Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

I've been blessed with some of the very best male relatives you could ever ask for:

My Dad- Who is clearly the world's best dad and who makes up musicals with me while doing the dishes. Who has innumerable nicknames for me and who puts up with nearly all of my nicknames for him as well. Who is so supportive that sometimes I forget to think about the fact that he is supportive because it is such a 100% given. Who is such an amazing Dad that his students have started calling him "Pop." Whose grin I am sometimes mildly embarrassed to have inherited so precisely...

Grandpa Dan who thinks I'm "terrific" and who gives the best hugs ever. Also who put up with me calling him "Grumpy Grandpa" as a kid and who always loans me books!

Grandpa Frank who when he tells me he loves me says it with such sincerity that I can't help but believe and trust. Also who spelled his name backwards along with Laine and me when we were tiny tykes ourselves

Uncle Andy who can find more interesting things online than you can imagine. Who is both exhausting and exhilarating to travel with and who is the only other person in the family who knows what I'm talking about when I say "the dominant."

You guys are the best and I love you all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The weather here has been humid, warm, and basically very summery. So today for school I decided to wear a summer dress which necessitated shaving my legs. You know how I've been losing things? Yeah, my lack of attention also meant that I ended up cutting the crap out of my legs....

So I was covered in band aids today and the tykes? They're short. So those band aids? They were at eye level. I was trying to be all subtle about it- covering my legs with the skirt of my dress and not pointing them out at all. But the tykes? They notice things. So we had to have a talk about safety because between my crutches and all the band aids the tykes are a bit concerned that I'm not doing a good enough job safety wise.

In other news: parents' open music day is next week. This means that the parents get to come in an watch me teach their kids. I'm a bit nervous. We've been practicing performing in the classes because apparently part of open music day is that the kids perform a song. But it is also supposed to be a regular music class? And we would never perform a song in regular music class? So how much do I try to show the parents- "hey look! Your kids can stand in a line and sing!" Or "hey look! Your kid is running around the room like a hyena and suggesting things like that we should have a grasshopper named Darth Vader!" And really, I want to have both. So we'll give it a go. I think I'll aim to have way too much to cover just in case everything takes a very short amount of time.

The nursery kids are way better at performing than their older brethren the reception kids. Does this seem weird to you? It seems weird to me. Also, it always fascinates me how differently the classes respond to the same activity. We've been doing a vocal warm up which involves chewing imaginary bubble gum, saying "MMmm" up high and down low, and then rubbing the popped bubble gum all off our bodies. Some classes get *really* into it calling out all the names of the body parts they know, and others are like "I am in my does not pop." (I always envision them in gerbil balls when they do that. How funny would that be? Tyke sized gerbil balls?)

You know what the problem is with the reception tykes song? Why they're not good at performing? (This just occurred to me) It's a boring song. They don't like it. (Or maybe *I* don't like it and that gets obvious...) Eh, the energy will be completely different next week anyway- parents and an audience will throw everything on to a different level. Wish us luck!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm losing all my stuff, but I'm finding it again too

Today I managed to lose (and then retrieve) at some point during the day: my favorite water bottle (it is green and printed to look like grass), my only US to UK plug adaptor, my gamba, and my wallet.

This wasn't in one go- like I left a pile of stuff somewhere forgot where it was and eventually found it all again in the same place. No, this was me hemorrhaging my stuff. I left my water bottle on the DVD rack in the Barbican library, my gamba in the recording studio, my wallet was left on the check out counter at the library but I ended up having to sign for it down in the main Barbican foyer because the library staff was on it and being protective of the wallet which I really appreciated, and my plug adaptor was-to be fair- just under my foot but it was the last thing I lost and I was at that point I was ready to count it.

But Casey, why were you carrying around your gamba anyway? Because there was consort today!! A couple of weeks ago I saw Vlad, a cellist I've worked with a couple of times, carrying around a gamba and demanded that he let me play it. He was gracious enough to let me fool around on it for a while and we started talking about how wonderful viols are. I mentioned that I owned a tenor, he mentioned that there was now a consort at school, and I expressed my ardent desire to be a part of it.

