Hitting All the High Notes.

Friends, I have discovered my secret teaching weapon.

My guitar, my sweet Eleanor.

Junior year of college, I wrote a song called “Constellations” about, well, constellations. It started out just as a class assignment, but I take all things space very seriously since I think it’s SO COOL. It’s also aligned with 3rd grade science curriculum and, according to peers, is strangely catchy.

Yesterday I brought my guitar to school, and the kids FLIPPED OUT. Seriously, they were going nuts. It worked out awesomely because I was able to say things like “We have to work reeeaaally hard on our morning work if you want me to play you the “Constellations” song later…” and it worked. Truly, it worked. They worked.

I took out my guitar before we went to the Star Lab presentation so I could play part of it for them, and I was whispering to them so that they were super quiet so that they could hear me, and they were so incredibly attentive. We were all sitting on the carpet and they were huddled around me trying to get as close as they could to the guitar without touching it. No joke, I started playing and singing this song and I’m almost 100% sure that I hypnotized them somehow. They were in this spacey/stellar/out of this world trance (see what I did there?), and when I finished I told them that they had to silently line up and, here’s the kicker: they actually lined up silently.

Needless to say my kids also rocked in Star Lab and also in science that day, so naturally I was incredibly proud of them.

Later that afternoon we looked at Google Sky Map on my phone outside and I gave them copies of the lyrics to the song (per their request) and y’all — WE SANG IT TOGETHER. I had this group of children singing my song that I wrote about stars all around me.

It. Was. Magical.

As they left for the buses, I let them each strum the guitar on their way out, which they loved. One of my students even pointed out that guitars were science because of the string vibrations (which, I honestly never really thought about until I took physics in college).

So I’m sitting with my bus kids in my room/Melanie’s room and I’m playing the guitar for them and we’re having an insanely good time, and then their bus gets called — so, naturally, I walk them down to the bus lot with Eleanor in tow and these children are STILL singing this “Constellations” song.

Best. Moment. Ever.

This instrument is seriously the best teaching tool I could have ever imagined bringing into my class. The kids are fascinated by it, and I think it’s cool that they get to see a little piece of my life outside of school (because contrary to popular belief, teachers ARE real people and teachers DO have lives outside of the school building). Having the guitar was so effective yesterday that I brought it in again today. I didn’t play it as much, but at the end of the day a group of bus kids came down with their teacher asking if I’d play for them. We played and sang (this one boy freestyled the most hilarious rap nonsense that I have ever heard) and walked to the buses, again with Eleanor.

It amazes me how much easier music makes everything. Today I even rapped about changing the “y” in a word to making the plural “ies” (I had kids dropping beats and everything) while we were doing word wall chants. These kids are so rhythmic, and I absolutely adore that about them.

Isn’t arts integration the greatest thing to ever happen to the educational system?!

I get really happy thinking about how happy they get during learning time when there’s music involved. I feel so happy because I’m ultimately doing what I love (teaching + jamming = heaven) and they’re responding to it in a positive way. Needless to say, I’m definitely planning on bringing in la guitarra on a regular basis.

…though this also means I need to start writing more educational acoustic folk songs.

Challenge: accepted.

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Post-Grad Playlists.

Well, it’s almost been two months since I graduated from college and it’s been about a month since I’ve been living in my own apartment with my roommate.

This whole grown-up thing isn’t slowing down, either.

Hopefully sometime next week or so I’ll be signing my life away to Durham Public Schools, getting a benefit package, and seeing my future third grade classroom…! It’s been such an exciting time and I couldn’t be more stoked to see what happens next.

If you know me, you know I love music. I love playing music, listening to music, writing music, all of it. I was always an artsy kid, singing and dancing and wanting to play guitar (thanks to mom and dad for FINALLY getting me my sweet Eleanor the Alvarez for Christmas in eighth grade).

To this day, I still enjoy all of those musical things that I did when I was a kid. I could literally sit in a room and just listen to music all day and be content with that. There are moments where I’ll put on some music, lie in the middle of my living room floor, and just think about a million and one things (Allie Pfeffer, you know what I’m getting at here). Music just makes me so incredibly content and satisfied; I’m not really sure that there’s any other way I can put it.

Part of my love for music manifests itself in the creation of playlists.

Yes, I still make playlists.

I have a playlist for most every occasion — getting ready to hit the town (Fine Fresh Fierce), running/exercising (Run Run Run As Fast As You Can), driving to school on a Friday (TGIF), dancing alone in my room or at my previous workplace (Cafe Disco — that one’s for all my fellow CoCo staffers!), contemplating life (Lie in the Middle of the Floor and Contemplate Life), and so on.

