Joy in the Classroom

Week one of student teaching is almost complete!  And let me tell you, it is so good to finally be at my placement, doing what I’ve been studying to do.  There’s quite a bit that has happened in the past week or two!  

I am so glad to be back in Indiana.  Despite this wickedly harsh winter (cue: Frozen soundtrack!), I’m glad to be starting my very last semester as an undergrad. It’s finally happening: the beginning of my adult life!

There’s a lot of things that I could say about student teaching, but the one thing I’d like to record is this: I know I picked the right career for me.  It’s not an easy life path, that’s for sure.  It’s tiring and frustrating and political and germy and lots of other adjectives.  But most of all, for me, it is joyful.  I love teaching.  There’s nothing I’d rather be doing with my life.  I can think of nothing more fulfilling than giving children the gift of music in their lives.  

This week has been mostly observing and figuring out how things work at my student teaching placement, but I have taught dozens of lessons already and I am a pro at working the copy machine.  I’ll start working with the ensembles next week with warm-ups, then I’ll move into teaching pieces and more in-depth concepts.  I have now become grateful for how hard I’ve worked and how much teaching experience I’d had the past few years, because it’s making my life much easier now.  I’m completely fine with jumping right in to teach private or small group lessons.  For instance, I picked up a baritone for the first time ever on Tuesday morning, and hit the ground running with teaching and playing along a fifth grader.  

Also, this is not meant to sound arrogant at all, but these kids love me!  I am such a new entity for them, like an exotic bird they’ve never seen before.  They already revere me and ask me all sorts of interesting and weird questions.  It’s kind of fun being the center of attention.  I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!  And likewise, I love these kids back.  I absolutely love their energy.  You can’t do music without being a little energetic and passionate!  

Some highlights from the week: 

-My co-op teacher told one of the elementary bands that I’m in the military.  Not only did I get a lot of, “oh cool!” and “wowwww!” but a fourth grade boy came up to me after rehearsal and asked for my autograph.

-I got to play a pBone, which is a plastic trombone, if you didn’t know.  They’re very light and very easy to hold and play!  I love playing any low brass, but trombone is especially fun.  I sort of hated it when I played it in instrumental methods, but now that I’ve got the hang of it I really enjoy it.  I was playing this in elementary band, and my co-op introduced me to the class.  One of the bone players sitting next to me said, “yeah, she’s a trombone girl.”  That made me feel very accepted and happy!  It’s good to know I am officially a member of the low brass family.  

-I’m going to play piano for their spring musical!  I’ve played in numerous musicals on reed instruments, but that’s nothing like playing piano in a pit.  It’s going to be an incredible experience for me and so much fun!  I am honored that I get to do it.  It’ll be a ton of work but very redeeming.

-I’ve been playing a ridiculous amount of secondary instruments.  It’s so so so so fun.  Did I mention it’s fun?  All those semesters of playing secondary instruments for ensembles and private practicing is paying off in the best way possible.  I have several hours of lessons back to back daily, with a variety of instruments, and I’m having no trouble going from trumpet to clarinet to trombone to flute and back again all in the span of an hour or so.  

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I was sitting in my car on my first official day of student teaching when I took this!  I was so excited.  I’m still excited.  I’m so honored I get to be doing this.  

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I wore this today.  Can I just say that I love wearing teacher clothes?  I love being cute, comfy, and professional every day.  It’s just one of the many perks of being a teacher.

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In addition to student teaching, I’m taking a woodwind repair class, which is going to be the most relevant class to music education that I will ever take.  I learned how to take a clarinet apart on Monday.  Here you can see all the springs laid out!  It was kind of scary pulling apart an instrument but once I got the hang of it I enjoyed it.  It was quite relaxing and I like being handy with tools and such.  

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Another fun thing about student teaching is that I get to pack my lunch everyday.  I’m having such a good time coming up with lunchbox-savvy meals.  This is a delicious salad that has fresh basil, red wine and apple cider vinegar, grape tomatoes, and chick peas.  

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I made this for dinner tonight: grilled tilapia with spicy pineapple tomato relish.  It was quite tasty.

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Hot chocolate from Commonplace!  I went there for the first time this week with Jessica, one of my favorite people in Indiana!  We had a really nice time catching up after repair class.  I realized that while student teaching I’m going to have to make an effort to hang out with people because I never see any friends during the day anymore!  I’ll have to have quite a few more coffee dates in the future.

I guess that’s all for now!  Sorry if this post is a bit random and unorganized.  Having a ten hour work day, plus cooking dinner, working another hour or two from home, and getting ready for the next day will do that to a person!  The one thing I’m sad about is that I haven’t had much time to exercise.  I’m pretty beat by the time I get home in the evening, not to mention ridiculously hungry and not at all in the mood to put on my sneakers.  But, I’m just going to have to persevere and do the best I can, even if it only means working out two or three times a week now.  At least I do a lot of walking during the school day.  

