Spotted in Manila, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welcome, Spring!

After what seemed like a winter that would never end, spring has finally arrived in NYC! We welcomed spring in my 2nd grade class by studying Antonio Vivaldi's masterpiece, the Four Seasons.

Maybe I missed the day in my college music history class when we learned that Vivaldi composed the piece based on poems that he wrote about Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. I only learned this a few weeks ago, and my partner teachers and I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to incorporate the students' recent study of poetry, into my own lesson about music; I have found that combining multiple mediums for expression allows for more students to feel comfortable sharing their strengths and insights. To do this, over the course of two weeks, as a class we:

  • Considered musical ways one might choose to read Vivaldi's poem, Winter (tempo, accents, emphasis, pitch, mood, and pause)
  • Observed how Vivaldi makes these choices in the Winter movement of the Four Seasons music, as well as how he evokes the sounds of the season winter in the violin
  • Created a list of images and sounds that represent the season spring to us
  • Wrote poems based on this list that capture the sounds and moods of the season spring
  • Learned new terms, Concerto and Soloist, and how Vivaldi's Four Seasons is an example of a violin concerto

All of this preparation culminated in a small-group composition project. In each group, one member was a soloist who read aloud a poem which borrowed lines from each member's individual poem. Then, the other three members made up the orchestra, who accompanied the reading soloist with chosen sounds of spring as layered ostinati. The rehearsals and performances of the group compositions had the room filled with the music of bees buzzing, rain pattering, birds calling, and breeze blowing, and as usual, I was astounded at the well rehearsed, thoughtful pieces that these young composers presented. 

The lesson concluded with a class reading of Vivaldi's poem, Spring, and observational listening to the Spring movement of the Four Seasons. I was not surprised when the students provided very astute observations about the piece--noticing Vivaldi's sound-painting techniques of having the violin imitate the sounds of birds, and the bass imitating a thunderstorm. This is a technique so many composers use and considering a composer's sound-painting is a way that music theorists analyze masterworks. But my 2nd graders' ability to hear it all so easily reminded me of the genuine and imaginative ears that children naturally have when listening to music. It was quite refreshing to witness their discovery. 

I think this lesson was made so successful because of the students' knowledge and love for poetry. Here are some of the great, descriptive poems that the students wrote.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

today's inspiration...

"There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."
-Vincent van Gogh

Monday, April 21, 2014

Taco Blast goes international!

I just found out that the $100 we raised for Typhoon Haiyan relief at Taco Blast (Tacos for a Cause, see previous post) was used by JDR Mission Partners to purchase four 50lb. bags of rice. The rice, an extremely important staple food in the Philippines, was given to four different families in Tacloban yesterday, on Easter.

I'm so moved by all of our guests' collective effort to make this happen, and I hope these images of real Filipinos, our fellow human beings, make each individual who donated feel rewarded and happy today. Mabuhay and mahal kita. <3

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tacos for a Cause

A friend recently sent me a link to one of the internet's latest viral videos called "Happy - Philippines After Typhoon Haiyan". The charming video shows smiling Filipinos of all ages showing off their best dance moves in front of Tacloban ruins and damaged boats from November's Typhoon. I was so uplifted and humbled by the undying Filipino spirit that was captured so well. It also reminded me of the incredible destruction from the storm and that there are so many Filipino families homeless and hungry from the effects of Haiyan.

Check out the video here.

Realizing that we ourselves never got around to donating to disaster relief in the Philippines, my boyfriend Brian and I decided to host a taco party in New York City. The "Taco Blast" tradition is one that has been in his family for generations and we love sharing this tradition with our friends here. This Taco Blast was the 9th one that Brian has hosted and in honor of it being our birthdays, we called this party "TB 9: Tacos of a Cause". Since the Philippines is such a special place for us since our outreach work there in 2012, we thought that making the already popular Taco Blast a benefit night for the Philippines would be the best way we could celebrate our special days.

We made over 100 tacos for our 20 guests and asked that everyone contribute $5 to Typhoon Haiyan relief. We will be sending this to JDR Mission Partners, a Tacloban disaster relief organization founded by our friend Jun. This reliable organization gives 100% of donations to needy families by providing them with a 100-pound bag of rice. This goes a long way--feeding a family for at least 1 month.

I was so touched by our friends kindness and compassion during our taco night. Collectively, we raised $100, which will feed 2 families through JDR Mission Partners. I was even more moved by our friends' kind words in the form of cards which we set out with markers, inviting guests to write a message of love to someone in the Philippines. I will deliver these messages in August when I visit the Philippines. Thank you, friends for such a successful night in honor of the millions of Filipinos still impacted by Typhoon Haiyan. Mahal kita <3