Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Extended Family and Extended Family Band

I love my sister Annette. I love her family. I love her kids. It was heart-wrenching to embrace their sorrow at the loss of my nephew, Kurt. In the midst of the sorrow, however, was comfort. I was touched by the strength of her children and their love and support of one another. I was touched by the love Annette's siblings showed for her.

Life is rough. This is why Snoopy dances across this blog. Because life is rough, but as long as we can express ourselves -- we're ok. Life knocks us down, but if we can stand up dancing - we're ok. Life barrels over us, but if we can come up for air long enough to sing the blues, we're ok.

I've been taught that, in a performance, it's important to start  strong and nail the ending. With so much family together this weekend, we thought we might try another family band night, or as bobo coined it "extended family band". It was a "one-of" and we started most of our songs in chaos and ended with a whimper -- but somewhere in the middle we found harmony and joy. Isn't that just like life.

Friday, August 24, 2012

For they shall see eye to eye

If you didn't know it by now, this is an LDS blog and I'm going to get a little preachy today. Sometimes I worry. I try to keep things in an eternal perspective, but it is hard -- because our day to day duties ... well they press.

And I wonder about all the things I study here on earth, will they help me -- in my eternal perspective. Oh let's quit beating around the bush, are there organs in Heaven. Is this all the time I have to learn and play music?

So I'm just about done with the Book of Mormon again and I read in Third Nephi Chapter 16. Christ is quoting Isaiah.

18. Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together they sing, for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

19. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

And I realized how much the Lord loves to hear his children sing. Just as I love to hear my children sing and play. And thanks to their wonderful teachers, they got an opportunity this week to do just that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I'd play Sally Gooden all day if I could

"I'd play Sally Gooden all day if I could, but the Lord and my wife wouldn't take it very good. So I fiddle when I can and work when I should"

Anyway. I try. To not practice when I shouldn't. But I love it so. The new organ is awesome. I'm totally hooked on Hauptwerk software. Sometimes my organ is an 18th century Norwegian pipe organ. Sometimes it's German baroque. And then there's the crazy times my kids get me to fire up the old Wurlitzer.

I'm a little heartbroken. I read an article on how digital pianos are out selling acoustic pianos so much so that acoustic pianos are being taken to the dump at alarming rates because nobody wants to buy them any more. You can't even give them away. Some companies now specialize in dismantling and disposing of these older instruments.

Both my piano and organ are old. Even though my organ is digital and runs through a computer, it is still at its heart wooden cores and mechanical springs.

It is an old Klann pipe organ console that has been converted to a midi device. The piano next to it is an old upright Steinway. They don't make instruments like that anymore. I have a nice digital piano. I take it with me when I'm on the road. I use it to practice with head phones on. But if I had to choose between my pianos, I'd choose the Steinway hands down. I hate to see this kind of craftsmanship die out :(

PS I totally just blogged from my iPad . I am not a technology hater. Just an art lover.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

Celebrating our Independance

Happy Fourth of July!

Generally I am more timely in posting about the 4th. But this year, I was out there celebrating! Yes, instead of staying in town and passing time by blogging and such until the fireworks display and then wondering why I have a headache every Independence Day, the kids and I all made the big trek to Leeds (20 miles away) and participated in their annual 4th of July activities. We joined forces with the Welches and sang a 20 minute set of oldies but goodies. We were even brave enough to throw in extra instrumentation.

Bobo and Tessa played the cello and violin respectively. That was a fun switch-it-up

And I got to play the accordion. What's independence day for if not for being free to do what you want? I do feel bad that the instruments I love (e.g. organ, accordion) are not typically loved by everyone -- Just like "Jambalaya" is not loved by everyone. Anyway how fortunate am I to have friends and family who let me do what I want? :) I hope you noticed Joe on drums (which he says is where you put the people who can't play an instrument) Problem with Joe is he can play all of them, and sometimes you need somebody on percussion. -- And if you look a little closer, you can see Ben joining us on Bass Guitar (it's enough to make a momma's eyes well-up!) And check out Cameron (penny whistle, mandolin, and uke) And before I thank Jenna and Becky for setting this all up and being such fun to play with -- I need to point out Sam on banjo, with a disclaimer -- Hurry home, Macey! The kids are getting into all your stuff (your instruments at any rate.) And if you get home in the next three and 1/4 months, we'll even save a spot for you in the family band, 'cause there's always room for one more! Thank you Welch Family! That was the best 4th ever! Whoops, I almost forgot to mention Naji and Leah! They have so much fun playing together, we almost forget they're there! But then they are so cute, we remember them anyway.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Video Palooza

As promised, here is my Video Palooza representing how I spent my time from Mother's Day to Father's Day.

