Posted by: emilyrfarrell | March 28, 2011

Perks of Being a Vocamentalist.

As a music education major finishing up my junior year of college, I have a pretty generous course load. On top of that, I am a percussion major and a voice minor and am therefore in pretty much every musical ensemble that will have me. Think I’m kidding? Concert Band, Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Touring Choir, Chapel Choir, Opera Workshop, Chamber Singers, GCC Singers (kind of like a pop choir), an All-Star Choir with the Pittsburgh Pops, and an All-Campus Sing Group. I’m probably forgetting something. BUT, in case you were wondering, that’s 19 and a half hours of singing a week. And then I have to go play a marimba. SO I’m crazy busy. But it has it’s perks.

I know something you don’t know.

Being involved in both instrumental activities gives you an idea of what’s going on in both. I have met many talented vocalists who don’t have the first clue about what happens in a band environment. And vice versa. Now if you are a vocal person who has no interest in teaching, that’s fine. I can understand that. But for someone in music education, it’s important to know how everything in music works. And I mean everything. And I’m not blameless in this area. I know a lot about band and choir, but orchestra is still beyond me, something that I am trying to fix. But when you are teaching students, it doesn’t matter if you are teaching band, choir, or orchestra. You are part of a music department and as a member of that department, I think it helps to know what is going on in the other ensembles. From the type of warm-ups they do to the repertoire they are playing, it is important to be able to comprehend what is going on within your department

For Sale: Music Educator!

While this is definitely not why you should become a vocamentalist, it can make you more marketable in the music education world. Now, in all fairness, I’m far from an expert on music education job market. But I do know that it’s rough out there right now. The way I see it is that the more that you can do within the music education spectrum, the more likely you are to get hired. Of course this isn’t a sure thing, but there is some logic behind it. Schools are poor. And music education is almost always near the bottom of their list of priorities. When it comes to hiring someone to teach it, it makes sense that schools would rather hire one person to do everything rather than a couple people to do individual things. Of course, we all know that you don’t need to be a voice major to be a choir teacher. Or even have choir experience. But do a favor to yourself and get involved with ensembles outside of your comfort zone. It’s a doggy dog world out there and the more experience you have in everything the more marketable you become to frugal schools.

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

You never know what you’re gonna get. Let’s face it, as a music education major you have no idea what you’re going to be teaching. You may think that you are going to teach high school band, but it’s just as likely that you’ll end up teaching elementary choir. If you’re not ok with that, you better be ok with not getting a job. Well maybe that’s a little harsh. But still, as stated previously, it’s tough out there. So the best advice I can give you, and this is coming from someone with zero experience so you know it’s good, is BE PREPARED. Life is full of the unexpected and when you are thrown into middle school orchestra and you’re a voice major you need to have at least some idea of what you should be doing. Take the time to learn a second instrument, join a new ensemble, and get all the experience you can possible load into 4 years of college. Life may suck at the time, trust me I know, but then you get to experience the knowledge you gain from being a vocamentalist. Or an instravocalist. Or and instravocastring-player. However you want to put it.

Shameless Plug

After all of that I have one more bit of advice for the few people reading this. Take a percussion lesson. No, sitting in the back of Concert Band and playing a triangle every 100 measures does not count. Even as a voice major, it is really helpful to know at least a little percussion. For the band person, the percussion section is like it’s own little world, and percussionists, especially high school percussionists, will just jump on the chance to point out that you have no idea what you’re talking about. Learn what you can and be prepared to help out the section that, let’s face it, basically holds the band together. That’s it for the percussion rant. And to conclude this article, I give you a Disney clip. Hopefully it will scare you into taking a percussion lesson. Or joining orchestra. Have fun!

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Posted by: emilyrfarrell | March 14, 2011

Baby, Baby, Baby! Oh . . .

So here is a question that has plagued many a band director since the dawning of pop culture: Where exactly does pop music belong in the realm of music education? It’s a difficult question, mostly because it accompanies the much bigger question, “What is Music?” While it’s true that you need more in a music program than Kes$a and Justin Bieber, there is definitely some benefit  to including more popular, recognizable music into you’re band or choir program.

