Saturday, May 24, 2014

Party Planning

My violin teacher is moving.

Not like, "my roommate is getting married so I have to move to a different community" kind of moving, but "my roommate is getting married so I'm going back to where I last lived for the summer, then moving to the east coast because I haven't lived near my family for about ten years" kind of moving.

If any of you people live out east, you're probably like, "oh, cool, we get that awesome person back!"  But to this Illinois girl, that is far as far.

The only thing about this whole leaving stuff that makes me feel like a dance party in the sunshine with the scent of Twizzlers wafting on the breeze is that it was an opportunity to throw him a surprise party.

Can you tell I really like parties?
I do.

My friend and party co-host, Ellen, and I had this in the works for weeks, and he had no idea.
When he walked through the door...pretty awesome.  He said he'd never been so surprised in his life, even though he took it so completely in stride.  He's also been the area youth symphony conductor for the last few years, so the guest list consisted of symphony people, and the first thing out of his mouth besides "oh, wow" was simply, "downbeat in five minutes guys, get tuned up."
Which confused me a little because he seemed surprised but he also was just cool and collected. However, he assured me several times he was indeed surprised, and he couldn't have asked for better.

Here, in pictures is the party (sorry about the quality, I took it on my little smart phone camera which can be pretty good but it's not an iPhone lol).  Pinterest was invaluable, and Ellen and I had a lot of fun choosing themes and food options, exclaiming as we found a perfect option, "that's so David!"  Noticing that there is a surprising lack of real music or musician-themed party ideas out on the internet (by real I mean not 1950s Elvis themed), I took pictures of what we did in case somebody else wanted to do the same thing.

So to start with, we had this cake.  Ellen's friend did it, and it really did look like a stringed instrument.  There were some proportion difficulties, but hey, I didn't even attempt it, so they get a lot of credit.  It really was cool to have a shaped cake like that at the party!  Unfortunately, I neglected to take a picture of it. So, moving on.

There is one thing that I think all of David's students know about him.  He has a thing for coffee.  He used to work at Starbucks, but he's also a gigging musician and private music teacher.  Hint for those of you who want to take lessons and need to come up with nice gifts for your teachers or fellow musician friends: music people and Starbucks are really close friends. I don't necessarily know why, I have guesses, but regardless, David is no exception to the musician/coffee relationship and so when we found a recipe for MOCHA PUNCH on Pinterest it was pretty clear what we had to do. And then I labeled it. With a sign:

Mocha Punch
when I was making this sign my youngest brother came up behind me and said "I'll give *you* a mocha punch."  then walked away, and I listened to him laughing all the way down the stairs.

And the card table.  I had fun with the card table.  This idea also came from Pinterest, the using the vintage music case for a card box.  I had a perfect candidate knocking around.  Because of the lining of this 1920s violin case card box, the color scheme took shape, the dark purple and green in addition to the black and white of sheet music, concert wear, and piano keys--pretty much the musician's life is black and white.  With a few quick repairs, some more sign making, and some premade cards for the guests to write notes in case they forgot to write one at home, this table was almost complete.  And then.  My mom suggested balloons.
Balloons!  Take an average table and add balloons and NOW it's a party.  So the balloons really made a huge difference.  Here's the card table set up:

A close up of the balloon weight.  Old music books totally fit our theme of vintage-y musician, so I was glad I found them on our bookshelf.

Then from the top so you can see the balloons, too.  The table didn't end up staying there, but you can kind of see what it looked like.

Then.  This is another one of my favorite things that we did.  Ellen, my other friend, Allie, my bro Elliot, and I, made bow tie napkin/fork packets.  Actually, Ellen, Elliot and I made them.  The glue dot things we used to make them lost their sticky so Allie and I fixed them.  While a little messier, glue sticks definitely worked better. However, they were perfect considering musicians, especially male ones, do the bow tie thing.  Another score for the musician theme!

One thing I did not anticipate was all the guys trying to wear them.  Silly me.

Anyway, now that the party is over, I actually still feel like dancing. At the risk of waxing eloquent, it's just different dancing--instead of the sunshiny party with the aroma of licorice, I feel like I'm waltzing in the rain.  The happy beats have melted into a ballad of memories, and everything looks kind of dreary.  However.  The wet earth smells like spring--like new beginnings--and soon, I know that the rain will move on.  But I'm not rushing it.  I am looking forward to a new dance party, but I wouldn't be able to enjoy the flowers of that party without the rain of this one.

