I am a bassoonist in Austin, Texas. During my studies at UT and Juilliard, I have been working to improve as both a performer and teacher so that I can use music to learn about the world and its citizens. Since I believe there should be no separation between great artistry and social consciousness, I am especially passionate about teaching in communities with little access to art education. This is my place to write about my outreach adventures and goals: to explore, share, and learn.
Last night was my recital to benefit Project Philippines 2012. I can't believe how successful it was. Thank you so much for everyone who came and showed their support! I raised $1784.12 for the team!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
If you weren't able to make it, you can still make a tax-deductible donation at: https://www.thefield.org/ContributionToSA.aspx?
We had our final day in Louisiana free and we are using it to rest from a week of hard work. Tonight the whole team will be set free in the French Quarter to celebrate and have one last chance to get beignets. Dinner tonight was out with the whole team to Mulate's, a Louisiana Cajun restaurant. Lots of seafood, spice, an everything fried! I was invited up to the front of the dining room by a 70-something Cajun dancer. He swung me around and lead me across the dance floor. When the song was over, he even gave me a certificate saying I was a real Cajun dancer!
Tomorrow I head home to Portland, OR for the ret of my spring break This week in New Orleans has been great and I have learned so much. I came with so many expectations for how the trip would be. But if I've learned anything this week it's that not all teaching is easy. It's my job to bring joy and make my kids and myself smile about music. Until next time...
Our morning was bittersweet since it was our final day on the Habitat site. We finished by nailing on the roof, filling in seems with cocking, and immediately went to the sidewalk in front of the house where we gave our performance for the neighborhood and the other volunteers. Here is the team in front of the house post-performance.
Today was also our final day of teaching at the Y. We had a quick run through with our kids and went straight to the filled auditorium. We did our stomp routine and it went great and the audience loved it! But when I went to say goodbye and good job to my students, they were no where to be found. I was incredibly disappointed that I couldn't have closure with the students who I felt like I had connected to all week. But I had a great time getting to know them!
Today was definitely a day of high and low emotions. We started the day with a tour of the Lower Ninth Ward, the spot of New Orleans that was impacted most from Hurricane Katrina. I was shocked at how much empty land there was and how many houses were yet to be restored or built in place of demolished ones. However I was inspired and uplifted by the work being done by Brad Pitt's "Make it RIght" foundation.
I was most disturbed by the levee. Where the original levee breached in 2005, causing the most damage to New Orleans, another was built in its place identical to the one that failed.... Um..? I think this picture really illustrates just how small the concrete is.
We continued our day at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA). We were greeted by the principal who fed us jambalaya he made himself! Then we split by divisions and all of the musicians gathered and gave an informal master class. The students were SO talented and excited about music. It was very refreshing to work with them and to remember that yes, I am a musician, and I do know something about music. We ended our time with a jam session involving everyone.
We also taught at the Y where we worked on our stomp routine with our kids which we will perform for the other classes tomorrow!
We have spent 2 full days working at the Habitat site now and it has quickly become my favorite part of the day. I'm finding it meditative to find myself a comfortable position and nail hundreds of nails for hours each day. Today I counted 457 but I'll do better tomorrow.
We met our students and my teaching team was... shocked. After spending hours planning lessons for 8 year olds, we met our group of ten 12-14 year olds. We made up a lesson plan on the spot with games and a performance of an etude by me. I was extremely disappointed with myself and how I handled the situation. I was so frustrated and inflexible that I let it really upset me on the job. That is something I would like to improve in my life in general: my flexibility. I'll keep working on it!
We did an activity where I performed several contrasting orchestral excerpts (Figaro, Tchaik 4, Rite of Spring) and as I played asked the students move with their bodies reflecting the style I was playing in. The kids were very creative and hilarious. Following the activity, we asked what they were thinking while doing the activity. One student, Alecia responded, "I felt rich when you played because it was classical music". I was struck by this statement. Why has classical music become something for only the elite? I explained to her that it doesn't have to be like that, that she can enjoy this kind of music too. And that if only she could see ME paychecks, she would understand that music isn't just for the rich.
The evening concluded with an alligator caesar salad on the Mississippi River with beignets at Cafe du Monde for dessert, and a bassoon lesson with team member and saxophonist, Braxton.
I have arrived safely in New Orleans. At the airport this morning while we waited for our bags to come out, dancers Nicholas and Gia gave an improvised performance of "Call Me Maybe." Absolutely no one watched or even looked--maybe this is a good example of how much the arts are valued.
Nicholas and Gia performing in MSI airport
Half of the team was not so lucky to arrive... They were stranded in Texas because they missed their connecting flight. Since they will slowly be trickling in throughout the day, we have been excused from our morning work to explore the city as we wait for the rest of the team.
The house we are staying in is great. It is a volunteer house about a 10 minute drive from the famous French Quarter. It houses 40 people (we are 22 including advisors) and 16 others from Georgetown will be joining us later in the week. Each wooden bunk bed is scribbled with signatures of past volunteers and I found a tiny spot on my top bunk to sign my name.
A small group including myself decided to spend the morning in the Quarter where we got a taste of how musical the city really is. Street performers were on every corner making more money from tourists than I maybe ever will! The Quarter is incredibly restored compared to much of the damage in the city caused by Hurricane Katrina. It is upsetting that only the tourist attraction part of the city has gotten the attention that every home deserves.
The spirit of New Orleans seen in the French Quarter
Eventually the whole team arrived and the day concluded with a quick benefit performance at Trinity Church. There were monologues, group dances, solo dances, and music. I was in the group that gave the world premiere of team member and composer Molly Joyce's "Connecting Music" (named after our motto of "Art connects.") and I performed in the group song, Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror". The audience joined in and tears came to my eyes and the whole room did indeed CONNECT with this song.
The team with the mayor's wife after our performance at Trinity Church