Last week was so beautiful last week I picked Lydia up from school with her bike on the back of my bike. She got a ton of smiles and thumbs and what not from her teachers and friends and then we took off for the library and home. If it were up to her (and my schedule for that matter) we’d do this everyday. And here’s a school who felt the same way:
Maybe this spring we’ll get this going in our neighborhood. It could be great. It could be one more light at the end of yet another Minnesota winter.
A heads up to the banjo players out there. Yes you (singular). Should you strap a banjo on your back and bike across town, then do please take time on the breezy bridges.
Friday was a beautiful day here in the Twin Cities and so I chose to bike to a morning of music with Jonathan Rundman. Last Sunday Joel Setterholm and I backed Jonathan up at an emergent style worship service and afterwards he invited us to back him up once again at Augsburg College for a morning chapel service. My mandolin and cheat sheets fit into my panniers but the banjo was a little too bulky. So I strapped my banjo on my back pack and headed out the door at which point the neck of the banjo hit the top of the door jam and nearly laid me out flat. Hellooooo Absalom. This extra bulk at the top would soon become a sail. A sail is a handy thing. Unless of course you’re not riding with the wind. Which I was not. It actually wasn’t that bad a thing, until I went over the lake/marshall bridge. The cross wind was strong enough that I think I was actually biking at an angle leaning into it. Funny. I should’ve had my V8.
We played, it went well, I got to chat with one of my hymnody heroes Ray Makeever, everybody was happy. Especially Joel and I, because we were only half way through our musical morning.
Joel is an experienced Shape Note singer and had the heads up on a guest lecturer at the nearby U of M campus who would be sharing about and leading an hour of Sacred Harp music. I’ve been curious about this style of singing for a number of years and was thrilled to go along. And it was amazing! Tim Eriksen gave a bunch of us newbies a history and theory on the style and then led us in a few hymns. It was a great workshop. And inspiring because…
Saturday morning I picked up Jonathan at 6 am and we headed for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville for Children… Our Future, an early childhood conference where we would be playing music and presenting workshops. We lead opening music in PoP’s huge sanctuary. It was kind of funny because it’s one of those church’s where the band sets up front and center and the altar (at least there was one) was over to the side. Maybe they had just moved it for the conference. Let’s hope so. Anyway we were up there, behind the keynote speaker projector screen and surrounded by fake shrubberies. You read me write. All at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.
No really, kids, stay in school and get a real job!
Just joking, 9-5 stinks.
The music was fun and then we got to lead workshops. This was the highlight for me. I had a great group, we covered lots of ground, and had fun singing and sharing ideas for making music a stronger component in our learning environments. What a blast! I love my job. If you were at the conference and would like to download my outline that includes song leading tips, please click on the Kid’s Music tab.
Thank you all for playing the parts that allow me to make a living doing what I love, thanks for employment, thanks for encouragement, thanks for support, thanks all around.
Actually I was referring to the new tab, Kid’s Music. Along the top of the page. Yeah, that one. The Music and Movement classes I lead here in St. Paul start up tomorrow so I got all over achiever and posted mp3′s of the songs and a copy of the songsheet as well. I think Willabee Wallabee turned out the funniest due to a certain 2 year old on my lap.
So if you’re in St. Paul and have a kid that’s not yet in school (we’ve got 0-5 year olds in the class – the average age is probably around 2) come on over to Music and Movement! We meet at 10:30 at Monroe School, located at 810 Palace Avenue St. Paul, MN 55102. The school entrance is on Palace. When you come in the big white doors the room on your left is where we meet. If you continue left down the hall you’ll find the Family Center Play Room at the very end. This is a staffed play room for parents/caregivers and their children to come and hang out m-f 9-Noon. The playroom and the music classes are sponsored through Partner for Violence Prevention. So come on down! It’ll be fun. Probably.
I just got back from a Global Music Training Event in Chicago, IL at The Lutheran Center. For those of you who care about ELCA hierarchy, you know the Lutheran Center is the churchwide headquarters. For the rest of us… well… THE Lutheran Center? THE? There aren’t others? Google it. Perhaps they should rename the building, A Lutheran Center. I know, I’m a heritic. Bull me.