So thank you, David.  You told me once that you were just my music teacher.  But you followed that by "don't think that because I'm 'just your music teacher' I'm not here to be more than that."  Maybe it's a little silly to be this sad that you're going.  But if the party last night didn't say it loudly enough, there are a lot of people who love you and are going to miss you.  Because you have been so much more than that.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Top 6 Illegal (or just really inconsiderate) Pinterest Ideas

We've all seen Pinterest fails.  Cookie Monster cupcakes that deteriorate into a melting blob of blue icing, disturbing images of babies in strands of lights that were supposed to be sweet turning into pictures of their seeming last moments as they attempt to strangle themselves in Christmas cheer...but is this the worst of Pinterest? What if this amazing online corkboard of ideas from women across America's blogosphere was encouraging followers to disobey the law?

They are.

DUH DUH DUH DUUUH!!!! DUH DUH DUUUUUUH!!!! (to the tune of Beethoven's 5, in case you couldn't follow my musical intonation over the computer screen...)

Of course, not all Pinterest users fall for these, and all of those who do, do not do so on purpose. But without further ado, here are (in some semblance of reverse order) the top 6 things on Pinterest that could land you in hot water.  At least you'll have day old orange peels and cinnamon sticks in there to keep you company.


This is from a song by The Lumineers.  I don't know anything about this group, and have never heard this song as far as I know.  

This is a fad called "Subway Art".  Basically a fun graphic of lyrics from a popular song, printed on photographic paper, matted, stuck in a frame, and hung on the walls in your bedroom, living room, or nursery, this is illegal.
These words are intellectual property of the songwriters.  They wrote them, and are probably trying to market their own posters, tshirts, or other stuff with these words, and creating your own is STEALING.

Editor's note:  I have been alerted to the fact that this may fall under fair use laws.  Having done a little research on it, I've found it's rather a gray area, but did read that the very least that should be done is acknowledge the songwriter.


Valentines Day bookmarks made with paint chips and a hole punch.  To be used in your copy of "The Ultimate Home Decorator's Guide to Paint"

Yes!  I know, right, how disappointing to see these crafts on this list!  Paint chip crafts are so cute and cheap!  This is isn't exactly illegal, just really inconsiderate.
These paint chips are provided at no cost to customers to aid customers in selecting the right paint for their projects.  Unless you are upcycling paint chips left over from your huge bathroom remodel when you couldn't decide which of the forty different shades of pink you wanted to overwhelm your guests with, you are gypping the store.  Frankly, if there aren't signs already popping up at Home Depots across America that read  "If you're only interested in crafting with these, go away," more store managers need to get on Pinterest.  To put this in terms relevant to our everyday lives, this would be like someone walking into McDonald's, walking right past the registers to the ketchup dispensers, filling a travel mug with ketchup and leaving.  The stuff is provided at no cost for a specific reason (painting/dipping your fries in), and if you are just taking it all home because you want to, that makes it kind of STEALING.  So, be nice, and leave the paint chips there.


Wedding favors.  CDs of your favorite love songs, or your wedding playlist.

This should be obvious to most of us, but just in case, I thought I'd mention it.  Unless you were able to find good recordings of love songs from the 1920s, chances are, you're breaking the law.
Just about every artist who performs a song is trying to sell it.  By providing for free what someone is trying to sell, you are taking away 50-300 potential sales depending on how many guests you provide them for.  It doesn't matter if you know that 200 of those 300 would never buy any of the songs on the CD, you are still giving away stuff that doesn't belong to you.
The only way you could do this without breaking the law is buying one mp3 of every song per disk you were intending to make.  As you can see, this would get very expensive. The disk shown above, for example, looks like it has around 20 songs on it.  Each CD would cost you about $20-$25 to make, and so if you have a wedding with even as few as 50 guests, you'd be spending about as much on favors as your reception hall.  Since no one is going to do something so uneconomical, they only buy one copy of each song and burn it to the fifty CDs, which is, you guessed it, STEALING.


I like Despicable Me as much as the next girl, but something about the idea of combining toddlers and minions really scares me.

"Whaaaaa?!" Yes, unfortunately, these too.  Believe it or not, Minions or any other favorite character of any movie is trademarked.  They are intellectual property of the film studio who put all the money into the project, and by selling unlicensed hats such as this, you make it clear that you like the idea of Minions, but you're not willing to pay the people who thought them up, thus capitalizing on someone else's creativity.  Crocheting your own Minion hats, though they are cute, popular and very easily whipped together, is STEALING.


Oh, dear.  

Somewhere along the line, hacking the system became legal?  Using this "legal" process of downloading mp3s, you can go to Taylor Swift's VEVO channel on YouTube, select "Begin Again" and, instead of paying her for the work she does by purchasing it for a buck on iTunes, get it for free.  How would you like it if you recorded a sweet song about meeting the guy of your dreams at a cafe, and somebody decided they liked it...but didn't want to pay you the dollar you were asking for it, so downloaded the sound file from behind your music video?