Stuck In the Moment

Throughout history, it’s always been the same way. When my Dad was a kid everyone was listening to The Cars, Boston, and Journey. When I was a kid everyone was listening to Brittany Spears and Avril Lavigne. And that was what was I considered good music. If you dared to insult the Spice Girls in front of me, you were in trouble. Students today, especially in the middle school age group, are very opinionated about what is considered good music and bad music. You pick one wrong song and you lose half the choir, at least mentally. Now, of course I’m not suggesting that you only do Brittany Spears music in your middle school band. But there is a way use the music that your students love and connecting it to the classical music that you think is important. Even if it only goes as far as using pop songs in your choir warm-up, reaching the students on their level is extremely beneficial to the learning process. One of my favorite activities that we did in my high school was in my 10th grade choir class. Every Friday two students brought in a song that represented the kind of music that they enjoyed. By doing this, we became closer as a choir and our director began to get an idea of what kind of music we enjoyed. Not only that, but we were pushed to talk about the musical qualities of the song, the words and their meanings, and the different types of musical genre. In this simple activity we were able to learn a great deal about what qualities in music make it sound good or bad to us.

What Does She Want?

Let’s say you are teaching Middle School Chorus. Deciding that the students should get a say in what you sing for you’re spring concert, you ask the class for suggestions. Big shocker: it’s all the songs they heard on Glee. Let’s face it, while you shouldn’t ignore what kind of music kids like, it’s mostly crap. They don’t really know what they want. As a teacher, it is your job to introduce them to music that is not on the radio every five seconds. One of the best way to implement more challenging music is to pick songs that sound “poppy” but have some musical elements as well. Classic rock does wonders for any band or choir program. I went to a high school where almost everyone listened to almost exclusively hip-hop and heavy metal. And show-tunes. But in my Senior year we did a song called Show Me the Way by Styx in choir. While this is one of the cheesiest songs of all time, it was simple, had good harmonies, and sounded like a pop song. Needless to say, we ate it up and it was a tear-jerker at our spring concert. What we didn’t know is that we were actually learning about harmonies, descant harmonies, and I-IV-V chord progressions. The same thing happened in concert band. My band director passed out a compilation of songs from the 80s and everyone instantly loved it. But again, what we didn’t know is that it was actually one of the more challenging songs we were playing, and not just because I had to learn the piccolo. My band director was smart. He gave us a catchy song that made us want to learn the parts, which consequently made us better players. Introducing music to your students that is catchy without sacrificing actual musical skill can be an invaluable resource when teaching new concepts.

Never Say Never

Ok, I’ll admit it. All of the headings in this article have been Justin Bieber songs. BUT, this one has some merit. Don’t disregard popular music because it is simple and don’t disregard classical music because it isn’t. Both have their purpose. Use the music of the generation that you are teaching to connect them to what you are trying to teach them. Everyone likes music, you just have to connect what music they like to music they should be learning. But, never sacrifice good music for a crowd pleaser. If your students graduate high school only having done classic rock and show-tunes, they are missing a huge part of their education. While I love popular music, I believe that it is a teaching device, not the lesson. There is so much good to be learned from classical music, it would be a shame to waste it. Connect to your students and show them the wonders that can be found in the music of Mozart or Brahms. While you will undoubtedly find a song that your choir or band hates (Come Sweet Death by Bach should never ever have a marimba part) it is still important to introduce it.

Overboard

Well, I realize that I’ve said a lot of stuff. And some of it seems a little contradictory. It might be. Basically I think both forms of music are important. Implementing pop music can not only help your music program, but also help your students realize what it is about music that makes them like it. Teachable moments can come at anytime. So maybe next time you’re driving somewhere you could turn the popular music station and listen to what your students are listening to. Find out what is interesting to them and connect to them on their level. It’s as simple as that. And finally, my favorite classical-pop crossover: The Pachelbel Rant.

