Archive for the ‘music’ Category


finding my rhythm

September 18, 2010

School is well underway now. Two weeks in and I’m finally starting to feel like I can handle this. I was so incredibly tired the first week and I couldn’t believe how wild my class was. It’s amazing what the excitement of being back at school and the addition of a few energetic souls can do to a class. I’m sure having a new teacher also added to the craziness. In any case, we’re finding ourselves and I’m learning to balance my incredible work load with some time for fun and exploration.

In the days before school began I was busy readying the room and worrying about being able to meet the class. Now two weeks later I find I know what I need to do and can be delighted by the simplest of surprises: a child who tested my patience all day waving madly when we crossed paths in town or the light unconscious humming of a song we learned earlier in the morning. It’s been two weeks and I can honestly say there is only one other time where I still enjoyed the job this far in. Yes!

Yesterday evening and today have found Kevin and I out enjoying the beach and then when I settled into work this afternoon birthday verses somehow streamed their way through me and onto the page. It’s so nice when that flow just happens without the pressure of a deadline. In any case I thought it might be nice for me to share some of the verses. Note that I did not go into the depth that some teachers do – crafting a verse with an anapest, iambic, trochee or dactyl foot to meet the temperament of the child. I am thankful for the wisdom a colleague offered – that it’s more important to create something that speaks to me about the child and meets him or her. That, and that a bit of rhyme can go a long way.

Here goes:

1. Far off the jagged shore
On the high open seas,
The greatest of creatures
Kindly watches o’er me.

In struggles and triumphs
I know to be me
And trust in my kind heart
That beats with the sea.

2. Bright-eyed and wakeful
I greet the light
That shines on me
With all its might
Reminding me before the night
That I must do what’s true and right.

3. Steadfast I stand
Like a tree on the land.
What my heart knows is true,
Like the sun, does shine through.

4. Lightly on my nimble feet,
Through the rocks and twigs I sneak,
Until I find my home at last
Among the trees and wild grass.

5. Not fearing vengeful pain or wrath
My feet stick firmly to the path;
From mountains high to valleys deep,
My spirit roams spreading love and peace.

And now we’re off for a night of music playing with friends while the song funky town plays to remind us of why we chose to live here. Oh how I’m loving this new life today!


cbc radio love

February 16, 2010

It amazes me that I’m feeling compelled to write about music and my love for the CBC on this blog again. I haven’t been listening to near as much of either as I would like because I packed light (don’t have my own radio here) and everything seems to hike my internet costs. Twice in the past few weeks I’ve had the kitchen to myself and have been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve heard courtesy of CBC radio 2.

I was so amazed the first time because I was ready to sit down just as Canada Live with John Wort Hannam was starting. Have I ever mentioned that he’s my favourite musician? His story telling is amazing and his music warms my soul.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of hearing Church of the Long Grass – the first time I heard it was live after being evicted by the Blairmore blaze. There were some new songs in the set too and I’m still in shock that I didn’t know about, let alone own, his new album before the program. How did that happen?

A week later another episode of Canada Live came on and I got to hear Corb Lund (the first Alberta singer I actually enjoyed) and Ian Tyson. I remember going to some of Corb’s shows when I first moved to Alberta and wondering what was so special about this Ian dude. Times have changed. Four Strong Winds will always have a special place thanks to EFMF. Such good music and awesome reminders of “home”. Thank you CBC!


paddling song

October 26, 2009

Last week each of the classes in grades 1 through 8 performed for parents and friends of the school. It was meant to provide insight into what was happening in each of the grades and what I got to see of it was great.

I was most struck by what the grade two class did. Their performance was a bit of a medley but their first thing is what stands out the most because it’s so similar to what I’ve been planning to try with my classmates when they pretend to be in grade 2 later today.  (The television poem from last week was someone else’s interpretation on the same assignment.)

In the performance at the school the children went on stage carrying sticks with fabric on the bottom and they kneeled down in two rows as if they were in a giant canoe. Then they started tapping their sticks in time with the song they sang – “My paddle’s keen and bright, flashing with silver….

Some people consider the verse those children sang to be part of one of my favourite songs from back when I was around the same age. The verse I know best goes like this:
“Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver, where still the mighty moose, wanders at will.
Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more, boom ditty boom boom, boom ditty boom boom, boom ditty boom boom boom.”