Doesn't everyone dance sideways in four inch heels on the railroad tracks?

Ah, cliches. But this cliche is, actually, illegal.  Besides being very dangerous, taking pictures on railroad tracks is trespassing and has punitive consequences if you're caught.  Please, for your own safety and clean crime record, keep off the tracks.  If nothing else, it'll be one less picture to pressure the rest of the world into dangerous folly.

Those are my top 6 illegal (or just really inconsiderate) Pinterest ideas.  Feel free to share any Pinterest peeves of your own below, but most of all, let's all do a better job of making the internet a place where consideration for all artists, businesses, property holders, and creators, not just ourselves, comes first.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Letters of Jane Austen, Part the First

I've been over this interest of mine before, but after reading this posthumously published collection of Jane Austen's letters to her dearest friends, I was struck with the amazing resemblance this woman bears to her witty but deep heroines.  Enjoy the following self-designed "meme" series. :)

Obviously, not all of these are hilarious or sage, but they are certainly consistent with Jane Austen's characters.  And that is what makes them funny to me.  Watch for more!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another design project.

My friend, Allie Hawbaker, teaches piano, and we worked together to design this tear-off advertisement for her family's bank community board. I thought up the design, and whipped this together in just over an hour, satisfying my client in the first try.

Obviously, it's designed to look like a piano... But, further than that, it's monochromatic scheme is purposeful, not only picking up on the color of the keys, but also sheet music, and because of the "busy" key design, I felt clean and modern design everywhere else was important.

The choice of fonts was made to remind one of the maker name at the center of your average piano, and the typewriter font sort of contrasts the frilly with a clunkiness that seemed fitting, too, as piano is a large, cumbersome instrument that can make very graceful music. Besides that, Allie's other passion is writing, so I thought the typewriter look was perfect on a number of levels. :-)

The bummer with the design (that very few might notice, but does bug me a little) is that the "logo" is not centered on middle C. *sigh* :-)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

And so the season begins...

Knitting a hat, and listening to my extensive Enya music library on shuffle.

Yup, it's officially Polly Wolly Fall. So 'cited! :-D

{This particular hat will be a Flower Hat in black. Classy spunk for a nine month old sweetheart.}

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some Design Work

It's not amazing, but it's been fun to do. They're graphically-appealing, consistent teaching tools for music lessons.  Feel free to print them off and use them with your students if you like them well enough! Just right click on the image, select "open link in new tab", and print off through your browser. :)

1. Beat Division Worksheet (Level One)

In Suzuki method, beginner students are taught correct time using phrases, punctuated with a rhythm as you say it.  For those of you who are musically inclined, you can understand an example of this by saying "Mississippi Hot Dog" to the rhythm of four sixteenth notes and two eighth notes.  This method is enacted because counting them properly involves some math and comprehension that most children who do Suzuki method are too young to understand.  So, the counting patterns are taught in word rhythms. As a musician, I would rather start the child later, when they can understand the universal method of counting rhythms as early in their musical development as possible, than start them so very young, and not teach it till they have been playing for three to five years as the Suzuki method does.

Anyway, this worksheet is intended to go along with Suzuki book 1 or any elementary instrument course as a  fun way to teach basic beat divisions without word patterns.  Simply have your student draw a line from the symbol to the name, and then to the proper method of counting it.  Numbers in parentheses indicate rest counting, as I count rests in whispers and notes at normal volume.

2. Beat Division Worksheet (Level Two)

Like the other, this is a worksheet to speak to proper counting of rhythms. Unlike the other, it involves more complex rhythms such as triplets and dotted rhythms.  Your student will, no doubt encounter dotted rhythms before triplets and fairly close on the heels of the basic rhythms above, but this worksheet drills beat divisions of one and three, while still maintaining knowledge of the "twos".

3. Violin Anatomy Study Page and Testing Guide

While the other pages speak to really any instrument, obviously this page is really only helpful to those of us teaching violin.  I recommend printing this off as a kind of poster for your student (or child) to see frequently, learning the various parts of the instrument.  This will help them communicate better with the teacher.  I also recommend having the parent or an older friend of the student test the student on it throughout the week, so when he/she goes to lessons the next time, the teacher can do the same, and the child will get a perfect score! It will also help the parent understand the teacher's recommendations regarding the instrument (i.e. the teacher recommends the bridge be replaced, and the parent knows exactly what he/she is talking about.).

Well, that's the fun stuff I've been doing recently!  I hope someone will enjoy it! There may be more later, though, so stay tuned for other things.

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