Summer Readin’, Had Me a Blaa-aast.

Well, it’s almost upon me: the season of reading that happens during my summer break.  As I travel in the summer, some years with the Kentucky Ambassadors, some trips with the family, some judging for DCI, I get time to read.  During the rest of the year, reading is seldom, I may only finish one book every three or four months.  During the summer, though, I can get through one every week or two.

This summer, we’re going on a family trip to Chicago that should allow for a little bit of reading.  I also have quite a few shows to judge for Drum Corps International, all of which will have me flying.  Of course, from Paducah and Nashville, there are no “direct flights”.  All of those trips have a connection or two, I think I’ll be on twenty or thirty different flights between early-July now and mid-August.  Rush to the gate, rush to get coffee, wait forever for the flight to board.  To some people, that’s an annoyance, but to me that’s an awesome opportunity to read.

What do you think I should read for the summer?  I’m currently halfway through James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  Since Christmas, I have finished What Jesus Meant and The Red Badge of Courage.  Before you make recommendations, you should know that I rotate through three types of books.  Fiction-serious: My current book fits in that category for sure.  Red Badge of Courage, Catch-22, and A Picture of Dorian Gray…those are “serious” books that I’ve read in the past year or so.  Fiction-light: These are the fun books, page turners that are simple and just a good time to read.  Things like John Grisham, Harry Potter, Dan Brown.  Non-fiction: Recently, I’ve read What Jesus Meant, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, and Shepherding The Child’s Heart. 

Here is a listing of the books that I’ve read, or at least the ones that I could remember.  Two are on my “on deck” list: The Anatomy of Peace, thanks to Joey Reed for giving me that one.  The other is The Lost Symbol, it is a Dan Brown book that has been sitting at Mom and Dad’s for months now.  Dad better finish it fast!

What recommendations do you have?  It’s best if they can be found at the library…unless you just want to buy it for me!

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12 years down, 956 band students

Early on, when I started teaching, I began keeping a list of all the band kids.  I think it came from me being worried that I would forget kids names.  Maybe it came from that scary moment when you come back from Christmas Break and have no idea who the kids are in the 6th grade woodwind section.  Regardless, I always have a listing of high school student names on the back of the banquet program and a listing of middle school student names in the program for the May concert.  It was easy enough to do some copy/paste and get them into a spreadsheet.  Then I added columns for what grade they were in which year and what their primary instrument was.  At least what their primary instrument was for me.  Some kids switched instruments a lot, or they marched one instrument and did another in concert band.  Scott Sams has become an awesome oboe player, but while I taught him, he was mostly a clarinet kid.  Hopefully that makes sense.

Mike Zerhusen offered an interesting idea: why don’t I include kids that I taught in drum corps?  I taught three summers at Pioneer (1997-1999) and grew very close with a lot of those kids.  Of course, there were a few that I didn’t really get to know at all, too.  Most of them, though, were only a year or two younger than me, though.  Even though I “taught” them, they still feel more like my contemporaries, not my students.  If I taught drum corps now, I’m sure that I would feel differently, but at that time in my life we were all travelling down the same road together…often in Wisconsin to a DCM show and often in Plan B because the “Happy Bus” was broken down.

The longer I teach, the more I appreciate the relationships that I’ve developed through teaching.  A few of those relationships are with other teachers, but more of those are with former students.  These are people that watch my kids, they are people that I’ve hired to teach, and they are people that have stayed in my life.  One former student has even lived with us for the past five months!

After reading Pam Ewing’s question: I added columns for A) did they make All-State, B) did they major in music, C) did they continue performing after high school, D) am I still in touch with them.  I decided that looking at their profile on facebook doesn’t count as “in touch”.  Do I still send them email or texts?  If yes, then we are “in touch”.  Would I look them up for lunch if I was in their town?  If yes, then we are “in touch”.  If I only comment on the status every so often, then we are not “in touch”.  Does that make sense?

I’ll answer these questions up front:

  1. I taught 6th-12th grades while I was at West Jessamine: 7 years.
  2. I include kids that are only in guard.
  3. If a kid quit mid-year, they aren’t on the list.