Posted by: emilyrfarrell | January 29, 2011

Why I Hate the Flute

Ok, let’s be honest. Anyone who has ever been in a middle or high school band has been ticked at the flute section at some point. It gets better over time but for the most part, as people who don’t play the flute (at least not well), we just can’t fathom how so many different pitches can come from people attempting to play the same note. And yet, we really couldn’t live without them (theoretically). In this article I hope to look into some ways to redeem the flute section of the band and hopefully send a little love their way.

They’re Not All Bad

As a music major, I am required to attend all kinds of senior recitals. So needless to say, I have heard the flute played well. Yes, it can happen. Not to mention that my roommate is a fantastic flautist. And while of course I realize the amount and time and effort that flute majors put into playing is ridiculous to ask of flute players in middle school band, it shows that there is hope. Listening to solo flute has taught me that it can be a beautiful instrument with a good tone and intonation. A good flautist can go up in front of a group of people, tune with the piano, and play a remarkable (if not overly-complicated) piece that blends is actually in tune with the accompaniment. What does this have to do with band? Good question. Have your flute players become familiar with the habits of professional flautists. Heck – have your flute players become familiar with the idea of professional flautists! Most students could not name one famous flute player. I know I can’t. So I Googled one. And I found a website filled with famous flute players. This provides your students with a role model of sorts because, let’s face it, you really don’t want to be a flautist’s role model do you? I’m not suggesting that you encourage all your little flute players to be soloists (although most of them already play like they are) but I do think that listening to a flautist that has perfected their tone and intonation can help your students understand that there is more than simply coming to band, taking their flute out the case, and playing. There is such a thing as practicing and tuning.

Shoot Both of Them.

Some of my favorite band jokes of all time are the ones about flutes. So I’m going to take this opportunity to share a few with you:

Q: 5 Flutes drive off a cliff in a mini-van. Where’s the tragedy?

A: You could easily fit 8 in a mini-van.

Q: What’s the definition of a minor second?

A: Two flautists playing in unison.

And my all-time favorite (and inspiration for the title of this section):

Q: How do you tune two flutes?

A: Shoot both of them.

While these jokes are kind of mean, not to mention just plain old immature, the last one asks a valid question: How do you tune two flutes? A: I have no idea, but please don’t shoot your flute players. The truth is it’s not easy, but I have seen it done. That’s right folks, mark it down in the history books, I have seen two flutes play together IN TUNE. It was fantastic. And it was last night! At Grove City College we have a Concerto Competition  where people compete to win one of three spots to play with the Grove City College Orchestra. During the program two of the flute majors at the college played a fantastic duet that was rhythmically superb (yeah I’m a percussion major, that impressed me). What was even more impressive to me was their intonation with each other and their piano accompaniment. While they did not win the competition, the proved a point to me: It can happen. How? By teaching your students how to tune you are helping them to check themselves not just at the beginning of rehearsal, but through the rehearsal and performance.

Moral of the Story:

I am so not an expert on the flute. In fact, as stated in the title, I really cannot stand the flute, specifically in a band setting. However: I can see its importance to the overall sound and it is my goal, as a future educator, to make sure that flutes don’t always suck. So give examples of professionals, teach your students how to tune on their own, maybe even learn how to do that last one yourself, and constantly remind them that even though you secretly loathe them, they are a vital, piercing, part of the ensemble. Your flute section can make or break the sound of the entire band, so do yourself a favor and help them suck less. And as a final word on the subject, I give you my favorite flute piece of all time. Seriously, you just can’t go wrong with Carmen.

Posted by: emilyrfarrell | January 11, 2011

One Note Please!

This week I am observing high school and middle school chorus and musical rehearsals for field experience. It’s a pretty interesting but also quite annoying. After three years of getting used to the big, beautiful, college choir sound that I forgot how younger choirs can sound. The biggest problem is the men’s section, or lack there of. While the teacher was warming up the choir, I noticed that most of the boys in the choir were either not singing or singing on the wrong pitch. As I continued to listen, I noticed that many of the girls were doing the same thing. It was quite obvious that a good portion of the choir was not singing any where close to the right note, and the teacher did nothing about it. Now I’m not saying that this teacher was a bad one. She is really a good teacher but because she was an instrumental major in college, she just didn’t know how to fix the problem. Although intonation will never be the number one focus in middle and high school choirs, there are ways to try and get the choir singing the right notes.

