Offering

Rain stopped
Dark clouds
Remained
Casting
Shadows
That left
Little room
For reaction
Until
Sunlight
Pushed
Through
Casting
Shadows
Of dancing
Leaves on
The ground
Prompting
A brief smile
Before
Slipping back
Behind the gray

Chopin Prelude in e minor Kelley Morris, piano

Reset Button

Is your phone not working correctly? Have you tried turning it off and then back on? Have problems with your computer? Same answer. At least, that is the answer if you ask my husband. And quite often, it takes care of the problem.

I’m starting to realize my brain works similarly. The only problem? My resets are not always intentional. It’s more of a hindsight experience.

Let me explain. My brain has been on overload for the past couple of weeks. Too many thoughts, dates, responsibilities, concerns, worries, etc. You get the picture. Partly because it is the end of the school year. The other part, well, that is for another day.

Gart and I drove to Arkansas last weekend to visit my parents. We took a personal day on Monday. On our drive home, I received a phone call asking me to play for a choir rehearsal Wednesday evening.

Yes! Sounds great! I’ll do it!

Of course, my answer came on a day I was not working. One day I was not thinking about all those upcoming events. Not thinking about how tired I would be after teaching all day Wednesday…

Wednesday arrived. I needed a nap between work and the rehearsal.

The music that I had little time to practice before rehearsal was by Mozart. Now, I have some pretty mean sight-reading skills. Legendary in some places. 😉 But an hour and a half of sight-reading Mozart? Well, there was no room for any other thoughts in my brain.

After rehearsal, I somehow drove myself home, made a cup of tea, and crawled into bed. When I woke up the next day, my body was tired. My brain, however, was calm.

Laughing to myself, I realized playing all that music was like hitting a reset button. Perhaps I should add sight-reading to my weekly routine. Do you think it would ensure a correctly working brain? Worth a try!

Simply Sunday

Soft Blanket

Surrounded
By more shades
Of green than
My mind could
Possibly imagine
Attempts to match
Each shade with
A colorful
Adjective
Fall short
Given up trying
Instead, noticing
The curious way
The greens
Compliment
And contrast
One another
Their beauty
Shining against
The backdrop
Of a blue sky
Dotted with
Fluffy, white clouds-
Driving down
The highway
Wrapped
In the soft
Blanket
Of Spring

Gart and I drove to Little Rock yesterday. We are spending the weekend with my mom and dad. Such a beautiful drive this time of year. So many trees budding and wildflowers blooming along the highway.

I had the opportunity to play piano at their church this morning. Not just a solo but also a special duet with my cousin’s grandson. What a treat!

That soft blanket of spring expanded to include family and music. Long hugs, I miss you’s, and sweet melodies. ❤️

Favorite Space

Nervous energy
Backstage
It lives there
No matter
Your age
Or years of
Experience-
No more time
For practicing
Smiles of
Reassurance
Bouncing
Back and forth
We are ready
And the audience
Is waiting to listen
Time on stage
Is brief
Barely enough
To find presence
In my favorite space
Lost in the music

My favorite part of being a musician is collaborating with other musicians. There is something magical about learning my part of the music and then hearing it come together with another.

Working as an accompanist used to take up much of my professional time. These days, not so much. Both time and opportunity often play a role, and that is ok. But an opportunity came along recently. And I am glad I said yes!

This past week, I had the privilege of accompanying a young cellist, eleven years old. He was to be a spotlight performer for the Tulsa Youth Symphony during their dinner fundraiser. He needed an accompanist, and a former colleague passed along my name.

We met once to rehearse. The level of preparedness, skill, and musicality was impressive. Easy to work with and kind. Eleven years old.

Waiting backstage, we both admitted to being a little nervous. But once in front of the audience, it was all about the music. Afterward, this truth was rekindled-Moments like these are my favorite. And they are to be treasured.

Lightbulb

This week, my 3rd-5th grade classes have been utilizing our new keyboards. Moving beyond simply exploring. Recently, we had a lesson about line notes and space notes. Learning to recognize the differences on the staff and identify by letter names.

Every Good Boy Does Fine. F-A-C-E face.

After a brief review, I explained how to find those same notes on the keyboard. Students were divided into three groups, rotating between three activities. One was playing the notes on the keyboard.

