Friday, February 26, 2010

Science isn't always fair -- 2010 Science Fair

I have always hated science. I think this stemmed back to junior high when I had the baseball coach for my science teacher, then in high school it was the football coach for biology and another baseball coach for chemistry, etc. Whatever. I think coaches shouldn't be allowed to teach real subjects where kids are being ruined for life. With that said, science fair is mandatory in third grade. And I happen to have a daughter who loves, loves, loves geology (a clear arm of the science monster). So, our (note it's "our" project, not her) science fair project tested the density of the three rock types--igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. It was fine. I did what I had to do so she would have an entry to the science fair but I'll be honest here, this is a ton of work--and just as much for the parents as for the kids--and I hated every minute of it. I personally think kids shouldn't be required to enter the science fair until they can do all the work themselves (including putting the poster together) but this is definitely no perfect world. So there I was--thrust back in to the ridiculous world of science.

Yesterday was the science fair. I went to her classroom. It was fine. Bianca was really proud of her project. It did turn out nice (definitely up my budding geologist Bianca's alley). When I went to pick her up from school and asked about it, she burst into tears. "The judges didn't look at mine." They looked up and down the classroom but didn't stop at the last row. It seems absurd. A hard-hit baseball flies out of bounds into the parking lot, a Hail Mary pass hits the goal post at my metaphorical football game (this is where science takes me now, thanks to my coaches--I mean, science teachers). Maybe it happened this way, maybe not, but what can I do?

I tell her you do the best you can do; you can't always win. She understands. A little. Still, it was a lot of work. Then I pointed out how she wins a lot of things--she was the only student at Riverton Elementary this year to go on to the district level in Reflections in two categories--music composition and literature; she made it into the city of Herriman's talent show this year playing the piano; she's been selected as "Talented Young Writer" two years in a row. She wins at a lot of things, but you can't win at everything. I've read a lot of blogs lately on being gracious at not winning. Maybe these were preparing me. Because her losses really do feel like my own, especially when I put so much of my own time and effort into it. Really, in third grade, isn't the science fair a contest between the parents?

This morning, optimistic Bianca said maybe they'll realize the mistake. I shook my head, "Let the ball lie; don't think about the science fair anymore." So here she is, my Bianca, my very own gracious unwinner!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

A challenging goal keeps things interesting. . .

I've been inspired by my friend Crystal (who's doing a cooking challenge on her blog) who was inspired by the movie Julie & Julia (in which Julie makes a goal to make her way through Julia Child's cookbook on her blog). But since I'm no cook and really have no desire to be, I decided to do a similar challenge on a much-longer timeline with music. I have a book of piano classics called "Piano Pieces the Whole World Plays," which is really challenging. My friend Michelle lent me hers a while back and I liked it, so I ordered my own copy on ebay and voila! here I am. I try to practice every day (in some ways to show Bianca that she needs to learn to work for things she wants to be able to do well, like her own music) and wanted to learn one of Chopin's Nocturnes. It happens to fall on page 7. Song #1. Nocturne in E-Flat Major (Chopin Op. 9 No. 2) I've been working on it for a while.

This gave me the idea--Julie worked her way through Julia's cook book. Why can't I work my way through this piano book?

It will take me a while (sometimes even months) to work my way through songs before they'll be ready to post, but I'm planning to post them on my blog as I feel they're ready. I'll start out here (in the below video) with my first Nocturne. Bear with me. I will always, always make mistakes. I have no reality issues where I think I'm ever going to be perfect, just better. =)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bianca's music's first public appearance

Bianca doesn't go to Providence Hall, the charter school in Herriman. In fact, she's still 17th on the waiting list. BUT her piano teacher was putting a video together for Providence Hall's "reflections" contest and Bianca's composition made it on as background music. On the Providence Hall charter school web site, just click on "Night at the Museum" and when they get to the musical composition portion, the background music is Bianca's "Birds' Chorus" song.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inviting the muse to stay awhile

I like to keep things on schedule. I have a certain time that I like to have dinner, clean up the house, have the kids in bed. But last night, since we had to see the dentist in the afternoon, my entire bedtime schedule was thrown off. And I have this horrifying tendency to hurry my kids along, especially Bianca when she's dinking around on the piano instead of practicing her assigned pieces for the week. But last night, I was busy folding and putting away laundry and I decided to just let Bianca dink around. And fifteen minutes later, she had created a new song.

I told her, however, that we didn't have time for her to write down the notes on her lined-music paper so could she just record herself and then she could take it all down later. After she videotaped herself and after she was finished practicing her assigned music, she wanted to watch the video. This video shows the way her brain works to come up with her music. I like watching the way she experiments with chords and tries to come up with the melody she's looking for.

It's hard with all the homework and practicing and chores and everything else an eight-year-old has to do to come up with a couple minutes to just tinker on the keys of a piano. I should let Bianca do it more often. I'm going to try to make an effort to sit back and not hurry her anymore when I can. Because for a lot of creative types, when the muse comes, you have to entertain it. Otherwise, the muse may not hurry back. Maybe some nights the homework can slide. Maybe sometimes we can be behind the schedule. After all, when a guest is in the house, you should definitely not hurry them out but allow them to linger--even if the guest is something as intangible as the muse. [This was the beginning of Rain on a Dark Mroning.]