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Bleeding Music

10 Jan

I’m a lucky mom.  My son found his passion for music in middle school, and that passion has given his life focus.  He’s currently pursuing a double major: music education and saxophone performance, and has plans to continue on to grad school.  Music is like air to him–he absolutely needs it to be himself.  Music saturates his essence.  I’m endlessly grateful for the way he follows his passion.  I’m grateful for the clear and realistic path he has set, allowing for flexibility but never losing sight of the music.  Skillful in so many ways.

Selmer SA80 SeriesIII

Zach’s Golden Ticket.

Long Distance Mom-ing

10 Dec

Being a Mom is the most wonderful of all blessings, and one of the hardest when your “little one” is not so little anymore and not even living in the same town.  I have new-found respect for what my Mom must have gone through when I was 19 and far away in college.  Back then, the only phone was in the hallway of the dorm, shared by every girl on the floor.  How did Mom stand the lack of contact?  Was it a good thing to be blissfully unaware and hopeful that all was well?  I can be in touch with my son via text, cell phone or Facebook messaging instantaneously.  I get to have a peek inside his college life as his friends tag him in pictures and posts.  A comfort to me, maybe not so much for him.

This week is finals week for many college students. My son, being a music major has finals, but also juries–solo performances in front of the entire woodwind faculty of the college.  He is in both the saxophone and oboe studios, so is required to present a piece demonstrating his skills for each.  Much of the time spent in lessons for oboe and sax each semester are devoted to polishing the literature he and his teachers have selected.  Many of the hours of practice time are spent going over and over and over the pieces–practicing until they become a part of him.

zach selmer nov 2013

And then, at 3am the morning of the juries, he wakes up with a horrible earache.  Imagine having a test that requires controlled and forceful breathing with your ear plugged and screaming at you.  Not good.  Not good a all.  Here comes the long distance Mom part.  He posted his frustration with the situation on Facebook, allowing me to know as soon as I opened Facebook this morning.  All ready, many of his friends had advised he go see a doctor.  I did as well, also asking to be kept in the loop of what came of the doctor visit.  Seems all too easy and matter of fact as I write this, but my Mom worries kicked in.  A monstrous desire to be able to instantaneously transport myself to him to give him a hug, wrap him in blankets and make chicken soup.  Who doesn’t want their Mom to come take care of them during times of sickness?!

He’s 5 hours away, so I had to settle for texting as he filled out forms in the waiting room of the clinic.  A quick diagnosis resulted in prescribed antibiotics, and he was sent on his merry way to determine (with input from his instructors) on whether juries are a go or not.  I still haven’t heard how that will shake out.  I feel fortunate that he is someone who is very good at taking care of and advocating for himself.  It helps me worry a bit less.  He also has a great network of caring friends; people I know will help him with whatever he needs–possibly even bringing him chicken soup.

When will the desire to rush in and make things “all better” end?  According to other Moms I’ve talked to, never.  It’s been a long, long time since a kiss was able to fix a boo-boo.  My little boy is a man who is quite capable of taking care of himself.  I’ll always be his Mom, though, and can’t wait for him to drive those 5 hours to be home this weekend so I can take care of him PROPERLY.  Off to the store I go to get the ingredients for chicken noodle soup–it’s better than sitting here worrying and waiting for the next text or Facebook update.

He’ll be fine and things will work out as they should.  How many times have I heard those words in my Mom’s voice?!  All those years of what I took as patronizing, turn out to be the best you can do when you’re long distance Mom-ing.

Heart Roller Coaster

13 Mar

Tonight I’m writing with a heavy heart, all squinked up and small, just days after my heart felt like the Grinch’s at the end of the story, where it grows 3 sizes in one day.  A Mom’s heart has to be pretty elastic for the many ups and downs of raising a baby to a boy to a man.

The sheer joy of his birth.

The times when he cried and continued to cry after I had fed him, burped him, changed him, rocked him and bounced him.  (So I cried with him.)

His cute little gummy grin.  His first tooth…marking the end of the gummy grin.

The funny, silly way he said things; the way he put words together.

The time he tearfully sobbed, “Momma, you hurt my heart.”

Learning to ride a bike.

Crashing the bike and getting a huge owie–as his dad put it: “he left part of his knee at the end of the driveway.”

Finding out how academically talented he is.

Finding the work he hadn’t turned in, in his locker.

Playing the “you WILL be in music in middle school” card, he picks band, ends up with trumpet, hates the trumpet and wants to quit band.

“Pick a different instrument.”  He falls in love with saxophone.

Learning to drive, getting his license.

Watching him drive out of the driveway the first time on his way to school at 6am.

High school: alto sax, soprano sax, tenor and bari, clarinet, oboe, flute and euphonium.  Marching Band, 3 Concert Bands, top Jazz Band.

Girls.  Nuff said.

Acceptance to a university, oboe and sax auditions, acceptance to the university’s school of music.  A state-wide honor (or honour, using the British spelling he prefers) band, an amazing alto sax feature with Spectrum, the jazz band.

