Over the past two weeks I have already been stretched a lot and have discovered that there is so much that I have yet to learn in tis field. Our worship pastor and instrumental music director have strongly recommended that in addition to my required classes for my major, I sit in on the instrumental technique classes so that I can learn as much as possible about how to play every instrument. I do not have to reach an advanced level in each of the instruments, but I do need to be able to play simple songs and sight read simple music. This will help me be:
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I was able to download pdfs of music and play some songs off of that. I found that the screen size made it difficult to read a full piano score, however it was possible to read chord charts. I was not able to test this feature, but a friend of mine wound up scanning his music for choir and reading off of that so that he did not have to worry about turning pages or finding the correct page/book. This was very effective for him and I hope to do the same next semester.
I also wanted to expand a bit on my experience with the Surface Pro as a musician. While I am not a composition major, I do have to compose for various school projects. As a test for the Surface, I downloaded a free trial of Finale, the primary music notation program we use on campus, and proceeded to engrave the first page of a Mozart sonata. I tried various methods of entry (touch, stylus, mouse, and USB piano keyboard) and determined that the best way to enter music into the Surface was via a USB piano keyboard and a mouse. Entry was rather slow without a number pad, and the size of a screen only makes it realistic to enter music for 1-3 instruments, but the software worked and proved that the surface can be used as an effective idea capture tool. (Note, I only used the free Finale Software and did not install the Garritan Sound Bank.) It would be interesting to see a Finale App for a tablet so that I could split my screen and have on half be a piano keyboard for entry and the other half be the Finale software.
The first song I wanted to share was actually the finale of the concert. It is an arrangement of "Take Me Out to the 'Bell' Game" in the style of a cheesy waltz, Pink Panther, and Magnificent 7. It was arranged by myself and a fellow student, Morgan Ruthard, as a final project for our Handbell Directing course. We really enjoyed adding a bit of drama to this song and I hope you enjoy it.
I finally decided to spend some of my own money to purchase a case for the Lenovo to see if that would help make the tablet more durable. I was primarily concerned with finding a case that was lightweight, but still protected the screen and weak back. I also was curious to see if any of the cases I found would help me get a better screen angle as I was not pleased with the angle the Thinkpad Bluetooth Keyboard provided.
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The Thinkpad Tablet 2:
The Thinkpad Tablet 2 is significantly lighter than the Microsoft Surface, and therefore even easier to take with you wherever you go. While I have a desktop at home for major projects that require multiple screens, the tablet is powerful enough to allow me to use it as my primary computer. Its small size has allowed me to use it in meetings without being a distraction and the ability to type or switch to drawing mode has let me take more effective notes in school. But more on that later.
Unlike the Surface, however, the Tablet 2 is rather weak and very fragile. The backing of the tablet is not very strong and I have already had to send two tablets back because of hardware issues that have developed behind the screen as I simply carried it around. I finally solved this problem, by purchasing a case for the tablet. The case only cost about $20, but the extra protection it afforded allowed me to be comfortable taking the tablet with me wherever I went or storing it in a backpack - very important for a college student.
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I had no idea how wrong I was. After the very first class period, I realized that conducting is so much more than being a metronome. It’s about creating music, much like the way an artist creates a painting. As the conductor, I can “play” all of the instruments in the orchestra, or all of the voices in the choir. I am not limited to one instrument and I have the ability to fine tune every sound of every instrument. Through these classes, I not only grew to appreciate my conductors more, but I also realized how much I loved conducting.
Shortly before beginning the Orchestral Conducting segment of my Advanced Conducting course, I met with my orchestra conductor at Grace Baptist, Lisa Hernacki. Every two weeks our orchestra prepares several songs for the Sunday Services in addition to our Christmas, Easter, and special concerts, and I wanted to understand how she could get to know all of the scores that well in such a short amount of time. Mrs. Hernacki’s advice was so helpful that I thought I would share her steps with any other interested musician.
The Surface Pro:
The Surface Pro is the perfect size to fit in a backpack, purse, or just grab and go. It is somewhat heavy, but what the device loses in desired weight it makes up in power. Having both a tablet for drawing and media consumption, and a full laptop is fantastic. As a student, is helpful to be able to have my textbooks, computer, and notes on the tablet so that I have fewer things to carry/manage.
I appreciate the Surface's robust design. While it is heavy, the firm casing protects the screen and electronics enough that I don't have to buy an extra case to protect it - which saves weight and room in my backpack. I love the built-in stand which is a part of my casing, and the only change I would like to see in this is the ability to adjust the angle of the stand for various purposes.
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As part of a class project, Morgan Ruthardt and I edited a handbell piece arranged by Paul Ellsworth. We auditioned the piece and were accepted into the concert. We had a wonderful time being a part of Come Christmas Sing in this way and we are looking forward to hopefully doing it again in the future.
My first semester in college has been a dream-come-true! I am a double major in Worship Music Ministries and Liberal Arts and it has been amazing to be able to focus on areas that I really love. I have just finished taking twenty units which has been intense but incredibly worth it. This first semester I mostly took general education classes and a few of the basic classes required for my major and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Our goal today is to entirely eradicate failure. We somehow have the idea that if our children fail, they will be bruised for life, unable to cope with the realities of society and unable to make a successful living. But is this really the right response? Is the key to success the eradication of failure?
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I recently applied for a $3,000 scholarship through WyzAnt, where I write an essay about who is my most important teacher and receive votes on my essay. I need to make it into the top 10 to be considered for the scholarship. Will you please help me earn this scholarship?
Just go to this site and vote for my essay entitled "Dr. Englin - Bringing the spark back into learning".
Thank you so much!
