Thursday, April 28, 2011

Save the Music ~ Enrich Your Mind

 We are a day away from the wedding of the century.  Instead of focusing this first feature of Thursday Thoughts on William and Kate, I want to discuss a matter that's near and dear to my heart: music education.
It seems that more and more school districts each year are canceling their music programs when it comes to budget cuts.  School boards don't get it that social studies, physical education and math are all equal when it comes to the overall success of a young student.
My first introduction to music was from my mom.  She was a talented singer and pianist though she never went professional.  She just won the majority of her school talent shows or came in first and second place.  Mom even offered to play the piano for some of her classmates who participated as well. 
I had my first musical performance in a Seventh-Day Adventist pre-school.  We sung Jesus Loves Me This I Know.  I remember destroying my doll collection trying to find the perfect baby Jesus for the performance.  Luckily for me, that wasn't the end of my musical experience when I enrolled in public school.
I was very fortunate to grow up in a school district on Long Island, NY where music education started young: 2nd grade.  Not only did we study the basic school subjects, we were required to be in chorus.  For those who couldn't carry a tune, we had simple musical instruments: triangle, cymbals, drums and tambourine.  The most exciting thing that happened to me was when an orchestra & band performed in my school's auditorium.  I don't recall if it was the principal or assistant principal, but we were told that the following school year we could learn to play one of the instruments on the stage.  I immediately fell in love with the saxophone and the violin.  After considering the pros & cons of each, I opted for the violin.  The violin sounded like a human voice to me.  With that, one could passionately play what they felt inside.  That started a life long love for the instrument and classical music in general.
Music education helps develops a child's mind & builds self-confidence.  Learning a new instrument takes dedication, it takes good math skills to be able to count the beats, it allows for creativity which comes in handy for improvisation exercises and it introduces you to team work or even a leadership position if you become the concertmaster/lead chair.  The benefits of studying music don't end there.  Students can also be introduced to other cultures via their musical instruments.
I hope future generations will be able to experience the joys of performing in a music ensemble while in school.  Don't let the talents of a future Wynton Marsalis, Hilary Hahn or Renee Fleming go undeveloped.  For those who played an instrument long ago and stopped, try to pick it up again, donate it or try a new instrument.  Wish me luck as a start my 8 week Guitar 1 class this Sunday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Heart to Heart Talk With Myself

This year marks a big milestone for me.  I'll be turning 35 in the fall.  As I sit at my desk and reflect on what I've done with my life till this point, I see a fabulous highlight reel along with some major disappointments. 
Wouldn't it be great if we had the opportunity to go back in time and guide our younger self?  I think it would be pretty awesome!!  We could possibly be stopped from making a horrible mistake or be given words of encouragement to continue pursuing our goals even when it seems like it'll never happen.
My first Tuesday Talks blog will feature me talking to my 13 year old self.  As I recall, 1990, was a challenging year.  It's those awkward times as a new teenager when you're trying to find yourself and create your own identity.  I was also in the 9th grade, the first year of high school.  These are the times you should really focus on your school work and seriously consider a career path you'd like to follow.  Besides that, there's peer pressure, dating dilemmas, proms, drivers ed, college applications, SAT's and ACT's to name a few.  
Here is my advice to the timid, studious 13 year old Cydania as she prepares for her first day at North Babylon High School in New York.
Dear Cydania The Younger,
1. Please don't always keep your head in the books.  It's okay and encouraging to have a social life.  Compromise with your mother so you can go out and have fun with your friends once a week.  It's really beneficial to be social and people oriented.  This helps greatly as you get older and need to network or want to ask a cute boy out.  There's more to the world than the four walls in your house and in your room. 
2.  Cydania, carefully choose a career path.  Pick one with longevity, where there will be a constant need for your skills & one where you can make a difference.  Perhaps moms are right?  You've had really good grades, so no wonder she wants you to go in the medical, legal or educational field. 
3. As a well known goo-die two shoes, I'd say it's okay to be rebellious once in a while.  Have a little fun.  It goes back to living a little.  I'm not saying go ahead and do something completely stupid that will land you in jail or harm another person.  If you have a curfew, stay out a little later and see what happens.  Do find a pay phone and call saying you'll be late :)
4. Pay more attention in Science, Technology & Math classes.  You have no idea how cool it will be 20 years later to be a computer geek.  Atari has nothing on what the video game consoles of the future will be like. 
5. As an American, enjoy your youth and innocence.  It appears every decade or so there's something that defines that generation.  You'll remember where you were 50 years down the road when it happened.  Yours was probably the Challenger explosion.  There's a much greater danger ahead.  Continue to not be ignorant to worldly events & other cultures no matter how far away you are.
6. Be more family oriented.  I know I know.  Older people are not as cool as teenagers.  However, you do have a very hip 79 year old grandma.  You were one of a handful of grand-kids that didn't grow up near immediate family.  Try to visit those out of state more often, call, write and go to family reunions if possible.  You never know.  You might learn something or heaven forbid have fun.  There will always be delicious southern cooking :)
7. If there's only one suggestion you chose to follow, do your best to have more talks with your mom.  There's now a term for her: tiger mom.  It will be to your benefit to engage in mother/daughter talks and just enjoy each others company.  Talk about boys, how do you know when you're in love, how life was decades earlier and other stuff before it's too late. 
Your biggest supporter,
Cydania The Elder
PS-You better remain a Mets fan though dark days are ahead.  Don't worry about the Rangers, they'll win the Stanley Cup before you know it. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Embracing the 21st Century

I'm a little late joining the dance, but at least I'm here. After staying in the 20th century for an extra decade, I've finally upgraded to an entry-level smart phone, an i-Pod, an e-Reader, a Twitter account and now a blog. I also realized I might have a small addiction to texting and the Angry Birds phone app. That's okay right? This means my reflexes won't slow down as I age. I'm also stimulating my brain. All that's left is to dispose of the tube TV and get a high-definition, LED, flat-screen TV with 3D capabilities. Just kidding...I still haven't recovered from the day my VCR kicked the bucket.

Seriously, what I hope to accomplish is a successful introduction back into writing and into what gets the wheels spinning in my mind. I've named my blog Talks and Thoughts. In my Talks feature, I plan to compose conversations I've had or would love to have with family and friends, and dream chats with cultural or historical icons. My Thoughts feature allows me to leave comments, wishes or ideas on a topic of my choosing.

This is my trial period just to get my feet wet and to see if I have the dedication and wit it takes to be a blogger. I hope you'll join me on this journey for Tuesday Talks and Thursday Thoughts officially starting Tuesday, April 26th. Until then, keep embracing your inner talks and thoughts.