Category Archives: Music

sometimes you’re the bug

It’s been several months since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. But, I’ve got a song in my head, thanks to some obstacles that popped up yesterday morning.

Yesterday was Monday and like most Monday’s I wasn’t looking forward to getting out of bed and embracing the new week. It had snowed most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday and the cars and roads were coated with snow. AND it was cold.

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug

As I always do, I get up early. Yesterday I rose around 4:30. And as usual I checked my e-mail while the coffee brewed and discovered the WIFI was down, so I re-booted the system, twice. The re-boot didn’t work. Then, I realized we had a service technician coming to change and upgrade our service and the internet and cable must have been turned off. Yep, the television signal was dead, too. Thirty minutes wasted spent trying to solve the problem. But, the coffee was good.

courtesy of How to Detail Your Car.

Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re just a fool in love

Continue reading sometimes you’re the bug

Bible Sunday

Fifteen years ago today, I was teaching seventh grade geography and the counselor walked into the room at the end of second period, she looked upset and out of sorts. After the bell rang and dismissed my second period class, another class entered, the students got to their seats, and the bell rang. Before the third period class began, the counselor read a short prepared statement that changed my day and told us that the course of history for our nation and the world had changed forever. I don’t remember what she read, but she left immediately afterwards and the room felt like the air had been sucked out of it. Somehow, we all made it through that day and over the course of the next few days we learned the true horror of that day.

our flag flies at half-mast today,
our flag flies at half-mast today,

This morning, fifteen years later, 9/11 is a Sunday. This time it is Bible Sunday for our church’s third and eighth graders. Eighth grade is the confirmation and class and O waited excitedly for her Bible. She was born over a year after 9/11 and for her, 9/11 holds only the meaning that we have tried to share with her. She didn’t experience it, nor did she know what the United States was like before 9/11. She only knows what it is like now.

In April 2015, on our way home from Spring Break in Washington, D. C. we stopped at the Flight 93 – 9/11 Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget.

This morning, I watched my sweet daughter O beam with excitement when she received her Bible and she could barely contain herself when she returned to the pew to sit with us for the rest of the service. She fidgeted throughout the sermon and helped me find the closing hymn in the hymnal – “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.” We sang it as John Wesley instructed congregations in his Instructions for Singing from 1761, we payed attention to #4,

“Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …

It was a wonderful service and the hymn was a reminder that though much has changed for our nation and the world, our principles continue to survive. May we never forget. Continue reading Bible Sunday

“You Raise Me Up” a Tuesday’s Tune

Today, I am honored to have Patricia from jansenschmidt: Blogging From the Edge of Eternity guest post here at Making the Days Count dot org. I am not certain when I first ‘met’ Patricia, but I’ve been reading her blog ever since. I’ve followed her from northern California to Vicksburg, Mississippi where she moonlights with her husband at the historic Baer House and blogs at jansenschmidt BLOGGING FROM THE EDGE OF ETERNITY. Where imagination abounds, nothing is impossible.  Indeed, nothing is impossible, it’s gonna be a great day. Thank you Jansen/Patricia. I’ll let her tell the rest of the story.

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First of all, thank you Clay for inviting me to be part of your Tuesday’s Tune project. I am honored to be included, as I am a fan of your blog, primarily for its positive message.

You asked me to write about a song that gives meaning to me for making each day count. I chose “You Raise Me Up,” by the group Celtic Women because I feel certain it must have been written for me to remind me that, even though I lost my mom in 2008, she is still here, still supporting me and still encouraging me. She raises me up to more than I can be. Her absence reminds me to make each day count.

mother daughter quote

I never thought myself to be much like my mother, but I’m everything I am today because of how she raised me. So often I feel her presence pushing me on. I never would have said that my mother was particularly encouraging when I was a kid, yet I feel courageous today. I feel strong and empowered and beautiful because she instilled in me good values and the desire to do what’s right. As the song says: “I am strong because I am on her shoulders.”

little girl on shoulders

I especially like this version of the song, because there’s a piano solo (I play because my mom played) and fireworks (one of my favorite things).

