Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Cello Story Part II

I don't know why I feel an urge to post this, but music is something that has played a huge role in my life and Sam's, and I really dream it will with our children.  It's about how I got into the cello.  It's pretty very detailed, so feel free to skip this.  It's more of a journal-like entry anyway.  Part I is here

By this time, I felt pretty comfortable with the cello and made some good friends through playing.  However, the next year I would be starting high school and the auditions are harder and require more preparation.  There were two high school groups at the time, the Albuquerque Youth Orchestra (AYO), and the cream of the crop, the Albuquerque Youth Symphony (AYS).  I really didn't have a chance of making it into AYS that year, so I was pretty content landing a spot in AYO.  My good friend Bethany who played the harp and grew up in the same ward as me got a spot as well, so I wasn't going in having to make new friends (all the friends I had were younger than me).  Of course, I made new awesome friends, like Katie, Kristin, Alex, and Taylor.  Katie took lessons from Pamela as well and the last three played in the same high school orchestra as me.  I really enjoyed AYO.  The conductor, Ms. Siverson, was an extraordinary trumpet player and picked pretty cool pieces.  The years sort of blend together, but I remember playing Mars, Schubert's unfinished symphony, the Carmen Suite, and Night on Bald Mountain.  This year AYO got to tour along with AYS, which hardly happened, and got to go to AZ. Lots of embarrassing stories on this trip, including having to dig through the McDonald's trash and cuddling with a stranger at night (we had to share beds...I was asleep when this happened).  I had a lot of fun in the school orchestra as well.  I believe I started piano lessons back up this year, and although I was progressing a little on the piano, cello was my main instrument by far!  

I made AYO again my sophomore year, but since I must have done so well in the auditions (haha) they allowed me to play a solo at Hummingbird Music Camp.  Although some of the friends I made that year moved up to AYS, I still had lots of friends.  Bethany, although I'm sure outshone the AYS harpists in talent, was still there with me, along with a girl named Samantha who played bass and was in our ward.  Can I just say we were an awesome trio. Johnny, although an excellent player, was in AYO as well (he played a solo at camp, too).  A few words about Johnny: his family migrated from China when he was young.  He has always been an amazing friend to me and I'm so glad I got to meet him.  I'm positive he's going to be famous one day with how well he plays the cello :)  What's funny is that when I played my solo, the cellists in sectional were impressed, if I say so myself, but then the next night Johnny played, and well, we all knew who was guaranteed a spot in AYS next year.  The tour that year was in Pagosa Springs and since I vacation there all the time, it was fun to travel there with friends. In school orchestra I met one of my best friends in high school, a guy named Aaron.  He was a cellist in AYS and a year ahead of me.  He and all my other friends who were in AYS and a year ahead were one of the reasons I wanted to make AYS so badly the next year (that and there was a huge possibility of an international tour).  It would be their senior year and I wouldn't have another opportunity like that.  It was going to be a tough audition, though.  Only four cellists would be graduating high school that year, so that meant only four slots were "available" (those who made it in still had to audition, but they already made it in once, twice, or even three times--Quinn Boyack--)  There were really talented cellists in AYO that I didn't know if I could beat.  I practiced really hard, by golly, but I didn't know if it would be enough.  

