My fourth thought from the last post [staying on track] was: plan enrichment opportunities. Along those lines, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into my plans for the next three months.
In deciding what my summer should look like, I wanted to find ways to both enrich other peoples’ lives, as well as learn and grow myself.
What does that look like for me?
June: visiting my family in Alaska. Alongside taking in the salty sea breezes and rugged coastline I call home, I will perform a recital for my former teachers, family, and a few dear friends. I haven’t performed at home since my senior year of high school, and I wanted the chance to share music with those who have shaped my musical journey from day one. I am also excited to share the work of a music nonprofit organization that I have been connecting with, and raise awareness for the many projects this nonprofit is launching worldwide!
July: a big month! – Traveling to Austria for Mélange Vienna, a summer music course blending culture, language, and piano! I’m especially excited to introduce Europe to my mom, who will be able to participate in this festival as well! Looking forward to a meaningful time of new experiences in the center of classical music. – Attending the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Chicago, where I will take in both presentations and workshops, spend time with dear piano friends, and present my own research on teaching young students counterpoint!
August: this month will be about planning ways to enrich my own students for the fall semester, and connecting with the local music community more before I leave to teach at Samford again.
What are your plans this summer? I’d love to hear about ways you have found to grow and learn during the upcoming months!
Summer is an in-limbo season for me. Feelings of freedom, spontaneity, and “the world is my oyster” jump to mind, but alongside the thrill comes a simultaneous urgency – the weight of everything I need to do before another school semester begins.
It’s easy to sink into relaxation after the last piano lessons of the school year are completed in May or June – whether that means becoming a regular at local coffee shops, sleeping in every day for a week, or taking long walks to appreciate the natural beauty that fills your corner of the planet. This time to rest and recharge is invaluable.
For me, the hard part is getting back out of that happy-go-lucky-ness and back into a pattern of highly-energized motivation and productivity. Different priorities take over: a laundry list of every day life [including…well, laundry]. Packing and unpacking as we move into a new home, cooking three meals a day instead of grabbing a granola bar on my way out the door, setting up summer lessons, purging my closet [spring cleaning hit me late]…welcome to the mundane.
So how do you navigate the balance of “everyday life” with planning, organizing, and gearing up for whatever August/September brings?
Here are a few things that have helped me adjust to the different-ness of summer:
get up early: make a cup of coffee, go for a walk or run, read a book, or plan your day. but don’t let 10 am roll around and still be scrolling through Instagram in bed! choose one or two days [hello weekend] to sleep in, but don’t let every day begin late.
write a list: sometimes the list of seemingly insignificant “to-do”s is overwhelming. where to start?! write down a “master list” each week [which can be added to], and then each day, pick 5-8 things you WILL accomplish in that day. you can even put a few things “on deck” for the next day. prioritizing is everything!
find a routine: it can be a weekly schedule, or even three things you want to do every single day. be consistent, whatever you choose. my three things every day are: practice piano, write in my journal, and get outside/enjoy nature. I’ve found that these are simple “tasks” I can rely on to engage my creative side, and replenish from the school months of pouring into my students.
plan enrichment opportunities: whether it’s a conference, festival, or performance, I want to continue to grow as an artist, teacher, and person through the summer months. this extra “free” time allows for intentional moments away from the daily grind, while connecting with other musicians, writers, teachers, and entrepreneurs from around the world.
schedule my fall: one of the things that helps me settle into summer is looking forward to September, and the teaching, traveling, and regular work routine that comes with a school semester.
What do you do to “stay on track” in the summer? Tell me in the comments!
Welcome! This page will allow you to stay updated on my life as a passionate, piano-obsessed educator, artist, and traveler!
So whether you’re riding public transit and chanced upon me by accident, working through a stack of CVs in your office, or clicked an instagram or facebook link that landed you here, let’s get you a cup of coffee and get to know each other, shall we? [This is the personal conversation bit you won’t find in my bio.]
I grew up in southeast Alaska on a rainforest island. Most people think polar bears, igloos, and sled dogs when they hear I’m from Alaska…or alternatively, ask if I’ve seen that Bush people show, or if “I can see Russia from my house” [which really never gets old]. But my experience as a rugged little Alaskan child was different from the stereotypes – it’s an incredibly diverse state, after all!
The ocean and mountains were my front-window view as a child. The Tongass Narrows (the channel of water between my island and the next one) was busy with floatplanes taking off and landing, fishing tenders, seiners, and gillnetters coming into the harbor, and bald eagles and seagulls screeching as they fought over salmon carcasses. Xtra-Tuf boots and raingear were wardrobe essentials, with ~160 inches of precipitation annually. My early years were spent on the water [fishing, swimming, waterskiing], in the sky [my dad was a pilot], hiking, picking blueberries, camping, and building beach bonfires on our rocky coastline.
My mom taught high-schoolers piano lessons from our home, and by the age of 3 [in addition to dancing around the living room every time she played Scott Joplin’s Entertainer], I was crawling up onto the bench and begging her to teach me. She started working with me on a few fundamentals [2- and 3-black-key groups, basic rhythms, and technique], and I soaked it all up like a sunflower facing the light.
I continued to take lessons with my mom and perform in yearly recitals until I started junior high. I then began piano studies with a teacher who had more professional experience, Trina [Elliott] Purcell. At the local high school, Trina taught music and math classes as well as conducting choir. She challenged me with larger works than I had learned before, like Mozart sonatas, Bach preludes and fugues, and Mendelssohn character pieces. She also challenged me to think big. I was learning French at the time, and after a year of both lessons and language studies, we began having our lessons in French, to push me further. With Trina, I also started accompanying the high school choirs, and becoming involved with local jazz bands.
When Trina moved back to “the lower 48” [we do actually call it that] to finish her master’s degree, she arranged for me to take lessons with her former teacher, Christa Bruce-Kotrc. Christa had performed and taught around the world, in addition to being one of the greatest advocates for education in Alaska, and building an Alaska Music Teachers Association [a state branch of Music Teachers National Association]. With degrees from University of Colorado [Boulder], Lincoln College [Oxford, UK], and Middlebury College [Middlebury, VT], Christa pushed me harder than I’d ever worked before. I completed my senior recital in high school with her, and to this day, her spunk, wit, passion, and drive have added invaluable worth to my music education.
College degrees are available on my bio bio…but this is a sneak peek of where I came from.
Thanks for listening to a little of my story. I would love to hear yours – comment here, or send me an email at email@example.com if you’d like to share your musical journey!