I really didn’t think it was possible for this conference to get any better. I mean, the past two days have been remarkable. But, today … wow. Just wow.

TaKeTiNa with Mary Kogen is the way everyone should begin their day. This was my first TaKeTiNa experience and it was awesome. I only wish it had been twice as long! For those of you who are not familiar with TaKeTiNa, you can learn more about it here: www.taketina.org. I simply cannot say enough good things about this rhythmic, sometimes chaotic, full body awareness activity. There were times when I felt as though I was totally swimming in the chaos of the various rhythms and singing and then, like magic, you’re just back in the groove. This little blog can’t possible do it justice. Suffice to say, you ought to check out the website and see if there is a class being offered near you and then GO! I’m super excited to get not one but TWO opportunities for TakeTiNa tomorrow and then another on Wednesday. Mary made a comment early on in the class this morning that we should welcome mistakes because that is when the learning happens. Indeed. A side note, this class was at 8 am. It takes a LOT to get me up, showered, and functional for pretty much anything at 8 am but TaKeTiNa with Mary Kogen was well worth it. 

Feeling like a million bucks, I made my way to a wonderful presentation entitled “The Self Map of a Musician” which was given by two of my fabulous colleagues. This hour long presentation was so incredibly insightful. They allowed us time to be reflective and process a great deal of thought provoking material. I feel a little bit like I just got a take home essay project, to work on in my own time, on my own, if I so choose, or I can “phone a friend” for some call and response, so to speak. Very cool workshop.

I got to teach for a supervised teaching session today, too. The lesson I taught was to a flutist and was supervised by one of our voice AE’s Janet Alcorn. This experience was truly invaluable. Having a chance to be evaluated and given feedback to hone your craft as an educator is a luxury we all should have from time to time. I left there feeling especially energized, with a deeper sense of pride to be an Andover Educator.

I have been following The Bulletproof Musician blog of Noa Kageyama’s for a couple of years now and love it. His blog is so helpful and always seems to be not only exactly what I need to hear, but also what my students need as well. I’m always sharing his posts with the flute studio at the BCCM. After having used the performance routine of Don Greene’s with a good amount of success for years, not to mention having read his “Audition Success” about 20 times, I was understandably excited for the opportunity to work with Noa. He was incredibly generous with his time (I had a 1.5 hour lesson!) and armed me with a bunch of great tools to try. Little things like eliminating “shoulds” and replacing them with “I would like to” or something similar. Or, when playing to lead with your ears and trust yourself. Gold. I could go on for days and sing both he and Don’s praises, but I’ll keep it concise and simply say, I learned so much from him today and am eager to put his recommendations to the test.

The final workshop for me today was one on Rib Movement in Breathing. This really really hit home with me, having spent the last year studying many similar images of the various muscles that are responsible for the movement of our ribs when we breathe. What was especially nice for me was that had I attended a workshop on this subject 4 years ago at our AE Conference at NAU in Flagstaff, much of it would have gone right over my head. It would have simply been a bunch of scientific name of muscles that didn’t necessarily mean anything special to me, just more stuff to memorize. But, the great thing about my injuries this year (yes, I just said that) is that I have become intimately knowledgeable about these and many others. The “upper Traps” for example are not distant Trapani relatives of Steve’s that lived in the northern most region of Sicily.  And, well, OK I did already have a very good map of my Scalenes and Sternocleidomastoid from many years ago when I had TMJ issues in undergrad.  But, if for example, someone strikes up a little conversation around the water cooler about the Serratus anterior or the Pectoralis major or minor I know precisely where they are, what they do, and can even tell you all about how Dr. Santilli and Dr. Smith spent some quality time working on them in a recent visit to Hayes Sports Chiropractic. Perspective is a good thing.

As a bunch of us walked back to Friley Hall tonight, armed with provisions for a little late night afterglow, I looked up, noticing that our little home away from home bears a striking resemblance to Hogwarts and smiled to myself. I may have never gotten that full on “dorm experience” in college, but attending these Andover Educator Conferences and spending the better part of week every other year with these brilliant, amazing, and generous musicians and educators, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and pride to be a part of this team.