Thursday, February 24, 2011

Startling Beauty

It's been a beautiful winter this year. Tough? Yes, but exceedingly beautiful. Before Christmas we had one school cancellation for extreme cold. Since we came back from Christmas break we've missed nine more days - that's right, a total of ten so far - and we don't appear to be finished yet. Today many schools around us closed early for the rain-sleet-snow-freeze happening all day. Our district stayed open, but I had to clean a half-inch of wet sleet off my windshield before I could leave our slushy parking lot and drive home. 

Now, at nearly 9:30 p.m., we have yet another gorgeous winter scene developing out our windows. The rain and sleet have made the conditions perfect for a thick build-up of snow on the trees. The clouds and falling snow are collecting the light pollution and turning night to twilight reflections.
I decided to try to capture it without flash to show just how bright and beautiful the winter night can be out here where the Ozarks meet the Prairie. The tree out our back window is thickening with snow. It looks like hoarfrost the way it's glued to the branches and building up on them. 

Truly unexpected and absolutely wondrous.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

MMEA - Music in the Ozarks

Every January I travel to Osage Beach to meet with friends and learn more about the art, craft, and techniques of teaching music in elementary school. This year we had great sessions on folk music with Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, two of the New England Dancing Masters. If you've never heard of them, you can learn more at either of their two websites: and The Amidons not only taught us several folk dances, they taught us how to teach them to others. They advocate folk dance in communities and schools as part of our cultural history as well as just plain fun. The New England Dancing Masters have a selection of instructional books with CD's as well as other CD's of music that can be used with their books for variety.
Sashay the Donut (New England Dancing Masters: Even More Dances for Just About Anyone: a companion to the CD)
Chimes of Dunkirk: Great Dances for Children

As a 4th grade student, my teacher and her 5th grade cohort joined our classes to learn to square dancing. I still remember the joy of dancing with classmates and learning the old steps, applying them to newer music just to see if we could. Back then we didn't have a separate teacher for music in the elementary schools in our district. The seeds of my future in music education were planted back in those days. Let's give our kids that chance at tying our past to the future and keeping the fun alive.

For more information about the annual music conference in the Ozarks, see my article: Ozark Music Oasis
For more information about good music stores in our area: Anybody Know Where I Can Get 76 Trombones?