Posted by: Marie | September 23, 2012

(716) Such awesome kids

Post #716
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, October 29, 2011]

I hosted a master class at my studio this morning. My mentor and piano teacher, Kelly – who happens to also be the mother of Matt, the autistic boy whom I teach – taught my master class. She is a music teacher at one of our local public schools.

She has several music degrees and can sight-read very difficult music. She has been teaching the more technical aspects of piano playing to me – the techniques I missed out on because my music education has been quite informal.

However, she is not able to play by ear (which is a huge part of “jamming”) and she believes she does not have the talent required to compose music. So, she teaches me the advanced techniques and I teach auditory and composing skills to her two sons. Both her sons do better with auditory-based learning. And so, the barter arrangement works very well.

Over the last year-plus, I’ve been hiring Kelly to teach the master classes that I host in my studio for my students. And, today, we held one of those classes. We had six little girls (all about eight-years old) in the class.

Each of the students prepared a piece or two of music in advance. At the start of the class, they performed their pieces for the other students. Kelly coached each student, individually, on her performance skills.

The Bridge of Baphuon by Martin Chen

Then, the group of girls composed a collaborative piece of music. Each girl wrote one measure of the music using crayons and colored pencils – each measure filled one piece of letter-sized printer paper. Then, we pinned the measures on a padded wall in a linear configuration to create the piece of music.

The girls were each given one or two boomwhackers (tuned percussion tubes) that they whacked on the table at the appropriate times (as indicated by the music pinned on the wall) to generate the tones of the melody they had composed. Oh, my! They had so much fun whacking those tubes! Trying to get the girls to whack at the correct time was like herding wild cats! I laughed and laughed!

At the end of the class, the parents returned to the studio to particiate as audience members for a very relaxed “practice” recital. The girls performed their individual pieces (and practiced their newly learned performance skills) and then they performed their group piece on the boomwhackers. It was so much fun! I was so proud of how well they embraced the skills we taught them . . . they quickly went from being giggly little girls to confident artists.

At the end of the class, as they girls were packing up to leave, each girl came up to me and gave me a big hug. That made me feel very, very good – and it made tears fill my eyes . . . of course! My emotions have been lurking just below the surface this week (more than usual), so it didn’t take much to bring them to the surface.


This afternoon, we had the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Halloween event. Stores in the business district of Main Street (which is all of four blocks long) invite children dressed in Halloween costumes to stop in for some trick-or-treat candy. The businesses also hand out coupons and information about the business to parents.

Businesses that do not have a storefront on Main Street (like me – I’m two blocks off of Main) are encouraged to set up a chair and little table on the sidewalk in front of one of the businesses. We do the same thing as the businesses; we just do it on the sidewalk.

It is typical for about 1,000 kids stop by during the two-hour event – this year was no exception. It was a mob scene! Last year, I dressed up as a funny witch. I did the same this year. I’m not much into dressing up in costumes, but this is one time I enjoy doing so! And, the event is a gold mine for marketing. There is no charge to participate other than $60 in candy and $30 in business cards.

About ten of my piano students came through. We oooh-ed and awww-ed at each other’s costumes. And, one of my school bus kids came through – a first grader. I hadn’t seen him in a year and he had really grown! His parents said he was looking for me – he had attended the Halloween event last year and was looking for me again this year. They said he was delighted when he saw me today. He gave me a big hug!

So, today has been a really fun day!

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