And today.  I found out he had changed dorms, not necessarily for the better.  We had a text discussion over Facebook postings and what growing up is and is not.  Times like this when I feel compelled to let the air out of his exuberance raises little barriers between us.  He chose to stay at his dad’s tonight to let things settle out a bit. 

He’s an awesome kid.  He’s accomplished so much, has a pretty good plan for his future–all the way to a doctorate.  He’s always been so easy.  Days like this, when some sort of guidance must come from me and is not exactly well received, well, they hurt my heart.  I know this is what parenting is at times, and I know I’ve been amazingly lucky.  I also know we love each other the most-mostest, and the barriers will go away.  New ones will happen, but love, and maybe a cup of coffee, will help us keep taking them back down.  So proud to be his Mom.  ❤

The Six Degrees….

3 Feb

You’ve heard of the theory that every actor is six connections, or degrees from Kevin Bacon.  I find that this concept has been occurring in my life.  Probably it comes from age–the longer you live, the more you experience, the more “small world after all” moments you have.

Here shall commence some ramblings based on the interconnectedness of the world, even though we’re not connected in the traditional sense of how people were connected decades ago. 

I grew up in a “real” neighborhood.  A place where every mom knew every kid and all the kids played together while the moms drank coffee.  The connections were straight forward–right next door. 

Then I went away to college and was part of my dorm family, which was part of the campus neighborhood.  Later, I got married and moved to an apartment…and knew no one.  Everyone kept to themselves.  Even later, when I move to a neighborhood, I only got to know a few people.  The people at my job became my neighborhood, and I tended to socialize with them instead of the people who lived right next door.  Connections were still happening, but not like they used to. 

These days, you never know how one thing might lead to another; what sorts of connections might happen.  For example, Mr16 is a talented saxophone player.  He auditioned and was selected for the Ft. Lewis College Select Band.  This event is held in Durango, Colorado.   While Mr16 was learning saxophone, I became a librarian.  I met and became friends with author Will Hobbs as part of that job.  Will and his wife Jean live in Durango!  Unfortunately, they’re out of town the Select Band weekend, and we won’t be able to see them.  But!  I’m also friends with someone who owns a coffee shop–The Coffee Studio.  Her shop buys some of its coffee beans from Desert Sun Roasters.  Desert Sun Roasters is in Durango!  I posted a question on their Facebook wall asking for their favorite Durango coffee shops.  They provided a nice list and invited me to stop by and visit them, too.

Isn’t it great that we really do live in a small world?  I like feeling a connection to people around me. When these little pieces of serendipity happen, it reminds me to continue nurturing friendships, and to continue expanding my experiences.  You never know when you’ll meet someone that will lead you to a new opportunity. 

When I’m in Durango, I’ll have my second cup in a shop recommended by the folks at Desert Sun, and maybe….maybe I can get them to teach me how to pour a rosetta in a cappucino–something I’ve wanted to learn!  (Watch the second video)

Image attributions:  Kevin Bacon   Saxophone  Desert Sun

Save our Musicians

10 Nov

Our school district cut over $10 billion from it’s budget last year.  It’s looking to cut an additional $10 billion next year.  Where do school districts look first when they want to save money?  Music.  Arts.  Foreign Language. Libraries.  Any curricula that is not on “the test.”  Schools are so caught up in their race to the top that they seem to have forgotten that we’re talking KIDS’ lives here.  I’m sure I’m not the only parent who sees her student as more than just a series of test scores.

Mr. 16 has always been a “smart kid;” more than capable academically.  He puts up with academics because he knows success as represented by grades will allow him to pursue his true passion: music.  If it weren’t for music, he wouldn’t play the school game.  He’s not the only student passionate about that which is not tested.  He’s not the only student doing well in school because he’s happier when he’s also involved in music.  Many, many research studies have been done that verify the connection between higher achievement and involvement in music and arts programs.  It seems to me that in the search to save money and still boost achievement, school districts are shooting themselves in the foot when they put music and arts on the chopping block first.

I just completed a budget survey on our district’s website.  To their credit, they are gathering input from parents and staff; hopefully using this information to make the best decisions they can.  (They have a pattern of “gathering information” after they’ve already made up their minds on whatever it is, but want to give the impression of including your ideas.)  Being an online survey, it is limited in the sort of information it can gather.  It’s hard to put into character-limited word boxes the look on Mr 16’s face when he gets a new chart to play in jazz band.  Bubbles can’t express how Mr 16 turns to playing his soprano sax when he’s feeling down or confused.  Ratings can’t communicate the collective pride of the marching band after performing the show of a lifetime at State Competition.

 Of course every student needs to be able to read, write, balance a checkbook, understand what buying on credit really means…but think about YOUR life.  Is that ALL there is?  I want Mr16 to be an adult with an appreciation of life that exists beyond a paycheck.  And if he’s truly lucky his paycheck will come from music, and he’ll be able to afford a second cup of coffee now and then!