Again, thank you for this opportunity to share my special song. I hope it inspires everyone who reads this blog to never lose sight of the little things or take for granted the things that matter and, most especially, to make each day count.

For more information about me please visit:

Website: http://www.jansenschmidt.com
Find me on Facebook at JansenSchmidtAuthor
Follow me on Twitter @JansenSchmidt
Blog: https://www.jansenschmidt.wordpress.com

Saturday morning spring in your step

Saturday morning by the lake.

“Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young, the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step.” Mark Twain from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Friday was a great day. We got a few chores off our list. But, there are more, there is always more. Always.

But, after the chores there was the lake and fun.

We took the boat out for a test ride and some fun. O ‘surfed’ and so did a couple of her lake friends from down the lane. It was a fun evening.

I stayed in the boat and ‘filmed’ and shot stills. I still got wet putting the boat away. Continue reading Saturday morning spring in your step

What’s going on?

I believe in Making the Days Count, and I believe in the power of music. And I believe in the beauty of nature and so much more. I’ve been working on my essay and reading a few more essays from the book, in between chapters of Hamilton and other things.

I drove home from the lake Saturday afternoon my mind filled with thoughts.

Sunday morning, I sat on the deck reading the paper and planning my day. I skimmed messages and noticed my friend, Carl, had posted a song to Facebook and Instagram.

I listened to the song and replied to Carl’s prompt, ‘we’ve got to find a way.’ On Facebook, I replied, “Indeed, change begins with you and me, we must be the change we want to see in the world. I am going to do a good turn and pay it forward. Peace.” My replies were personal, about where I was at the moment. A few hours later, I understood there were more ways to listen to the song, to hear the words, and this morning I find myself seated at my desk scribbling a post together.

instagram
Click to listen

Continue reading What’s going on?

Three for Thursday

It’s Thursday morning and it is the twenty-seventh day of summer break, almost two-thirds remain. There is a myth which persists that teachers don’t work a full year. It’s not true, it is nowhere close to being true and the myth misrepresents what educators do to be ready for the coming year.

Class starts in an hour.

that's y foot and W's old parking spot
that’s my foot and W’s old parking spot

This summer I am taking a professional development class, in fact the last several summers I have taken PD classes. Classes are taught by fellow educators and are filled with rich curricula and new methods to help students grow and learn.  This summer I am taking a two-week long class at the local high school. The class is offered through Fermilab Education and W’s freshman biology teacher is the instructor, he was also one of W’s wrestling coaches. It has been an interesting eight days of being transported back to being fifteen again, and then morphing back to my real age. It’s been forty years since that high school freshman year, I’d mostly forgotten that very awkward time.

Continue reading Three for Thursday

Tuesday’s Tune: “The Boar’s Head Carol”

Today’s post is a guest post from Margaret,  a blogger friend of mine from England. She blogs at  From Pyrenees to Pennines. I first began reading Margaret’s blog several years ago when she and her husband lived in southwestern France. They moved home to England and I love reading of her exploits. I don’t recall how I found her, but I did, and I am ever grateful for the sunshine and joy that reading provides. There is nothing like an English Christmas, nothing. Thank you Margaret, keep Making the Days Count.

“He who sings scares away his woes.” ― Miguel de Cervantes 

There’s a  programme on British radio called ‘Desert Island Discs’, which has been running regularly since 1942.  Just about everyone fancies being on it, and if you’ve made a name for yourself as an actor, a politician, an academic, a musician, a journalist, a physician, a TV personality, a sportsperson …. whatever, really, you may just get your chance.  For 40 minutes, the ‘castaway’ for the week has to imagine themselves washed up on a desert island, with only 8 gramophone records (how quaint that sounds) of their choice, one luxury with no practical use, and one book, together with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare.  On air, they have the chance to talk about themselves, and more importantly, and just as revealingly, the opportunity to choose the 8 pieces of music that may have to last them for the rest of their lives.

What would I choose?  The list I occasionally idly compose in my head varies wildly, according to my mood.  But what I observe is that it’s always dominated by the human voice.  My list always includes some of the great sacred masses by the likes of Bach, Haydn and Mozart.  There’ll be some traditional music, maybe from Africa or India, and some ‘blasts from the past’ of my teenage years in the 1960s.  The voices range from the pure clear notes of children, through elegant, warm and melodious female voices, to resonant deeper male tones.  It’s hard to think of a single musical instrument with such range or versatility.

