adventures in chicago

Ten years ago, an email changed the direction of my life and I wouldn’t change a single moment of it as I LOVE what I get to do each day. But I will say, if that email hadn’t come, you would still find me in Chicago. I adore this city.

For spring break, Cody and I decided to spend a week back in old stomping grounds, to visit and re-explore the city. Here are a few great moments from our adventure!

Top places to visit:

  • The Bean
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • William Harris Lee & Co.
  • Hamilton: the musical
  • Andersonville (our old area!)
  • Wrigley Stadium
  • Chicago Field Museum (dinosaurs!)

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And then sometimes, you just come across crazy things…

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>> photos by @creativecoffee, filters by a color story and afterligh

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conservatory camerata vol. 2

ArenskyPoems of roses and thorns told alongside stories of fated lovers accidentally dying. And unfated lovers making the ultimate sacrifice. All highlighted by a brilliant young mind studying at the Manhattan School of Music. On April 22nd, concertgoers are in for the ultimate exploration of love, accidents, and loss.

The Conservatory Camerata and Orchestra Omaha have a beautiful concert planned for April 22nd, 2017 featuring alumna Jennifer Ahn on violin as she ends the second year of study at Manhattan School of Music.

These pieces are so emotive and fulfilling to practice and rehearse, so I can’t recommend this free concert enough! Below is a taste of what you will hear next week:

 

 

These two great non-profits work hard to bring you incredible music throughout the year, so please also keep them in mind on the very special Omaha Gives day coming up on May 24th and share the musical love.

See you there!

>> photos by @creativecoffee, filters by a color story and afterlight

cello trials at William Harris Lee

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The story of my current cello:

Growing up, my mother knew it would be important for me to study piano to be good at school (and just a good human being.) So I did, and I loved it. In fourth grade, one of my best friends said I looked like a “cello person” so I joined the orchestra and played a school instrument. Cello was something that came easier to me at that time, and I asked for a cello of my own so I didn’t have to play one of the severely loved cellos owned by the school. And my mom’s response was “no problem – when you are 17.”

She assumed it was a passing fancy, but didn’t count on me dogging her to switch my lessons from piano to cello for years. Once I was able to drive, she finally agreed to drop piano lessons and let me drive myself to Carol Work’s every Saturday morning. Before my senior year I turned 17 and asked her how we went about getting this cello, and she admitted she hoped I had forgotten. (Don’t cry for my piano – I still have it and play it regularly!)

At the All-State conference in the fall of my senior year, I wandered through the exhibits and happened upon the William Harris Lee Co. booth. The 5 string cello was a big draw for a lot of us students, and we each took our turns drooling over it. But then I tried a few others, and fell in love with this Claus Deutscher cello that just sounded so aggressive. Being wonderful salesmen, they offered to let me keep it for the weekend and if I didn’t like it I was welcome to send it back to them in Chicago.

My incredibly giving mother agreed it was miles better than anything she had heard and we figured out how to pay for it, and knew I would grow into it a bit more and it would sound even better.

Fast forward 17 years later, and I didn’t grow an inch. My cello sounds even better today than it did when it was brand new in 1999, but my hands stayed as tiny so my ability to get around the fingerboard and to thumb position has been a challenge. I didn’t even know a 7/8ths sized-cello was a thing until years later. So now that I’ve been able to try a smaller size and things feel miles easier, I have committed to finding a cello I love as much as my own that fits me better. (Talk about an emotional change, y’all.)

Cody and I trekked to Michigan Ave in Chicago (a block south of where I used to work!) to the Fine Arts building to their shop and showroom. The building is seriously old-school – look at the elevator that needs to be operated manually:

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Whl 1Having 7/8ths or small full-size cellos on hand isn’t something most people just have lying around, so they only had a partially finished cello currently. As they finish it (and others) they will be sending them to me to try, and I can’t wait.