Bethany, me, and Samantha in Pagosa Springs, CO

Well, guess what?  The Lord gave me the huge blessing of playing in AYS my junior year of high school.  It was the highlight of my cello career for sure. The night I found out I didn't know if I could handle the disappointment or embarrassment of not getting into AYS. When I saw my name in the list of cellists, I ran through the house whooping for not being able to contain the excitement.  I made it in!  The highest group for high school musicians, wow.  Who knew starting the cello out when I was nine would lead to that moment.  I hadn't thought I would become good enough, but there I was!  Junior year had to be one of the best years for me as a cellist.  Later that summer the musicians and parents went to a meeting where we played a game to find out where our tour was going to be.  We weren't disappointed as we found out we were going to Australia and New Zealand!  My stand partner for that year was Katie, and I didn't want anyone else she was so awesome.  Well, before camp started, my pediatrician tried to burn a wart off my hand, and my hand didn't take it so well.  It was right before camp and it swelled really bad.  So embarrassing and made it hard to hold my bow.  The first concert was a dance theme (I am a sucker for themes), so we played the Polovtsian Dances, Dance Bacchanale, and Afternoon of a Faun to name a few (great songs, look them up).  To help fund the trip to AYS we made and sold luminaries as a group.  There was a big weekend in the year we would go and deliver them.  Another thing that happened my Junior year was that in my school orchestra there were no bassists (sound familiar?  Happened to my brother in middle school).  Since I wanted to start on the bass, it was a good opportunity to learn and it wasn't that hard since I already read music and played the cello.  Not only that, there were no bass players for Jazz band and suddenly I found myself trading in my Italian class for Jazz band (I met awesome people here too, even if I was wary of it at first).  The tour was in the summer after my junior year, so I actually auditioned for the final time before I even was finished with AYS.  Since 8 of the twelve cellists were seniors, my chances of making it in that year greatly improved and I hardly worried myself over it (I got in, yay).

Bethany and me

Pamela's AYS students: me, Johnny and Katie

This was the first time I would be leaving the US, who knew it would be so far away?  There was an incident last year's tour with the cellos and airplanes.  Let's just say, out of the 12 cellos that travelled on the airplane, only 4 came home undamaged.  Holes punched through, scrolls ripped get the idea.  So R & S made their very generous donation of letting us use their special cello cases intended for travel (a lot safer).  Then when they got them back, they were selling them for a discounted price since they were used on this trip.  What an amazing gift to us!  Traveling with a cello was interesting.  We had the biggest instruments to travel with since the venues there would supply harps and basses.  Along with our luggage, it was intense...but also a blast.  We got the special treatment of flying directly to LA because of our instruments while the other musicians had to deal with layovers.  So we got to spend time in LA and play on the beach while waiting for everyone else.  The flight there was long, but I got to sit next to people I liked, so that's always a plus, right?  After landing and spending time in New Zealand we finally made it to our destination.  We were going to spend time with host families, but this year had the big H1N1 scare, so it had to be done away with.  That meant staying in hotels which meant the trip ended up costing a lot more than anticipated, but AYS took the hit, not the musicians.  So generous of them!  Over the course of the trip we played 4(?) concerts, spent time in a wildlife park, held koalas, petted kangaroos and emus, got pooped on by Lorikeets, ate Australian BBQ, travelled all day on the bus, enjoyed an Australian ranch and throwing boomerangs, souvenir shopping, hiking, amusement park, aquarium, cruise, and last playing in the Sydney Opera house for our final concert (full house and all).  I couldn't tell you how much it meant to me.  A special thank you to my amazing parents who always encouraged me, Pamela for instilling her knowledge in me, the AYS program who gave this opportunity, and my friends who always make it more enjoyable.

Back: Kira, Nicole, Alex, Aaron, Kristin Front: Jason, Amberle, John, and me

Sydney Harbor

Before our first concert

Whole group (I'm in the front with the plaid burgundy jacket)

I was going to wrap it up in this post, but seeing as it is still so long, I'll write a third part soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Cello Story Part I

I don't know why I feel an urge to post this, but music is something that has played a huge role in my life and Sam's, and I really dream it will with our children.  It's about how I got into the cello.  It's pretty very detailed, so feel free to skip this.  It's more of a journal-like entry anyway.