Anyway, the last 48 hours were brilliant. An amazing group of 50 church musicians with 50 different stories. (Recount: 49, my roommate came down with the flu and was unable to attend – Jonathan get well soon! You were missed!) Rather than attempt a summary I’ll simply say I am grateful to be part of a church that reaches beyond borders to grow in a fuller understanding of God’s redemptive work in the world. Or, for those of you who don’t speak the flowery fru-fru dialect that is Christianese: God loves the world, and I get to be a part of a church that sees singing all of God’s songs as important and life changing. Was that less church talk? Not really. Oh well. Here’s something the rest of the music fans out there will appreciate. Gary Louris sat down next to me at the airport. I like Gary but had nothing to say of any significance so I let him sit peace. Later, as we were getting on the plane we ended up standing next to each other. Might as well say, “Hi.”
N: Hey Gary
N: Thanks for doing what you do, I’ve apprecitated your work for a long time.
G: Oh, Thanks. I saw you in the airport. You look just like one of my old road managers. Like, just like him.
N: Was he a good road manager?
G: Oh yeah, the best, I really liked that guy.
N: Cool. Well take it easy. I just wanted to say thanks for making great art.
G: Yeah, you’re welcome, thanks. We’re back at it too.
[And then his voice kind of trailed off as we got onto the plane, so technically I'm not sure if this conversation ever ended...He may still be chatting it up. I hope he's not dissappointed when he realizes I'm no longer there.]
There you have it. I look like an old Jayhawks’ road manager. And a good one at that.
I’m hoping your studies have gone well. We’ve covored a lot this semester and I’m proud of the way you’ve kept up on your reading and handed in all your papers on time. Your parents must be so impressed. As your instructor I want to express how you’ve all exceeded my expectations. I came into this thinking that you’d be a bunch of zero potential screwballs, but now I don’t think you’re screwballs at all. What’s more, I’m cancelling the final.
And lastly, while I still have your attentive Ritalin gaze, I’d like to invite you to join me at a few spectacular upcoming shows.
When not teaching these online classes in steel string theory I moonlight as a rock and roll star. Yes, it’s hard for me to believe too. On Dec 16 I’ll play at the 400 bar with my rock trio Welaware. On Dec 19th there will be an Honest Folk/Micah Taylor show at the Bean Factory, and in January on the 6th Welaware will be playing at the Fineline.
There you have it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. See on the 16th.
remember the farm? didn’t they have the hit single ‘groovy train’?
My mom gave me the book ‘animal, vegetable, miracle’ by barbara kingsolver. (if my name was barbara i’d spell it barabara. looks cooler.) It’s all about eating local for a year. My mom started it and liked it but since she and my Dad were heading back to Kenya this morning she left it with Jodi and I because it doesn’t really have the same implications in East Africa as it does in Minnesota. She figured we’d get more out of it and than she’ll get it back next time they’re on the continent. Smart move Mom.
I love B. Kingsolver (Her middle name must not start with a B or else she obviously would sign everything B. B. Kingsolver. She’d write bluesier books too.) This book is just as great as everything else of hers. So far. And it’s got me really excited for eating locally. So excited in fact that I took Elsa to the Farmers market this morning and got a bunch of local produce. I came home and told Jodi we’d be eating local this week. She looked at what I got and said, “Yes you will be.” Apparently my family is not as keen on living off of Eggplant, Collard Greens, and Jalepenos as I am.
Semester one, Riverside CA. Cool fashion trends included, but sadly were not limited to, spiked hair, suspenders worn in a low-functioning manner, and Reebok hi-tops left untied. Enter out of cultural touch missionary kid.
I’m a form follows function kind of person so a lot of fashion is lost on me. It’s why I have to go out and buy a shirt and tie anytime there’s a wedding. Ties don’t make sense to me. (Which is why I always get to weddings early so that I can find someone who knows how to tie it for me.) As soon as the wedding’s over it’s off to Goodwill. Luckily I haven’t had to be visible in a wedding for quite some time €“ and last one I was in didn’t require ties. I was in the wedding party with jeans and teva’s. Thank you Erin and Jason.
