Friday, January 22, 2010

A Holy Frustration

I just got back from AMEA. Alabama Music Educator's Association Conference in Tuscaloosa. Professional development opportunities for music teachers are non existent at the local level, so we get together at conferences like this once or twice a year. It's always so good to see my colleagues from Birmingham. These are choir directors (most of them middle school) with whom I share a vision and passion to teach kids through music.
While it's good to hang out and cut up, we also attend concert sessions and interest sessions. Here's where things get thick. I found myself intensely frustrated today. By what? I'm not even quite sure that I've processed enough to know yet. However, I think it's rooted in the disparity between where I am and where I want to be. All of my colleagues have these wonderful, flourishing choral programs renowned throughout the state. Me... I'm bashing my head against the wall trying to build one up. The choral music "scene" or "culture" (if you will) doesn't exist in Auburn like it does in Birmingham. People "get it" there. There is an expectation from the community, parents, teachers, kids, etc. that ___________ Middle School has a great choral program and your kid should go there and be in choir because they'll have a great experience. That doesn't exist in Auburn. Well, let me pause and say that it does somewhat exist at the Junior High and High school level, but not at my school.
Mine is just a different circumstance that makes it more difficult to have a comparable middle school program to others in the state.
So what right? Quit whining. I agree. I learned a lot at this conference. I was affirmed in some of the things I already do and introduced to many new things and ideas to try. I've heard of a thing called a "holy frustration," a discontent placed in one's heart that urges them to change their circumstances or the circumstances that created said frustration. I think that's what I come away from AMEA with. Yes, I heard some great choirs and that's always a plus. But even more, I was able to see and be reminded of where I want to be. Why I'm doing the things I'm doing at my school. Why, when it seems like nobody else cares one way or the other, I'm pushing for sixth grade choir. Why I'm teaching kids classical choral repertoire when all they want to sing is what they hear on the radio. Keep in mind I'm not saying these things for MYSELF. This isn't because I want more fame or renown. I just want for my students the same opportunities and experiences afforded to those kids in more chorally conscious school systems. I'm young. I got time. I'm gonna make this happen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twenty Ten

Whadup. So I spent a couple weeks at my parents lovely home in Bluff Park. A warm fire, homecooked meals, the Christmas tree, my awesome family, a yard for my dog. What else does a man need? Nothing, but that didn't stop the awesome things from happening. Here's what they were.

Cousins. I've got lots of them and I love them. They are like extended brothers and sisters. I got to see and catch up with them over the break. Some of them have offspring... which is weird, but really awesome too. We had our annual Cater cousin Christmas cookie bake. It was mostly the offspring throwing flour everywhere, but who cares. It was great.

Movies. I saw several movies at the cineplex. Avatar. Brilliant. Sherlock. Brilliant. Invictus. Always wanted to see Morgan Freeman portray Mandela. I love films.

Christmas. We give each other gifts to symbolize the gift that God gave us. Now, a shirt or green currency paper will never match up to a living God who sacrificed himself, died excruciatingly, and rose again. But... it's nice to get that stuff right? I was further reminded of how blessed I am. Christmas was great. My only regret? I didn't see either Home Alone or Home Alone 2. Travesty, I know.

My Dad's latest phase. Each year, my father becomes infatuated with something new. Running (although he did that for years), Cycling (also did that for years), sailing, etc. This year, his thing is shotguns. He bought a new shotgun and he and I and my brother shot clays a couple times over the break. Let it be noted that I outshot him both times. Still, tons of fun. He's also (probably) going to get a hunting dog. Time to shoot some birds. Here's a video I made of Cater Men Swing and Shoot 2009, an all day outing of my father, brother, and myself to Farmlinks in Fayetteville, AL.

New Years always sucks. I think it's because of the unusually high expectations we place on it to become the greatest night of the year. This time, it didn't disappoint. I partied with Daniel, Lee, Jake, Daniel's wife and lots of her friends. I danced the night away. Went to bottletree cafe. Danced more. Best New Year's ever.

The next day Auburn played in one of the most ridiculous bowl games I've ever seen. We won three bowl games that day. Can we store those up and use them in the future?

So now I'm back in Auburn. I'm back in my small white house with my dog. The cat that lives under the house somehow managed not to freeze to death (unfortunately). However... I've got a plan! I ordered a small animal trap. I'm going to trap that cat, drive out to Tuskeegee and let it go. Get outta here cat.

Students come back tomorrow. Can't wait.

It might snow Thursday night. Great... I probably just jinxed it.

I'm working on my 2010 resolution. Last year's resolution was to listen to more blues music. I can honestly say that it was the first time I've remained mindful of my new year's resolution all year. I'd say I succeeded. I'm kicking around a couple ideas for this year's resolution. I'll get back to you.

The olympics are soon. I love the Olympics so much.

I like even numbers WAY better than odd numbers. So, the fact that it's 2010 makes my soul feel at ease. At least for another year.

I hope your 2010 is full of great things.