Lord, Have Mercy

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon this tonight.

I was replaying the portion of Handel's Messiah from today's Advent devotional segment this evening.  It's the trio from Young Messiah (1994) of Larnelle Harris, Steve Green and Michael English singing Surely, He Hath Borne our Sins.  I could listen to it over and over.  We started watching a few more Young Messiah pieces from the same concert recording.  I used to listen to it many times over in my late teens and early twenties.

And then James and I noticed that in the line up there was a video from Moody Church Media.  Well, we certainly had to look at what that was.  And this resulted in a little walk down memory lane, accompanied by this perfectly gorgeous piece that I'd never heard of before.  The soloist is a man that studied at Moody with me, but I think graduated a couple years after me.  The conductor is the iconic Gerald Edmonds, one of my teachers at Moody, music director at Moody church for 27 years, and the man who along with David Davis, I credit with teaching me how to conduct.

15 years ago, this was our church home for the duration of our time in Chicago.  I walked across that stage, through those choir seats and up and down those aisles more times than I can count.  I conducted children's choirs and even the adult choir once from that stage, I directed the children's christmas pageant from those steps, and I scurried through the back passageways behind those rounded-top doors with a headset on each year during Candlelight Carols, helping to get the Nativity actors out on their cue.  Behind the left door (stage right) and up a wee hallway was the recording room that I could always find James in....if he wasn't up at the top of the balcony at the live soundboard of this massive, 4000 seat church in downtown Chicago.  It had a children's program so large that I would 'make my rounds' each Sunday morning to provide music for each class, of each department of the Sunday School.

Phew.  Didn't realize how much I missed all that until just now.  I've now listened to about 5 versions by other churches or choirs and Moody's is by far the most beautiful and sensitive. Give this a listen, mom.  I guarantee you'll like it.

Adventures of a Landry Teacher

Monday, December 1, 2014

That's me!  I'm a Landry teacher.

Let me tell you all about it....I've been wanting to for months, but I've been SO busy preparing and teaching my Landry class that there has been ZERO time to blog.  But now I will try and sneak it in, while I'm waiting on Livechat for my budgeting program to get fixed.

Last spring, I saw an email come through from one of the many homeschooling associations/companies/organizations/support groups/whatever, that I subscribe to.  The subject line said something about a job opportunity.  Always interested in a way to make a little more money, I looked right into that.

It looked like a pretty interesting/good deal to me.  Teach online, from my house, get paid for it! Very cool.  I submitted a resume and proposal of what I could possibly teach. Landry specializes in providing online classes for homeschooling students.
A few weeks later, I heard back from Landry and they were interested in me!  They set up a phone interview for shortly after and I "met" one of the directors, a lady named Karri.  She seemed very lovely and it was an enjoyable interview.  She told me that by the end of the week (this was a Tuesday, I believe) they would let me know if I had passed into the next level of interviews, and would do a demo class for them.
End of the week nuthin'.  They emailed before the end of the day.  I took this as a good sign. :-)

So my next rite of passage was to create a short, 5 minute presentation about my specialty with powerpoint.  I LOVE making powerpoint presentations.  So fun.  I said to James the other night that I realized why I love making them so much....because it's rather like scrapbooking, but digital.
Somewhere along the line, Landry had said that they were interested in me to teach a class called "Meet the Composers", a music history-type course.  Sounded good to me.  I've never actually taught music history, but I've taught pretty much everything else in terms of music, and 5 semesters of Music History and Literature with Dr. Strandt had to come in handy somewhere!!

I made my presentation on Vivaldi (my fav) and spent some time getting acquainted with the programs they use for running Landry--Blackboard Collaborate for actually teaching, and Haiku for personalized class web pages, which is where you post all the assignments and such.

My audition/demo teaching came and went with no problems.  I felt it went very well, and settled in to wait for the week or so to pass until they called with my verdict.  Even though I was confident, I was still a little nervous...
If I got this job, it would go a LONG way to helping pay for Verity's gymnastics.  This past summer she moved up to 18 hours of training per week.  We had hoped to pay for the whole year in one shot and relieve the stress of monthly payments, but it wasn't possible.  If I got the number of students they anticipated, it would more than pay for her whole year.  How awesome would that be!?

