Challenging Times

Planning like
Never before
Worried about safety
Worried about health
For our students
And ourselves
So much at stake
Far beyond academics
Far beyond testing
The emotional health
Of our children
Of our families
Of all of us
So many needs
To be met
Too many needs
To be met
By only a few
But we are not a few
We are many
We are educators
Waiting patiently
For difficult answers
To impossible questions
And no matter what
Others may say
We will shine-Our
Students will shine
With kindness, passion
And innovation as we
Face our fears during
These challenging times

A Social Distance Duet

I love playing the piano. And playing the piano in collaboration with another musician is even better. It requires a whole new level of concentration. But it also provides a whole new level of enjoyment.

Not only am I reading and listening to my part, but I am also doing the same for the other instrument. One section on its own does not make sense. But when played at the same time, harmony in motion. Almost like two characters telling the same story from their own perspective.

Even though collaborative playing is one of my favorite ways to experience music, it has not been part of my life in more recent times. Right now, my professional life is more focused on teaching. Playing is mostly for my own enjoyment.

That is ok. I am not complaining, just setting the scene.

Here we are, many months of living during a worldwide pandemic. The school year ended strangely. So many plans put on hold. And just when it seemed things were improving, our numbers are on the rise again.

There are so many questions about the future. How long will this last? What will school look like? It is easy to feel anxious.

What better way to calm anxious thoughts than some musical collaboration?

My friend, Lisa, came over and brought her oboe. Lisa and I teach music in the same district. She is also a professional musician. We have talked many times about getting together and playing music.

What better time than during the middle of a pandemic?

My music room has glass doors that open up to the main entrance. So, we opened the doors and sat a chair and music stand in the entryway. That way, we could still maintain a social distance but also have a sightline.

We played music for almost two hours! The time flew by. My fingers got a workout, but my brain was at peace. The music was beautiful! And we had the perfect audience, my miniature dachshund, Poppy.

Poppy’s bed was placed between the piano and the oboe. She was perfectly still, relaxed in her bed the entire time. I think she approved.

Playing music did not erase our questions or concerns. But it did provide some moments of contentment. Music is powerful, therapeutic. And the therapy is even sweeter when it’s a social distance duet with a friend.


The Winter’s Passed by Wayne Barlow
Lisa Wagner, Oboe
Kelley Morris, Piano

Writing Circles

I have so enjoyed participating in Ali Grimshaw’s writing circles. They are a positive time of listening, writing, and responding. I’m excited to have one of my poems shared today on her blog. Check it out along with Ali’s work at flashlightbatteries.blog

As I continue to lead writing circles, I am inspired by the hearts and generous listening of others. Every time I write with others I am changed and lifted by the experience. Here in this space I am calling, Poems from the Circle, I will be sharing poems written by participants of my writing circles. […]

Poems from the Circle — flashlight batteries – poetry

Creative Spark

My creative life used to be filled with musical collaborations. While working toward my bachelor’s degree in piano performance, I spent many hours accompanying voice lessons and ensembles.  Playing the piano was my life, but I increasingly began to enjoy working with other musicians.

Those experiences influenced my plans for grad school.  My master’s degree work consisted of constant collaboration with other musicians.  Preparation for recitals with vocalists, brass players, and string players filled my days and nights. Yes, it was challenging. Yes, it was exhausting. But oh was it rewarding!

In my professional life, I’ve also had those satisfying musical moments.  Working as a university staff accompanist, faculty recitals, choral accompanying, opera workshops, etc. continued to keep my creative juices flowing.

Although music continued to be part of my life,  I eventually stepped away from it as my main profession.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets.  My life has been full.  I spent nine precious years as a stay-at-home mom, worked as a special education teacher, and currently, I’m an elementary music teacher.

It has been a long time, a hot minute, as they say these days since I’ve played professionally.  Today I suddenly realized that a part of me has missed it.

I’m in my final week as a rehearsal pianist for the Rose Rock Opera Institute.  It has been a great experience, working with talented young singers and amazing teachers.  One lesson today was extra special.  The music placed in front of me was familiar.  I had played it years before.  Beautiful melodies weaving between voice and piano.

But then I saw those spots.  You know the ones.  The ones that gave me trouble years earlier.  And that fear of making mistakes started to creep in.  Thankfully the teacher had given me and the student a specific spot in the music to place our focus.  We repeated one small, beautiful phrase about ten times before performing the entire piece one final time.  It was amazing.  We listened to each other’s parts, attempting perfect balance.

Was it exhausting? Yes! My brain was in high gear.  Thinking hard about the line, voicing, surprising harmonies-working together to bring a piece of music to life.  And just as this talented young student decided to take a chance, I did the same.  Focused on making music instead of worrying about the wrong notes.

Today a creative spark was reignited.  And for that, I am thankful.