One Note.

It is really important to warm up with scales and other exercises to warm up the entire range. But one way to get your choir moving in the right direction is to just sing one note. Yep that’s it. Have your choir sing a note and just stay on it till every one is singing the same note. Now for a lot of choirs, that is no problem at all. But in a lot of cases, there are students in the choir who are not necessarily singers. What happens a lot of times is when there are not enough people in the choir, most often boys, teachers recruit just about anyone to add more voices. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong, but it is definitely harder to work with these students who have no musical background. Another instance where this would be helpful is in schools that require a music credit of some kind, which is the case in the school I am currently observing. Students in middle school are required to have some kind of music class, be it band, choir, piano, or guitar. A lot of kids take choir because they see it as a class where they cannot do anything and get away with it. Yeah right. Seriously kids, join band. You’ll have to do something but at least you can sit in the percussion section and be untalented. Just kidding. But seriously. Back on point, doing an exercise where all the students will give you opportunity to 1) actually hear your choir sing the same not (a miracle for many choir directors), and 2) find out which students are having the most trouble find the note.

Sing It On Sight.

I know this is a little far fetched for a lot of choirs, but seriously, starting this when kids are in middle school would save you so much trouble. First of all, so much time is wasted having to play out all the individual parts. You have to play the soprano part, then have them sing it a couple times while the altos, tenors, and basses are sitting around waiting for their turn. Just doing a measure of sight singing a day could save you so much time. Second of all, it will drastically improve the overall sound of your choir. Seriously. The ability to sight read, even a little, makes it easier for students to find the right notes on a regular basis. The problem for a lot of students is that they look at the notes on the page and have no idea what’s going on. Sure, they can read music while plunking it out on the piano, but singing notes off a page is totally different (which was a rude awakening for me when I got to college). Practicing a little sight reading a day can save you so many headaches in the future.

Maria!

So you don’t have enough to do a little sight reading every day, huh? While that’s just silly, another great way to get some of your less musical choir members on the same page (a.k.a. note) is learning your intervals. (Do you get the title now? It’s a tritone! I thought about that one for a while.) Learning the different intervals is not only helpful, but fun! Well, maybe not the most fun thing ever but it definitely has a couple high points. Teach your students different songs for the different intervals. Almost everyone does it, and it really does help. Especially when you can use songs that you are doing in choir. If you have a challenging interval in one of your songs, sing it over and over again till they get it. Then, while they will temporarily ticked at you for getting it stuck in their heads, they can use that knowledge of the sound of that interval and use it whenever they see it in music. It’s also fun to toss around popular songs that use different intervals. It’s a fun way to learn and remember them forever. It also is the first step to better sight singing. So even if you are not doing regular sight reading exercises students will start to recognize the different intervals within the music and hence be able to sing it better.

Goodness I’m Long-winded Today.

What I’m trying to get across through this longer than necessary article is that teacher’s should not give up hope on a choir that is maybe a bit pitchy. To often, directors that have kids that don’t really want to be there give up on intonation and even singing the right notes. I know it can be hard to get kids under control. As I’ve mentioned before, I was that kid in high school so I know what it’s like to be disruptive. I do think that by showing the students that you care about the right notes, they will start to care as well. If you are focusing on the talking and the noise, so will the students. So show the kids that you car. Hum a few notes, sight sing a few bars, and sing some West Side Story. Focus on what matters, and the students just might follow suit. And, sticking to tradition, here is a wonderful Random Act of Culture, because who doesn’t love Carmen? More to come soon!



Posted by: emilyrfarrell | December 26, 2010

HELP! My alto’s won’t shut up!

