Monday, April 29, 2019

Music Tip- Influence Your Small Circle


Saturday night I went to the MCO concert (Millennial Choir and Orchestra) at the Mesa Arts Center with a friend. 

This choir is composed of hundreds of singers from age 4-adults and is led by two brothers who came from California where they initially started a choir like this one.  Now 11 years later they have choirs/orchestra in California, Arizona, Texas, Utah and Idaho.

The brothers, Brandon and Brett Stewart are exceptional musicians with conducting, piano performing, choral and arranging talents that are inspirational. Their focus is on religious and patriotic music. They arrange music that starts with one group singing, and then they add the other choral groups to the mix to build to a gigantic choral and orchestral masterpiece.  It truly is amazing, sometimes overwhelming and very inspirational.

As I sat listening to one magnificent song after another and pondering on the huge undertaking it was to bring all these singers and instrument players together—the composing of the music, the rehearsals, the mechanics of organizing the singers along the balconies, when to walk in, where to go when they’re not singing, getting them quickly on stage, organizing a trip to New York during the summer with all singers in the 5 states performing at Carnegie Hall, etc, etc, I began to feel very small and unimportant.  I began to feel like I am not worth anything as far as music is concerned.  All my little efforts at teaching piano, ukulele and music classes with the moms/tots were so unprofessional and puny and inconsequential, that it was almost laughable to think of myself as a fellow musician.  Sure I can play the piano, but never on the level one of the brothers who went to Julliard can.  Sure I have learned to play the ukulele, banjo, dulcimer and mandolin, but only on a very amateurish, beginner level.  Sure I have organized small groups to perform, but only for retired people who don’t care or understand how unprofessional we sound.

I started thinking that I was worthless.  These brothers have touched thousands of lives with their musical talents.  They have influenced a circle of thousands in several states—thousands of people who both perform as well as listen in the audience.  My circle of influence is tiny.

But as I listened to the last song, Nearer, My God to Thee, and heard the beautiful, inspirational music, I felt God’s love for me as He gave me these thoughts:
"You are not worthless.  I need you to bring music to others who would never come in contact with the music you’re listening to or be influenced by it.  Who would bring music and happiness to Grandpa Tom when you bring the children to his care home for music classes?  I love him just as much as everyone else sitting in this concert hall.  And Grandpa Mike, whose smile and excitement to see the children make his whole body jump with joy, even though he can’t say a word to express his delight.  I need you to bring music, joy and happiness to him as well as Grandpa Reuben and Grandpa Gene, for I love them too and in their later years, they deserve to be happy and to find joy and feel love from others.
 And remember how thrilled Danielle was to see her husband and children sing and play the ukulele?  She said she hoped they would continue to play together.  What about Chloe’s mother who said Chloe doesn’t like to be in front of people, yet there she was playing her ukulele and smiling and enjoying herself.  I have billions of children living on earth. I need you to help me.  Even though you think your circle of influence is small, I need you to touch their lives and care for them.  I have placed you where you are and count on you to share my love with others.  You are important to me and I value your contribution. I love you.”


I sat weeping, feeling God's love for me.  So now I don’t feel worthless.  I feel like I am needed and though my musical abilities are small and may not be professional on a grand scale, I feel I am talented and gifted with musical ideas and teaching abilities that I need to continue to share.  I’m excited to share music with those around me!  What a privilege and blessing!!!!!!

What about you?  You, too, have a circle of influence.  Look around you at your husband, your children, your grandchildren, your neighbors, your friends.  Be the person they need in their lives right now.  Can you cook and take them something?  Can you listen to them?  Can you just love them?  

You can, and so can I!  Let's go do a small and amazing thing!


Thank you for reading,

Cathy
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Music Tip - Music Wins Every Time

It's the end of April and with it comes the end of my ukulele classes and my mom/tot music class.  I'm excited to have more free time now, but sad to end my teaching of a wonderful group of children and adults. I took my ukulele classes to perform for senior citizens and my last mom/tot music class was kind of bitter/sweet.  One of our grandpas who really loved us coming and responded well was moved to another facility--so we didn't get to say good by to him.

Here are some pictures with the ukulele classes, mom/tot music class and the residents.  They love us and we LOVE them!



 Thanks for reading,

Cathy
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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Parenting Tip-It's the little things that count!

I love reading about the thru hikers who hike the Appalachian Trail-- a 2,200 mile long trail that goes from Georgia to Maine. I dream that maybe some day I will hike it, but then I remember I don't like sleeping on the cold hard ground!  I bumped into a post on You Tube of a family of 7 hiking the whole trail (which takes several months) and the youngest child was only age two.  I watched several of their posts, envying their days of hiking and enjoying nature, that is, after it finally quit snowing for several weeks.  They were living a life with intention.