When I was in elementary school, there was an assembly where the little orchestra our school had played, and it really seemed cool.  I started piano lessons that year, but had to stop as my teacher went to college.  My brother also had piano lessons from a different teacher and his skill was valued at his middle school.  The bass player in their orchestra moved and were desperate for a new one (this situation kind of happened to me in high school).  Since he could already read music, he was recruited by his good friend.  So, he brought the bass home and I was overly excited.  I wanted to play the bass as well.  But I was rather too small to start the bass, so instead I pleaded with my mom to let me play the cello, the next biggest stringed instrument, in my elementary school orchestra.  She knew exactly what would happen, but I was persistent, so I won the battle.  We rented a tiny half-sized cello at the local violin shop, Robertson and Sons (completely and utterly recommend), and soon I started playing the cello in fourth grade, age 9.  I was the only cellist and the rest were violinists.  We met in a class room before school started a few days a week.  The instructor was a violinist himself who also played in the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.

Soon, just as my mother predicted, I wanted to quit so bad.  I wasn't disciplined to practice and I hated going to school early.  But my mom didn't let me quit, so soon the year was over and I could make out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on my tiny cello.  The orchestra was only for "beginners", so it would be useless to sign up for it the next year.  My mom thought it was the beginning of something, so she looked into the Albuquerque Junior String Orchestra, which was part of the AYS program (again, recommend).  So, I would head down to Robertsons and Sons (R & S) violin shop in fifth grade and play in a little orchestra.  However, we didn't know a private teacher was required until the middle of the year (I don't know how they let me in in the first place).  My mom looked up cello teachers in the area.  She wanted someone who lived close, so she chose Pamela DeLisse (once again, I recommend).  But Pamela didn't teach in her home, she had a studio at R & S, so we travelled there anyway to have lessons.  Pamela very soon found out I was taught by a violinist and had to break a lot of habits of mine.  I don't remember a lot about starting cello lessons, but I do know that Pamela has been extremely patient in many ways to me.  I stuck with her until college, and I would have continued with her if I could have at the time.

I must have not enjoyed AJSO all that much because I didn't want to play with any of the middle school groups when I entered 6th grade.  I decided the school orchestra was fine for me.  I continued with Pamela, of course, but playing in the same orchestra my brother started in seemed to be enough.  And it was!  I loved playing in 6th grade.  I think the problem with the years previous was that I didn't make any friends, but I made some pretty awesome friends then.  I was the only 6th grader in the advanced orchestra, so it was awesome: I was good enough to hang out with the older kids (so important to little 11 year old me).  They teased me about my tiny cello, but I didn't care.  It gave me enough confidence to want to try out for the AYS program again.  Pamela thought I had the talent for the highest middle school group, but I didn't put into a lot at the auditions, so my made it into Albuquerque Junior Orchestra.  I was a little disappointed, but not that much.  It just taught me I needed to practice more and work harder.

AJO started out at Hummingbird Camp in the Jemez mountains.  I've been once before, but never overnight, so I was very nervous.  I didn't know anybody.  Soon, though I met Jessica, who also played the cello, was starting out at my middle school, and her dad happened to be one of the "sons" at R & S.  The Orchestra was conducted by Mr. Katz, who happened to conduct AYS, the highest orchestra in the program for high school.  So during my 7th grade year I (think) I carpooled with Jessica to practices every Saturday morning.  In the program you are required to play in your school orchestra, but I had such a blast the previous year I don't think I would have quit.  That year there were two 6th grade cellists, Jessica and this little kid named Dylan.  He started cello lessons shortly before school started, so he was in between beginning and advanced.  Our conductor decided to place him in advanced.  I  moved up to a 3/4 size cello that year, so I could tease him about his 1/2 size.  It was a good year to play the cello.  Soon tryouts for the next year were coming, but I definitely put more effort in and landed a spot in the Albuquerque Junior Symphony.

