Category Archives: values

The Grateful Dead

Me, that is.  Well, kind of dead.  Ok, more silent than dead.

I’m grateful to see that, despite my long silence, people still drop by to read my posts and even continue to comment.  This, and my best friend’s words of encouragement, has stopped me from deleting this blog completely.  To be honest, I no longer feel like writing about teaching because it just hurts that I can’t teach music for now (and for who knows how long).   So if ever I choose to continue this blog, it will need a radical revamp.  Possibly even a change of name.  Maybe I should focus more on music, rather than the teaching of it.  But the thing is, I haven’t been musically active or creative for the past few months.  I’ve too busy adjusting to this new life.

If you are interested, though, to find out what I’ve been focusing on for now, head on to Man Hands Lizzie.  Mind you, it’s totally different from The Music Teacher.  As one of my former students exclaimed, “Ms. C, I didn’t know you were into fashion!”  I’ve always been but my new blog isn’t just about fashion.  For now, I’ve been posting outfits and projects but I’m hoping it will evolve into something more holistically me.  Anyways, I hope to find you there. 🙂

And now, as I ponder this blog’s existence, I leave you with more silence.

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Celest

Celest 039

Celest is my babe’s guitar.  If you ask him about her, he’d mention things like the length of her neck, the tension of her strings, the acoustic wonder brought about by her sound holes, etc.

I’m a piano girl.  I don’t know about those things.  So let me just say that Celest is a shiny black beauty with deep tones and a teeny buzz.

I’ve always wanted to play the guitar.  Acoustic.  Nylon.  Steel is ok, I guess, but they hurt like hoot.  I love the acoustic guitar’s mellow and, compared to the piano, soft tones.  I love that you play it close to your body, as if embracing it and whispering to it secrets that you would only tell your diary or very best friend.

I was a freshman in college when my dad bought me my first guitar.  It wasn’t a good one since it was the cheapest he could get.  He believed my interest in it was a passing phase and ordered me to stick to piano.   But I badgered him and he relented.  I came home one day to find the very heavy, very painful steel stringed-guitar wrapped in paper in my room.  I appreciated my father even more for that cheap guitar because he got it for me even though he didn’t have to.  So I had to learn how to play.  I had to show him he was wrong about the passing phase thing.  It was summer so I had all the time to practice.  My fingers, and I’m not at all exaggerating here, would have  bled if it hadn’t been for the callouses that formed almost immediately to protect them.  My back, neck, and shoulders hurt.  I woke up in pain with my hands frozen like gnarled roots.  Again, I am not exaggerating.

Then summer ended and it was time again for school.  Piano was my concentration (which had more weight than a minor subject) and I was pretty serious about it, too.  But my teacher was shocked.  “What happened to your left hand?”  She said it was playing awkwardly and heavily.  She eyed it suspiciously and discovered the callouses at the tips.  “Aha!  You’ve been playing guitar!”  She said it like I committed a mortal sin.  She demanded that I stop playing guitar, “that is if you’re really serious about piano…”  So I made a choice.  I had to.  My left hand was never as good as my right but she put up a good fight and was getting there.  But guitar developed tension in her that made her pound the keys like a big bumbling buffoon.  The callouses made her fingers slip from the keys, and, worse, they made faint clacking sounds as she played.  So that evening I came home from piano lesson,  I told my dad I had to stop playing and propped my guitar against the wall until it gathered dust.

Then, after years of countless wonderful distractions, my piano started gathering dust as well.  I no longer practiced 7-12 hours a day.  In fact, 7-12 hours became my year’s worth of playing.  During this time, I rediscovered the guitar.  I had long given away my first guitar, the one with no name.  But a fellow I knew was looking to unload his barely-touched Yamaha C30, a beginners nylon acoustic guitar, and I bought it.  I call her Lizzie and I gave her a feather necklace to make her wholly mine.  She’s on her way to Georgia as I write.

