POTD: Music in the Plaza

The Valparaiso summer concert series is back and in full swing! With all the Corona closures it was a treat to be able to kick back at the Central Park Plaza surrounded by families munching on picnic dinners and listening to Rosie and the Rivets lay down some of my favorite retro Rock and Roll. As it occurred on a week night and having no one to go with, it was such a struggle to force myself out the door to make it to the event. However, I arrived well before the show began to claim a comfy spot on the grass safely six feet away from everyone else in attendance. I spent nearly an hour quietly reading on my little square of lawn and checking the time on my phone every ten minutes. 

However, my hesitations at my solo picnic experience vanished when the band took to the stage. Nothing helps you cut loose like a little old time Rock and Roll and I wasn’t the only one loosening up. Couples bounced and twirled to the band’s lively beats all evening and every foot in the audience was bobbing in time. I look forward to many barefoot summer nights of music in the plaza. 

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POTD: Music To My Ears!

My piano books came today! Life in quarantine can be maddeningly quiet. You don’t realize how much you love the buzz of social babble until you go without it for weeks on end, especially when you have no roommates to let you pretend you aren’t talking to yourself. As such, I’m on a constant mission to break the silence. My mood was always projected through my small portable Bluetooth speaker until that broke a couple of weeks ago. I guess my phone speakers will have to do for now. Sometimes when I can’t settle on appropriate theme music I’ll simply open my windows a crack, even on the chilliest days to usher in the sounds of the birds nesting in the corner of my balcony roof and my neighbors coming and going from their days’ errands. I can’t help but keep my ears peeled for the gentle whir of the engine on the mail truck that reliably graces the stillness shortly after half past ten everyday. 

I usually take time daily to contribute to the sound of activity in the world by playing piano music on my little keyboard. I’ve started doing this with the windows open as spring heats up and, when it stops raining so much, I may even set up my keyboard on my balcony and serenade my neighbors, whether they like it or not. So far, no one has come banging on my door to tell me to keep it down. However, although I’ve been playing the piano since I was five years old, learning new music and keeping in good practice hasn’t always been a priority. No time like the present! I thought my neighbors might enjoy some musical variety so I recently ordered new piano books full of well known and easy to learn tunes. I can’t wait to start playing some new music! Are you stuck at home and looking for a way to fill the quiet monotony? Is there a project you’ve been meaning to get to or a skill you’ve always wished you had a better grasp of? Maybe today is the day you make it happen.

Golden Book: Make music a part of your life

It’s official. I have joined the Valparaiso Community/ University Concert Band. My initiation was complete when I played my first concert with the group at the Porter County Fair. Often people’s ears seem to perk up when I tell them I’m in a band. The ensuing confusion at hearing that I play the flute in that band is equally amusing. It’s true that I’m no hip new singer and I can’t lay down an amazing guitar riff. However, when it comes to more traditional, classical ensemble performances, my passion for music is still very much alive. 

I started taking piano lessons around kindergarten and I’ve enjoyed playing ever since. I grew up used to the cycle of recitals broken up by weekly lessons. When I reached middle school I decided to pick up the flute and join the band and I count that as one of the best choices I ever made. Despite a ridiculous course load all through college, I always saved a slot in my schedule for band and it never felt like a wasted hour. Band was always a place where I could go to recharge and turn off the daily stresses of everything else. It’s incredibly therapeutic to watch your own growth and improvement. In this area, success was never defined by grades but by my ability to play a passage that I’d been struggling with for two weeks or by the first time I nailed a 32nd note run or by the time I figured out how to play vibrato. I knew I was getting better because I could hear it. 

One of my biggest fears moving into adulthood was that music might go by the wayside in all the hustle and bustle of everyday life so when I came to Valpo, one of my first steps was to seek out a community ensemble. I’m so happy to have found VCUCB. In this group, people from all walks of life come together to share their passion, make friends and have fun. All the hard work and Tuesday night rehearsals paid off on July 24th in the Porter County Fair Veteran’s Day Recognition Program that would have given my mom goosebumps. This performance, in all its star spangled glory reminded me of all the reasons that I love to play music and I look forward to many more concerts with this group.