I hadn’t thought to kneel down as if in a canoe but I will stick to my plan of teaching the rhythm in a circle and then learning the words from there. The context – learning a song that helps keep us in time as we paddle – is the same.

I still can’t get over the fact that the grade two’s at the school here did something so much like what I’m going to try out with my mock grade two’s today. Hopefully it all goes well!

On a completely different note, here’s a photo of my recently completed recorder case.  It took me a week to get around to ?finger knitting? the cord….
completed recorder case


a weekend full of inspiration

October 25, 2009

My apologies for not having any photos for these past few posts.  I’ve been leaving my camera at home more often than I would like but the activities I’ve been doing aren’t so conducive to photography and I certainly wouldn’t want to post photos of others without their consent.

Photos or not, I think it’s worth sharing what I was up to on the weekend.  I went to a grrrrreat coffee house on Friday night.  There was music from the decade before my birth, songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager, some original songs and some others I had never heard before (but have in the rotation now).  It was a fun night and it got me thinking that I really need to play more than the recorder.  I like being able to sing while I play which is why I have the lyre, but without the sharps and flats it’s hard to play much more than old folk tunes.  I think when I go back home at Christmas I’m going to have to pick up the guitar again.

When I first moved to Alberta it was mid-way through the hockey season so I took advantage of the extra time in my schedule and picked up a guitar.  I really like finger-style guitar and figuring out how to play songs I like by ear.  I started to learn some finger style but found it so confusing so mostly I would figure out how to pick the melody and strum the chorus.  The last time I did that was 4 years ago though!  Somewhere in the house there will be the notebook where I wrote out the lyrics and some of the notes of some Corb Lund and Johnny Cash tunes.  So yeah, Friday night has reinspired me to get more musical.  And the poem about the television can only help!  I didn’t have a tv that first winter in Alberta and I often wish I didn’t know that I could watch shows on-line.  Life without the tv is so much sweeter but for some reason I keep losing sight of that!

The other thing I did on the weekend was Contra Dancing.  I went to one when I was doing my Waldorf intensive in the summer and was inspired to look and see what is offered in this city.  Sure enough, there are regular dances and the folks who turn up are welcoming of novices.

Some of the steps come from square dancing (I think that’s the correct origin for do-si-do) and country dancing and as you move around, switching partners all the way through, the sense of community and shared experience grows.  It helps that there is lovely live music to dance to too!

As with my first dance I wore my birkenstocks.  They’re a little tricky to dance with but at the end of the week I’ll be meeting up with Kevin and in addition to some great time together I’ll also get to pick up some necessities such as dance shoes!

In closing, I’m so happy that I had a social weekend and found extra inspiration to get playing music, turning off the “tv” and dancing.  And I’m also looking forward to spending the coming weekend with Kev!


how I spent my time “off”

July 27, 2009

As I mentioned earlier, my Waldorf intensive kept me very busy for most of this month.  I had expected I might join those with cars on excursions to neighbouring areas on the weekends but I only made it once.  Not for a lack of offers but I think I might have overdone things on the first day because I just wasn’t up to it on the other 3 days I had open.

07 time off

It was over two weeks ago now that I joined two of my classmates on a trip to the ocean.  While many were keen on exploring Cape Cod a group of us were more worn out so we went for the closest beach.  I think it was a private one because the options for parking were limited and there was an air of “privilege” on the beach.  Regardless, we enjoyed frolicking in the frigid water and napping on the sand.  Suprisingly the sun didn’t seem as intense there as it is here now that I’m home.

I was surprised to see that most of the houses – or  cottages – looked just like in the movies but far bigger.  And there was so much variety in the size and colour of the rocks (not that my first photo shows it!)

07 time off 1

After going back to the campus for dinner, three of us joined an enthusiastic contra dancer on a trip to Concord, a suburb of Boston.  It was so amazing to join a community that was so keen on dancing and accepting of our limited (ok… complete and utter lack of) experience.

The following day I was too tired to head to the beach and a few people wanted to get together to play music.  At the peak of our play we had a guitar, a lyre, two recorders, a ukulele and a few vocalists.  Our musical interests were so diverse which definitely made it challenging to play something that sounded good but we did have fun.