Here’s the fun stuff that I found while working on the list:

  1. I’ve taught 956 total band kids so far.
  2. They break down to: 141 flutes, 14 oboes, 6 bassoons, 156 clarinets, 16 bass clarinets, 117 saxophones, 135 trumpets, 49 horns, 90 trombones, 40 euphoniums, 49 tubas, 126 percussion, & 17 kids that were primarily guard.
  3. There have been 35 make All-State a total of 67 times, 33 started college as music majors, 67 have continued performing past high school, and 37 with whom I still keep in touch.
  4. I’ve taught lots of sibling combinations, but there are two families that I’ve taught all four of their kids: the Jewells & Meeks.
  5. I taught Kara Cessna George for seven straight years.  So many kids would move in, move out, quit band, start band late, but Kara is the only special student that I started in 6th grade and stuck with band every single semester until she graduated.  Because I taught seven years at West Jessamine there was only one class that even had the possibility.

Today marks the final school day of my 12th year of teaching.  It’s really amazing just how much my perspective has changed over the years and just how differently the role of band plays in my life.  God has worked through many people so that now I can value the relationships more than the accolades.  God has also taken me to the perfect school at the perfect time.  I only taught at Henderson County for four years, but there was an amazing bunch of thirty people that I taught from 9th grade to 12th grade.  All thirty of those kids stuck with band for their entire high school experience.  Five years from now, I’m sure I’ll be able to look back at this season in my life and see that it was the perfect time for me to teach at Reidland.  God does things that way, you know.  To quote my favorite author, Donald Miller: “It’s quite beautiful, really.”

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(say this part in a Forrest Gump voice) I…was…running.

I’m going to try and get back at the blog.  At least once a week, right?  I can do that, I think.  We’ll see, I guess.

One of the big things in my life right now is the whole running thing.  I started late-Summer 2009, so it’s been about 18 months now.  It’s big for me at this moment because I’m running my first full marathon next week.  It’s the St. Louis Marathon and I’m really excited.  So far in 2011, I’ve run over 324 miles, in fact I logged 136 miles just in March alone.  It’s crazy to hear me even say that.

Lots of people have asked me how did I get to running this much.  The simple answer is very, very gradually.  I should say this, too: if you think I’m crazy, I am.  If you think I deserve some kind of praise, you’re wrong.  God gets any glory for this…well, Him and Shana.  Then again, maybe He’s just using Shana to help me.  Anyway, here’s the short timeline of my running history:

1990-PE class, Reidland HS: I think I ran a sub-6:00 mile my 10th grade year.  That’s the last time I ran more than the length of a practice field.  5:47 rings a bell.

July 2009-Downtown Henderson: Shana had started running to help get in shape following Dagny’s birth.  After seeing all of the organization and structure that went into a 5K, I thought that was pretty cool.  We were downtown at the fountains and I was wearing tennis shoes.  Might as well go for it, right?  I set out on a 3 mile loop and had to stop around mile 2.  I was just miserable.  Hot, dizzy, sore.  I remember clearly feeling the sensation that my hair was hurting.  That’s not even possible, though, right.  Still, over the next few weeks, I stuck with it.  Usually, just going a mile or so at a time, gradually trying to go further or faster.

August 2009-Shana & I both ran a small 5K in Newburgh.  We both finished without walking, my time was 30:02.  I felt like a rockstar!  It was my first race and I still have the bib.

September 2009-We both ran the YMCA 10K in Evansville.  I went very slow for the first 3 miles and was feeling pretty good so I tried to go faster on the last 3 miles.  I finished in 1:01:39.  I wasn’t miserable, in fact I felt decent at the end.  Between August and September, I was running 2 or 3 time a week, almost always at night.  One highlight of this training was when we “tried out” running more than 5 miles.  Neither of us had ever gone more than 3 or 4 miles, so we found a free Sunday morning and went for a run.  The cool part was that this was during our 10-year anniversary trip to New York City, so that 5 mile run was through Central Park just before we went to worship at Brooklyn Tabernacle.  Good times!

January 2010-On New Year’s Day morning, Dad, Alan, and myself all ran a small 5K in Evansville.  I started out running a little too fast, I didn’t want my US Army brother to pass me.  I ended up with a decent 5K time, 22:45…one that I haven’t beat since.

April 2010-I ran my first Half-Marathon, the inaugural Southern Indiana Classic just north of Evansville.  I ended up with a 2:00:25 time, quite frustrating.  What could I have done to make up 25 seconds?  Maybe not stopping just past the starting line to pee?  Duh!  Not-winning!  Maybe not dropping off my GPS with Shana & the kids at mile 10?  Anyway, the sub-2:00 half marathon still eludes me.  I ran one in September of 2010, but wasn’t in condition and ended somewhere around 2:07.

Fall 2010-The process of moving from Lone Oak to Reidland really slowed down my running.  I was only averaging 30 miles a month or so for October, November, & December.  At one point in the summer I had entertained thoughts of preparing for the Memphis Marathon in December, but Christmas Parades & All-State auditions got in the way.  Once I didn’t have a race on the horizon, I slacked off on the running.