And washed upon my desert island, aside from listening to my recordings, what else would I be doing?  Well, singing for sure.  I don’t have the sort of voice that anyone would want to have in a top-flight choir…..  or any choir, really.  I read music only very insecurely.  Yet you won’t find me missing from our weekly choir practice unless I really, really can’t get there.

We’re engaged from the first moment we arrive.  We pat our faces and our bodies awake, stamping our feet rhythmically, or giving each other impromptu massages. We practice rounds and play musical games with notes from the highest to the lowest to get our voices mobilised.  And we sing.  We sing in canon, we sing in parts.  We learn that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sing well in unison: there’s nowhere to hide.

Nicky’s in charge of us, and I can’t think what kind of title to give her.  She enthuses us; she won’t accept less than our best; she generates an atmosphere in which we all trust one another – our false notes will be forgiven and we’ll even be persuaded to be the sole singer of a line or two of song.  She’s the one who finds pieces none of us knows, from Africa to Finland, to lesser-known Gospel songs.  She’s the one who hunts out unfamiliar pieces from the English repertoire.  And this is the one I’ll share with you today.  It’s  Christmas song, but a secular one, sung at table at Queen’s College, Oxford.  Here’s ‘The Boar’s Head Carol’

During that hour or so on Thursday evening, we forget our woes and day-to-day worries.  We open our throats, and joyfully, we sing. American philosopher William James summed it up perfectly: 

‘I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing’.

Here we are at our summer barbecue, singing for friends and family
Here we are at our summer barbecue, singing for friends and family

Tuesday’s Tune: A Charlie Brown Christmas

It’s Christmas time. The season is upon us. Christmas will be here in sixteen days. I’ve survived Black Friday – I didn’t shop, or even leave the house.

I was four years old the first time the Charlie Brown Christmas first aired. It was 1965. We were living in Houston. We be there one more Christmas and then, we’d move to Sugar Land where I would grow up. My mom still lives in the house I call home, even though I haven’t lived there for close to thirty years.

Charlie_brown_1209_2015-2016
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The network produced a special 50th anniversary special and then replayed the cartoon. I watched it, again.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is an animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. In the special, lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. Lucy suggests he direct a school Christmas play, but he is both ignored and mocked by his peers. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas. (Wikipedia)

Rewind, I can imagine us, my brothers and I, sitting on the couch watching the Christmas special in our jammies. For us, it was in black and white; we wouldn’t get our first color television until 1971. I don’t have a specific memory of watching it, I just know we watched it. Sitting on the couch.

My kids have watched it, too.

A lot has changed since then. I can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas anytime I want – regardless of the season. And, much has stayed the same, A Charlie Brown Christmas was, in a way, a protest show about the commercialization of Christmas.

It bothers me that the Christmas season seemingly begins earlier every year. But, I don’t let it get me down.

A few years ago, I purchased the music from the show and loaded it on my iPhone. I play it as often as I can. I plug in my speakers in my classroom and play it before school starts and sometimes in class when my students are working, no one tires of the tunes. The music is calming and peaceful and it reminds me of the importance of the season.

I remember driving home to Ohio once – I don’t recall when. But, the backseat was in an uproar. My two backseat passengers couldn’t seem to get along, the dog was whining and barking, there was heavy traffic on the road and I popped in the CD. Presto, chango. We listened, whistled softly hummed, and thought of the gift of Christmas.

We won’t be driving to Ohio this Christmas. I am not sure what our plans are, but it will be Christmas. But, wherever we go we will remember the meaning of Christmas.