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For a school assignment, I recently had the opportunity to read Lew Wallace's unabridged book Ben-Hur and I thought I would share a quick review of it. I had been well acquainted with the Charleston Heston movie of this classic story and had assumed that the book would be similar. I was surprised at how different the two really were.
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This particular song really stretched the three of us as we had to come up with creative ways to cover as many bells as possible while still making the piece look easy and sound good to the audience. The song included everything from the very lowest bells (weighing nearly sixteen pounds apiece!) to some of the highest and each of us covered over an octave of bells.
Through this semester we have been able to expand our repertoire as well as enjoy practicing challenging pieces together. This next semester we are looking forward to playing a Lord of the Rings medley (since our group is named after it) and to pulling off another fun song!
By about the second year, I realized that the same person, Mrs. Douglas, that I’d tried the flute with before was there. It went the same way the following year and finally, I talked to my parents about wanting to play the flute and they came up with the idea of bartering baby-sitting for flute lessons! It worked, and I am enjoying my flute and my lessons!
On Saturday, September 5, 1992 at 5:54 PM. and 5:55 PM. The Lord answered our prayers and brought us two very healthy identical twin girls.
Two years earlier, our Sunday school class did a series on Parenting Perfect Children. That's a pretty presumptuous tittle but the presenters of this class were half a dozen older couples who had already been through the trials of parenting and whose children were a testimony to their accomplishments.
Each Sunday, one couple shared from their perspective the things that had contributed to the well being of their family. One couple who spoke shared how they began to pray for their children before they were born. Not only that, they continued to pray regularly for their children's friends, and even their spouses to be - unknown at the time.
This lesson hit home. I have seen the power of prayer work miracles in my own life and in the lives of others who call upon the Lord. Kathy and I decided that we would begin to pray for a child even though we knew that the time would be far off. During these times in prayer together, we found that we both had a desire to have twins - something that we had each desired since our early days and yet never discussed between us. The Bible says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." PSALM 37:4. Believing this desire to be sincere, we decided to express these desires in our time of prayer.
Keep in mind that there are no twins in either of our families for at least 4-5 generations that we know of. The instances of “twinning” in normal conception are very low. They are hereditary or can be the result of advanced aged (38+) or fertility drugs taken at the time of conception. Neither of these were the case for us.
By the time of our second pre-natal visit to the doctor, Kathy's womb had already grown quite large. We shared with our doctor that we had been praying for twins and that we suspected that Kathy had twins. Our doctor suspected that we had miscalculated the date of conception. An ultrasound examination quickly resolved the issue - identical twins! Identical twins are NOT hereditary but are the result of one fertilized egg that splits during the early weeks. Our babies shared the same sac and a common placenta - which is extremely rare (1 in 30,000 births) and often very dangerous.
By Kathy's 5th month of pregnancy, she was approaching the size of a full term single birth! Our doctors became very concerned about the health of the twins. We began a routine of examinations which would bring us to the hospital once a week and 3 times a week in the last stages of pregnancy. Although the babies were expected to arrive a month short of their calculated due date of Labor Day (no pun intended), the babies held out until Saturday, September 5th.
Meanwhile Kathy kept growing and growing and growing ... Fortunately, the babies remained in good health and both remained in the head down position thus allowing us to plan for a normal childbirth.
Early Saturday morning, I took Kathy to the hospital. She immediately went into active labor. They brought in all of the equipment and staff and everything stopped. After several procedures and another 10 hours of difficult labor, the decision was made to perform an unscheduled C-section.
Twin births are already classified as high risk pregnancies. With a C-section now things really got hopping. The staff at St. Joseph's Medical Center were terrific. Within minutes, a medical team of 9 people were assembled and ready. Moments later, our two daughters, Baby A :7 lbs. 4 oz. and Baby B: 7 lbs. 2 oz. were born. Our prayers for healthy twins had been answered!
Their names are:
BABY A: Wendy Anne Mack
BABY B: Amy Elizabeth Mack
Born Saturday, September 5th at 5:54 & 5:55 PM.
Kathy is greatly relieved to no longer be carrying such large babies. The hospital staff was also quite amazed at their healthy size - apparently uncommon in identical twins. Identical they are. I can't yet tell them apart. If I don't return one baby to the same crib from which I took her - forget it, I'm lost!
Kathy and the girls will remain at the hospital for the next few days. Then the real excitement begins.
Kathy and I want to thank you for your friendship, your encouragement, and your support.
Eric (Proud Papa), Kathy, Wendy, and Amy
My mother knew that I wanted to try something new and decided to try to get me into the world of Scupley clay. I was not impressed, but she insisted I give it a try.
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The girls and I were extraordinarily blessed this past week to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. I certainly had a life-changing week.
Wendy and I shared a sixth grade classroom of 19 girls - in which Kelly was a student. Emily led a table of first graders, and Amy sang and played the keyboard for Outdoor Music.
When the children arrived each morning, we attended a 35 minute assembly of music, drama, and information on the missionary that we were supporting. The contest between the boys and girls was held each day to see who could donate the most money to our missionary, Ashley Ruffner, who works at a school in Ecuador. The over $19,000 the students brought in will go to supply sports equipment, VBS materials, Bibles, and some new sound equipment to the school. The donation also paid for a plane ticket home, so Ashley could see her father who had become ill and needed surgery. Ashley was able to join us at the assemblies on Thursday and Friday.
After the assembly, our group went to our classroom (which our family had a blast decorating with rain forest themed decorations!) for craft time, then outside for some wet recreation time. After a quick snack (some of those 16,000 cookies), we headed in for a message from one of our pastors or a drama group. After that, we headed back to our room for our table time.
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The BE WiSE science alliance is a group dedicated to engaging and teaching young women in science and technology and providing them with valuable experiences, background, and skills to pursue their goals.
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