I forgot this: The first day of Stamps-Baxter feels like a week! I can't believe the things I'm going to talk about only happened this morning!
But first, an official piece of news: I am now on staff at the Stamps-Baxter School of Music! It sounds a little more impressive than it really is, but I couldn't be more excited! I'm basically an on-call assistant, ready to do what ever needs doing. I feel like a PA (the production assistant on a film set). I really think this will be a great learning opportunity for me, and I'm just so happy to be involved with the school in this way.
This morning, I helped with photocopies, breaking down the registration set up, organizing teacher's materials, and helping a new student find out what theory class he's in. I've been bothered the last few days with a bit of a red eye. Well, there's a doctor in the school, who was able to diagnose me! I spent most of the afternoon driving around looking for the right medication, which I couldn't find, so I had to order it and go again tomorrow, but what a blessing to have someone finally tell me what's wrong, without even having to leave the school!
I got back just in time for the afternoon electives. This is the only time of the day when students get to choose their class. The auditorium always holds Allison Durham Speer's performance class, and then they hold 2 smaller workshops on things like sound, songwriting, career development, etc. This year, they're holding one class on radio promotion, which I will definitely be attending. Today, I sat in on performance training. Allison is away til tomorrow, so today's class was hosted by Mike Allen. Mike makes no secret of the fact that teaching in front of a crowd is way outside his comfort zone, but if he hadn't said it, you wouldn't have known it. He was really relaxed and welcoming, and he made everyone feel very comfortable. A bunch of people wanted to sing, and you could tell most people hadn't preplanned it because their tracks were left in their rooms. They all bravely sang acapella. Let me tell you, there is some great talent in this school. And a lot of songwriters too! Really nice to see that. One of today's highlights was the family of 5 children who sang acapella. So cute, and so much talent!
After supper, I finally got to sit in on a group singing session. How much have I missed that! 200 voices in 4 part harmony! I was a little dizzy with my first run at shape-notes, but some of it was stored in the back part of my brain, and bit by bit I started to recognize the musical hieroglyphs. By the end of the school, I'll be flying! (she says with hope...)
Next we all gathered on the lawn for the school photo, and headed in for what will usually be concert time. Tonight, we jumped straight to "performance opportunity". This differs from the afternoon class in that it's more concert style, without the teacher feedback. Again, some great singing and writing. My favourite was 13-year-old Jacob, who played a simple version of He Touched Me. When he got to the chorus, the entire audience began to gently sing along in 4 part harmony, letting Jacob lead the way. Pure magic! How much do I love this school? And the grand finale was the always incredible Miss Mary Tom Speer, accompanied by Ben on piano. Just amazing! Please, let me still sing that well in my eighties!
The night ended with a bluegrass jam session, featuring the legendary Earl Scruggs! He was joined by 6 other people, including students and guests. They played about an hour - some traditional bluegrass, some originals off his latest album (yes, he's still recording!), and, of course, the theme from the Beverley Hillbillies. (Mom, I thought of you!)
What an incredible day! It's strange and good to be commuting from home this year. It's awesome to sleep in my bed, kiss my family goodnight, and write this on my own computer. And wonderful to tell people, "Yes, I've moved to Nashville!", especially when I get to tell them how much the school influenced that decision. Just awesome! I can't wait til tomorrow...