Like I said, I went to temple square where I attended an Organ Recital (which they don't let you record) and a Tabernacle Choir rehearsal (which they do let you record).

It was nice to see that  a choir as professional as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir still has to practice. I also liked seeing the bell ringers practice with the choir. It reminded me of my lovely sister Judy. Later, I told my mother, "If Judy practices really hard, maybe one day she can be a Mormon Tabernacle Bell Ringer." I thought I was being pretty funny 'til Mom said Judy had already considered it. Then there was the St George Powwow And the trip to the zoo where we saw Naji's favorite animals. What would a trip with Ben be like without having to punch him for trying to make me play the "circle game"? And if you've made it all the way to the bottom of this post, you're gonna find out the the Southwest Fretted Philharmonic did a short gig at the St George Rehabilitation Center. Naji recorded our two songs -- and apparently I need to give him a tripod. But hopefully we sound better than we look (P.S. Thank you, Naji, you're the best!) WOHOO, Band Practice Tonight!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Picture Palooza

It's the last day of my vacation. Tomorrow I leave this fantasy I have of being a stay-at-home mom and I go back on the prowl for child pornographers, spouse abusers, and irresponsible texters -- or whatever it is that I do in my work-a-day job.

I like to think that I didn't do much on my vacation, but it's been over a month since I've blogged. (I blogged on mother's day and skipped right over father's day -- or what I like to call "Make Naji Cry Day") The Fourth of July is just around the corner. If I don't get blogging, It will be Ground Hogs day before I know it and time to take down the Christmas Lights.

The following are pictures I've taken since last I blogged. (Stay tuned for Video Palooza -- which should be posting soon.)

1. On Mother's Day we skyped with Elder Runs Through "down ol' South America Way" -- meaning Mexico for those of you who don't watch Arrested Development. Apparently Elder RT felt the video provided by skype left much to be desired, so we took a couple of still shots to show him what he was missing.

As a post script, the kids wanted to line up tallest to shortest. Apparently they think JoJo is taller than me and Judea is the shortest of all.

I've also taken two trips to SLC since Mother's Day (both work related). And each time I toured the pipe organs on temple square. Judea graciously attended an Tabernacle Organ Recital with me (even though she claims that all organ music sounds the same -- except for the pieces I practice over and over and over).

On my second trip, Naji and Ben were my traveling companions. Ben was great. He saved Naji from a shark and held my purse on the Hogle Zoo carousel. He even drove the scariest leg of the trip.

Naji reaffirmed that the river otter is his favorite animal -- and both boys were good about visiting temple square with me. Ben played "SLC Punk" and Naji's temper flared when he realized Joseph Smith was "murdered".

Back in St. George, the city hosted it's first annual Powwow! I got some great shots of the kids in their regalia up at pioneer park. And by "their regalia" I totally mean, Joseph was wearing Elder Runs Through feathers and buckskin shirt, cause what's he gonna do about it "way down South America Way"?

 Phew. That was like 5 blogs rolled into one. I really need to blog more frequently.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I've taken an entire week off from practicing the organ. I'm feeling guilty, but for most of the week I was out of town at a conference.

The worst part of being away from the kids (besides just being away from the kids) is that I tend to read. Now I am stuck in a book that I haven't finished yet, and I don't have a mother to hide it from me until my work is finished. And trust me there are things I should be doing besides reading a book.

The best thing about my trip was that I got a chance to visit with my mother. And it was a unique visit as it was the first time we've spent time together one to one in ... wow, it could be decades. My boss asked me if we ran out of things to say. Nope. It was a wonderful visit.