Christmas Break 2010-Sometime around the holidays, I decided it was time to get after it again.  I went for 9 miles on a cold night and made it.  It wasn’t easy or pretty, but I survived it and decided that I would go for 10 in a week or so.

January & February 2011-I was back at it again, running 3 miles or so at night, once or twice a week.  On the weekends, I’d work on increasing my long runs.  This was working until I got to the 16+ mile runs.  They started to really kill me.  I had a slow, but painful 17.  I tried for 18 and didn’t make it.  I had to call Shana to come get me at the 16.5 mark.  I was in real pain and even worse, I just felt defeated.  Shana told me that the only way I could get up to marathon range was to increase my mid-week mileage.  I knew she was right, but I didn’t like it.  You see, the only way that I can run for 6, 7, 8 miles on Monday or a Thursday is to do it in the morning, before the day begins.  I paid the money and registered for the St. Louis Marathon.  There was no backing out and there was no other way to get up to 26.2 miles without upping my weekly mileage.  So, I did it.  I started waking up at 4:00 or so twice a week.  The crazy thing is, once I get my lazy bottom out of bed: it’s actually pretty nice to be out.

March 2011-I’m now on my 5th week of running 30-40 miles.  I started with a week of 6 mile runs in the morning, then 18 on Sunday.  The next week I moved up to 7 miles in the mornings, then the next week…  Last week, I ran 9 miles on Wednesday & Friday, then 21 on Sunday.  The 21 was fine and I felt okay at the end.

April 2011-This will be the month that I run my first Full Marathon.  I’m pretty excited about it, too!  For this one, I’m just hoping to finish and enjoy myself.  Looking at my times, I expect to come in around 4 hours, 45 minutes or so.  4:30 isn’t impossible, but it’s unlikely.

Will I keep running?  I hope so.  It’s become a good hobby and I can pretty much eat whatever I want!  I’d love to do a half-marathon soon, I feel confident that I could get that sub-2 hour time.  I was really into geocaching for about 3 years, but that faded out.  Golf & fishing are just too expensive and take too much time for a guy in my situation.  Hopefully I can find a “half” later in the Spring and then do another “full” in the Fall.  We’ll see!

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Thoughts from 9/20/10

It’s been over three months since I last wrote a blog.  Life has been extremely busy during that time, but I’d love to go back and recount all of it at some point.  Today isn’t the time for that, however.  Today I’ll just through out a few things that have been on my mind a bit.

  1. Band life at Reidland is in full swing.  There are only 26 kids in band, but they are actually really good.  We got a late start on colorguard (for various reasons), but they’ll be in the entire show by mid-October.  For now, we’re close to learning the whole show and the kids performance level is pretty high.  We had some serious nerves at our first contest, hopefully we can get those out of the way for this weekend’s contest at Marshall County.
  2. Wilson turned one-month old on Saturday.  He’s doing pretty well, still huge.  He enjoys cuddling with me much more than baby-Dagny and maybe even more than any of the other boys.  I have really enjoyed that part.  Actually, that’s about the only part of our relationship, so far!  Either during the day, falling asleep at night, or in the final hours of the morning, Wilson and I spend at least an hour a day cuddled up together and I love it!
  3. The new house is making progress, very slowly.  We bought the house two weeks ago and carpet is ordered.  We’ve removed the carpet in half the house, we’ve primed two rooms, painted the trim in one room, and swept out the garage.  There’s still tons of work to go before we move in, which is scheduled for Fall Break in two weeks.  If you get a free hour or two, let me know.
  4. The busyness of the last three months has hurt my opportunities to run.  My mileage has been down since June and I noticed it yesterday.  I ran in the Cape Girardeau Half Marathon yesterday and the last three miles were BRUTAL.  Back in April, I ran a half in 2:00:18.  Yesterday is was 2:08:24.  Those extra 8 minutes all came in the final 4 miles.  Boo.  After seeing how tough it was yesterday, and knowing that life won’t slow down much until late-October, I’m starting to figure that a full marathon will have to wait until the spring.  There really weren’t any near-by marathons on free weekends anyway, so maybe that’s a sign.
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And the weekend Top fortyyyyyyyy, yeah!