Fifth graders can be a challenging group. Wanting so badly to grow up, yet still kids in so many ways. Acting tough, not knowing when to stop, etc. So, I wasn’t sure what to expect from them with this lesson plan.

Halfway through today’s class, I hear, Mrs. Morris! Come listen to this! Not only had this student found the line and space notes, but he had also created a rhythmic pattern and was playing it over and over. 

When it was time to alternate, I could see he was not ready to move on. He got the staff paper for the next activity but headed back to a keyboard. He wanted to write down what he played! I told him to keep working on it. 

I have tried to connect with this student. There always seemed to be a new wall going up. Maybe this was a start.

Class ended. Students left. Then my art teacher friend came in for lunch. Apparently, as the kids passed her in the hall, this friend waved his paper toward her. Hey! Mrs. Pordash! I really like music now! ❤️

Could this day get any better? 

Tonight, were parent/teacher conferences. Guess who stopped by the music room to show his mom what he did today? Here was my chance. As he stood at the piano, I said-You made my day today. You probably didn’t realize that. But I need you to know that you made my day!

Yes, I got a little teary-eyed. But, oh my! A lightbulb turned on for him and brightened my day in the process!

The Best Medicine

It seems the perfect remedy
For curing sadness
Would be listening
To a happy song-
But when feeling low
Who wants to hear Put on a Happy Face?
Not before wallowing a bit, anyway
Though it may sound silly
The best medicine
Just might be that familiar tune
From a well-worn sad song
I know it might not make sense
Treating sadness
With more sadness
But give it a try
Next time you’re feeling blue
Let the melancholy notes
Wash over you like an old friend
One who sympathizes
One who understands
One who longs to take your sadness
And add it to their own

Sad Songs/You’ve Got a Friend Kelley Morris, piano

Controlled Chaos

My students are on a three-day rotation for specials. Tomorrow is day three since our return from a week of distance learning. Whew! So many emotions. So much exhaustion.

When students returned, they got a surprise-ten brand new keyboards! Their first question when entering the classroom?

Are we going to play those?

Oh, yes, you are. 😊

By the end of the day tomorrow, all my students will have spent time exploring a piano. Now, this was not a piano lesson, as such. It was a chance. A chance to experience something new. A chance to be in their own little world for a few minutes.

This plan meant giving up some control. For me, that is. I divided each class, K-5th grade, into three groups. While one group explored on the keyboards, the other groups colored, played games, or read books. Loud, chaotic, but so worth it!

Music was so much fun today!
That is the first time I’ve ever played the piano.
Will we get to do this again?

Yes, sweet friends, we will do this again. Probably next week. ❤️

Possibilities

Seven little letters
On seven little keys
Along with their neighbors
The twins and triplets
Stepping and hopping
Walking and dancing
In and around
Up and over each other
A musical little bunch
Together, they will make you
Laugh, cry, maybe even dance
Depending on their patterns
And when you learn
To play them
Creating patterns
Of your own
Well, the possibilities are endless

I cannot wait for my students to see and play our new pianos! ❤️

An Old Friend

A jeans and t-shirt girl
That is what I call myself
Oh, I enjoy getting dressed up
For the occasional night out
But if you ask my preference
The answer never changes-
A comfy pair of jeans
And a favorite t-shirt
Now, those jeans can’t be comfy
Without a little wear
Walking down a rugged path
Resting on a large rock or two
Carrying smooth pebbles in my pocket-
They find their purpose that way
Not just a protective covering
No, much more
A reminder of where I’ve been-
Legs crossed sitting by the fire
Those jeans feel like an old friend-
And the t-shirt?
Well… if it’s my James Taylor t-shirt
There is no contest-

Today was a virtual/distance learning day for students in our district. Yes, we know in-person learning is best. But when so many teachers, staff, and regular subs are out sick, it makes in-person learning pretty much impossible.

That meant I pushed out music lessons/activities for students on an online platform. I receive a notification each time a student submits a response. They always make me smile.

After lunch, I noticed a stack of boxes near my classroom. I quickly discovered they were the new keyboards recently ordered for my piano class! Ten of them, complete with stands, headphones, pedals. I’ve got some work to do tomorrow!

This may not have been an ideal teaching day. But there were bright spots. And here I am, sitting on the floor in front of those beautiful boxes, wearing a favorite pair of jeans and a school t-shirt. It was a good day…

Not my James Taylor t-shirt, but it will do. ❤️