Georgetown Police Department’s Explorer Program is putting on a Haunted House in conjunction with a safe trick or treating event Oct 30th & 31st from 6pm-10pm.
They need actors both days to “walk around and act crazy” as part of the Insane Asylum section. If you are interested, contact Melissa Connell,

Awesome… way to vilify the mentally ill, Georgetown Police Department.


Thanks Nicole for introducing me to the P.S. 22 chorus. How I hadn’t heard of them yet baffles the mind.

Here’s a great article about them. More on how my job’s going later.

Today I started orientation for my new month-long job working as a day camp choir teacher for 7-12 year-olds. It’s a new program, so there’s no prior curriculum for me to draw from, and this is my first experience teaching kids music. I’m pretty nervous about being a good teacher. So I’ve been poring over several elementary music ed books, and in today’s trip to the UT Fine Arts Library, I was struck by how irrelevant a lot of the traditional kids’ folk ditties seem. This sentiment was especially magnified by conversations I’ve had with two teachers: my mom, and the elementary music ed teacher I met today.

My mom is an elementary ESL teacher here in Texas, so I’ve grown up hearing a lot about the difficulties the TAKS test poses for her students. They almost always come to her right from Mexico, though some have a few years of experience in U.S. schools. The one story I always remember is when she had to give them a practice reading exam all about the main character’s experience in a canoe.

Why would you write a reading exam about canoes for kids who come from a place where there are no canoes? How are they going to make sense of that story?

The teacher I met today mentioned how she started out trying to teach kids Kodaly and solfege, but she found that a lot of her kids were uninterested in singing old folk songs. They couldn’t relate.

Kodaly talks (I’m not a Kodaly expert but bear with me) about making children stewards of their cultural heritage, but our culture is so vastly different from the culture represented in folk songs from a century ago.

When I opened up a few old folk song books at the UT Library today, I found one song about a bonnet.

Who, in 2009, gives a damn about bonnets?

Okay, so nobody told me I needed to sing about bonnets from a songbook published in 1960. I could use the songs about rabbits or who’s tapping at the window.

My point is not so much about the literal bonnet. I’ve just been reflecting a lot on what I loved about my own music education, and mostly I remember the cool solfege warmups, and sight singing. (Though, who knows whether or not most kids love solfege?) Later, I started to love getting solos… but also getting chills when the choir tuned just right — when everything was in sync just so.

What scarred me were the experiences I had singing and doing choreography to music I felt was stupid — lame lyrics/subject matter, or cheesy canned accompaniment, or something from the Lion King. I did it anyway, because I was a good choir dork. And I learned a good skill: to grin and bear it. But my musical experience could have been so much richer — so much more challenging. I really want to engage and challenge the kids I teach, and I hope I can.

So that brings me to my lesson planning dilemma. What kind of repertoire should I present to kids these days? I’m convinced that it can’t be about bonnets in any incarnation.

My best idea is to try and arrange a few good pop songs. However, what, if anything, can I draw from old folk songs that is relevant to kids today?

If we are to truly make children stewards of their cultural heritage, perhaps my best course of action is to remix.

Whatever I end up doing, I need to have something planned by tomorrow, which means I need to stop writing this and start drafting out a real live lesson plan. Here goes nothin’.



There is a certain satisfaction that I used to get from putting feelings into words, parsing out revelations in journal entries. And yet for a long time I haven’t kept a consistent journal or blog. I absolutely have been busy — somehow, this past spring semester was crazier than ever and I have blocked out the memories of how stressful it was. Now that it’s summer I’m living in Austin and am working two part time jobs, preparing to start a third. And I’m not taking any classes, but I still have some books I’d like to read (not sure when that will happen).

So I’ve been busy, but not documenting much about my experiences and analyzing musical life the way I used to do. Without being able to put these things into words, I feel constantly like something’s missing. And something is — my sense of memory. My sense of where I’m going and where I am and where I want to go. It sounds obvious and trite, but I absolutely need to write these things down. The intention of writing more, however, hasn’t been enough to get me to start writing again. This is in part because I was too worried about my audience… writing the perfect entry, or not having enough to say about a subject, or alienating or annoying you, or writing about veganism or life as a 20 year old working minimum wage jobs when all you want to read here is… well, honestly, I don’t know why you came here.

Well folks, the fact is that I’m 20 and I have no idea who I am yet, and I REALLY don’t know what I want this blog to be. I want to interview people who are making important things happen, and share music I make, and projects I’m working on, and solicit ideas from you, and share ideas with you, and discuss musical life in this really strange age we live in. And maybe talk a little about food too.

My point is that from now on, I don’t care who reads this, or if any of it matters. I’m just going to write and see what sticks.

As I write, I am coming down from the high of spring break 2009. I spent Wednesday through Saturday at my first SXSW, a blur of neverending days filled with live music and good conversations. A few of those conversations, particularly those with Malory over at Playground Thoughts, made me realize I need to KEEP WRITING, A LOT.

The opportunity to write about and discuss music is more important to me than most of the mundane crap I do (ahem school), yet this blog has obviously been on the backburner. It’s going to take a little re-prioritizing, but I’ll make it happen. I have a backlog of all the things I’ve been wanting to write about, so little by little, I’ll get on that. For now though, I have to catch up with all the homework I ignored over the break.

I’ll be back though, for serious. See you soon.

Yo-Yo Ma is holding a contest in conjunction with Indaba Music to “collaborate virtually” with anybody who wants to create a remix of his recording of Dona Nobis Pacem. Contestants are invited to create their own counter-melodies or variations. Whoever comes up with the best rendition will get to make music with Yo-Yo Ma in person.

“The thing that I’ve always been slightly frustrated with was that the idea of a CD is kind of confined to a material possession that you can put on a shelf. And the idea of music, for me, is always about both the communication and the sharing of content. And so the interactive part is missing.” —Yo-Yo Ma on All Things Considered, Dec. 24

Ma’s idea for virtual collaboration is a good starting point in acknowledging that CDs prevent interactivity. I don’t see the harm in that. However, I’m not sure that it provides much useful interaction or collaboration.

interaction: mutual or reciprocal action or influence   –

The recording of Yo-Yo Ma’s cello is not reciprocating the other player’s musical actions.

Surely the contest will encourage creative thought. Hell, it looks pretty fun. But participation is limited to people with computers and a lot of spare time on their hands. What good will participation do for these people? When we create variations on Dona Nobis Pacem by ourselves on our computers to win a contest, who are we “communicating” with, and what are we telling them? Perhaps members of Indaba Music are successfully communicating with each other, but are they creating any peace?

Creating actual peace would mean communicating with those who cause unrest, who exploit and wage war, or perhaps communicating with those who are suffering because they are subject to that warfare or exploitation. Musical communication is most poignant and vital, I think, when it can unite people who wouldn’t otherwise be united and incite communal catharsis among them, and coax some understanding and change.

This contest is cool, but I think we can do even more. Maybe the winner and Yo-Yo Ma should not only make music, but bring it to people who really need to hear it.

What do you think? Is conceiving of “virtual collaboration” in this way doing any harm? What are some alternate forms of virtual collaboration?