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24 March 2014

A Little Sneak Peak (animation)

Today I'm giving you all the tiniest of sneak peaks.

My good friend/roommate and I made a little stop-action animation the other day with the train set and polly pockets from the days of my youth (ah, those were the days...)

When it's all said and done, it'll be an insider's (quite satirical) commentary on living in Provo. But right now, it's just a really cute train set to really cute music. So I thought I'd share. Enjoy!

(Background music: Race Against the Sunset by Lullatone, from their album Summer Songs. They are seriously THE coolest band.)

Have a lovelee day!


21 March 2014

Hello, World. This is Me.

I think the most important thing in the entire world that you can do is to be yourself.

The following post features my very own opinion and personal ideas. You don't have to read it if you don't want to. I'm also not trying to tell you what's right or who you should be. That's the whole point of this post--I think that it is so beautiful to be unique and true to yourself. I am expressing who I am so that others might feel comfortable with doing the same.
(Listen while you read! This is truly a great song.)

This past year has been really rough for me, for a lot of reasons that I don't care to go into. However, with all the bad also came the good. I found out that who I am is exactly who I need to be. I am my own person. I am the only one in charge of my happiness, and I know that I need to take time to look after that.
I am an extremely quirky and eclectic person. I learned that I don't have to hide that about me. I can be myself, and if people don't like that, I don't have to change who I am. Because that's not healthy. I really like this quote from Patricia Holland:

"My greatest misery comes when I feel I have to fit what others are doing, or what I think others expect of me. I am most happy when I am comfortable being me and trying to be what my Father in Heaven and I expect me to be....Miraculously, I have found that I have an untold abundant source of energy to be myself. But the moment I indulge in imitation of my neighbor, I feel fractured and fatigued and find myself forever swimming upstream....We will always have enough resources for being who we are and what we can become."

So, hello world. This is Me:
(introducing the real Lauren Elizabeth Esplin)

-I love to laugh. It's probably my number one favorite thing to do. Ever.

-A lot of times, I don't need to talk about my feelings or my problems. I feel frustrated when I do, actually.

-I love spending quality time with those that I love. It's my #1 love language.

-I don't like to be touched. Especially when it's super unnecessary (It's my lowest scoring love language)

-I spend a lot of time with my family, because I really love them.

-Similarly, I am a homebody. I don't like to be out around town for too long. I like the safety and solace of my home. It is a special, sacred place where I feel like I am perfectly content to do what I love to do, and that I don't need to change anything about myself to please anybody. I am accepted for who I am.

-I was never meant to be rich. I have no idea where the money I make goes...(oh yeah, tuition.)

-I can cook, and I'm actually pretty good at it, but I don't. I r-e-a-l-l-y don't like doing dishes. If I ever find myself a man who loves doing dishes, we'd make a most excellent dream team.

-I thrive in small, intimate groups. Put me in a crowd or a party and I'll probably not say another word.

-Just because I don't voice my opinion doesn't mean I don't have one. Because I do. And they're REALLY strong opinions, most of the time.

-I sing a lot. In the shower, in the car ( Not a radio or CD or anything. Probably because my car doesn't really have either). my apartment, and in conversation. Pretty much just all of the time.

-I rock a lot of polka dots. I mean a LOT.

-I love being a teacher. I have had so many people try to talk me out of my profession. Hello, please refer to the above: I was never meant to be rich. I do it for the love. I believe that teaching is an art. Moreover, it's a sadly under-appreciated art. As cheesy and cliche as it may be, I know that children truly are the future, and I know that I can help them become the bright future that our world needs.

-My love for chicken knows no bounds. Chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, grilled chicken. OH MY CHERRY PIE. It's just the best in the west.

-I don't swear. That doesn't make me a prude, by the way. I just have different ways of expressing myself.

-I'm actually pretty dang funny. I feel like in order for someone to know that about me, you need to spend enough time with me for me to feel comfortable showcasing my humor. (See above: quality time...)

-The majority of my daily dialogue consists of jokes and movie quotes

-I'm not shy, I'm reserved. I really only try to say something if there's a reason to, if I don't know you too well. I can also talk your ear off.

-I'm a clever girl, when I try to be.

-I like super quirky shows. And British television. It's who I am, okay??

-Books are my FUEL.