Anyways €“ I was this way in fifth grade as well. I had been in the states for a month or so and had discovered macgyver and cherry coke and was a pretty happy kid. But at the same time I wanted desperately to fit in. So I got a haircut. But I thought the spike thing was kind of froofy looking and so when we got to fantastic sam’s or whatever it was I chickened out. I wasn’t convinced that a strange lady with sharp objects giving me a goofy froofy haircut was a good idea. The next day I went to a barber shop and got a flat top. It’s like a spike but tough. And the guy who gave it to me was a barber not a stylist. It’s how I roll.
Then I bought pants with suspenders. I like them. They were the button on kind not the clip on kind. They made me feel like a mountain man. All I needed was a red union suit and I would’ve been right out of a Louis L’amour book. (Which was a bit of a goal for me at the time, I was way into the Sacket series. And again I remind you, Missionary Kid.) The only thing I couldn’t understand about suspenders as cool as these was why anyone would let them hang down. So I wore them up on my shoulders and allowed them to fulfill their suspending destiny.
I didn’t dig Reeboks. They were heavy and created a false expectation that I would be good at sports. Not a road I was ready to go down. (Then or now.) The skater’s wore vans and those were cool. But kind of flashy. Some kids were wearing chuck taylors €“ generally in bright colors like turquoise with yellow on the inside. Then they’d lace them halfway up and let the tongue hang out so you could see they were yellow on the inside. I went with black. Dress ‘em down on the playground, dress ‘em up for church. A wonderfully utilitarian shoe. In fact 20 some years later and I wore a pair to church last Sunday. A timeless classic.
So I was ready for my first day of school back in the US of A. Somewhere there’s a picture of me standing outside our apartment. Black converse high tops, laced all the way up. Gray pants with suspenders. The pants aren’t tight rolled, the suspenders are over my shoulders. And where any other cool kid at the time would’ve been sporting hair spiked with LA Style Mousse; there I was with a flat top held high with butch wax. And I won’t even try to explain the construction worker-esque black lunch box I was carrying when every other boy my age was carrying around a GI Joe lunch box.
Goodbye Don Johnson. Hello Beave. Welcome to America.
4 Months later I was back in Monrovia Liberia teaching the other missionary kids how to tight roll their guess jeans, encouraging them to wear pink shirts, and giving tips on proper mousse application. What are we the Borg? Assimilate!
In fourth grade I continued home schooling in Medina, Liberia. I was born in Medina, OH so there’s kind of a cool full circle thing going on there. Although since then my circle has spiraled out of control so it’s not as pacifying now as it was then. But at the time being able to tell people that I was born in Medina and currently lived in Medina brought a bit of normalcy to my life. I miss it.
Back in the day there weren’t a lot of home schooling options for missionary kids as far as curriculum was concerned. We went with Abeka out of Pensacola FL. I think its target market was (is?) children of parents who fear things like evolution and sex education, and firmly believe girls should wear dresses and boys should tuck in their shirts. Not really our style, but they were willing to work with missionaries back in an age that didn’t have e-mail or fax machines and depended on an international postal system that could easily take a month to deliver your test scores. And there were huge dinosaurs! We called them Kaypros. It was a magical time to be sure.
Sometimes we learned odd things. Like how to keep bowling scores. Apparently in 1986 there were a lot of bowling allies filled with girls in homemade dresses and boys with handsomely tucked in shirts. We also learned poems. I appreciate that now, and desperately wish €œIf€ by Rudyard Kipling would’ve stuck with me. €œIf you can keep your head while those about you are losing their’s and blaming it on others…€ Who can I blame for not being able to remember these things?
Fourth grade was also the year of American History which seemed oddly foreign to me then and remains a bit of a mystery even now. To her credit my Mom, in an attempt to keep it local, went out and bought Liberian history books as well which I applaud her for now. If I was home schooling my girls, blessed blessings that they are, I’m quite sure the last thing I’d add to my plate would be another subject. No thanks. I’d keep it to the basics and let them google their way through the rest of life’s questions while I hung out in the teacher’s lounge, which would really be our living room. And I’d also start wearing a hair net when I served them lunch. There are many reasons for me not to explore the home schooling option. And for this we can all be thankful.