By 8th grade my skills have progressed so much since 4th, thank goodness.  I attribute that to private lessons (who knew) and the practice logs I was forced to do in school. At Hummingbird I made some new friends, Johnny and Jonathan.  Johnny happened to take lessons from Pamela as well, and I remembered him from AJSO, although I was much shyer then.  I loved the conductors of the orchestra, Mr. Herrington and Mr. Teare.  Mr. H taught band, so he would choose fun songs, like movie scores.  Mr. T was more classical, but chose equally fun pieces like Berlioz and Bizet.  This year marked the 50th anniversary of the AYS program, so they hired a famous composer to compose a piece for each orchestra in the program.  Ours was about going to the dentist, so the piccolo (a high-pitched flute) represented the drill, and we played "the Barney song" as if we were on drugs during a procedure.  It was pretty awesome.  The orchestra above us had a cool one about cell-phones and some actually took some of their cell-phones out mid piece and walked around.  AYS was going to Brazil that year so theirs was about a Brazilian monster of some sorts. In my school orchestra my conductor felt I could be more challenged and re-written some of the viola parts for cello so I could help the violists out.  Pretty cool, huh?

Well, like I said, this is pretty detailed and I'm only half way through.  Maybe if I can find some pictures of me and my tiny cello, I can post them.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Updates on Our Little Fam

Hey everyone, 

I guess you deserve a little update on our little family.  We are doing great.  All three of us are up to big and awesome things.  As a family we got to see a lot of family come into town, including Sam's aunt (his mom's twin sister) and her family, my brother and his wife (who just came back from Taiwan teaching English for 6 months), and soon my niece will pay a visit to ABQ, which is a big deal.  Earlier this week our best neighbor friends had their pretty little girl, Rachel, and I made quite a few excuses to go and see her (pictures below).  Now I'll go ahead and give the break down for each of us.

Sam had a fun summer full of travels, as you could tell on this blog.  He started is Practical Immersion Experience (PIE) last week, but it's not as busy as we were expecting.  A good thing right?  We celebrated his 25th birthday a couple days ago.  It wasn't a traditional birthday since we kept buying all his presents before his birthday (hard to wait for both of us).  Happy Birthday, Sammy!  Part of his birthday present is registering for the Duke City marathon this coming October.  Sam is doing great training for it.  Sadly his knees aren't liking his long runs so far.  His longest run was about 15 miles already.  Keep it up!  

I decided to go back to school, and this time I'm not backing out.  I registered for two semesters that I dropped prior to, but this time is different.  Payed the fees, bought my books, got my schedule worked out with Sam's, and hopefully going to school 3 days a week and in the evening will minimize the time Joey has to be watched by others. I'll have 3 semesters to go for a Bachelors in Liberal Arts and a minor in Music.  I decided this will be the easiest and shortest way to get a degree rather than waiting until I have all my kiddos and they're in school. Here's to the future! 

Now for the Jo man.  He is at a really fun and easier stage.  He loves staying up late, brushing his teeth, reading books, and playing with anything that rolls (from toy cars to walkers at church).  He is learning so much, but we are paying a weekly visit to the physical therapist.  I've seen a lot of improvement in him since going, but it might be another month or two before he walks (he's 15 months now).  Since the last visit to the doctor's, we found out he fell off the charts for weight and growth.  Such a tiny guy.  He also has been having serious constipation issues, so after giving him some medicine for weeks, we are finally seeing improvement.  Pooping's not such an ordeal now, haha.  But despite these little set backs, he is doing wonderful and is such a playful little guy.  You should see him in the bath or at the park.  He lives to play.

Now for some pictures:

Meeting Rachel.  Already affectionate to her.  

Congrats Cameron and Crystal!

Sam's 25th birthday celebration.

Pictures from today: Reading time!

 He used to have no interest in books, but now if he sees one, he wants me to read it.

 Joey knows what "puppy" means.  He has a stuffed puppy 
that whenever we ask "Where's puppy?', he finds it and hugs it. 
 So when we found this finger puppet puppy book, he was 
beyond delighted.  He was giggling as soon as we showed it to him.

Hopefully that is more or less the highlights of our lives right now!