Until next time!  Next post will probably be about how my first ensemble teaching goes.  🙂

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How To Make A T-Shirt Quilt: For Dummies

Good morning everyone!  As many of you know from my posts on Facebook, I finished my t-shirt quilt!  It took a lot of time and patience, but it was so worth it!  Several of you have been asking how I did it, so I wanted to write a blog post, with step-by-step instructions.  When I was making mine, I used other people’s blog instructions for clarification, but many of them were confusing or only geared towards experienced sewers!  So that made them difficult to follow sometimes, and I ended up having to ask the employees at Joann Fabrics for help.  But they, along with the blogs and tips from my mom who used to sew a lot, I managed to put mine together with few mishaps! Image Let’s get started!  I’m going to tell you exactly what I did for mine, although there are a few variations that you could do.  I just found this way to be the simplest and easiest.  In this tutorial, I’m going to assume that you know the very basics of sewing.  Like, how to thread the machine and how to line things up evenly. Supplies: -30 shirts -2.5 yards fleece (you only use about 2 yards, but I would buy extra just in case you mess up) -8 yards extra wide single fold bias tape (they come in 3 yd. packs at Joann’s, so buy 3 packs) -10 yards apparel interface material (it’s really thin, the thinnest interfacing you can get at Joann’s) -iron and ironing board -thread that matches the fleece -thread that can be used to sew the shirts together like black, grey, or white (it won’t really be seen unless you mess up!) -thread that matches the bias tape -good scissors for cutting (I recommend the brand Fiskar’s) -PINS!  Tons and tons of pins.  Your entire quilt depends on your use of these pins. Instructions: 1. Pick out 30 t-shirts.  I only used 26 I think, because I used both the back and front of a few shirts.  But basically, you need 30 different pieces of shirt for the quilt squares. 2. Lay out the shirts in a 5 x 6 fashion that is appealing to the eye and take a picture of it. Image 3. Cut out your shirts in the correct sized quilt square you want.  Use a piece of cardboard as your guide, and trace the cardboard onto every shirt and cut them out.  I actually used two different sized squares – the shirts in the 2nd and 5th row are shorter than the other rows but they are the same horizontal width.  I did this because of the design on the shirt was small, although having two different sizes did make it a big more tricky and in retrospect I shouldn’t have done it.  So, use one piece of cardboard in a size that you like, and stick with it! *Edit on 1/21/15: I now use a piece of clear fiberglass from Home Depot that I cut with box cutters to be the size I wanted.  It’s much easier to use than the cardboard because the shirt sizes are more consistent and I can see through the glass to make sure I’m centering the logo!  In addition, during this step, I don’t cut the shirts out exactly.  I usually leave a little extra, put the interfacing on (see next step), and then trim them both for a clean edge.  This also saves a ton of time!* 4. Iron on the interfacing to the back of each shirt. Image a.) Lay out a shirt facedown on your ironing board.  I did 2 at a time to speed things up, but 1 at a time is fine. b.) Put the interfacing on top of the t-shirt.  Interfacing has 1 smooth side and 1 bumpy side.  The bumpy side should be facing down, against the t-shirt.  The textured side is actually hundreds of little glue dots that stick to the material once heat is added. c.) With the iron at the highest setting but without any steam (i.e. don’t add water just turn it on), iron the back of the interfacing to the shirt.  Be sure to get the shirt corners really well or else the interfacing will fall off and that’s just annoying. The picture above is what it looked like after I ironed the interfacing on, but before I trimmed out each quilt square. 5. Trim the extra interfacing off each shirt. Image This step is fun because it’s not frustrating or time-consuming – the shirts are now stiff because of the interfacing and it’s so easy to trim them.  Enjoy doing this, because it’s going to get difficult pretty soon! Now you have 30 beautiful fabric squares and it’s time to sew! 6. Sew the horizontal rows of the squares together. Here is where your pins come in handy. a.) Take your first two squares in the top row and lay them side by side. b.) Flip the square on the right on top of the square on the left, so that the “right” sides of both shirts are touching each other. c.) Pin along the right side of the square, going through both layers of fabric.  Open up the fabric to double check that each shirt is where it should be (i.e. not upside down and pinned together on the correct side). d.) Sew along these pins.  I used the presser foot of the machine as my guide, so it was about an 1/8″ seam.  Make sure to take out each pin before you sew over it or else the needle in the machine will bend or break and that’s not good. e.) repeat this process, adding onto your two connected squares until you have completed the top row of your quilt. f.) repeat for each of the six rows. 7. Iron the seams in every row open.  Use your pins to hold the seams down and make them nice and flat.  Be careful not to burn the interfacing off and don’t melt your pin heads.  Basically, I used the tip of the iron and carefully flattened each seam.  Yes, it’s very tedious, but necessary. Image 8. Sew the 6 rows together. a.) Take the top two rows. b.) Flip the second row on top of the first row so you’re looking at the back of the second row squares. c.) Pin along the long bottom edge, doing your best to line up both layers of squares.  If you look at my completed picture, I’m sure you can see that mine aren’t perfect but it’s hardly noticeable. Image d.) Repeat for the middle 2 rows, and the bottom 2 rows.  So now you should have 3 bigger pieces, 2 x 5 each.  In the picture above, only the top two rows are connected. e.) Put together the three large pieces using the same process as before (i.e. flipping the second piece onto the top, pinning and then sewing.) Congratulations!  You now have your quilt squares all sewn together! Image 9. Iron the rest of the seams open.  It’s like Step #7, except do the long horizontal seams. Image This is what the back of my quilt looked like before I ironed down the horizontal rows. 10. Put fleece flat on ground.  Place your quilt on top, making sure both layers are as smooth as possible. 11. Find the middle two vertical columns.  Pin down both these two seams.  So in mine, it was the left and right sides of the shirt starting with the blue Africa shirt, then going down to the yellow pickle shirt, then the black and red orchestra shirt, and so on.   When attaching the fleece, you always want to start in the longest middle part and work your way out so it remains as flat as possible, but since there are an even number of vertical lines, pin the two middle at the same time. 12. Sew along these vertical lines. Image This is where your job gets super frustrating and time-consuming, because you have to adjust the material about every five seconds.  You don’t want it to get too heavy or stretched in one direction or else the quilt won’t lay flat on the fleece and it’ll be all distorted.  Fleece is stretchy, so be careful! Repeat the pinning and sewing process for each vertical row.  There’s 4 total. 13. Pin and sew along the horizontal rows in the same fashion as in Step #12.  Start with the centermost row and do that first, then work your way to the outside. Now the back of your quilt should have a very nice grid on it!  And your quilt for the most part should be connected to the fleece, except for the edges. Image In this picture you can see the pretty grid!  Doing all this also adds nice thickness to the quilt overall. 14. Cut off the excess fleece around the outside so that all the edges are flush.  Again, pin everything beforehand so both layers stay nice and flat. Image 15. Keeping the pins around the entire outside edges, sew a 1/8″ seam around the entire quilt. Image As you can see from the picture, I did each edge separately, then turned the quilt around and did the next edge.  Don’t forget to pull the pins out before you sew over them. 16. Now it’s time for the last part – the bias tape!  Take your bias tape and fold it equally around the outside edges, with half of it on the bottom and half on the top so it covers up all the ragged t-shirt and fleece edges.  It’s tricky to make it even the entire way, but just be patient and you can do it! 17. Sew the bias tape onto the quilt.  As much as you can, sew along the inside edge of the bias tape to create a nice rounded edge on all sides of the quilt. Image Congratulations!!  You finished! Image Now go show off your creation to your friends and family, and be warm!