Okay, it’s not quite the same as Casey Kasem, Rick Dees, or Ryan Seacrest, but I decided today was a good day to post my own Top 40.  Well, not really.  Actually, I started thinking about this on Wednesday night during the first Evansville Symphonic Band rehearsal.  We were reading through the pieces for the first concert and one of them is Apollo Unleashed, which is the final movement from Frank Ticheli’s Symphony #2.  We played that at Henderson County in 2008 (very well, I might add…) and during the rehearsal I was sitting there and thinking about each kid in that band.  I think I could remember each and every one and there were some of those students that I hadn’t thought about in a year or more.  Those were students that were for all practical purposes totally out of my mind until a piece of music triggered those memories and shared experiences. 

That got me to thinking about all of the amazing music that I was able to teach while at Henderson County.  Of course, knowing my dorkiness for statistics and records, I still have a file of all the pieces that were performed between 2006-2010 by the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, & Percussion Ensemble.  I picked my Top 40 HCHS band pieces 2006-2010, and I even tried to rank them.  Now, this is meant to rekindle memories from folks, especially the people who were in the bands.  I’m not trying to brag.  Well, maybe a little bit!  Some of these get ranked highly because they are great music, some because they are very well-written and great to teach, some just get a high-ranking because they I have a close connection with a particular performance of them.  I went through and bolded the pieces that I recall a specific performance where we just nailed it.  Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. Symphony for Band~Persichetti, Vincent
  2. Lincolnshire Posy~Grainger, Percy
  3. Candide, Overture from~Bernstein, Grundman
  4. Lincoln Portrait~Coplad/Beeler
  5. Apollo Unleashed (from Symphony #2)~Tichelli, Frank
  6. Prelude, Siciliano, & Rondo~Arnold/Paynter
  7. Raise the Roof~Daugherty, Michael
  8. Ride~Hazo, Sam
  9. First Suite in E-flat~Holst, Gustav
  10. Chorale & Shaker Dance~Zdechlick, John
  11. Second Suite in F~Holst, Gustav
  12. English Folk Song Suite~Vaughn-Williams, Ralph
  13. Cowboys, The~Williams/Curnow
  14. Cajun Folk Songs~Tichelli, Frank
  15. Rhosymedre~Vaughn-Williams, Ralph
  16. Russian Christmas Music~Reed, Alfred
  17. Nimrod from Enigma Variations~Elgar, Edward
  18. Ye Banks & Braes ‘O Bonnie Doon~Grainger, Percy
  19. American Overture for Band~Bennett, Robert Russell
  20. Symphonic Dance #3 “Fiesta”~Williams, Clifton
  21. Variations on a Korean Folk Song~Chance, John Barnes
  22. Four Scottish Dances~Arnold/Paynter
  23. Salvation Is Created~Tchesnokoff/Houseknecht
  24. Sinfonia 6~Broege, Timothy
  25. October~Whitacre, Eric
  26. Chant Rituals~Del Borgo, Elliot
  27. Blessed Are They~Brahms/Buehlman
  28. Scenes from the Louvre~Dello Joio, Norman
  29. T-Bone Concerto~DeMeij, Johann
  30. Canterbury Chorale~Van Der Roost, Jan
  31. Tocatta for Band~Erickson, Frank
  32. Kentucky 1800~Grundman, Clare
  33. Fanfare Nueve~Fannin, John
  34. Vesuvius~Tichelli, Frank
  35. God of Our Fathers~Smith, Claude T.
  36. Hymnsong of Philip Bliss, On A~Holsinger, David
  37. Bayou Breakdown~Karrick, Brant
  38. Hexagon, The~Fannin, John
  39. Amazing Grace~Tichelli, Frank
  40. Dedicatory Overture~Williams, Clifton

Were you at any of these performances?  Share any memories in the comments!

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Two quick examples

These last few months have been a series of faith tests for us.  I want to share two quick examples of God’s blessing us following little moves of faith.

