Ode to the Maestro

As a cellist and owner of an MBA in Leadership, this marquee message, located on the side of the highway between Island Lake and Wauconda, IL, speaks directly to me.

A person who leads the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

The leader of the orchestra – the conductor, the maestro – has a focus on the musicians in front of him. Although the music is made for the crowd, the conductor does quite literally have his back to them, except for the walking in and out part and perhaps a short greeting before the performance.

The musicians face the crowd and each have a role in the whole of the beautiful sounds that envelope the entire space. Orchestral playing – believe it or not – is highly intense and certainly causes me to sweat and catch my breath at times. A musician gives her whole self in public performace; it really seeps out of your soul and transitions to the instrument on which you have practiced and trained for this very moment.

An orchestra may consist of 60 – 70 musicians, and yet the star of any orchestra performance really is the conductor, the leader of the orchestra, who maintains his back to the crowd.

A leader isn’t an individual performer; he may not even know how to play all of the instruments that he conducts. But, it is the act of bringing all of these different instruments together, all operated by different people, all producing vastly differing sounds, to create a whole that makes sense and moreover reaches the human senses on a deeper level than usually expected from such peformances. (Shamelsss plug for the Harper Symphony Orchestra to follow.)

The best of maestros make it appear easy, like most experts do in their trade. They swing the baton around and everyone keeps time. It is such an amazing feeling to be a part of the group, to feel the music all around you, to be in cadence with everyone, the music literally flowing through your entire self. But the main rule is all eyes on the conductor. Abrupt changes in tempo or transitions between movements require a cue from the conductor. Things can quickly fall apart if the individual musicians don’t pay attention to the conductor, and the pressure is on the maestro to keep it all together, communicating to all in the orchestra what is next.

I appreciate the efforts of our local business to share this with our community. Profound thought belongs everywhere. Although I was unable to determine who owns this marquee sign, I hope to discover that and will post a link to their business when I figure it out.

Here we go – shameless plug –

I am a cellist in the Harper Symphony Orchestra in Palatine, IL, and invite you to like our Facebook page and jot down the dates for our upcomimg.2018 – 2019 season.

https://www.facebook.com/HarperSymphonyOrchestra

2018 – 2019 Season Concerts:

October 7, 2018

December 9, 2018

April 7, 2019

May 12, 2019 (Mother’s Day)

All concerts are on a Sunday and begin at 3 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center at Harper College in Palatine, IL. Hope to see you there!

Shout out to the Maestros who have been a part of my life – from Mark Bettcher back at Golfview Elementary and CMS who guided my transition from violin to cello, to Brian Groner here at Harper Symphony who gave me a chance after a 19-year hiatus ( I know that was a risk!), to my current Maestro and cello instructor, Tony Porter who continues to guide me in my growth and progression as a cellist. Guys – this blog post is for you!

Taking your time can actually increase productivity and reduce stress

Consider this non-scientific scenario:

A third grade girl has to get through 10 math problems correctly before going out to play. She is eager to play so rushes through the problems, getting all of them wrong. Now, instead of enjoying the victory of hard work, she must start again. Now, frustrated, crying, she breaks down, unable to focus at all. Time wasted, time lost, and she is still unable to successfully complete the task.

And that’s just homework.

This is all too true in the workplace as well with our own tasks from time to time. I won’t even ask for an invisible show of hands of how many people out there have unnecessarily rushed through a task just to “get it done”.

We stress ourselves out so well! Why do we do this to ourselves? In the case of my nine year old, she has better things in mind such as going outside to play or trying to catch up on her favorite shows. In the case of grownups, perhaps we just dread the task and want it over or maybe it’s the end of the day and you’ve just had it.

Whether you better relate to the exasperated nine year old or the self-rushed worker, we all have a story. The question is : why do we keep creating more stress for ourselves than we need to?

The go go! of the modern American lifestyle is exhausting. We constantly have a never ending to-do list and are often thinking about the next thing before we even complete the first. It does feel fantastic to check off that box, afterall.

My solution is simple – slow down! Now, I’m not advocating for soldiering in the workplace or becoming less than efficient or effective, but just to take time to do things right the first time.

My unscientific theory is that if we all slow down to understand things and get them as close to right the first time as possible, we save time and $$$ in the long run. This, in turn, helps the worker to better comprehend the task thus furthering toward expertise and therefore his or her own career. Bonus : Less stress!

So, pursue greatness everyday, strive to get your to-do list fully checked, but for your own sake, take a deep breath and take your time to do the job well and right the first time.

Now, if I can just convince my nine year old about this wisdom…

The Value of Perception

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day!

However you choose to state the sentiment, I hope you enjoyed a lovely holiday with your family.

This post is inspired by a conversation I had yesterday regarding the choice of words. Is the use of “Happy 4th of July” offensive to someone who chooses the “Independence Day” vocab? At first, I was quick to dismiss it as silly, but after some consideration, I supposed there could be a reason for offensiveness, though I am not at all in this situation.

