You Could Hear a Pin Drop

I’ve always thought that was an interesting phrase. Yet, even more interesting the situations it describes. Intently listening as someone shares words of wisdom. Witnessing a momentous occasion.

No matter the situation, this phrase describes a specific kind of silence. One which leaves everyone waiting with anticipation for what is to come. Unknowingly holding their breath. Walking away with a lasting impression.

I had the pleasure of witnessing such an event this past Monday evening…

Previously I shared about my daughter, Rachel, and I attending a James Taylor concert. Bonnie Raitt was also performing that evening. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Such an unmistakable voice and style. However, I am not as familiar with the whole of her music.

Following a warm introduction by James, she took the stage, commanding with energy and passion. Her raspy voice was strong and guitar licks impressive. The rest of the band? Phenomenal.

This particular concert venue is large, arena-style. Not exactly the type of place you think of for intimate musical performances. Oh, my goodness…after several upbeat, rocking tunes, the lights went down and most of the band exited the stage.

A single spotlight, a stool, Bonnie and her acoustic guitar was front and center. She said something like, “Let’s turn this place into a nightclub for just a moment,” and began to play and sing the blues. My eyes scanned the audience, motionless. All I could think was, “Wow! You could hear a pin drop in here!”

Witnessing this one seasoned performer command this entire space with her voice and guitar-An experience I won’t soon forget.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go add some Bonnie Raitt to my Apple Music playlists. 🙂

Country Road

My daughter, Rachel, and I saw James Taylor in concert yesterday evening.  This was my sixth JT concert over the past 26 years, Rachel’s first.  I can truly say he never disappoints.  His songs are timeless and his sound seems to grow stronger and warmer with age-kind, genuine, personal.

Me and my girl!

Listening to his songs has a way of lifting my spirits.  Obviously, he did not write any of them for me. 😉 Yet, particular ones remind me of specific times and places from my own life.  Country Road immediately comes to mind.  Hearing it again last evening…beautiful.         

I guess my feet know where they want me to go
Walking on a country road

Just the thought of this song makes me smile.  Hearing it live and in person transports me back to my childhood.  Riding my bike and going for walks down our country road.  Always with the specific instructions, “Do not go past the red clay hill!”  

This winding road from my parents’ house to the highway is only about ¼ of a mile long.  As a kid, however, it seemed much longer, mysterious.  Thick forest on each side of the pavement made for limited visibility.  Any rustle in the leaves had the power to trigger our wild imaginations.  Although there have been rare sightings of bears and big cats in the past, I’m certain most of our unexplained noises came from birds and lizards.

I walked down that road many times for many reasons.  Playing with my cousins, getting some fresh air, eating too much Thanksgiving dinner, spending time with a special aunt or a friend.  Walking, talking, running, riding…a foundational place in my growing up. 

Some things have changed over the years.  The forest thinned.  A few houses now scattered in the woods, visible through the trees.  No more red clay hill.  Yet, there continues to be something special about taking a walk down that road. 

Memories may fade over time.  Great songwriters have the power to bring those memories back to life.  Singer/songwriters like James Taylor.  Songs like Country Road. Take a listen. https://youtu.be/2Dsph5uikX0

Determined

No pain, no gain
That’s a wrap
Show’s over
Saved the best for last

Hmmm…so many thoughts and emotions. Yesterday marked the final two performances for our all-school musical, Newsies. One matinee and one evening show brought all the hard work to an end. As I reflect over these past few months, in particular, the last two weeks, determination is the word I choose.

I watched as students on stage and in the pit showed determination. A determination to work harder each day. A determination to always give their best. A determination to share their hard work with gladness and grace.

They may not realize it, but their energy was contagious. It had a profound impact on me and my attitude, particularly on those days it felt like I had no energy left to give.

Some have asked, “Will you do it again next year?” Others have suggested, “Maybe it’s time to give this up.” Comments made with my best interest at heart, no doubt. It is an exhausting process which pushes me further than I think I can go. And each year, the physical challenge grows just a bit.

Yet, this year as I thought more about this thing-this musical season-I realized how much I love it! I can’t imagine not being a part. I don’t want to imagine…

Following one of the evening performances, a sweet colleague said, “You must be exhausted. But it has to be so worth it!” Yes! Simple truth. I’m certain she had no idea how much I needed to hear those words. My husband expressed the same sentiment, understanding how important this is to me. These combined with my daughter’s, “Proud of you, Mom” gave me the spark I needed to finish strong.

Hence the word, determined. As long as the opportunity is there and I am able to play with excellence, I am determined to be part of what is Union Public Schools All-School Musical. Even though it wears me thin, it is worth every ache and pain. Worth fighting for every ounce of energy required. Worth every afternoon nap. Worth every extra cup of coffee consumed. 😉

And so, I say, “Farewell Newsies!” It was a pleasure to make music with you all. Remember the lessons learned through this amazing story. I know I will! 🙂

#seizetheday #watchwhathappens #newsiesforever

Wiper Blade Swishes

A gray mist hung in the air all day today. More than simple fog, it appeared like a sheer curtain. As if you walked through it, you would come out on the other side soaking wet.

No individual clouds. No glimpses of blue. Not even a hint of sunshine. And believe me, I peeked outside between classes all day long…just in case.