In honor of Mother's day, I thought I would list the top 10 things I've learned from my mother -- or from my mother's example. Starting with Number 10
  • 10. Everything tastes better with horseradish on it (or as my mother says, "Horsereddish") 
  • 09. Music improves your quality of life. 
  • 08. Teaching your kids music takes more tenacity than I have (please note that 4 of my mother's 5 daughters play the organ) 
  • 07. Getting kids to practice takes a cunning mind -- Me: "Mom, did you know I used to practice to get out of doing the dishes?" Mom: "Did you know I used to let you get out of the dishes so you'd practiced?" 
  • 06. If there's not enough time in the day to get things done, get up an hour earlier. When I started getting up at 4:30 to practice, my mom started getting up at 3:30. 
  • 05. Always keep something in your purse to study. You never know when you will have to sit in a doctor's office or in a car waiting for your children. Time is too precious to waste. 
  •  04. When keeping your kids in line, a raised eyebrow is better than a raised voice. 
  • 03. The ward choir is about worship -- not vocal prowess. 
  • 02. Listening to Dad sing is way better than complaining about dad singing 
  • 01. The number 1 thing I learned from my mother, I learned from my father. "If you girls can grow up to be half the woman your mother is, you'll be alright." -- Here's hoping I hit the halfway mark. :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remember When

Remember way back when -- when all I had to worry about was mushy trills? Those were the days. I am sick that after all the months (and in the case of the Bach piece - years) of study, I choked on performance night. I was happier with the practice runs I'd had earlier that day. I just feel like I was fighting the organ. My articulation came across legato, and for no apparent reason I made really loud, obnoxious mistakes from panicking. Perhaps this is one of the stages of performance. Because clearly I can look back a year ago and say this performance is way better than my last performance. But that bothers me too because I know that a year from now I will look back at this performance and think "wow, I am so much better now." Which brings me back to how embarrassing it is to be this limited now. Anyway, the yogurt afterwards was great.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


The last post was Naji-centric. This post is going to be Joe centric. Joe has plumb worn me out this past week. He had concerts on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I'm just barely now recovering. Here are some highlights. 1) You know how I love Mozart (or you should know). 2) If you watch this video, make sure you check out his sweet solo at 1 minute 50 seconds 3) Nothing is sweeter that to see your boy in a flute choir. (Apparently this is the best way to meet girls) 4) And last but not least, here's Joe at the powwow And Joe, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I smooshed your car. And Jenna, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I forgot to ask Kevin to record your composition. Now we totally need to meet in some garden spot to make the music video.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Smooshy Trills

This semester, in addition to working on my non-legato articulation in my organ classes. I am also working on my smooshy trills. Apparently I start out ok, but then I get going too fast and my final notes loose all articulation and smash together. Smooshy. But isn't that how I live my life? This weekend was one of those smooshy trills. I raced to JoJo's band concert on Friday, got up before dawn on Saturday to practice and study before I had to pick up my vegetables and haul off the last of the caterpillar branches, study some more, then off to a fund raising fashion show, then race back to meet Joseph and Naji at the student powwow -- leave a little early so we can make it to Joe's orchestra concert. Go to bed, get up before dawn to practice and study, go to church, study, then go to Joseph's ensemble concert. Trust me. There will be more video to come. Let's start with the powwow and Naji. :)

 Also thanks to Charity for taking pics of Naji today. They were for her photography class. Man did we luck out that she picked Naji for her historic picture homages!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fair Warning

I've had a couple of complaints that I cover events after they happen but never give notice that they are going to happen. So here's my notification. The organ recital for the Dixie State College of Utah organ students (of which I am one) is scheduled for Saturday the 28th of April at 7:00 at the St. George Tabernacle.

If you want to know more about what kind of organist I am, you can visit the SALSA (Society of Awesome Latter-dat Saint Accompanists) Pedal Points blog. This week's questionnaire features me. Here is the link,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Beautiful

Have you ever noticed that there are those people who the longer you know them, the more beautiful they seem? And sometimes you think it is because the more you get to know them, the more you see their spirit shine through. And other times, it is because that person is growing and flourishing. Thriving. And you watch them blossom right before your eyes. When Jenna, our good friend (and fellow Southwest Fretted Philly), took the stage last night at Dixie College's Vocal Recital, my jaw dropped. I am used to her being more beautiful each time I see her, but her command of the stage was simply stunning.

And as an added bonus, she sounded great! I have always been a fan of her voice, but I could really see the work she'd put into her craft (although it is still fun to mock vocalists for skating by on their God given talent -- what are they a bunch of teacher's pets? -- or as we say in the field of theology, a bunch of best-beloveds)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bow Ties are Cool

Bow Ties are cool. And so are people who accompany other people for credit. And so are kids who say, "Don't post this performance," and then add, "because my next performance will be so much better," and then it is. Way to go Joe!

(Love the Bow Tie!)

Monday, April 16, 2012


quotidien m (f quotidienne, m plural quotidiens, f plural quotidiennes) Daily, everyday.