It is possible that someone may be so patriotic and proud to be an American that saying the “4th of July” just downplays what the day really is.

In addition, I’ve seen some posts circulating stating the July 2 is the actual day. So, in a world where the date is in dispute, the “4th of July” may just be another day. In this scenario, “Independence Day” covers all bases.

So, although the difference is immaterial to me, I summarize that this discussion brought me to the conclusion that I’ll stick with “Independence Day”, to err on the side of caution.

There are lessons to be learned from this scenario:

  • Everyone has a unique perspective, their own way of seeing the world. Taking time to understand others’ viewpoints is critical in developing empathy for them.
  • Having a different perspective doesn’t (always) mean that someone is right and someone is wrong. Unless we’re talking about a crime, there can be two right parties in a conflict of views. Using the varying perspectives actually brings diversity of opinion into problem solving which can bring ideas to life that never before had a chance.
  • Don’t assume anything! Without inquiry, we never know what the purpose of another’s actions or words may be. This goes for managing others in a workplace as well as in your personal relationships. When we ask sincere questions to understand someone’s desired message rather than act with our own understanding or perception, we may just get it all wrong.

What are your thoughts on this situation?

Why I’m Getting Close to Pulling My Kid From School

What’s My Big Problem?

I’m the parent of a kindergartener and an educator myself. Having worked in the public school system for nearly a decade, I would always seemingly joke that I would never put my kid into the system after seeing the inner workings. I always would joke about it. But, I think the joke may be over.

My new journey is to learn as much as I can about what it will take to transition to homeschooling my daughter. I’ve always liked the idea but never thought that I would be a sufficient teacher for her. After all, I do need her to be able to learn from others as well as socialize well with her peers.

Those were my fears for not choosing homeschool all along – the peer isolation and the inability to be an adequate educator for her. I know these myths can be debunked.

My Issues with “The New Way”

As an educator, heart and soul, I am supportive of innovation. The innovation in teaching a foreign language developed by Dr. Stephen Krashen – the Natural Approach – is what drew me to teaching my passion, the French language. Upon researching for links to use in the previous sentence, I learned that Dr. Krashen himself has just published an article on his blog entitled “The Common Core – Ignoring Education’s Real Problems“, dated November 4, 2014. In short, he contests the Common Core agendas ignore the issue of poverty – the heart of the real issues of our schools’ brokenness. I encourage you to check it out – it’s a quick four page read.

So, what he said.

Then, to add to it, I feel so ill prepared to help my child through her school years. I was overwhelmed by something I saw in her class today that has insisted that I spill these words that are bursting out of me. I felt so unable to help my daughter do something as simple as 10+9=19. I didn’t have the proper vocabulary to help her. I know they are training them to learn the vocabulary that will help them succeed as they proceed, but it bothers me that I can’t help her. In kindergarten. I’m not helpless, I can learn, and I already have, but I’m an involved parent in the classroom. What about everyone else? How can they help their kids? The school isn’t sending home packets for us to study to understand what they are learning. It’s just happening.

It feels sneaky to me. And I don’t like that feeling. At all. Especially from the government. Nope. Not a fan.

I want to be clear – I DO want her to understand other concepts of learning. I just don’t like how things are going down in reality.

Do I take her learning into my own hands? Do I just bite my tongue and ship her off on the bus every day to learn The New Way? Will it even persist? Will the government take a deeper look at how they are trying to implement a common system throughout a highly diversified nation?

If I take her out of school, I still pay the taxes, but the district has one less pupil. That hits them where it hurts – in the pocketbook. Money talks, don’t they say?

I am ready to learn something new, too. Our New Way may just be the Homeschool Way. (I can’t believe I’m writing this!) But, I mean it.

Any comments, tips, suggestions are welcome. I appreciate your time reading my thoughts. Some may applaud, some may not. Which are you?

Sources Used

“Books and Articles by Stephen D. Krashen” (2014) Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.sdkrashen.com/ on November 21, 2014.

Krashen, Stephen. (11/4/2014) “The Common Core – Ignoring Education’s Real Problems”. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/2014_krashen_the_common_core_ignoring.pdf on November 21, 2014.

“Natural Approach” (2014) Wikipedia. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_approach on November 21, 2014.

Be true to you

I know so many people are trying to get ahead in life, working towards that dream career, chugging along to become someone.  As an educator and self proclaimed nerd, I support everyone who is working towards making themselves better.

However,  be true to you.

So many people work hard to get in a career that will make the bucks, pay the bills,  and allow them to live a certain lifestyle. But at what cost?

Life is measured in so many ways, but the money we make is left behind when it’s time for our legacy to live for us.

This topic has been said and done before, but it is so real that it deserves yet another blog post. I love my job,  but it’ll never make me rich. I struggle internally with the two – richess in the bank or in my heart.

I choose my heart. And a difference I will make. Maybe even for you 🙂