“autumn flowing”

Hello, internet!  It’s Saturday evening and I couldn’t be more grateful.  It was a busy week!  But it, and the weeks preceding it, have been full of so much good stuff that I have no room to complain.  I have lots of pictures and events to share!

This blog is in two parts: teaching and non-teaching things.

1. Teaching.

Here’s a photo of some ideas that one of my 3rd grade classes came up with.  We listened to Vivaldi’s Autumn at the start of October, and these are their descriptions.  The top half is what they thought before I told them the name/idea of the piece, and the bottom half is what they came up with after I revealed the name.  I loved their creativity!

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I’ve had some tough teaching days this past month (mostly due to behavior problems at one of my schools), but I’ve also had a few really good teaching days.  This week was especially awesome.  The instrument rentals for the new band kids arrived, and they were ecstatic at being able to have their instruments.  In addition, on Friday I just had absolutely wonderful classes.  The kids were creative, respectful, musical, engaged, and genuinely excited about music.  One of the kids in my 5th/6th grade class (yes, it’s a combined class and their total number is 11!) told me, “This was the best music class ever.”  That might have been partly because we had just done 5 minutes of freeze dance to their favorite music to finish out the class, but I appreciate it nevertheless!

Disclaimer: This was the first time I have done a freeze dance because they don’t really have music educational value, but I felt like they deserved this one.  Plus, dance, no matter what kind, is a form of musical expression!  So that’s how I’m justifying what we did.  And the first 40 minutes of class were devoted to Jamaican and African drumming, folk singing, and understanding culture/history through music, so it was a very musically dense lesson in addition to the freeze dancing!  Soon, we’re going to do freeze dance to “Thriller” before Halloween.  I.  Can’t.  Wait.

They’re such good kids.  I walked out of school that day with a smile on my face, that’s for sure.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to my principal that Mr. Goodbar was my favorite Hershey’s mini in those bags of assorted chocolates.  And the next week, I arrived to check my mailbox and found this:

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It’s the little things like this that make each day here such a blessing!  She is a wonderful principal.

I was a substitute teacher for the first time this past week.  As you probably know, I only teach music 3 days a week plus an after school program and private lessons.  I’ve gotten on the sub lists for my schools, and my schedule finally allowed me to say yes to a sub job!  I filled in for the 4th grade teacher.  It was a pretty good day.  I think substitutes deserve way more credit than they get!  I found it challenging in a general elementary class.  I’ll definitely do it again though.  It’s great experience and extra income.

This isn’t exactly teaching-related, but it has to do with two coworkers that have been so kind to me.  My car is having issues.  Basically, I can smell gasoline from the inside and I think my gas tank needs to be replaced.  It’s unsafe to drive, which puts me in a difficult position, especially since I was planning on driving to the annual VMEA conference over an hour away on Monday. I was pretty stressed out about this problem earlier today, but now it’s completely resolved itself.  I’ve got an appointment to get the car looked at, I have a ride to the conference with another music teacher, and one of my coworkers is lending me her extra car until mine gets fixed.  I was practically in tears when Chris called me to tell me she’d come pick me up so I can get her car.  I have met some very giving people in Vermont, that’s for certain.

Just this morning, I was stressing out about dealing with my car in a still fairly foreign area.  I was all worried about getting to the conference, because I had to get there since I already got approval from my school to get this professional development credit.  I would’ve had to somehow call off the substitute coming in for me on Monday, and then figure out how to get to work that day and the next 3 days until my car’s appointment.  It was a pretty complicated mess, but in the 8 hours since then, one piece of the puzzle has fallen into place one after another.  Now everything has been resolved.  It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend the majority of my Saturday morning figuring out, but it’s taken care of and I know I have people looking out for me.

God is definitely presenting me with challenges living in Vermont.  There are many things that aren’t easy, like being a first year teacher, being a first year Vermont resident, dealing with unforseen car problems, and making friends in a new town.

But I need to learn to trust him more.  He has showered me with some many blessings despite the hurdles I have to overcome.  He knows me so much better than I know myself.

2. Non-teaching

At the end of September, I did this yoga day to raise money for an organization called Women for Women.  It was fantastic!  I got to meet a bunch of wonderful women in the area, as well as relax through yoga, dance, a foot massage, and a vegetarian lunch.  Here’s a photo of all the people who attended:

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Sometimes yoga is a little too “out there” and new age-y for me, but this day was just the right amount.  We did a little chanting and meditation which was new for me, but I liked it.  I used that time to pray and think.  We got tons of free goodies like local soap, chocolate, and lotion.  I also won a door prize – it’s an all-day pass to the Equinox Spa in Manchester!  They have tons of yoga, pilates, zumba, and spin classes.  I plan on using it on some Saturday when I have nothing to do (ha) when it’s cold outside!

Another activity that I’ve been getting involved with is a samba group!  Samba is like a Brazilian marching band basically.  All very unique sounding percussion instruments combined with South American rhythms makes for a very cool ensemble.  It’s the closet thing I’ll get to marching band around here!  We’re performing in an upcoming Halloween parade!  We all wear black with skeletons painted on, and face paint and colored ribbons on our drums.  It’s a big deal in Rutland, the city in which it’s taking place.  The people who are in the group are like a big family, and they have welcomed me with open arms!  I need to create my costume still.  That’s a project I’m starting tomorrow.  Here’s a picture of the studio where we rehearse.  The man who leads the group is a freelance percussionist and teacher who has this amazing, drum-tastic room:

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Yesterday was a busy day.  I went for a 6 a.m. run with two other friends, taught all day, helped with the after school program like usual, and then drove to Troy, New York for a concert by Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, bassist and mandolin, respectively.  It was superb!  I would like to purchase one of their albums. Their concert hall is like a smaller version of Heinz Hall.  I was wayyy up in the top section, and my only complaint is that the seats were plain wooden rows of discomfort!  I guess that’s what I get for the cheapest ticket price!  I would definitely like to go back for another concert there.  It was a great end to that Friday.

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Here’s a picture of the street the music hall was on.  Troy is more of a city than Manchester is.  It was a nice change from what I’m used to seeing now. It was beautiful all lit up:

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Okay, time to brag about Vermont’s beauty.  It’s incredibly scenic here.  Still not tired of the mountains and the clouds and the sky and the trees, never will be.  In the words of Walt Whitman,

As consequent from store of summer rains,

Or wayward rivulets in autumn flowing,

Or many a herb-lined brook’s reticulations,

Or subterranean sea-rills making for the sea,

Songs of continued years I sing.

Ever upon this stage,

Is acted God’s calm annual drama,

Gorgeous processions, songs of birds,

Sunrise that fullest feeds and freshens most the soul…

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Another reason why today got increasingly better is my new wardrobe!  A friend who I have gotten to know through running had a clothing swap at her house today.  I had such a good time with the women there, and I got some great new stuff.  I was like a kid in a candy store with all those clothes!  There were maybe 8 people there, and we produced this huge amount of clothes to give away/donate.  You can’t even see all of it in the photo!  There was an entire rack of dresses and a table of accessories not shown.

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A clothing swap is such a good idea!  To meet people, and to clear out your closet (only to put more back in it).  I would definitely like to host one in the future.

Go look up the song “Love, Love, Love” by the Mountain Goats.  You won’t regret it!

That’s all for now.  I’m off to put in my fourth load of laundry for the day.  (No, I didn’t get that much clothing at the swap.  I have to wash what I did get in addition to my own stuff that has been building up for a while now!)

I hope you enjoyed reading about my life!  I always appreciate your kind notes and compliments about this blog.