Sunday, March 29, 2009

My Musical Jobs

I am so fortunate to be able to work for some of the BEST people in the world. The two jobs I get paid for are accompanying the Forest Park High School choirs and teaching piano to a few of the best students in Woodbridge, Virginia.

At Forest Park, I work with Lara Brittain, an accomplished conductor and music educator, who has headed the choir program since Forest Park opened in 2000. A true professional, with many accomplishments to her name, she is also a dear friend. I have learned so much about making music through my time at Forest Park. Lara is a master at musicality, and my ear has developed considerably. I have been able to incorporate many of her ideas into my piano teaching and playing. I love that she is interested in and explores a variety of musical styles. I love learning new music, andI am often excited by the music she presents for the kids to learn and perform.

There are many challenges in working with high school students, and under her leadership, I've learned much about inspiring and guiding them, not just in the music world but in day to day life. I love witnessing the talents of the kids unfolding day to day, month to month, and year to year. At times I think I should move on and do something else with my time, but then I think about the amazing young people just new to the choir program, and how I would miss seeing their gifts and talents unfold as they grow and mature in their high school years.

I play the piano for Forest Park in the morning, and in the afternoon I teach piano at home. Teaching piano is what I've wanted to do since I was 10 or 11 and started taking piano lessons from Betty Henley. She was an amazing teacher, and inspired me with piano literature, history, and theory. She also encouraged me to start teaching and set me up with my first piano students, and lessons in how to teach piano. I love seeing students young and old begin to make music - to figure out the connection between the black symbols on the page to a magical, beautiful sound produced with fingers connecting with a keyboard.

I've had many students over the years, and I love them all. I feel especially proud of my piano students this year. I have nine students that were signed up to participate in NFMC festival held on Feb. 21. Of course, that was during Natalie's hospitalization. They continued to work hard on memorizing and perfecting their two required pieces, coming in for a lesson at a moments notice when I could carve out some time. I was soo proud of my magnificent nine for working so hard, and was glad that they were each rewarded with a superior rating at festival. I love seeing my students get the concept of hard work resulting in something wonderful, and not just a rating on a page, but a beautiful work of art.

Yesterday, we had a performance class at my house where they performed their festival songs for each other. Even my new students and my one adult student (I love teaching adults too!) played a couple of songs they had perfected. I get so much joy out of seeing them present their music for others. I hope they know how much value it is for them and to others to share the results of their discovery, hard work, and love of music. They call me their teacher, but they teach me as much, as I discover and rediscover the challenging and joyous process of learning and making music.

Excuse me now while I go make some more music....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How to Buy a Car - Baird Style

1. Wait until your old car is definitely, positively dead.
2. Start looking at used vans at the dealership your old car was towed to.
3. Do some research on the internet.
4. Test drive a couple of vans.
5. Do more research.
6. Look at some more vans.
7. Do more research.
8. Test drive some vans until you're totally confused about which van is which.
9. Do more research.
10. Get your spouse to go with you to test drive more vans.
11. Do more research.
12. Drive some more vans.
13. Decide on a van you want.
14. Carefully check pricing.
15. Make offer.
16. Drive it home.

We're really happy with our 2006 Chrysler Town and Country. The color is called Magnesium. It's kind a deep green/blue. We really like the seat warmers, the radio, the CD player,the automatic doors, the sunroof, the stow and go seats, and the DVD player. And it runs pretty good too!

Signs of Spring

Spring has sprung on Sturbridge Road as you can see by the trumpeting daffodils! Other sure signs of spring are that the windows are open more often, there are buds on the trees, Kara and Natalie are wearing flip flops more often, the robins are back, and the weeds are growing faster than the grass and flowers. It's a great time of year. I'm excited to get outside and start gardening again. I just wish my enthusiasm would carry over through the hot, humid summer...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My First Post

Inspired by the many bloggers out there that I follow, especially my daughter Laura, I've decided it's time to try this myself now. I've been reluctant to do this for a couple of reasons. Number one, time seems to be pretty full already, and two, I'm not sure my life is interesting enough to blog about; but in a way, those are reasons I want to do this. I think this may help me in organizing my time better and inspire me to do things worth blogging/journaling about. It will be a way to keep our family informed as we grow and spread out across the country. I don't intend to make this blog all about me, but will feature news, events, and day to day happenings of all of us. So......who are we? To answer that question, I've decided to start by copying some other blogs I've seen that list the 25 random facts goes....


1. Skip and I celebrate our 28th anniversary this Saturday, the 21st.

2. Our family character list: Skip- the Dad, Emily - the Mom, Laura Barnett- the oldest daughter, Karsten Barnett - Laura's handsome husband, Aiden - their adorable almost 3 year old son, Emma their cute 15 month old daughter, Beth - the 2nd daughter, Michael Braecklein - her husband to be on April 10, Ryan - the son, Dara - Ryan's beautiful wife, Kara - the 3rd daughter, Natalie - the youngest of the family at 16, Cody - the dog

3. After Emily's birthday, everyone's age will be an odd number

4. All of us except Skip play one or two musical instruments.

5. The only foreign country ALL of us have visited is Canada.

6. We have a pull-up bar in our kitchen doorway, and someone uses it almost every day.

7. Keeping track of nights spent in the hospital:
Natalie - 45
All the rest of us combined - about 30

8. We drink 2 gallons of skim milk a week.

9. We prefer hot chocolate made in a pot.

10. We have never owned a cat.

11. We love finding things in Grandma Baird's closet.

12. All of our children balanced on Skip's hand when they were babies.

13. Our family motto is: "Stand Up and Be Counted"

14. Everyone in our family loves sushi except Skip who thinks it's a waste of money.

15. There are 6 walking sticks in our hall closet.

16. Number of books read last year
Emily - about 20
Everyone else combined - 3

17. Our favorite breakfast is crepes.

18. One of our favorite family traditions features the saying of "Boom-shak-a-lak-a-lak-a".

19. Since we've been married, we've lived in Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Indiana, Texas, Belgium, and Virginia again.

20. We LOVE visiting Washington, D.C. Some of us love exploring the museums, and some love exploring the shops in Georgetown more.

21. We've been to Yellowstone Park twice, and both times someone has almost died.

22. Family Night is usually always on Monday.

23. Two of our favorite movies are "Little Women" and "The Princess Bride"

24. One of our favorite family quotes: "I didn't see myself do it."

25. We love "Witch Filiboo" stories and playing hide-and-go-seek in the dark.