My sister Judy blogs about her everday activities. Of course I feel some of that sibling envy as I read about her fixing up her house or yard. I know I need to do yard work. I jumped on the weeds in the front yard early this year. My yard is the bus stop after all. We spent an entire Saturday getting weeds out of my lovely landscape rocks so the elementary kids could have a nice place to wait. And then it rained and rained and now I have 3 times as many weeds as I had in the first place. But the weeds had to take a back seat to my caterpillar problem. My 30 foot cottonwood has been infested with tent caterpillar and all their gross nests and bleck, bleck, caterpillar poo in my driveway and a caterpillar in my hair. I'd had enough

Saturday morning,a couple of the boys and I went to Home Depot and bought instruments of destruction and protection and we went to war. We pruned the tree and cut down every nest our 15 foot pruner and six foot ladder could reach. We were blessed with a cool and rainy day. The caterpillars didn't know what hit them.

 I'd like to say, "Welcome to my quotidien blog post." But pruning a tree on a Saturday still doesn't make yard work an everyday occurrence especially when I can point to Cameron and Joe's recital performances and another Southwest Fretted Strings performance at a music fireside last night. I guess I still know where my priorities are.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Ahhhhh, Stress

I don't know if this will be as good of a post as it would have been if I had written it when I thought of it -- when my household was a ball of stress, but I will try my best. I wanted to talk about how we handle stress. As you know, Naji is now a performer. Last weekend he performed at the Bach Festival, and Wednesday his school choir performed at Tuacahn. Each performance stressed him to the verge of tears. A part of me wanted to get after him and tell him this was easy stress compared to what he will face in the future. Luckily a better part of me asked myself, "How am I teaching him to handle stress." He'd seen me choke as I accompanied Joseph on Friday night. He'd seen me panic that the ukulele number would "never work" as we prepared for Saturday night. And on Tuesday night, as I prepared to play the Bach Organ, he'd seen tears stream down my face.

To top it off Judea had a big film shoot last week, and she was a ball of nerves. Her instructor was insisting that she not only direct her short, but that she also film it. And Joe and Cameron and Bobo all had performances.

So what did Naji learn. Hopefully, he learned that we all understood that everyone was under stress. We gave people allowances and did what we could to ease each others' burdens. And best of all, we didn't stop. We muscled through the anxiety and did what we'd set out to do. Goals Completed!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ahhhhh, Bach

The Bach Festival is in full swing. It kicked off Friday night with beginning strings and students. I, of course, will post the highlights here. I was sure proud of my beginning strings. It is hard to perform in front of people. Nerves kick in. Personally, I find myself wondering why I practiced so hard if everything I worked for flies out the window the minute my hands hit my instrument. But when I watch my kids, I think, "This is good for us." It's ok to work and work and work and not reach perfection. Bobo wrote a "What If" poem as an assignment in her English Class. I thought I would share it in this post...as well as a couple videos from the first night of the Bach Festival.

What If

 Tashiya Runs Through

What if poems
Wrote themselves
What would all the poets do

 Poets would become musicians

What if instruments
Played themselves
What would all the musicians do

 Musicians would become artists

What if paintings
Just appeared
 What would all the artists do

 Artists would become scientists 

What if inventions
Fell from the sky
What would all the scientists do

 Scientists would grow bored

 And if boredom
Ceased to be
 Bored people could
Write poems, Play music
Make art and Discover

 Just as every person should

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snow Way

Sammy called me from Alaska last night. He arrived safe and sound and said the weather is beautiful. Well that's just great cause it is snowing in Saint George!

Here is his farewell to sunny St George video.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Song that Never Ends

Ever heard of the eternal fire? Somewhere on this earth a flame is burning and even if it goes out another is lit. I'm so tired I think concerts are like that.

Somewhere on this earth someone is singing, an orchestra is playing, a musician is performing. It's the song that never ends. I've been to so many concerts lately, I have an incessant ringing in my ears. Of course that could be from sleep deprivations. At any rate, once again I am thankful to my children for dragging me out of the house so that I can enjoy some amazing events.

This first video features Ben waiting for a concert to start, because once he "quit" music, I don't get a chance to spotlight him very often. I was checking my camera/phone and filming his shoes. He noticed and made a circle on his foot. I may not understand the circle game very well -- but I know my reaction is to punch him every time I see that stupid circle. If you don't know what the circle game is, JGI (just google it). Another highlight of this short is the button he made and put on his shoe -- see if you can spot it.