Yeah, that’s right. I’m not just a band geek. I’ve been singing in choir’s since I was eight years old and I’m minoring in voice in school. And in this experience I have met many belters. You know the type: the girl in the alto section that stops singing once the part goes up to a D5 and uses chest voice to sing everything else. She also might try to sing tenor because the alto part is “too high”. She’s dumb. There are several ways to get the belters in your choir to shut up, and improve the sound of your choir as well.

Oh Hello Dear!

It is important to remind your alto’s that they have the ability to sing higher notes. But they have to stop using their chest voice. That sound can work wonders for some songs but for most it’s just not appropriate except for the really low notes. So first things firsts, tell your alto section that just because they can belt something, doesn’t mean they should. Actually, they probably shouldn’t. And don’t listen to them if they say they can’t. They can. The siren exercise is one of the best ways for anyone to access their head voice. If you’ve ever done choir, you’ve probably done this one. You have your students start on any note, it doesn’t have to be the same one, in the middle of their range and slide up to the top of their range and then slide back down. Other ways of doing this would be starting at the bottom and just going to the top or just starting at the top and going down. My friend Chris Bruce shared his version of this warm up in our music methods class by quoting Mrs. Doubtfire. This warm up is fun and a perfect way to get alto’s out of their chest voice without much effort.

Shhhhh!!!

Nothing will ruin a quiet, moving song like a alto trying to be heard. While C4-G4 are well within an alto’s belting range, it it almost never appropriate for the song. So while it may feel more comfortable for your alto’s to sing that in their chest voice, it is best for the overall sound for them to sing it falsetto. However, it may take more than simply telling them to get the sound that you’re searching for. One of the simplest warm ups you can use to fix this problem is a descending scale, either an octave or just a fifth. Listen to your alto’s do this and make sure they aren’t switching into chest voice. Once they know how it feels and are conscious of how it sounds, it will be a lot easier for them to blend.

It’s Not a Contest

Though these warm up’s should help, there is no vocal warm up that can overcome an attitude. In middle school and high school chorus it can be hard for alto’s because they feel they never get any of the spot light. First you really need to remind your students that the melody is not the most important part. This will also probably help with some of those ego’s in the soprano section (which I will undoubtedly talk about at another time). Because they so rarely get the melodies, a lot of the more confident alto’s will attempt to sing louder to get noticed. You can’t blame them really. It does suck a little to always feel like a background singer. I know, I’m an alto till the end. But the alto part is also what helps to make the music beautiful. Explaining the importance of harmony and blend is one of the most important things any choir director can do for their choir. It’s not just the soprano’s that matter, it’s the perfect blend of every section together that makes a truly great choir. Explaining this and using vocal warm up’s to work on singing in the head voice are just a few ways to improve the blend and overall sound of your choir. Hopefully. But hey, I’m just a college student!

A Related Video!

I think that this song sums up perfectly how a lot of alto’s feel. Plus, it’s just a fun song. Stay tuned for some more articles, it’s Christmas break and I’ve got nothing but time. Thank’s for reading!


Posted by: emilyrfarrell | September 20, 2010

A Percussion Discussion

Today we’re going to have a percussion discussion, mostly because it rhymes. And because I’m a percussion major and I write the blog. Ha ha. So, why is percussion important? That should be obvious, therefore we’re not going to talk about it. Why should every band director be more familiar with percussion rudiments? That’s a better question, therefore we can talk about it.

KIDS ARE DUMB.

So maybe as a future music educator I shouldn’t say that. But too bad. You give a kid a drum stick and they are going to hit whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want. It’s completely different from handing them a wind or brass instrument. If you give a student an instrument, they have to learn how to play it in order to get a sound out of it. They have to learn how to hold it and  how to fix their embouchure before even making a sound (that the instrument is supposed to make). Hand a student a drumstick and they instantly can make sound. While there are definitely some positives from this, there are definitely some negatives. First of all, the student automatically thinks they can play it. Though this does serve as a confidence boost, it is difficult to bring a student back to a place where they are willing to learn. The more you know about percussion, the more confidently you can tell students the things they have yet to learn. If you have a student that wants to learn the snare drum, you have to be able to show them the rudiments, play them correctly, and play them confidently in order to convey to the student that they still have a lot to learn.