A Blob (Or Blog) of Happiness

I know it’s time to go back to school when…

a.) I regularly have to remind/ask myself what day of the week it is.

b.) The days and weeks are starting to blur together into one big blob of relaxing and happiness.

c.) I am actually getting bored.  I need to be productive and do things.  Namely graduate from college.

 

So in addition to the gym (update: it’s still boring), spending time with my family, and practicing occasionally, I’ve been trying to keep myself busy….

First, I would like to announce I’m done with pre-student teaching!  Yay!  It took a while to get all five days in, with snow days and an inconvenient dentist appointment, but I finally got them all done.  It was such a cool experience.  I wish I was student teaching at this school!  I loved working with the students and the teacher. 

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This was on the last day at my little corner desk in the band room.  It’s not related to teaching, but I’ve been practicing this very pretty four-strand braid that I’m sporting here!  It’s tricky at first, but I’m getting better and better every time.  I love how it looks like a weaving in my hair.  I’m still working on the french braid equivalent, so it’s a side braid in public for now.

I’ve also been baking and cooking quite a bit.  I’m sure you’ve seen some of my posts on Facebook and Instagram, so sorry for the repeating pictures, but I’m proud of all the delicious things I’ve made.

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Spinach quiche – yum.  We had it for dinner on Monday.  My family is a big believer in breakfast for dinner – just last night my mom and I made scrambled eggs with ketchup! 