The second video is another awesome Joe Solo. And the last but not least video is Cameron playing with the DSC Orchestra. Joe has now joined orchestra too and will be beefing up the woodwinds.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Naji's Progress

So we've established that blogging is a good way to track progress. Just consider this another pencil mark on the door of Naji's growth. Remember the concert in December, where the early morning orchestra kids played music after only a couple months of training? Well here they are after a few more months. Look how far they've come :}

Midlife Crisis

Yes, I am taking organ lessons. My midlife crisis has officially hit, and here it is:

I don't have much time left on this earth. What have I learned? Not nearly enough.

And so, in a panic, I am trying to learn so much more. Besides working full time, I am taking 10 college credits -- one of which is Organ for Majors. This one credit class includes a one hour lesson, a one hour masters class, and 21 hours of practice per week. It is my reward for working so hard on my File Systems Analysis class, my Small Device Forensics class, and my Criminal Investigations class.

PS I would much rather analyze a Bach Fugue than analyze the hex that represents the bits and bites on a hard drive. But, I suppose somebody's got to do it.

Anyway, if you've made it this far down the blog, I've uploaded a taste of what I am learning in my Organ lessons. I am learning to "add" a touch of flavor to my hymn playing. Below is a supplement to Come, Come Ye Saints that my teacher and I dreamed up for two of the verses. (Verse 2 gets the first ending. Verse 4 gets the second). I know mother has poo pooed the idea of messing with the hymns as it might throw off the congregation, but my ward hasn't been thrown off by mistakes, so why should they be thrown off by awesomeness?

PPS I wanted to play this for stake conference, but as luck would have it, the songs were changed and I wasn't informed until right before the meeting. Crazy, random circumstance or God's intervention? You decide.

PPPS This is NOT me playing. It's a midi. My playing is not this muddy :)

Come Come Ye Saints Organ Variation_final

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Holy Cow! February is Short!

I can't believe it's been almost a month since the last time I posted. I am going to blame it on February since it is such a short month, but I don't really believe that has anything to do with it.

I am finding that I like posting videos of performances since it gives us a way to track progress - so look forward to seeing a Naji video really soon. His orchestra has come a long way since August. He, as a musician, has come a long way, and I have finally found a way for him to play with the family (Yep, I got some new books called "Fiddler's Philharmonic" and I love them.)

But the new addition of orchestra instrumentation has not stopped the expression of band instruments at our house. Sure, Bobo's learning to play the cello has had some wonderful side effects. She now reads the bass clef well. This helps her play the piano and has helped her transfer her trumpet skills to trombone. Unfortunately, the more she loves the cello (she was made first chair this semester) the more she wines about the trombone (she is playing trombone with the school band now as they only have one other trombonist).

Anyway, long story short - in honor of February - I am posting videos of our jazz band playing at Sterling Court (an assisted living residence). Look forward to future posts including Naji (see above), the Dixie College Orchestra, and things I've learned in Organ Lessons.

PS - The Line Up
Runs Throughs:
Joan - Keyboards
Joseph - Tenor Sax
Bobo - Trombone
Sam - Bass
Cameron - Trombone
Mike - Trumpet
Logan - Trumpet
Connor - Alto Sax
Jon - Guitar

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Out with the Old - In with the New

Yep. Out with the old Holiday Season and in with the New Festival Season. Bobo has really been exploring her musical chops this year. Unfortunatly, I didn't film her performance in the Honor Band, but the next week -- when I found out she was also in the Honor Orchestra -- I couldn't resist capturing that on film.

Joseph invited me to his performance with the Saxophone Ensemble at the Mozart Festival. I asked him if the tune they were playing was any good. He told me it was pretty easy, but that they'd had to double up parts since since they had too many players so there were two people on first alto. What he failed to tell me is that he was one of them. That's him on the far left playing a borrowed Selmer Mach something or other. All I know is it sure sounds good!

Worst Cools

Both Naji and Joseph got the opportunity to hoop dance this month. Naji danced for his 4th grade talent show. Although he loves dancing, the attention it got him was a little much for him. After a couple of days of being told how cool his dance was, he came home and asked me why people thought being Native American was cool. (He doesn't like to be in the spotlight.)

Anyway on to the punchline. Naji said, "Native American is the worst kind of cool." To which Ben responded "No it's not."

I was baffled by this argument. Number 1: I want my kids to be accepted for who they are and not what they are. Number 2: I want them to be comfortable with their heritage. And Number 3: What's a worse kind of cool?

"Webbed Toes," Ben informed me.

Yep. Cool. But. Not.