Thursday, June 21, 2007

Professor Steph

Writing this title, I'm reminded of our dear family friend Pastor Wil Alexander, who, knowing that I teach violin lessons (to little kids) at the elementary school, always addresses me as "Professor...."

Well, tomorrow morning I'm off to Yosemite, camping with friends. My brand new Canon 28-135 mm F3.5-5.6 IS lens arrived in the mail today, right on time, so pictures should be forthcoming in a following blog (if I remember).

I'm looking forward to a little vacation, since I can't afford to take off work time for an actual vacation this summer, thanks to the US Treasury and the democrats. However, I wish I had a couple of extra days this weekend to work on a project I just found out about. I registered for a conference at La Sierra University next weekend called the Camerata of Adventist Musicians, kind of a very small GYC for musicians. Wolfgang Stefani, a pastor and musician from Australia who has done extensive research into the spiritual nature of musical aesthetics and Adventism, will be the keynote speaker, and Israel Ramos, GYC president, will be giving the devotional meetings. The conference seems to be lacking in a certain amount of planning however, given that an advertisement email was sent out to all the local musicians after the actual deadline (and this was the first I had heard about it), and it was only yesterday that I got the email with the conference schedule and, oh yes, I'm assigned to present a lecture recital on Friday at 1:30...

I have to reiterate that this was the absolute first I had heard about presenting a lecture recital next Friday. So I've been frantically deliberating what I am going to speak about (we are to choose two pieces to present), researching about the music, writing a paper about them, and practicing them because I have to talk and play. I feel like I'm back at school again. Or perhaps I even feel like I'm a real intellectual scholar or something, presenting lecture recitals at conferences. Maybe I'll make the conference circuit, and they'll be asking for me at Yale. Or, maybe if the speakers are recorded, I'll even make it to AudioVerse (just kidding)! All right, enough dreaming and back to work so I can make a little progress on this before I leave tomorrow morning, because next week I only have two days to work on it (and they are full teaching days).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

On being a violin teacher, part 1

I'm titling this blog "Part 1" because I hope to do a better job in the future of collecting these little vignettes from the life of a violin teacher. I'm not nearly as good at remembering all the great stuff as my friend Joanna, the piano teacher, who's always full of great stories. But here's a start.

One of the assignments I give to all my students each week is to write down the title and composer of one piece of classical music they listened to that week. One fifth-grade girl showed me her assignment, a piece she listened to by Tchaikovski--perfectly spelled, but she said she didn't know how to pronounce his name. After instructing her on the pronunciation, I wanted to make a connection to help her remember this composer, since he is a pretty important one to know about. I asked her if she had ever seen The Nutcracker at Christmastime, to which she replied, "I've seen the Barbie version!" Good enough.

Today I was handed this piece of paper from another fifth grader. The student dutifully informed me the composer was Bach. I realize he did write a Coffee Cantata (this is true), but I was not aware that he wrote a piece to go with it for his afternoon snack.

Perhaps the Bach she had in mind was PDQ?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Throwing rocks at goats

Today I was listening to a brilliant opus by David Asscherick while getting some D vitamins by the pool. The topic was various concrete proofs of the Bible's authenticity, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Besides being infinitely powerful, brilliant, and loving beyond any human comprehension, God is also incomprehensively imaginative and downright, well, charming in His ways. Think of all the multiple millions of dollars spent each year sending the most intellectual scientists from the most prestigious institutions who have studied every aspect of archaeology for decades and using the most expensive and advanced technology the 21st century has to offer in hopes of finding shards here and there of material that might just give evidence for this and that in ancient history. Meanwhile, probably the largest and most important historical finding in archaeological history, hundreds of documents, beautifully preserved and sealed from antiquity in tidy time-proof jars, comprising almost the entire Old Testament of His Word is discovered by--a shepherd kid throwing rocks at his goat in a cave.

This is the kind of God I love to worship--who not only answers prayers, points us to Him, and protects the knowledge about Him, but often does it in a completely unexpected and often--may I say it?--amusing way. We don't have to accomplish a lot for God to accomplish His will. And yes, He does have a sense of humor.