PERCUSSIONISTS ARE LOUD.

I’ll be the first to admit it, percussionists are never ones to blend in. While a lot of percussion parts, such as cymbals and bass drum, are mainly rhythmic and easy to deal with, there is no way to hide a crappy snare drum or timpani part. No matter what you do, it’s going to stick out. Heck, you could have the kid play with their fingers and they would probably still stick out. And believe it or not, there is a lot of technique for the snare drum and timpani. I know what you wind and brass people are thinking, and no, percussionists don’t just “hit stuff.” There are hand positions, dynamic contrasts, rudiments, diddles, ruffs, paradiddles, paraparadiddles, accents, syncopation, flams, flam taps, and all kinds of other crazy stuff that you don’t know how to do. Ha! But seriously, learn your rudiments and teach them to your snare drummers and timpanists. They won’t shut up and they will ruin your entire band. Also, while I did sort of blow off cymbals and bass drums as easily fixable, there is a technique to those too. If you can’t teach those to your percussionists you’ll get air pockets in your cymbals during a big solo cymbal crash and a ringing bass drum for 5 minutes after your piece is finished. And let’s not forget about our lovely keyboard instruments. Sure, you can’t hear the marimba for the majority of your piece, but those orchestra bells can be heard from miles away. Plus, who doesn’t love a good marimba solo? Learning the right grips for mallet instruments is extremely important to any band director hoping to have a halfway decent percussion section or pit in marching band.

YOUR PERCUSSIONISTS ARE BORED.

Maybe you don’t see it, but trust me. At least one of you percussionists is sitting in the back completely bored to tears because they think that the parts are way too easy. And maybe they are. But there are things that you can be doing to teach and challenge that bored student. There is nothing worse, or more distracting, than a percussionist with nothing to do. When I was in High School being in the percussion section was basically the same as having a free period. The focus was always the band and when we finally did actually play through the piece, our parts were so easy that the boredom never wore off. So, instead of trying to become a better percussionist, I sat in the back of the band room and talked. For the entire rehearsal. Sound familiar? Yeah, I was that kid. The one you have in your classroom right now, or the one you will have in your future classroom. They think their hot stuff because they can already play their parts so they blow off rehearsal. Prove them wrong! There is so much you can do with even the simplest of percussion parts. Teach them a new way to stick a certain section, show them that they are holding the stick wrong, correct their grip, teach them how to do a flam with out  crunching the sound, have them try open rolls instead of closed, anything! You’ll be amazed with the results. Now let’s get one thing straight, I am under no circumstances telling you to give more attention to the percussion section than the rest of the band during rehearsal. And I’m definitely not saying that the rest of the band doesn’t need to be challenged. I am saying that some band directors blow off percussion technique because they think that as long as they can make sound, it will be ok. Just remember that your percussionists want to be the best that they can be as well. Prove to them that there is more that they can learn and do during a rehearsal and they will focus.

WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME?

I’m not so calm down. The reason I think that it is so important for all band directors to know their stuff when it comes to percussion comes down to the fact that your percussion section, in the end, is what is going to make or break your band. Seriously. The better your percussion section, the better foundation you have for the rest of the band. So sure, maybe you could get away with just letting your percussionists sit in the back and hit stuff every once and a while. But if you want a truly excellent band, you have to start with a truly excellent percussion section full of students who are willing to learn something new. Make sure that your band is not just another study hall for your percussion section. Challenge them to work on the more challenging parts and perfect parts that they find easy. If there are not enough parts for all of them, make new ones! Add to what you have and make sure that no student goes through a single band rehearsal without playing something. The more you challenge those kids in the back of the room, the more likely they are to listen and not simply glide through band like it doesn’t matter.

FINALLY, AN AWESOME VIDEO.