B has been working on the lights and we got the backyard done this past weekend. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Tuesday’s Tune: This Old Punk

My friend Scott sent his guest post to me Monday afternoon; and it’s now Wednesday, not Tuesday. It’s been that kind of week or so. I’ve known Scott since our school opened up in ’01.He teaches health education in the building and is a writer, too. He writes at Life is the Future and is planning to ‘Bite the Bullet’ this coming year. We were talking and writing came up – neither knew the other wrote, it’s interesting how that all works. I knew he loved music and collected vinyl. We got to talking and he agreed to guest post here at Making the Days Count. I enjoyed the read and I hope you do, too. I am thankful for friends like Scott, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

vinyl_scott

Some of my favorite memories come with a soundtrack. Of course, almost all my memories come with a soundtrack—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

In teaching discussions, and even in life conversations, I make it no secret that music has helped me stay alive this long. Music has been one of my constants in a lifetime of change. It has seen me age, and awkwardly so. It has seen me make bad decisions, and dread repercussion. It has seen me laugh, cry, and scream. It has taken me across the country on the kick of a dream. It has kept me home in the arms of my family.

While writing, I rarely do any stream of consciousness without it. And even then, when the editing grip finally takes hold, I can hear the echo in the embers. It’s in pieces, in manic-depressant fits of stress and relaxation. Like dust motes in the blank stare of a daydream, music can fill space or demand attention. Depending on the mood, music confirms or denies feelings of self-worth, vents of frustration, and outbursts of elation.

Pop music of my childhood combined with the classics from my parents, which led me to being introduced to other styles of music. The alternative music boom of the 80’s and 90’s paved the way for exactly what I needed: the edgy, angsty hooks of punk rock.

I was about 14 when I found punk music. Coming from a fairly normal and fortunate upbringing, punk rock didn’t represent a distaste for life, necessarily, but it hit home as it satisfied a very natural need of adolescence: to question everything. Question the norm, question the rules, question the answers, question existence… question oneself.

A punk song may never change the world, but I could tell you a few that changed me. Which means, by virtue, punk rock does exactly what it sets out to do.

If you’ve been there, you know; people are drawn to punk for many reasons, all unique to each individual. For me, the attitude of the music and lyrics was easy to relate to. But songs with societal meaning registered just as much as the galloping riffs that accompanied those often-indiscernible words. (Good thing for liner notes.) The punk community is one that offends the mainstream with no mercy but all in the demand for tolerance and equity. Racial and class lines be damned.

Identity in school, as in life, remains just as difficult a topic as ever. In my case, not following pre-set expectations made a lot of sense… classifications, stereotypes, cliques all seemed dumb and immature. Counterproductive. Moreover, why can’t a person be interested in a variety of things, and hang out with lots of different people? Funny enough, finding like-minded friends and having that kinship of a social circle is essential in teenage development.

Cue the music. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: This Old Punk

Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité: A History Lesson

I am a teacher. I teach kids history, some kids get it and others, will get it later.

We are studying the period in US History right after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution – the first fifty years from President Washington to President Jackson. On Monday morning when my students sat down in class for the new unit, I challenged them to name as many presidents as they could. I gave them ten minutes.

I had taken the same challenge the week before. I got 42 presidents and had 41 of them in chronological order. Give it a whirl and post your number with your comment.

The average for my students was 11. The high was 34 and the low was two. I do not think the ‘2’ tried, the next low was six, which is about right.

Tuesday was my birthday and I modelled the reading and thinking process with my students.

Wednesday was Veterans Day and my students learned the meaning of the day and the inspiration behind the poppy symbol.

all of our poopies together to form a field of poppies....
all of our poopies together to form a field of poppies….

Thursday I continued modelling and gave them homework – finish President Washington and we will review Friday in class.

Yesterday was Friday and in class, we were reviewing George Washington’s second term and the Neutrality Act came up. George Washington was an isolationist and believed in the dangers of political factions and parties. Essentially, he was a Federalist believing in the power of a strong centralized government. Alexander Hamilton Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury and architect of our financial system agreed with Washington. On the other side of the argument were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison – writers of two of our most important documents – the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, respectively. Jefferson and Madison argued against being neutral and siding with France.

Once again, I used music to make my point and I played “Cabinet Battle #2” from Hamilton: An American Musical.

They got it, I think. “…if you don’t know, now you know. Mr. President.….”

Washington listened and issued the Neutrality Act, Britain removed her troops from American soil, but is didn’t solve the problems of the day. Continue reading Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité: A History Lesson