07 time off 2

One of my favourite things to do when I had free time on weekends was to visit a nearby consignment clothing store.  I had packed lightly, perhaps a little too lightly given how cool and wet the weather was.  My favourite pair of capris, which I had planned to wear for work were thread bare in places before the end of the first week and I had to wear my least comfortable shoes to meet the health and safety requirements in the kitchen.

I generally don’t consider myself much of a shopper but good prices (averaging about $11/item) and colours and fits that I liked were too hard to resist.  After finding a nearly new pair of clog style birkenstocks and a pair of jeans (that doubled as painting pants), I continued to make trips to the store.  In the end I  added a fun and fully lined skirt, a dressy sleeve-less shirt, perfect fitting linen pants, a summery t-shirt and an avocado green long sleeve shirt.  It was definitely a worthwhile way to spend my time!

Oh, and I also did a lot of reading.  I still have a long ways to go on that front!


solstice weekend

June 24, 2009

After work on Friday, Kevin and I made the trek a few hours north for our first camping trip of the year.  This was, without a doubt, the latest start to the camping season ever.  In one sense I’m ashamed but we’ve been enjoying life close to home and been involved in more things locally so it’s really not much of an issue.  I do miss the mountains but I’m glad we’ve had the chance to discover how much less stressful it can be to stay home and spend an evening in the backyard.

Back to solstice… this year we decided to celebrate it at the North Country Fair where a stage had just been revamped and a new playground constructed in memory of our friends’ son.  Unlike most of the bigger music festivals in Alberta this one has space for on-site camping so I was excited about spending a weekend in one place.

We weren’t really too sure what to expect at this festival but figured it would be a little more of a family focused gathering of earthy folks joining to celebrate of solstice with great music of course.  That element was definitely there but there were easily as many obscene young drunks.  Thankfully those folks were gone before the music really got going on Sunday.

I still can’t quite get over why people would pay $100 just to drink and yell at each other all weekend but there probably aren’t many things like the fair in that neck of the woods.   I just wish we could figure out a way to train them to be more respectful.

All in all though it was a good weekend with some great music including one of our new favourites Trevor Tchir.  I also got to play around with hula hoops a little bit.  Fun times!

06 NCF

Oh, and during the little rain storm on Saturday Kevin and I huddled up in the back of the E to play our own music.  I wish we had the option to do videos with sound on one of our camera so we could have documented the dijeridoo, djembe, jews harp and recorder.  If for some reason we’re still here next year we’ll definitely be going back!


i <3 cbc

May 13, 2009

After years of pleading with my mom to turn off the talk radio you can imagine the surprise when my mom called to ask about *something* her friends had heard on the radio.

At the time I was living on the Queen Charlotte’s where the only other radio choice was available in the next town over.  I’d been a regular listener to the audio books show when driving home from construction sites at my job the year before but that was it.  Country radio (yikes!) was my first preference back then.

One day when I was working in the office I heard a story that touched me quite deeply and I felt compelled to respond.  My letter was read on air (first surprise) and then I started hearing from my mom about her friends that had heard my submission.

I guess you could say that hearing that story solidified my interest in CBC radio.  Back then I don’t think there were many of us in our mid-20’s who were keen on Radio 1.

When Kevin and I met I was back listening to country and we had completely different opinions of what was “music”.  We turned to CKUA and CBC and CBC has stuck.  Our list of favourite musicians that we both like is longer now too.:)

I’ve been listening to the concert on demand tunes for one of our favourite artists for most of the week and I’m so grateful for this great service from CBC Radio 2 and the folks on “the in crowd” for introducing me to T. Nile.  (“The in crowd” gives their best entertainment choices for the weekend every Thursday night on Radioactive, the afternoon show for our local CBC Radio 1.)

I didn’t get to see the show the “in crowd” was plugging (it was already sold out) but lucky for me she was back a few months later for Folk Fest.  Her CD has been in our folk music rotation for nearly a year now and in lest than a month her new album, an EP will be released.  Woohoo!

I way overplayed her first CD so its been nice to hear a more acoustic version of my favourite song and a few new ones as well – including the cabin song that mentions welsh cakes, faeries and berries.