To conclude my rant on why you should know your rudiments, I give you a video that has nothing to do with any of that. Other than the fact that it will blow the mind of any percussionist. Even if you aren’t a percussionist it is absolutely incredible. In the movie Heima, a documentary about the band Sigur Rós‘ tour of their native land of Iceland, the band finds a huge pile of broken rocks. So what do they do with said rocks? They walk around picking up rocks and hitting them with a mallets until they have the right pitches to form a marimba. Which they play. Pure awesomeness. Enjoy!

Posted by: emilyrfarrell | September 6, 2010

A Whole New World

Earlier today I was thinking about what exactly I wanted this blog to be about. I knew that I wanted it to be about music and music education, but I realized that I also want it to be about the importance of both of those things. So, in order to tell you why those things are important in general, I need to first tell you why they are important to me specifically. So here it is. I moved around a lot as a kid because of my dad’s work. For the first 14 years of my life I lived in the south, the first four in Georgia the rest in different parts of Texas near the Dallas/Fort Worth area. On my 14th birthday, yes on that day, we left Texas and moved all the way up to Allentown, Pennsylvania. Now Allentown is a great town in its own right, and under normal circumstances I would have been okay with it. But this was different with my previous two moves. I was 1,480 miles, a 24 hour drive, away from all of my friends, and for a 14 year old girl that just sucks to the highest degree. At this point in my sob story, you probably want to know what the heck this has to do with music. Getting there. After a long summer of knowing absolutely zero people, I entered the 9th grade at Salisbury Middle School, which also happened to be my first public middle school experience. I made it through the first month or so knowing very few people and hardly talking to anyone, which for people who know me now is hard to believe. Then someone asked me if I would be interested in joining the school’s indoor percussion group. I should mention here that I had never played an instrument in my entire life, excluding six weeks of piano lessons in the 4th grade and a semester of classical guitar at my private Christian middle school. But at this point I just needed to do something so I joined. It was incredible. All of the sudden I knew people, I could talk to people, I magically learned how to play the marimba and a whole array of other percussion instruments, and I loved every minute of it. The following summer I learned the flute, joined marching band, and started out my tenth grade year in every ensemble I could join in. By the end of my senior year I had joined everything; I played piano in jazz band, flute in concert band, had solos in choir, played in guitar ensemble,  arranged a very “unique” version of Apologize by OneRepublic for marimba and small vocal ensemble, and about to become a music education major at Grove City College. Of course, I’m not saying that music made my high school career easy. I had to deal with the same drama, if not more, that every high school student has to put up with. I am saying that without Salisbury School Districts music programs, I would not have found the career that I am so certain is right for me. I also know that I would not have been nearly as happy or outgoing as I am now. 14 year old me was quiet at shy and had no instrumental experience. Now, at 20, I am a  slightly obnoxious, outgoing percussion major, voice minor learning how to be a music educator. If my friends now could see me six years ago, they wouldn’t recognize me, and that has everything to do with music. I believe that all students should be given the opportunity to find the friendship and fellowship that they desperately need in musical ensembles. Not to mention the opportunity to learn how to play an awesome instrument like the marimba. Just saying. All of this is really just a (very) long-winded way to say that in all ensembles music should always come first, but fellowship is a close second. More to come soon!

Posted by: emilyrfarrell | September 5, 2010

Let’s Get Down to Business

I decided that the time had come for me to start a blog so that I can share what I am learning with my millions of fans. Well, maybe not millions. So to the two or three people who will take the time to read this, I thank you! I am very excited to share my thoughts with the “world”. I figure the first thing I should do is maybe explain the name of my blog. “Waiting For a Story” has been a sort of motto for my life since I was very young. Ever since I was little I’ve been looking forward to something, such as middle school, high school, college, getting a job and so on. At this point in my life I’ve made it through middle school and high school, am in my junior year of college, and am waiting for the story of my career as a music educator to start. So be prepared, because I am ready to get out there and let you know what I think. I am not shy, I am very loud, and occasionally I have an opinion worth writing down so let’s get down to business!

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