school musical production.  They start rehearsing 2 or 3 months in advance and some of the big programs run for 2 weeks.  I was only marginally involved and I spent over 30 hours in 2 weeks on it.  That is a lot of time that I was unable to practice or sleep.  Student teaching has been an eye opening experience on so many levels.  I know what I love to do and what I like to do.  I know what is really important to me because I do my best to find time to do it, and I miss it when I can't.  I have learned that the expectations of teachers can sometimes be that we are super-human in our abilities to accomplish things very quickly, and that most people don't realize that our job doesn't get to stay at school when we go home unless we never leave.  But, I have found that I really do love to teach in almost any capacity.  I just think that all teachers should have their own personal secretaries to take care of everything else!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Goals

Part of my goals for this year was to really figure out what I want to do with my life.  I realized a few years ago in the middle of all of my music education classes that I really didn't like being a director.  I don't like standing in front of a group of students and telling them what they are doing wrong all of the time.  I also despise conducting...so I decided that music education wasn't for me.  I then started to pursue the performance aspect full force.  I loved getting to delve into projects and pieces and really take them apart to make them my own and playing in orchestra and chamber music were my favorite parts of the week. 

Now I'm student teaching and I have rediscovered the reason I chose music education.  My mom is a very inspirational person.  She went back to college when I was in elementary school to get her degree in English and Elementary Education.  Now she teaches 2nd grade.  When I was a senior in high school I had a "future crisis"...I realized that the path I had been following towards astrophysics wasn't for me.  I was burned out academically.

During that period of unknown, I practiced my violin fiercely and spent a lot of time in my mom's classroom.  Looking back, before now I couldn't tell you why I picked music education.  It just seemed to make sense at the time.  Now I see that I absolutely loved being in that elementary school.  The kids helped me see that some of the most important things you can do in life are very small, but they can have huge impacts. 

I want to teach elementary school music.  Coming to this realization was slow for me because I have pursued the performance aspect of violin/music with such zealous for the last 2 years, but I know that I have made the right choice.  I also know that by pursuing performance, I will still be able to enjoy playing in an orchestra and maybe giving recitals, but in the end, I'll wake up every morning to see lots of smiling faces in my music classroom.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Time Flies!

I can't believe that it has been 7 weeks since I started student teaching!  I feel like I haven't had time to catch my breath at all.

I have really been enjoying the "student teaching experience", much more than I thought I would.  I have been loving working with the students, especially kindergarten!  I am slightly hesitant about moving up to the high school and middle school in just over a week, but I am sure that those are just nerves and everything will be just fine. 

In the grand scheme of life, I am enjoying many aspects of being a teacher (even though I'm not really a full out teacher right now) but there are many trade offs I don't care for.  I love the students and getting to really dig into some topics with them sometimes and to just have fun with them other times.  On the other hand, teaching has consumed my life!  I have practically no social interactions with anyone my own age that are not over the phone, and I haven't seen more than 5 adults at the same time for more than 20 minutes at a time unless I'm at the grocery store.  This means that while I am surrounded by people all day, I am kind of lonely.  I get done with school and teaching privately and then I am back to my apartment to practice or prepare for the next day at school. 

Teaching is definitely a career that involves copious amounts of your own precious free time and I need to start getting a better handle on how to balance my life with it. 

The biggest downside to teaching and really the only reason I am not 100% committed to finding a full time teaching job right away is the lack of time I have to play my violin.  I went to college to become a musician and a teacher and right now I am more teacher than musician and I really miss the musician part.  I'll keep you updated about how my balancing act proceeds!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Life Unexpected

The past two weeks have been amazing, crazy, ridiculously busy, exhausting, rewarding, trying, and completely unexpected. 

I am someone who was constantly sick before college, but once I graduated, the sickness seemed to mostly go away.  I managed, in the first three days of being in an elementary school for my student teaching experience to get a NASTY case of the flu which completely knocked me out for a day and the recovery process was interesting.  I called my mother, a 2nd grade teacher, and asked her how long I needed to stay home for (they tell parents to keep their kids home until they have been fever free for 24 hours).  She promptly laughed and said "As soon as you are back on your feet!"  Later she tells me that everyone in her building got such a kick out of my question...I wasn't sure if I was getting laughed at or with...

Starting my second week with a sick day seemed ominous, but in reality it wasn't too bad.  Not having a voice for three days however was interesting.  The 5th grade class put on a program last week and it went really well.  I learned so much about getting a program ready and all of the the seemingly endless things you need to do to get ready.  This is all great information that I have now compiled and I will use it for any future programs or recitals or concerts for my students.  I feel that this is probably one of the most important lessons I will learn while student teaching. 

As for practicing and violin music recently, I have found it to be extremely difficult to find any kind of regular practice time: I'm not able to create a practice routine.  Instead I am sneaking in 10 minutes at lunch, 20 minutes during our planning times, 30 minutes while dinner is in the oven...you get the idea.  It has been hard for me to adjust to this scattered practice schedule, but I am finding that with these severely limited practicing times I am forcing myself to be extremely efficient.  I am also really specific with my practicing goals before I start and I am taking notes so that I don't need to unnecessarily repeat what I have already practiced.

I also got some really bad news, I needed some major car repair work done and in order to pay for it I had to use up the money I had saved for violin lessons for myself.  I was extremely disappointed, but I cannot student teach without my car and I must student teach to graduate, so I really didn't have an option.  This has made me all the more determined to really keep up with the practicing and becoming my own teacher.  I hope that by keeping this blog I can keep myself motivated and excited for each new step!

I was lucky to also be able to give one last performance with the string quartet I played in last semester last week and we had a great time.  I was proud of myself for incorporating all of the vibrato work I have been doing, but after reviewing the tape I noticed that there were sections when I reverted to my old vibrato without even realizing it.  I have decided to record all of my practice sessions from now on so that I can review them later on (perhaps listening to them on my 45 minute commute each way to school...).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The New Year Started of with a Bang!

So I was fully prepared for this student teaching thing!  Teaching in a classroom all day, then giving lessons in the afternoon, making dinner, and then practicing would be no big deal right?  Oh my goodness...I was so not ready for this...

Don't get me wrong, teaching in a classroom, the little bit I've done, is a lot of fun.  I'm learning a lot, and surprisingly some of the things I use all the time in my private lessons I have used in the classroom and they have worked well.  Others, not so much.  I love the kids in the elementary school I'm in.  They are excited to be in music and are very enthusiastic.  My host teacher is amazing.  He is willing to let me try things, anything, and see how it works.  He is also very supportive of me teaching with my violin!  This means that for the kindergarten class we were doing a sing-along with violin instead of piano accompaniment.  The kinders thought that it was really cool that I could play and sing at the same time :)

The downside to all of this fun during the day is that after I have taught in the school, given a lesson or two, and made dinner, I have no more energy left to give.  It isn't that I'm sleeping less, or even getting up much earlier in the morning, it is purely the amount of energy that I spend in the classroom is the amount of energy I used to spend in an entire day.  This means that I am going to have to come up with some alternative ways to practice because I cannot spend an entire semester only practicing for an hour a day.

Next week I will try getting up an hour earlier to practice in the morning as well as practicing after I teach before dinner so that I am more motivated.  I think part of the problem is that the first time I have to relax all day is sitting down and eating dinner and motivating myself to get up and practice is much harder than convincing myself to take a break "for just a little bit longer" which then turns into an hour on the couch reading a book and then I'm falling asleep. 

So for this week, my goals are really to try to practice more and continue working on vibrato.  I would also like to really work on the double stops with scales exercises.  Wish me luck!