Seriously, there’s a playlist for everything.

I like that concept, personally. I like having background  music playing in my head for everything that happens since music is such a comfort for me. It’s essentially my home base.

Anyway, my love for music and creating playlists has led me to fabricate a playlist about my post-grad life thus far (these two particular playlists can be found on Spotify if you’re really interested).

One of the playlists is really upbeat, pretty dance-tastic, and definitely a must for having a good time. The other playlist, however, is a little more serious — kind of like a coming-of-age playlist that depicts the fact that I’m really growing up and starting to do things on my own.

I’m absolutely in love with this playlist and I can’t stop listening to it.

Featured on the list include the musical talents of The Lumineers, Milo Greene, Bon Iver, John Mayer, The Civil Wars, Joshua Radin, etc. It’s one of my playlists that I could listen straight through every single time and just be truly happy, playing back photo strips of memory throughout.

This is not the sound of a new man or crispy realization
It’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away
Your love will be
Safe with me

-Bon Iver, “Re: Stacks”

I encourage you to make a playlist for this season of your life. What songs would make the cut?

the power of music.

i could spend hours of my life listening to music.

i have spent hours of my life listening to music. i currently spend hours listening to music. i don’t really know what exactly it is, honestly — i just start listening to a song and then two hours later i realize that i should have been in bed a long time ago.

i really like that there are songs for all occasions, you know? there are happy songs, sad songs, fun songs, dance songs, pensive songs, sing-along songs — do you know what i’m talking about here? examples:

  1. happy: “first date” by blink-182
  2. sad: “the scientist” by coldplay
  3. fun: “how bizarre” by omc
  4. dance: “you make me feel…” by cobra starship feat. sabi
  5. pensive: “comfortable” by john mayer
  6. sing-along: “i want it that way” by the backstreet boys

note: this is a very small sample. there are plenty of other kinds of songs out there, like the ones that are empowering, the ones that make us want to fall in love, the ones that make us want to fall out of love, etc. really, the list is endless and dependent upon the kind of music you like.

isn’t it cool how music makes you feel? it’s mood-altering. i have a good friend who is doing a psychology research project for his senior seminar about music and its affect on someone’s mood. so cool.

anyway, the reason i’m writing this is because i’ve been listening to a lot of old school music lately — by old school, i mean a compilation of a decent amount of 90s music and just a lot of music i’m currently “rediscovering” if you will (which is a completely different thing i love: rediscovering music you haven’t listened to in a long time!).

do you have songs that you could listen to ALL the time? there is most certainly a list of songs i have that i could put on, listen to, and just lie in the middle of the floor thinking about life. i could really just lie there, letting the music flow through me.

i’m a person who thinks a lot. i overanalyze over and over, but this year i haven’t really been so bad about that. i came to that realization today when talking with a friend of mine — i have been uncharacteristically calm this year. i attribute this to prayer and relying on God, but i also like to think that it’s in part because of my release through music — playing music, listening to music, writing music, experiencing music.

it’s 1:33am and i was planning on cleaning my room and going to bed about an hour or two ago. instead, here i sit listening to the beauty that is john mayer and an acoustic guitar (the village sessions album found courtesy of graham dixon, who i believe shares my above thoughts).

and no, my room still isn’t clean.

dímelo.

i. love. this. song.

anyway, while i listen to that on repeat i’ve been thinking about what all i’ll need to take with me to lagos, portugal! i’m definitely looking forward to spending the weekend away, but i’m not too thrilled about leaving at 7.30am and spending five hours on a bus to get there. oh well, i know it’ll be worth it (look it up for pictures — i know i can’t wait to get into photographer mode when i get there!).

so i’ve been doing some thinking while i’ve been here — spanish people are my people. why, you ask? they love shoes, strong coffee, and ice cream.

i love shoes, strong coffee, and ice cream.

sidenote: monique and i went shopping today for a bit (still haven’t made any purchases…yet) and snagged some ice cream on the way back after passing numerous coffee shops and shoe stores (this helped me come to the above conclusion).

and now for a quick list! this is going to be kind of like my recent pros and cons list, but a little different.

