Before I met Louie, I wasn’t a dog person. And now, right this moment, I am alone in a house with two dogs and two cats, for the next several days while my friend April goes on vacation. And Louie is also on vacation, so it’s just me, at home, working, and taking care of what is basically a zoo!
April brought her dog over the other night so we could make sure the pets get along. And they did, mostly. My cat isn’t a fan of other animals, but she is great at being quiet and hiding, so I guess she’ll just have to do that for awhile…better than being really mean and aggressive, which is another favorite of hers. (It’s funny because she is the sweetest thing ever to people!)
My week is going well. I’ve been teaching, getting near the end of the week here, and only two days next week! I’ve also been helping out at a local school and judging their high school orchestra placement auditions. Some of the kids sound really good, and others sound like they are terrified. Auditions are hard! They always taught us in school that committees can tell how well you play from the very first note, and honestly, it’s definitely a good test. The audition for this school starts with a scale, as many student auditions do. Students! Do not neglect your scales. I have been trying to take each part of the audition on it’s own, but for the students I hear that really play the scale well—I find myself wanting to score the rest of the audition higher. For those that mess up the scale, that is, for those that seemed like they hadn’t practiced it, I tend to expect the rest of the audition to go worse. The best way to set a good tone is to really rock out on your scale, and that makes the judge sit up and listen!
(This doesn’t apply for professional auditions as we don’t play scales for those. Maybe we should! But the part of “the first thing you hear setting the tone” is likely true across the board.)
This isn’t to say that if the student plays the scale poorly and then redeems themselves that I wouldn’t give credit for that. Not to mention, that the students who practice scales regularly are usually just better at their instruments than those who don’t. So this is a fairly unscientific blog post here. But I just found today and the other day, that the scale sets the tone. It makes me want to double down my scale efforts with my students. Many of them play scales to start their lesson, but not all do.
Enough boring scale talk, right? How is your week going? The last week before break is always fun for teachers because we (if we are lucky and have organized and generous students) get presents! I’ve gotten a few gift cards and some homemade things, and it’s always wonderful. I love getting gifts the students made themselves, with notes, and I also love getting gifts I can use. Some parents give gift certificates to local restaurants, which is great, and of course who wouldn’t turn down Target or Starbucks? Naturally I don’t EXPECT gifts, but I am always delighted to get them, the more personal the better, because I love when people are thoughtful and kind. I also know that some parents/families don’t do gifts and it’s not because they don’t appreciate me. (Well, who knows, maybe it is with some, but I don’t assume that.) In the past I’ve given small gifts to my students but it was usually candy. I decided a few years ago to stop because they get plenty of candy, and then worrying about various allergies is difficult, and MEH I just end up making sure to have awesome seasonal stickers and hopefully everybody goes home happy enough.
It is funny to me how evidently I’ve become a dog person. I definitely like the security of having a dog when I’m alone, and I feel safer out walking or running with Mackenzie than when I’m alone. Mackenzie isn’t the greatest runner but I’ve been trying to train her—that is, she loves running, but she also loves stopping and smelling everything, so I’ve been trying to get her to understand the difference between when I want to run and when it’s ok to stop and smell stuff. Maybe if I keep taking her out to run she’ll get better. (Side note: she doesn’t actually get to run when I’m running, it’s more of a quick walk for her—when she runs it is a faster pace than I can keep up for long!)
So there are my random thoughts for Thursday. Hope your week is going well!