Of course, by now, you know that I got the job.  Yay!!  I got to work making my syllabus and beginning to create the class.  I had the whole summer (well...most.  Landry starts early, about mid-August) so I was not worried.  Even though I knew I had to create 15, 90 minute classes complete with powerpoint, assignments, tests, etc., I thought it would be no problem.  I had the whole summer, right?
Well, first off, we got a foreign billet student.  I didn't know until a day or two before she arrived from France, that I had to spend at least 1-2 hours per day teaching her English.  And of course showing her our fine country.  Didn't get as much work done during that time as I'd hoped...and that was most of July.
And...it just took much longer than I anticipated.  I got my syllabus done by June 30th (about a month to do that) and got to work on fleshing out my research.  I can't remember when I got that done, but I sat every day during the first two weeks of July, for 2 hours while my kids took swimming lessons, working on it at the pool.
Once I had all my info, it would take me 2-3 hours to write my lesson, 4-6 hours to make the powerpoint (I was teaching grades 4-6, I knew I needed LOTS of graphics), another 1-2 hours to make up the student notes outline and then, say 2-3 hours to find all my music and create the assignments and class pages for that week.  Sooo, that's like a week working at a part-time job.  And since I was still teaching in the evenings during the summer, and of course still at home with the kids all day, it would definitely take me a week, if I sat down every spare moment and worked on it. I had four lessons fully done by the time classes started.  My August holidays at Fair Havens fell during my second week of classes, so I was still working madly on classes, as well as having to arrange to go somewhere with decent internet to actually teach the class that week (thank you inlaws that live close to camp!!)

So anyways, I did manage to get far enough ahead of myself that I only scraped close to class time once or twice, and it was all good.  This week is the last class and I'm set to go.  I've actually started my prep for next semesters class, which is sort-of a continuation of this semester and sort-of not.  This semester focused on Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, and next is Classical, Romantic and Modern.

As well as teaching the class, another interesting opportunity arose.  Landry often holds 'webinars' that teachers give on all kinds of topics, and it's a way to provide the general public with samples of Landry teachers, as well as provide some free expertise of various topics of interest.  My department has apparently made it a tradition to hold a week of webinars in November (one each night) specifically on the arts and Christmas.  My class had been quite small this semester; nowhere near the numbers that had been talked about in my interview, so my department head thought a webinar would be a perfect opportunity for me to bump up my profile.  I put my mind to the task and came up with (who am I kidding, the credit is all the Lord's) making an Advent devotional.  Despite the fact that I was stressed to the max trying to get the rest of my class created in time to teach it each week, somehow, I felt that I could 'fit' in creating, essentially, a book.
I killed two birds with one stone, for a good part of it though.  The idea was to make an Advent devotional based on Handel's Messiah.  Each day would include scripture from the libretto of Messiah, a discussion or explanation of the scripture, application to life, etc, and then a bit of biographical info on Handel, which of course I had already prepared for my class.  Each day's portion closes with a link to a youtube video of the featured Messiah chorus or aria for that day.  As a homeschool mom, I loved this idea because it would cover my daily devotions with my kids--with an Advent flavour no less, a bit of history, and then application and music appreciation.  Messiah is gorgeous but who takes four young-ish kids to a 2 hour performance of it?  Not this crazy mama! This way, they'd be exposed everyday for the month of December and hopefully by the 25th, be in love with Messiah.  In more ways than one.

It, of course, ended up being a fair bit more work than I thought (I am the queen of underestimating, I do believe) but the end result was quite pleasing.  I presented the devotional during a 1/2 hour long webinar which had a very pleasing turnout of about 40 people.  My 'free gift' to all attendees was access to this devotional at no cost. :-)

You too can have access to it as well!  All webinars are recorded, and  you can watch the recording here.  Just look down the list until you see "Celebrate the Advent Season with Handel's Messiah".
No, no, I can't give away the devotional link...you'll have to get that by watching the webinar!! Heehee!

So now my budget problem is not fixed...they have created a trouble ticket...sigh.  And it's time for me to go to bed...