A couple of days ago I started reading a book about another family of 7 who took a year out of their normal lives to sail from the Caribbean to New York City with their five children (the youngest with Down Syndrome).  They had little money and little experience, but they had big dreams and lots of ambition.  They were living an intentional life.

Last night I started reading a book about following your ideas and dreams, though they may appear "stupid" and not achievable, and see where they can lead you.  Your idea may be the next million dollar start up business. 

I reflected on a conversation I had with a retired doctor who was volunteering at the same refugee center where I was teaching English.  I had asked him about his past and he told me his glorious life of traveling here and there and everywhere doctoring, teaching and doing wonderful things.  When I told him I had grown up on one street in Mesa and married and moved to the next street over and had raised my children there and still lived there--a street away from my parents-- he put his hand on my forehead and said, "Cathy, we need to get you some help!"

Yes, I have lived a pretty risk-free, non exciting sort of life.  I've only hiked a few miles on the Appalachian Trail when visiting grandchildren who live in Virginia, I have never been on a sailboat, but did get the courage, once, to ride on a water tube behind a boat in Tennessee. And I've never started a million dollar business from scratch , though I have had a piano studio for 43+ years.

I obviously could never write a book about my adventuresome life.  But I have lived a life that has been intentional, fulfilling and happy.  

I have intentionally stayed at home to raise, teach and nurture my children.  I have lived in one very small home with only one bathroom (for most of the time) and taught my children how to work, how to share and how to make do with what you have.

I have intentionally taught my children to love God and to serve others who not only live far away, but may live right in your neighborhood and are just as needy.

I have felt fulfilled as a mother as I watched all my children pay their way thru, and graduate from college, then marry fine individuals and are currently raising wonderful families.  I have felt fulfilled as a grandmother each time I babysit and play with my grandchildren.

I have felt overly and abundantly happy as I watch the sunset from my kitchen window while washing dishes, or hike in the desert with a cherished friend, or finally play a song on the banjo it has taken weeks to learn.

By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
Alma 37:6-7

You don't have to do a great and grand adventure with your family.  You can, if you want.  But please don't underestimate the seemingly small and simple things you are doing every day.  The sense of peace and security you give to your children by living your "routinely, boring" day cannot be taken lightly.  It is HUGE! 

Take a close look at your day, at your life, and at your family and marriage.  Smile and acknowledge all the good you are doing.  Go be adventurous!  Go to the library, the museum, sit and help your child practice an instrument, draw, paint, run around in the backyard.  

Whoo whee!  Life is good!


Thanks for reading,

Cathy

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Parenting Tip - How to be a Student

I'm in my late 60s, but I'm a student.
I teach piano and ukulele lessons, but I'm a student.
I've already graduated from college and completed a music endorsement, but I'm a student.

I'm a student because I'm taking mandolin lessons (I'm on week 3!)
I'm a student and just enrolled in a gardening course.
I'm a student and taking a fabric art class.

But there are many other areas where I'm a student, too.
I'm a student because I'm still learning from my children and grandchildren.
I'm a student because I'm still practicing things like learning not to judge and how to have faith.
I'm a student of the scriptures and learning new things each day I study them.

I bet if you looked at your life, you would realize you're a student too!

Sometimes it's fun to be a student.  I love to learn and accomplish new things.  It's fun to learn to play a new song on the mandolin.  Other times, it's not really fun being a student.  Not when I cower in fear or uncertainty instead of exercising faith.

It's easy to say, "Well, I'm just a student, that's why my efforts were not the best.  That's why I was wrong and goofed up."  or "Hey, what do you expect? I"m just learning?"

However, being a student-- a really good student---means there are certain requirements we need to fill, certain repetitions we need to perform, and a certain amount of time needed in order to acquire our new skill.

As a teacher, I tell my music students to practice slowly and play the notes correctly so their brain understands what to do.  I tell them to play a short section of their song many times in a row, perhaps 5-10 repetitions. I tell them to watch their fingering and do it correctly each time so their muscle memory can help them later on.

As a mandolin student I play the G scale on my mandolin over and over again.  My teacher says it's important to use the pick correctly, so I play slow and carefully.   I'm making progress but I wonder if I'll ever be good enough to play fast.

My teachers are kind and encouraging, both in my music, gardening and fabric art classes. There are some days when I can almost hear God, the Supreme Teacher, talking to me and encouraging me.  "Cathy, be slow and careful in how you want to judge that person."  "Cathy, I know you've read your scriptures countless times, read them again and pay attention this time."  "Cathy, you may not think you're making progress, but you are, hang in there!"

I'm a student for life-- learning and progressing one step and one day at a time. I will take it slowly, practice carefully and correctly, and enjoy each little success along my path.



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