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This is quinoa cinnamon apple bake.  It’s kind of like baked oatmeal except with quinoa – I just love saying that word.  There’s egg, lots of spices, vanilla, milk, and raisins in this tasty dish – quite healthy for a quick breakfast and a decent amount of protein.  It’s one of those dishes where you can just throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix it together – the best kind of cooking in my opinion!  Soups, breakfast, anything like that I love to make.  This stuff is great if you serve it hot in a bowl with some milk poured over it and a little brown sugar.

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I made these just about an hour ago: mint chocolate chip cookies!  The recipe calls for pieces of Andes mints, but we didn’t have any so I just used chocolate chips.  The cookies have peppermint extract to give them their minty taste and they’re really good, although next time I’m definitely trying them with the Andes mints.

In addition to spending a lot of time in the kitchen, I’ve been sewing!  It’s been so much fun and I’m very glad I decided to start doing it again.  It’s definitely something I want to keep up, especially because it’s completely not music-related.  The other day I realized that I don’t have many hobbies that don’t involve music.  So it’s nice to do something different than I normally do, and I think it’ll be an outlet to avoid being burned out and stressed when I’m super busy with music education things in the future. 

I guess it kind of involves music because I do listen to music while I’m sewing, but it’s so relaxing to do so.  I’ve been listening to movie soundtracks like crazy recently.  I love them normally, but lately I just have really been enjoying them.  My favorite, hands-down, is How to Train Your Dragon by John Powell – go check it out!  You won’t regret it.  It’s so beautiful and quite musical, especially for a film score.  I remember being so surprised the first time I heard it.  I knew John Powell had written the music for the Jason Bourne series, which is so very different from HTDYD.  His more electronic, mysterious, and rhythmic Bourne melodies contrast significantly to the soaring, huge orchestral pieces in HTDYD.  He also wrote the music for the chick flick P.S. I Love You!  That man can do it all. 

Seriously, go listen to HTDYD.  My favorites are “Forbidden Friendship” (you have to see the scene in the movie too) and “New Tail.”

Anyways, back to sewing!  After a couple trips to the sewing store and asking for help from my mom and a friend, I finally got to the sewing machine to work.  Ours is an old machine and I was worried it would never work again, but we got it figured out.  So this past week I’ve been working on something every day for a few hours at least!  My first creation was…

 

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This dog sweater!  It’s actually a sweatshirt, with a cute little pocket and the hood, as you can see.  It even has a little opening at the back of her neck so a leash can be attached.  How can you not love it?  It’s made out a fleece material so it’s warm and cozy, especially good for the recent cold weather.

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Button was a little apprehensive at first, but soon she cozied right up in her new clothes.  I found her like this the next day in the basement.  She snuggled herself up in this blanket all by herself.  What a cutie pie.

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The most annoying part about making it was cutting out the fabric.  Using the pattern is difficult, because the paper is thinner than tissue paper and I’m constantly trying not to tear it.  I was working on the floor to have lots of space, which was a pain (literally) after a while.  But once I stabbed myself repeatedly with pins and got over my fear of using my super-sharp scissors, I got all five pieces cut with no major issues.  I also had to cut out the pink trim for the sleeves and bottom, but I did that part later.

I actually did the entire sweatshirt in one day!  It was really fun piecing it together and seeing the finished product.  I went very slow, making sure the fabric was always facing the correct way and that the seams were lined up. 

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The next day I made another one!  This one is a size smaller, which was much harder to make.  I had an eye appointment the other day, and one of the girls who works in the office brings her little dog to work everyday.  I was checking out, and we got on the topic of her dog, who sits in her tiny bed very quietly all day, and we got to talking about Button’s new sweater.  Jen said that she’d love it if I made one for her dog, so I did!  I’m going to take it in when I go to pick up my new lenses next week.  I hope it fits!  I had to kind of guess on the measurements.

My next creation is an apron (which I need due to all the cooking I’ve been doing!) which I’m about half finished with right now.  I love the fabric I bought for it – I’ll be sure to post a picture once it’s finished!  I actually have to make another trip back to JoAnn’s Fabrics because there’s ribbon for the trim that I need.  I also have been working on my t-shirt quilt.  I have to iron on this material called interfacing to the t-shirt squares before I can begin sewing them together.  It’s going to take a long time and I really don’t want to do it but it’ll prevent the thin fabric from stretching and getting distorted when I try to put them into rows.  So that’s tomorrow’s project: lots and lots of ironing.

Well, I’m off to go read a book and hang out with my family before bed.  I might watch a movie with my brother.  We’ve both in the mood for The Avengers since we just watched Captain America recently!  Good night beautiful world!