Enjoy the music and have a great weekend!


writing on the wall

March 1, 2009

Yesterday was not a typical day for us – we spent a full 12 hours in the city, checking  out a number of things.  One of the highlights was a free show by Trevor Tchir, a singer/songwriter my sister introduced us to at Christmas.  I love his tunes and who could beat free?  My sister joined us and then afterwards we all headed to the university.  Kevin joined his sister and friends to watch the finals of a climbing comp.  I just sat nearby and did some homework.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to “study” in an academic environment!  Anyways, onto the writing on the wall.

At John Wort Hannam‘s show last week, John not only played the I’d been asking for, he opened with an amazing solo version of it.  (On his album, it’s a duet with another of our fav’s, Maria Dunn.)  Kev’s folks came too and were so impressed they made plans to see some shows in nearby towns.  He is that good!  And his album dynamite and dozers was the first one of mine that Kevin actually liked (I used to be a country fan).  If not for the lost creek fire, his song that mentions the fire, and some other coincidences I fear we might still have our own separate music collections!

So what does this have to do with writing on the wall?  Well, for one of his songs, John gave an intro we hadn’t heard before about a song was inspired by what someone wrote on the chalkboard in a washroom at a pub.  I’d never come across a chalkboard  in the loo but thought that sounded kind of cool.

The chance to see Trevor Tchir yesterday resulted in my first trip to “the bar” in probably 4 years, and wouldn’t you know it, this bar had chalk boards in the loo!  Unfortunately it was a blank slate – probably because there was  no chalk.  Regardless I still had a good laugh… and some disappointment in the distasteful scribbles on the stall walls.  No song writing material as far as I could see.

It was a good, albeit breif show and we now have one more cd from an Albertan storytelling singer/songwriter.


overpowered by life

February 20, 2009

These past couple of weeks have consisted of me being behind.  I’ve been struggling to stay afloat with work deadlines, homework and the important stuff like staying healthy and spending time with friends.  Needless to say blogging, or even reading blogs has been squeezed out.  I like being busy but on the work and homework fronts its been brutal.  I still have things I need to catch up on but this weekend I’m taking a break and doing things I enjoy.

First on the list is JWH concert tonight.  Now that he’s relearned it he’s promised to play one of my favourite songs – Nellie and Joe.   Afterwards I’m heading out for a weekend in the mountains with girlfriends.

Ah… finally time to breath.  And make some progress on me quilt.



tunes I never tire of

January 9, 2009

So, today was the last day to enter nominations for 49 Songs from North of the 49th Parallel with CBC’s Radio 2.  It’s so cool to be a part of this and the dialogue on Radio 1 has been great.  I’m so glad my favourite musicians are Canadian and I love thinking about how that came to be.

In honour of my birthday in 2003 a good friend gave me the best gift ever – mixed cd’s that introduced me to new musicians including Corb Lund.  She knew his music from when he was a member of the smalls and at the time his folk/country wasn’t very well known at all.  His music was the first step towards my obsession with Canadian, and especially, Alberta, music.

My favourite Albertan today is John Wort Hannam and there’s a story here too.  He was the evening entertainment at a little conference I went to in Okotoks.  There weren’t many of us there to listen but wow did those of us who stayed have a good time listening and sharing knitting stories!  When he started singing about the Lost Creek Fire (near where I’d worked the summer before) I was hooked!  I still love his tunes, and his last CD was produced by another favourite…

Vancouver’s Steve Dawson is a rockin’ musician and producer with his own label, Black Hen Music.  I was first introduced to his tunes courtesy of a friend and colleague from that summer of 2003.  When Steve came to our small town I recommended the show to a few friends and we ended up being the majority of the audience.  It was so cool!  Everyone was amazed by his talent and we were able to converse with him afterwards too.  He’s since produced more of his own cd’s and they’re all in the music rotation in this house!

Some of the other regulars in my play list include Jessica Heine, Harry Manx, Maria Dunn and T. Nile.  I think there’s a theme here – real people, writing real music, telling their own stories.  What could be better?

I’m looking forward to hearing the short list on Radio 2 on Monday – I’m hoping that one of my favourites make the cut!