Given this rare opportunity I, of course, played nearly everything they had in stock of their full-size cellos and fell in love with a beautiful and powerful Gary Garavaglia cello that had such a beautiful tone and, if I’m being honest, almost had me saying “well, I’ve dealt with big cellos this long – I think I can just deal with it forever so I can buy this one” but luckily my pragmatic husband helped me keep my focus. But isn’t she pretty?

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(photo from whlee.com)

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They did give us a tour of the shop, including seeing the smaller cello in-process and getting to meet Gary who is meticulous in his work. Here are a few other pictures from our exploration:

I am lucky to also know a few great local luthiers in Nebraska, so I am excited to see what they have in their shops and on their benches that may work. So stay tuned, fellow cellos – I’m hoping to add a new member to the family soon 🙂

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>> photos by @creativecoffee, filters by a color story and  afterlight

2017, you are mine.

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But never too busy for you, friends!

2nd semester is here! It makes me want to check goal sheets and see if we are on track. I want millions of to-do lists to be sure I’m not missing anything. (It also doesn’t hurt that my online checklist shoots a unicorn across the page when I check something off the list!)

So…let’s get prepared!

As a reminder to my studio:

SIGN UP FOR YOUR GROUP CLASS.  Either repertoire or chamber music this semester – go and make some new cello pals. (I guess other instruments are ok, too.)

SHOW ME WHAT YOU CAN ROCK.  Be sure to have your 1 best thing that you improved over break to show me.

JOSHUA ROMAN MASTER CLASS.  February 18th @ 10:30am. Attendance is required.

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Alright 2017, let’s do this!

epic week

This week I hosted a concert where nearly 700 tiny cellists and violinists age 3-6 to play in an arena with the Omaha Symphony. TRULY AMAZING. What is even more amazing is that I have 0 photos from the actual event, only this delightful one of all the lead teachers getting ready for the kids.

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Huge day, full of proud smiles and beautiful music. How to improve the week? Have our last Sprouting Up concert with my cello kiddos! They are beyond adorable, and have learned so many wonderful cello (and non-cello) things this year.

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Good week, right? But then…it was my birthday! Life is good, guys. Especially when you  have students that know you so well that you are given a coffee mug that is a camera lens.

Finish that off with losing rhythm shoots and snakes to a student when I was a ninja and she was a moose. #worthit

Lost game

new year, new…1’s..?

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There are plenty of people that have already broken their resolutions, and I even know a faction of friends that make a serious number of resolutions  for each area of their lives. (Talk about serious achievers.) But I haven’t had luck with either of these tactics as things then to fall off the rails as soon as mid-January occurs.

So instead I am making list of things I wish to accomplish this year, not just generic ideas that could come or go. Something I can measure. After all, that what teachers do right? We measure to assess progress, and then adjust. And so…

Things I will do in 2016

  • learn 1 new flashy cello piece
  • re-learn 1 old piano piece (from back in the day, which was a Wednesday)
  • spend 1 night each week being a homebody, doing whatever makes me happy
  • discover 1 new favorite cocktail
  • send 1 encouragement to someone each month
  • take 1 picture each day that I am proud of
  • go on 1 vacation (at least)
  • update 1 medium thing in my house

After putting this down in writing, I am noticing that it is just 1 thing. Aiming for 1 thing seems small and doable, right? It even seems to even out, as 1 big cello piece kind of equals 1 focused moment each day (sort of…) so it also doesn’t feel like cheating.

What will you plan this year?

wonderfully terrible christmas music finale 2015

 

Friend gatherings, cookie decorating, Muppet Christmas Carol…man, I love the holidays! Here is the complete installation of the #25daysofwonderfullyterriblechristmasmusic and a few fun shots from this crazy month. Peace and joy to you and yours!

Ella the reindeer

Ella Fitzgerald the cold-nosed reindeer!

Spelling stockings

A loving in-law forgot how to spell my name 🙂

Holiday piano

Time to jam!