why i could never stay in spain: ALL THE CIGARETTE SMOKE. between my asthma and allergies, i haven’t been feeling 100% the last day or two. i woke up with a sore throat today and was just off all day, which i hate. i’m hoping i don’t get sick sick, especially with all the trips coming up these next few weekends (see my travel itinerary post). like i’ve previously said, everyone and their mom smokes in spain it seems like (a european trend) which just absolutely kills me. we had some issues in the house the other day about mama’s son barto smoking in the house (yeah, a 43-year-old man lives with us…it’s kind of awkward but we deal) — hopefully we resolved everything, but we’ll see how that turns out next week after we get back from our little vacation.

why i could stay in spain: enrique iglesias. enough said (just gotta find him first though).

it’s been how long?! pt.1, connorstock.

so i just realized that i haven’t updated this since the FOURTH OF APRIL. so terribly sorry, friends.

due to the fact that i haven’t updated in so long, i’m going to start with the most pertinent thing to update you and then work my way back through other posts since i should really be doing work right now…oops?

so connorstock was this weekend! the weather was no match for co-chairs aviv and jerry and it certainly didn’t rain on their parade (i’m sorry, i’m just such a sucker for puns and things of the like)! we moved everything into the bottom of the union and it worked out really well! i played a three song mini-set, which was compiled of “vegas” by sara bareilles, “my sweet carolina/back to december” by ryan adams/taylor swift, and “what’s my name” by rihanna featuring drake (apparently it’s become my signature cover according to will?). the crowd was great and i was so grateful for all who came out to the event.

here are a couple of videos my friend nivi took from the show — hope y’all enjoy them!

it’s april already?

how did THAT happen? anyway, i decided that since connorstock is only two weeks away that i would upload a teaser video of one of the songs i plan on playing! check it out (sorry the quality is so bad — and yes, that is baseball on the television):

i’ve been feeling so unmotivated the last day or two — so frustrating! i have two papers to write for next week and just am not feelin’ it whatsoever. i think the root of the problem is that all i want to do as of late is play music and listen to music and write music and just have everything i do center around music. it breaks my heart that this has to be something “problematic” and “unproductive” in my eyes right now, but it isn’t getting my school work done! hopefully i’ll get [scholastic] things kicked into high gear sooner rather than later.

another chapter.

my friend sonny always provides me with the greatest new music to listen to — i love it! i’ve been listening to “another chapter” by states, as well as a little bit of william fitzsimmons’s new album. i definitely encourage checking out all of the above!

so i noticed it’s been ten days since my last post, which seems like forever in blog world.

i taught my first lesson last tuesday and was terrified to be teaching IN SPANISH to a class of 24 darling kindergarteners, but it went well once i got into the swing of things. i’m looking to plan my next lesson with my cooperating teacher on thursday — woo! hopefully my spanish will be better and i’ll be more relaxed when i start my lesson. fingers crossed! i’m really loving the time i get to spend in my kindergarten class — the kids are precious and they are so incredibly smart and it’s such a joy spending time with them on a weekly basis. i’m definitely blessed.

speaking of blessings, God’s been doing great things lately (as He does per usual)! dad and the team got back from haiti safely and from what i hear so far, the trip was a powerful one. i’m hoping to go down there with dad one of these days, and i’m definitely planning on heading back to honduras next summer to chaperone the youth trip (dad is fairly confident that it’ll happen again). i’m feeling pulled to do worship ministry again and i think i’ll try to get some practice in over the summer at concord christian and then come back to chapel hill in the fall to audition for summit’s praise team (yeah, auditions..intense!). we’ll see how things pan out these next few months.

it feels good being back from break. the beach was nice and i had a great time, but i just love being here in chapel hill in my element. i made the very difficult decision to re-enter singlehood a week and a half ago and that was anything but easy (hence describing the decision as difficult) but i really feel as though God is calling me elsewhere in life that isn’t part of a romantic relationship right now. i’ve gotten to spend a lot more time in the Word lately and it’s been so fantastic — one of the passages that has been sticking out in my mind is romans 8:24-25.

for in this hope we were saved. but hope that is seen is no hope at all. who hopes for what he already has? but if we hope for that we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

“who hopes for what he already has?” — i love that question. i’ve been reflecting and praying on this passage a lot the last couple of days and i’m looking forward to God revealing something new to me.

it’s hard to believe, but i leave for spain in less than two months! i’ll definitely keeping up with this bad boy while i’m studying abroad, so get psyched for more information about sevilla to come!

it might be kind of strange to call this post “another chapter” since it kind of hints at a new chapter of life — i mean, who starts another chapter at the end of march in the middle of a semester? well, i guess i do. 🙂