Friday, August 29, 2008

The Show Must Go On

I sang in my first jazz showcase. Some things went great, some not so great. It sort of bothers me that I paid an accompanist for his rehearsal time and he still made a mistake--a big one. And then I made a mistake based on some of those mistakes. I have learned that I have to remind the band of things we discussed even if I did had a rehearsal the day before. I am a perfectionist. I wanted everything to go off without a hitch. But it didn't happen that way. Instead, it was an imperfect document of where I am now, things I need to work on and things that went well. I've learned that I have to choose my songs even more wisely. I've learned that I have to be even more memorized. I've learned that for being a conductor, I have to learn how to stand up for myself in front of a jazz combo and take control of the music rather than let them hijack something into a direction I don't want to go.

A friend of mine made me feel really good about the mistakes I dealt with that evening.
Friend: You did really well, you have a great voice. How long have you been singing jazz?
MissD: Two months.
Friend: You're in a transition. You'll be fine. You just have to let go of that perfectionistic tendancy.
MissD: Yes, that's true. In classical music everything is regulated note for note, jazz is much freer. I just have to learn to roll with it if things don't go my way.

How does this apply to choir? Kids need to understand all of these things too. They need to realize that it takes more rehearsal than anyone thinks it takes. You have to know a song hot, cold, rainy, while a tsunami hits or while a tornado approaches. When you are a kid, you think you know everything. You think you know it, but you've only heard it. You think you know it, but you forget a few words. You think you know it, but you aren't always singing in tune. Finally you know it, but you must also be able to interpret. Choir is just as much of a learning experience as performing. What keeps songs fresh is that each day you must find within yourself yet a new way of singing it and new way of connecting with the text.

And lastly, I have to think about what I'm going to do with the rest of my time while I'm substitute teaching. Not only are these activities going to be music related, they will also need to be profit oriented. At least that's the hope!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thank You Letter

Dear School District,
I just wanted to write to you to thank you for wasting all of our time. Your 50% music position will most likely be a boon to someone much closer--say a student near there or a stay at home mom. That's why I called before driving 1.5 hours and 4 gallons of gas. An interview that would have been a waste of time, and me out, almost $40 just in gas. I'm really going to move that far for a 50% position for which I had to call you and ask the right questions upfront.

Is this a new position? Yes.
What's the pay that I would be getting half of? Half of whatever the flyer said.
Are there benefits? No.

Can you imagine moving an hour and a half for that BS? Yeah. Me either.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My blog description

What my blog description used to be:

Welcome to my class! I'm Miss D!!! I love music and can't imagine teaching anything else. I love and hate my job. It is sometimes rewarding, often painful, extremely stressful and sometimes gives you great joy.

What it is now:

I was a Choir Teacher last year with the most horrible job anyone could imagine. I started this blog to help me deal with it. This year I'm back at substitute teaching since I couldn't find another choir job. My COBRA insurance ran out. Heaven help me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Gun-totin' Teachers

I thought about getting a concealed weapon permit when my school was under lockdown after being threatened with a driveby. I asked an ex-boyfriend to take me to the shooting range because I was just plain scared. I'm definitely in favor of allowing people to carry a weapon--and this is protected by the Second Ammendment.

But at school? After discovering how hard it really was to load some of those handguns, I dropped my quest for a permit. I used to be a good shot before I had the torn rotator cuff problem (thanks to piano and conducting!) Plus I didn't think I would have a legal leg to stand on if a kid got ahold of my weapon.

After the tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. Carrying a weapon just might be wise. Maybe kids would have a little more respect for a gun-totin' teacher. A little fear might be nice. I'm imagine the possibility of kids actually sitting in their seats, ready to learn, not being so afraid of being mowed down or knifed by another student. Maybe I should become a part-time cop...

In any case, the pluses and minuses are for you to decide. One school district in Texas has already made their decision.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

MySpace Makes Me Sad Sometimes

One of my former students sent a friend request to me and I accepted it. I was glad I did because she apologised to me for having been so bad in my class. It made me feel better a little somehow--even though I ended up not returning to that school.

She sent an email asking if I was OK and if I was having a good summer. I was finally going to answer because I finally recovered from a depression and frequent migraines as I recovered from the job. I just couldn't answer. It must have meant the whole world to here, because I finally went to answer a few days ago, I realized she had "unfriended" me on MySpace. That means I can't write to her because she has her profile set to private. It's OK. I'll manage to get over it somehow. I'll have a whole new crop of students next year--or maybe I wont. I don't know yet.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Jobsearch prospects

Well, it's a bit slow in jobsearchland. I've decided that I can always go back to substitute teaching. I won't have insurance, but maybe I won't NEED insurance. I mean why would you need insurance when you aren' chronically ill from the massive amounts of stress that come with the first year of teaching anywhere.

I know how not to get injured again. I have a really great computer and I can install vocal parts into the computer and have that play for them again, just like a rehearsal tape.

I won't have kids gossiping about me and saying that I'm not qualified for the job. I don't know that I ever want to teach high school again. They thing they know everything. I'd rather work with the confusion that junior high kids go through. You can have more of a relationship with high school students, but so many other things are MORE difficult. The performance standard is higher, teens are going through a rebellious stage--unless they're the really good kids--the music is more difficult. Plus, with alot of high schools, they are expected to perform alot in the community. One is never paid what one's time is actually worth in order to complete the performances.

These are things that we music teacher have to think about that the rest of y'all don't. We may not have paperwork, but our song and dance doesn't end from the moment the first bell rings when we flip our internal switch on.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Missing Out

I relaxed on the job search this last week, and delayed getting applications in for 3 jobs in my area. One of the jobs was at a school where I wasn't selected for an interview. The girl who got the job and I compared notes about our positions and we felt that we would have been happier if we had switched positions--she was more interested in classical and had a stronger background in piano than I did. I was more interested in teaching pop and boradway because it's more fun for me, the students and the audience.

I shouldn't have relaxed this week of all weeks when no one is doing anything else. How dumb could I be? The jobs now seem to be closed--at least they aren't posted anymore. That was really dumb. But after my experience last year with things going so badly, I'm not even sure what I want to do. Do I even want to teach anymore?

Someone recommended working at the container store or even becoming a part-time Starbucks barrista while I substitute teach just to have benefits. There could be n opening midyear with someone who didn't fare as well as all had hoped in a new position. Going back to substitute teaching will show that I'm dedicated to teaching but I could probably make more money as a secretary. I feel like such a bohemian.