  1. I had been struggling to officially resign from HCHS.  I knew that I didn’t want to be teaching there in the Fall, but I was afraid to “let go of one vine” before having a firm grasp on another.  There were job opportunities in the Paducah area, but they were still a few weeks from interviewing, etc.  After some prayer and listening, I decided that if we really trust God to provide the right career situation, I should just go ahead and resign.  I know God didn’t want me to commute from Paducah to Henderson each day and I knew that the transition from myself being the band director to Keith Vincent being the band director would be smoother the sooner I resigned.  So, I did it.  I sent the principal an official letter and it was done.  The next day, we got an offer on our house that was only a few hundred less than our asking price and it was $7,000 more than the previous offer.  God had that blessing all ready for us, He was just waiting for us to place my employment into His hands.
  2. I drove the truck from Paducah to Henderson yesterday morning.  Since the radio doesn’t really work in the truck, I love having that time to listen to podcasts.  Yesterday I was listening to a little bit of How Stuff Works and  The sermon was about God’s blessing and about giving.  Shana & I are faithful tithers, but that’s a subject for another blog.  Pastor Craig Groeschel mentioned how people should tithe off of the profit they make when selling their house.  Oh yeah, I never really thought of that…  We did tithe off of our income tax refund, with a family situation like ours the income tax really is income!  I had never considered the profit that we’ll be making off of the house sale, though.  Still, I called Shana and told her that we needed to find a good way to give 10% of that amount to God’s work, not to our next down payment.  Neither one of us was very excited at first, but in another couple of hours, I heard from our realtor that the inspection report had come back.  Basically, there were four things broken on the house, but the buyer said not to worry about it.  Can you believe it!?!?  We have been able to sell our house in less than a month, for practically our asking price, to a family that attends our church, and they are willing to take the house as is.  That, my friends, is God working in our lives.

I know that every situation is different and everyone’s relationship with God is unique, but I know that God wants what is best for us and the Page family has always found that He’s got our back.  The more we trust to Him (family planning, moving, money, relationships) the more He blesses us in ways we didn’t imagine.

Now, where should that new tithe source go?  Off of our income tax tithe, we were able to give away a few hundred dollars to various organizations and family members and it felt great.  Do any of you have any suggestions?  If so, email them to my new address:

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Hey, wanna know something cool?

In the last month I’ve noticed something really cool and I thought I’d blog about it.  I teach band and I’ve had lots of proud moments as a band director.  Many of them have come from things that are directly related to the band that I was teaching (West Jessamine MS/West Jessamine HS/Henderson County HS).   You know, things like great concert performances, kids making honor bands, winning contests, etc.  In the last few weeks, though, I’ve noticed this whole other kind of proud feeling.  It has come when I see or hear a student doing something musical outside of my teaching.  Does that make sense?  I’ll try to clarify:

About a month ago, I played a typical church gig at Henderson 1st UMC.  Is was pretty typical, except six of the members in the thirty-person orchestra were my students.  They weren’t under my instruction, in fact, in this setting they were my peers…but they were playing very well.  Mae Mosley was principal horn and Cyndi Fernandez was the only oboe and they both sounded like kids about to finish up undergrad and ready to head off to grad school.  I was so proud of their professionalism and musicianship.  I can’t really explain it, but I know that it was neat for me to think about how they’ve all matured as musicians (Brandon Burke on tuba!) while I’ve been teaching them and that they can perform at a high level without my direction.

A very similar feeling happened at the SCGC Championships in Nashville.  About a month ago was the finals for winter guards and indoor drumlines.  The three HCHS groups performed well and I was proud of them…but my proudest moment of the day was watching Alysse Parrish and Katie McBride perform with Anomaly, an Independent A guard.  I’ve seen Pride of Cincinnati and Blessed Sacrament at worlds, but it wasn’t as cool as watching two former students continue to perform after their high school days were done.  Even though the performance was just okay, seeing two former students continuing to be performers out of high school was truly an emotional experience for me!

I spent seven years teaching band at West Jessamine High School and one of my fondest memories was working with the pit orchestra for Joseph & The Technicolor Dreamcoat.  The rhythm section was all hired pros and the wind section was Beth Riddle, Lisa Hays, Scott Sams, Randall Evans, & Taylor Clements.  That was an incredibly talented and beloved group of students.  Working with them felt like I was conducting a solid group of pros.

As I wrap up year eleven of teaching, I can’t wait to experience other moments like these.  Seeing the lasting result of my teaching is proving to be more rewarding than seeing the immediate result.  I’ll run down some other similar things that really made me proud.  If you can think of others, add them in the comments.

  • Knowing that Chris Hamby loved his time playing with the CKCB.
  • Judging students as they march drum corps: Mandie with Southwind/Taylor with Southwind & Phantom Regiment.
  • Talking to Christi Jennings at KMEA, a former student that is now an awesome music teacher in Calloway County
  • Watching the HCHS Jazz Band, Brass Quintet, and Clarinet Choir handle off-campus gigs like they’ve doing it for years.
  • Hearing stories about students experiences playing in college.  There are really too many to mention here, I think it’s there have been around a hundred former students go on the playing in a college band.

Hopefully, these next twenty years of teaching will include lots more of these proud moments.  I can’t wait to see how the current group of Henderson County students handle their musical lives in the next few years!

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