So he hooked me up, and guess who it is run by? Alison, the cellist I originally saw at that now infamous Academy of Ancient Music concert my senior year at Interlochen. How totally cool is that? She says she vaguely remembers me from seven years ago, which I think is pretty darn neat.

We had a wonderful time playing six part consort music and I just love playing consort music. I really do. It was also a wonderful treat to get some playing time in that has absolutely nothing to do with my final project. So next week I get to do it again *and* I get a lesson! So cool.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


When is it appropriate or inappropriate to discipline someone else's child?

At the drop in nursery class in East London yesterday there was one child there with her mother who was being...bratty. She was maybe three I think and she was crying and grabbing at things that she wanted to play with- totally disrupting the class. If the child is a baby or under nursery age then I can totally understand the throwing fits- it's to be expected and it's okay. But in this case? She just wanted to play the drum and she wanted to play it now and that wasn't okay. And her mother was doing nothing about it other than looking a little helpless and explaining to me that her daughter wanted to play the drum. Yes. I see that. Are you going to tell her no?

So after a bit of self wrestling I eventually crouched down so that I was on the same level as the crying daughter and said "we're going to play with instruments later, not right now. If you'd like to play the drum, we can do that later in the class. But not now." Which actually, isn't even disciplining and is exactly what I would have done in my nursery classes before having one of the teachers take the kid away if they were going to keep disrupting class that much. And she stopped, and it was fine. So I guess my question is really more when do you just go ahead and take charge and when do you wait for the parent to do something about it? Because I don't want to step on people's toes, but I also don't want to stop the class because one child is throwing a fit because they're not getting their own way.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Odds and Ends

* Moises's brother is visiting from Spain to take an English course. He is 17, and you know how Moi is tall? Jose dwarfs him. So, in the interest of measuring them in feet and inches instead of meters, yesterday we whipped out my tape measure and gave it a go: Moi: 6'4", Jose 6'8" Did I mention he is only 17? He's excited about being in London where he can buy shoes that fit him. I congratulated him on his newest sneakers and then we had to have a long discussion about the difference in pronunciation between "shiny" and "Chinese"

*Moises recently got a computer which is great because A: it means he is around more often and B: it means his mom is on the phone. I *love* Moises's mother. She giggles uproariously and then sometimes she sings...also she frequently embarrasses her sons so that, even though I have no idea what she is saying (she's coming out of the computer's speakers in the kitchen), I can still look over, catch Moi's eye, and have him shake his head- at a loss for words. Seriously, she's the best.

*There's a tube strike! For 48 hours! Which is wreaking all kinds of havoc. I tried to take the bus home after school but with 3.5 million extra commuters, 100 extra buses (that's IT?!), and construction on Oxford street, I ended up walking a fair bit of it. Oxford street looked like a bus depot. Once I finally figured out that the buses really weren't going to go anywhere I got off and walked past at least 4 other buses from my route still trapped in the traffic up ahead. That is nearly an hour's worth of bus service trapped on one road...I can't imagine how far behind they ended up being. On the plus side as I was walking I knew that if I missed a bus when I finally got past the grid lock then there wouldn't be one that far behind.

I forgot to mention

A big box of instruments showed up from the local council for the tykes. They seem to be free (for a private school?) and I'm super excited: chimes, triangles, some bongos, wood blocks, a whole set of fancy bells that you push a button to ding, and TONS of claves.

It's pretty sweet.

Is it weird that *actually* the part I'm most excited about is the delightful, lid-locking, plastic box that it all came in? I've been carting around the drums and egg shakers in a decrepit, slowly falling apart cardboard box the whole semester so it's SUPER exciting to have a nice carrying case with easy handles.

Oh! And the beautiful wooden xylophone that can be in F, C, or G! It's super fancy deliciousness and I had to keep taking the mallets away from the kids because they would not stop playing it.

The Tykes are Back!

Actually the tykes were back last week, but I was in Bath so really *I* am back. You know what is tragic? There are only three weeks left with these tykes! I'm going to miss them.