I’m no rockstar who enjoys dangling his guitar while parading onstage.  I play the guitar as an introvert thing, almost a loner thing.  Give me an empty room, a guitar, and a little sunshine streaming in through the window, and I can stay there and play the whole day, or until my fingers bleed.

It takes me a while, though, to sing while playing the guitar.  Always, I start out singing ‘whisperingly’.  Hahaha.  Its soft strains embarrasses my voice and I always croak and choke, sputter like a car that’s been left alone for a long time.  I’ve gotten used to hiding behind my piano, physically and vocally, when I sing.  Singing with the guitar exposes my ears to vocal nuances and flaws I wouldn’t hear if I were singing with the piano.  My voice is more naked and, therefore, as embarrassed as a woman who realizes she’s been walking around the mall without a bra and walks on as if nothing’s missing to make the best of it.  I know the feeling from experience.

So, Celest.

She and I have gotten acquainted long before I met her.  In fact, I helped my babe choose a name for her after he bought her.  But our friendship started when I was online one day and miserably missing my piano.  Typing on the laptop keyboard reminded me of tinkering with Mildred’s keys (Oh, how I miss my clavinova!).  From the  other room, I could almost feel Celest say, “hey”.  Yes.  Nothing witty or wise.   Just… “hey”.   But she said it in a snazzy-friendly way, like cool and kindly stranger who takes pity on you because she notices you’re a bit sad.  So I trudged towards her and played the two songs I remembered from my short guitar venture.  Her strings really hurt and my fingertips doubled their size after a couple of minutes.  My back started aching after ten and my neck straining after 20.  But, boy-o-boy, was I happy.  I played those two songs all afternoon.

Actually, I’m getting a little tired of them.

It’s time to learn something new.

The Role of Art and Design in Citizenship Education

              What does it mean to be a citizen?  Surely it entails more than being born into a country, or have lived there all one’s life.  During the French revolution, the people called each other “citizen” to signify their alliance with the movement.  If you were a citizen, you were for the people and believed, as they did, the means for change that they have chosen.  We’ve heard of the phrase, “citizen of the world” which hardly means that a person has a citizenship in every country.  It implies a sense of belonging.  Whether deeply planted or newly ensconced, it involves roots. 

 

            What does art and design have to do with citizenship? Every country has its unique sense of aesthetics based on its culture and history.  Indeed, even within countries you have a diverse sense of what is considered beautiful reflected in buildings, art, music, and even fashion.  We can safely say that art and design may be a reflection of citizenship, especially when the works were done by citizens themselves.  Art and design is an expression of belonging and of roots.   Paintings, buildings, sculptures, music, and dance can portray images that tell us about people, places, and attitudes, while also revealing ideas in a certain period of time.  Since this is so, art and design goes beyond its aesthetic intention and can be one of most solid ways to educate people about their country’s culture and history. 

 

            Art and design can be vehicles, as well, for teaching values.  Good citizens make for a better nation; and good citizens have values such as discipline, industry, and respect, to name a few.  All of these values can be gleaned from the process of making art and design.  Discipline and industry comes from the constant honing of one’s craft, be it in the visual arts, music or dance.  Perseverance and sincerity comes from never settling for a half-baked creation.  Respect comes from the appreciation of one’s creative process and of others.  If our youth are encouraged to make art, they will surely have a deeper sense of appreciation for hard work.  A better sense of accomplishment makes for a more sound self-esteem.  If a country’s citizens feel good about themselves, then surely they will be better citizens.  Today in schools, art and design have taken a backseat to subjects such as math and science.  They have been lumped together with other subjects (music, art, P.E., health, and computer) and are required to be integrated so as to fit in all the information in a 40- to 50-minute lesson.  Most schools, even the private ones, don’t have Art.  Public school students don’t have Music until they reach the fourth grade.  Math and science may be good vehicles for training minds to think logically, but art and design can also be used for this purpose as well as impart important values to citizens young and old alike.