Week 1 in Review!

We had a great start to our semester this week. Here’s a brief review of every class.

OVERALL
We now have over 80 participants, many of which are new to me. So, the day was something of a blur to me with so many new faces yet to be learned and names memorized. Things seemed to go fairly smoothly, although I learned that I simply must have a countdown timer on the wall, so that I can have a constant on how much time is left in each class. (Guess what Amazon is delivering tomorrow!)

GENERAL MUSICCourse Details.
This class was very satisfying in multiple ways. A good friend of mine who is a professional music teacher was pretty adamant that a 20-minute music class would be about all that a 6-year-old student should be expected to stand without getting lost to distraction. So, I had planned that we’d take a break half way through the 50-minute class, to give the younger ones a chance to step out while the older one’s continued after the break. But it seems that they did not lose focus at all. They were able to come to order and maintain order just like my older classes—and they even passed, to my surprise, the rhythm stick test, whereby they managed not to make a single unauthorized click with the rhythm sticks after we passed them out! I had not been sure what to expect, so this is a very pleasant surprise, indeed. We’re off to a great start!

BEGINNING BANDCourse Details.
Beginning Band went very smoothly, it seems. I was impressed at how quickly the new players seemed to get their first notes under control. One huge help, of course, is the fact that for several of the band students, this is not their first semester—so we have some built-in mentors. We had a few who were yet without their books, but I think that all that has been squared away by now. The challenge for those who are not true beginners is that this time through the curriculum, I’m asking them to put on another hat in addition to the “student” hat; I’ve asked them to put on the “self-coaching” hat, to be extra sure that they are doing things excellently. And so far, it seems to be working!
Also, a special thanks goes out to Lena Loftsgaard, who is our Band Manager this semester. She helps lighten the load from my shoulders in several ways, and I can see right away just what a good idea it was to bring her aboard.

INTERMEDIATE BANDCourse Details.
In this course, we have a “combo” of bass, drums, and piano (played by Kay, James, and me, respectively) and then a trio of horn players. It’s a new experience for the horn players, so they were a little on the quiet side, but they played well, and all three proved to be qualified for this intermediate level. I’m looking forward to making some good music in this class—and eventually to having our own “house band” who can play for the chorus and for the talent shows.

HOMESCHOOL CHORUSCourse Details.
Wow! Kay says I was “giddy”. The intonation was excellent and so was the vocal tone. New parts were learned quickly (as if over half the chorus have been taking piano lessons—and I think they are, actually!) We have 5 basses, and they sound great!
We sorted everyone into the various voice parts, and we’re not yet certain that we have everyone in the right place, but we’ll be figuring that out soon. Meanwhile, we have 7 homeschool moms singing with us, and will be in search of 3 more. Also, we need to recruit at least one more young man to sing tenor. I can’t wait for this class to get going. Our repertoire will be both challenging and very fun to sing.
As with the band, I’ve brought on a manager for the chorus: Torsten Loftsgaard. He helps with various details, and is also in a spot to observe the overall process with a view toward noticing whatever needs might go unmet in a rehearsal.

ETIQUETTECourse Details.
The attendance was a little lower than enrollments by as many as 7 or so, so the class had a different dynamic than I expected. Nonetheless, we quickly got into some meaningful dialog about etiquette, and it became quite apparent that one of the big challenges underlying the course is the general timidity and avoidance of contact with others (where it can be avoided). So we’ll be working on this all throughout the semester. For example, in an exercise where the students were asked to introduce themselves to an adult, they all (were there any exceptions?) seemed to express afterwards that they find such things very awkward, and would rather avoid them. So, in addition to working on the particulars of etiquette, we’ll also be working on the underlying mindset that keeps so many avoiding other humans, rather than engaging with them.
Thanks to Koarbin Anderson, who is the class manager for this class!

SKITS WORKSHOPCourse Details.
Is it possible to have more fun?! This group of eight had a blast! We read two of our new scripts for the first time so that we could size them up and decide if we dare run with them or pick something else. They were both big hits with the class—although one of them is so vocabulary-packed that it’s going to take some special work—and the other calls for deep Southern accents, for which challenge, the actors seem quite willing!
The members of this class will also be doing many of the announcements for the band and chorus concerts, and will be helping to emcee our talent shows. Look forward to a fantastic performance from this class at the end of the semester!