You know what is funny about teaching tykes? A number of things. But what I want to specifically mention is the number it does on your sense of what size things/people should be. At the beginning of the day I walk into school and I think "How small you all are!" but that quickly normalizes and it seems as though the tykes are the size that people simply are. Today at home time a 2month old baby brother was brought in (awww! Such fluffy hair!) and suddenly the tykes looked GINORMOUS. Then, after the tykes had left and I had finally put everything away, I saw one of the nursery assistants placing one of their chairs out in the hallway and oh! It was so small! So full circle. There we go.

Today was eventful- the floor of one of the reception (kindergarten) classes had flooded so instead of three reception classes there were only two- with the third split between the other two teachers. This meant that A: I did longer reception classes and B: there were a LOT more kids. (Um, half again as many...duh.) Also- parent's open day is coming up and this means we need to perform! I guess. Anyhow- I had a bit of a lesson plan (though truth be told it was not 100% sorted out by the time I arrived at school) but that was soon bulldozed away and the head reception teacher and I hammered out a new one in order to make sure that all of the requisite topics were touched on- singing, movement, creativity, instruments, etc.

They're learning about forms of transport this term and so the song that they chose to learn is called "I like to ride my bicycle" I sang this all afternoon and still have no idea how it goes because as soon as I read those words Freddy Mercury starts singing in my head and that is a completely different tune. Thanks, Queen.

Another thing I learned today is that tights= maybe not the best idea. In every single class today I had at least one child stroking my leg. What do you do with that? Apparently Pierre, the French teacher (why do they have a whole class French teacher when half the kids are French?) gets felt up by the tykes fairly regularly. I've been told to trade stories with him.

Okay, ALSO? I've been starting to actually use some of the CD's in the various resources I've got because you know what? I don't play the piano. But what is hilarious is that they're all in British accents, right? So do I teach them in my accent? Teach them the accent on the CD? Sing along with the CD in my accent? Sing along saying "That's a fohm of transpoht?" (form of transport, they have much much much softer R's) Also, who says TRANSPORT?! (The Brits, that's who.)

Speaking of which- this bothers me: oriented v. orientated. Why the extra syllable, people?

Oh! Oh! In the nursery classes we are learning about MINI BEASTS! (Insects and the like, isn't that the BEST term?) So we were singing a song about our mini beast friends and they did such a good job learning the song. I was so impressed with them, big loud singing voices and all but two classes even learned the introduction/verse rather than just the chorus (not the third class though. The first time I sang through it one of the kids said "That song's too LONG" so we didn't go for it...)

In the song our mini beast friends (ha! makes me laugh every time I say it) are named Alf the Ant, Bill the Beetle, (Will the Woodlouse....we skipped that one), and Sid the Snail. Then, because I like having the kids give their suggestions and use them in the songs, we added a couple of other mini beast friends. The first class was fairly normal: Kate the Cricket and Sally the Spider (they LOVE spiders). The second class came up with this: Princess the Butterfly and Darth Vader the Spider.

I'll leave you with that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bath Ensemble

This is from the final night.Left to right we've got me, Ga Young-viola, Kynthia- the artist, and Eiko- violin. They were a joy to work with and are now some pretty wonderful friends. It was sad to have the project over!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bath was just lovely on Friday

On Friday we had notes about the performance the night before and I started to freak out because my group was scheduled for an hour and a half long rehearsal. An hour and half the day after we already performed?! I was convinced it was because I was so egregiously out of tune that clearly I was ruining the entire hour long performance with our three minute piece. (I may be a little wildly self conscious about my intonation...)

I decided that freaking out like that was terribly uncomfortable so I read a little bit of Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway which is my current personal development book and decided that I wanted to feel open to whatever the rehearsal was about since the performance was bigger than just me. I wanted to be helpful and involved and someone who was nice to work with rather than a pain. Which meant that when it rolled around to our time to rehearse I was bouncy and ready to go. Even more so when it turned out that it was about the staging and pacing of the piece rather than about my intonation. (whew!)