Leaving school for the day, I noticed a light, wet film on my car windshield. One swish from the windshield wipers and it was gone. Wiper blades are an interesting invention. At first glance, they might seem insignificant in comparison with the entire car. But get caught in the rain without a working one, and you realize its power.

This one little swish of a wiper blade caused me to reflect on the day. Despite the feeling of heaviness due to the conditions outside, had there been other “wiper blade swishes” which helped make the day clearer? Of course!

  • Early morning Starbucks run with the Dream Team
  • 5th graders engaging over Beethoven and musical motifs
  • Kindergarteners playing Under the Sea & Just Keep Swimming with the parachute
  • Singing There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea with 2nd grade
  • After school nap
  • My husband coming home early to cook dinner

So, where/how am I now? I’m sitting in the orchestra pit. 30 minutes until opening night of Newsies! Energized and ready to go. It’s going to be a great show, no doubt. I will crash when it’s done. Then do it all over again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that…twice.

Maybe the skies won’t be so gray-maybe they will. Either way, I’ll be watching for the little “wiper blade swishes” to help clear my path and get me through this incredibly exhausting and rewarding week.

Best of Both Worlds

From the beginning of November until early February, my life is a little crazy. It’s musical season! During this season, my usual teaching day is followed by a three to four-hour rehearsal. Extra long days and lots of coffee. 😉 ☕️

This year marks my fourth consecutive Union Public Schools all-school musical-Newsies! Each year I think, “I’m not sure I can do this again.” But each year I cannot say no. Time spent in my favorite place, behind the piano, while being part of something bigger than myself. Amazing students, colleagues, and music.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked several of our Newsies cast members if they’d be willing to perform for our elementary school students. My team was planning a Responsibility assembly, and these students were the perfect guests. After all, their success depends on being responsible.

Today was assembly day. These three were rock stars! They spoke with enthusiasm and animation. They performed their songs beautifully. Despite beyond full schedules, they were willing to spend quality time with younger students.

For me, today brought the best of both worlds. Students I teach every day heard from students I’m privileged to work with during the musical season. Elementary students got a glimpse of what’s possible when they choose hard work and responsibility. High school students remembered their younger years and realized how far they’ve come.

And I witnessed it all from behind that piano. Doesn’t get much better…

Much-Needed Spark

”Rough morning, Mrs. Morris?” Sobering words from a 5th-grade student to begin my day. It’s one thing for a colleague or family member to notice-but a student? I was honest. ”Yes, yes it has been, ” I smiled, a tad embarrassed.

Truthfully, I’m running on fumes. My eyes certainly gave it away. (Maybe I should have applied a little more makeup this morning.) My dragging feet also gave clues to my state of being.

So, today I say, ”Thank goodness for 5th graders!” Today anyway. 😉 First of all, one of them noticed and acknowledged I have bad days too. And that’s ok. Second, 5th grade rocked music!

This group of almost middle schoolers entered my room excited, ready to participate! It was an amazing hour of music-making. And we have audio to prove it.

In addition to the awesome 5th graders this morning, some precious moments also occurred in the afternoon.

Looking around my classroom a sweet little girl commented,” I get why you call this music class. You’re always letting us do everything music. And reading us awesome stories.” Another chimed in, ”Yeah, plus she really likes music.” Like, duh.

Lest you think it was a fairytale day in Mrs. Morris’s music class, I would score both the morning and afternoon classes success rate at 2 out of 3. And you know what the song says….that ain’t bad.

Will I still look tired tomorrow? Yes. Will my feet continue to drag? Most likely. I’m afraid it’s just that season.

Today’s reminders. Kids are aware of those around them. Sometimes they act on and voice that awareness. When they do, I need to watch and listen. I also need to be more aware of those around me-kids and adults. Giving voice to someone else’s ”bad day” might encourage them.

My actions and words have the power to provide what was provided to me today…a much-needed spark.

All Things Sunshine

Wishful Thinking-A Triolet


To feel the sunshine on my face
 
As it peeks from behind a cloud
 
Providing warmth, no need to chase
 
To feel the sunshine on my face
 
Although today it shows no trace
 
Wishful thinking, I am allowed
 
To feel the sunshine on my face
 
As it peeks from behind a cloud

The above poem is a reflection of recent cloudy days, but today the sun is shining! Except for some thin, wispy clouds near the horizon, the sky is so blue. I really needed this today, to both see and feel the sunshine on my face. A welcome relief.

The dreariness of the past few days had me focused on the sunshine or lack thereof. One morning not long ago I woke up with these words playing through my mind.

There is sunshine in my soul today
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky
For Jesus is my light

I have not heard this hymn in years. It was a standard in the small church I attended as a child. So, what made me think of it now? Possibly all the complaining I’d been doing concerning the absence of sunshine…

Or maybe I needed to be reminded of God’s love. Always present, ready to provide light and warmth for my soul if I’m willing to accept.

Today the warmth from the sun is not just wishful thinking. For that I am thankful. I am also grateful for songs, old and new, which remind us of all things sunshine, both physical and spiritual.

Here’s one more of my sunshine favorites. Give it a listen. 🙂 https://youtu.be/Fb5ZyPH41vE