So we worked with the fellows Tasha and Detta and decided to slow the piece way down and stand so that we showed the length of the space and gave some perspective with the instruments. It ended up being an exciting process and made the piece 110% better even though we were using the exact same material. Since we also got rid of our music stands and memorized the whole thing- it also meant that the performance was exponentially more exciting to do- we were interacting as an ensemble even more and more to the point, we were interacting with the audience. It was much more engaging and way more fun to play. Before hand we had been huddled in the corner in front of the main screen and hiding behind our stands. It didn't feel risky and it didn't feel connected. After we changed the tempo and the placement and completely got rid of the stands (so we couldn't bury our faces in them) it was risky and connected.

That evening as a sort of second night celebration we ended up having a party in the church until the wee hours of the morning. It was brilliant. There was an 8 meter screen and the two, slightly smaller side screens with two curtains in front of each (for, effectively, seven screens layered on top of each other) filled with looping films of shapes and colors, a huge sound system (that during the performance literally shook the church), a fair amount of beer, and lots of wonderful people. I danced all night and did a bunch of hopping so as to not tear apart my ankle again. It was brilliant. (I know I said that already, but I mean it!) There is just something wonderful about a party with people who have been working closely together for six months and living with each other for a few days, all coming together to make this huge event and then dancing up a storm afterwards. Plus, it wasn't the last night so it wasn't sad yet, it was just exhilarating.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bath day two

It is hot here. Very hot. Also, I was carrying far too much stuff in the heat yesterday so now my ankle has swollen up to the size it was two weeks ago. They gave me an instant ice pack in the YMCA gym, but that didn't stay cool for very long so now I'm soaking my foot in a bucket of water. This has the double effect of also keeping my whole body cooler. Nice.

Today was a bunch of run throughs. We started at 10 with notes from last night, then did some more tech rehearsals, a walk through, and a run through. All of that took until 7. A lot of hurrying up and waiting. But the show is strong now I think and I'm really looking forward to the first performance in two hours.

The programmes, by the way, are beautiful. And plentiful, they accidentally had a miscommunication somewhere down the line and there are 1,500 of them. Since we can only fit about 150 audience members per night and are performing for three nights- quick do the math and figure out how many extras we have. Anyone want one?

Also- we've not been so good at taking care of the beautiful church. There are some messy pieces (beautiful, but messy) and we may have maybe spilled some ink all over one of the columns. Maybe. The church has been really nice about it though, but we're meant to be extra vigilant for the rest of the run. And we're meant to re-paint where we've spilled...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bath time fun time

I just arrived in Bath today. This year's MapMaking project is part of the Bath festival "edge of life" or something like that. We're in a lovely old church that has been really nicely redone- new paint, fixed ceilings, interesting brass door handles that are shaped like people- I'll try to get a picture later.

We've been doing a technical rehearsal today and I'm so impressed with how MUCH electronic junk they've got in the room. There are wires everywhere and the main screen is 8 meters tall. Crazy. Very cool looking though. Again, pictures will follow.

We've got a run through tonight at 9:30 because we need to have it be dark enough to be able to see the screens. Bath is an early evening sort of town though, so it will be interesting to see how many people show up. We've got performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Dave and I have spent most of today wandering around various places and talking through my IPE. Always nice to get more people involved. You know what I just realized? Whenever I start talking to people about my IPE, they more often than not volunteer to be a part of it...that's kind of awesome isn't it? (If I have defined it yet IPE stands for Independent Practice Inquiry and it is what our final projects are called. Mine is on June 29th and that is what the bass ballet pictures have been from.

I'm not sure how around I'll be for the next couple of days- either a lot of entries because cool stuff is happening, or none because the Internet is...variable. I.e., I have no idea whose network I am currently on...thanks though!

The food has been kind of suspicious here. We are all staying at the local YMCA, which is kind of fun (she says before she's actually tried sleeping in a room with 12 other people.) So today instead of having the supper provided the other girls in my group and I went to Waitrose and bought a baguette, brie, and mixed salad for sandwiches. It fed 3.5 of us and was only 2.90. How clever are we?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sometimes we're not so much "on"

I tried to make an outtakes movie of rehearsal today...