-I wear bows like it's my civic duty

-I am a Christian. I know that Jesus is my Light and my Salvation. (read more about my beliefs here)

-I'm crazy sometimes. I think it's okay, really...

-I have a hard time being patient. Both with others and with myself. Mostly with myself.

-I believe that the world is a beautiful place.

Anyways....Thanks for letting me be me, I guess.

Have a lovelee day!


15 March 2014

Yeah, You Can Teach Kids about Mahler! (+Freebie)

Hello again! So nice to see you. I've got another wonderfully nerdy teacher post for you today.

As I mentioned before, I've been trying to gear my teaching towards an engaging, exciting, and self-motivating way, to really get my students involved in the music. At the last Christmas party I gave all of my students a sort of composer calendar that I made, which gave one composer for each month, facts and pictures about them, and a small activity to complete.
(this is the cover to the "calendar")

WELL, everything was going fine and dandy. I taught them about Tchaikovsky (we listened to, made stories about, and derived rhythms from the Nutcracker), we learned about Schubert (we talked about how music can tell a story). Then February 27th rolled around and I looked at the composer for the month.....

(duh, duh, duuuuuuh)

Mahler is known for his extraordinarily complex and hefty, not to mention LONG works. I started to fret. How could I let the kids (keep in mind, the youngest is SIX....) have a positive experience with Mahler?

Then I took a step back, and I thought, "well, how can I have a positive experience with Mahler?" Because really, I'm not all that different from them. What is it about His music that engages and excites me? I realized that his music captivates the listener in a story that is so wonderful and engaging in and of itself--I didn't really have to do anything, it was all there in the music.

So, I turned on his Symphony no. 3, movement 3, handed out a piece of paper, and before I told them what Mahler said this movement was about, or what I thought this movement was about, I asked them to write down what they heard--what was happening? How did the music help tell a story? How does instrument choice assist in the characters of the story? I played about 1/2 of the movement, then paused and asked them to share their responses.

I was amazed! They came up with the most brilliant ideas, ideas and understanding that we talk about all the time in my college level classes! This was yet another moment when I truly recognized the infinite potential of a child. I handed out the Mahler booklet I made my family to help them get through one of my concerts back in my BYU Philharmonic days, and I shared with them the story that Mahler told about this movement.

I told them that even thought that is what the music told Mahler, the music can say something different to you. Music says something different to everyone who hears it. We talked about the value of truly listening and not just hearing the music. It was such a special moment.
Here's the book for you to listen along with. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, you can access his symphony on Spotify, etc! PLUS! The booklet download is free for personal use! Huzzah!

Have a lovelee day!

14 March 2014

"There's No Way You Can Teach a Child That!"

"There's no way you can teach a child that!"

"They couldn't understand. They're way too young."

"I'll teach them later."

These are words that should never be spoken.
I believe it with all my heart that children have an infinite potential to learn, to grow, and to become. They are so wonderfully excited about learning and absorbing all the knowledge that they can. I see it first hand in the Elementary school and in the private violin lessons I teach. Children want to learn, and children can learn.
I think that all too often adults confuse distraction with disinterest. I have a violin student that has been a bit of a challenge. He's the youngest student I have ever taught, and I used to struggle with keeping his attention and focus, while also keeping him in a good mood. To be completely honest, I thought I was herding cats. Then, the other day, I saw this piece of paper fall out of his lesson notebook:
I was shocked!

I said, "Christopher! What is this?" He told me, "I wrote this because I knew that I could". 

This was simultaneously an eye-opener and a kick in the conscience for me. I realized that he did have an interest in what he was learning, and he did pay attention when I was trying to get him to learn how to read music.

Since this moment, I have geared my teaching for him and all my students in a way that interests and engage them (which I completely realize I should have been doing from the very beginning...)

--I'm having him compose rhythm lines every week, and he loves it! Especially when we get to clap and then play on an open string the rhythm he wrote. I also found that making skills and tasks seem like a game is a killer way to keep his attention. I learned that kids can do everything that they are told and they believe they can do.

Go tell a kid you believe in them. You'll be amazed at what they can do.

Have a lovelee day!

(Tomorrow I'll be sharing something that I taught my violin students at their last masterclass that I never realized they could understand, and my plans for our musical future together)

Also, sorry this was sort of a nerdy-passionate-teacher post. But's who I am. I'm going to be sharing more in this fashion, so....stay tuned (music teacher pun intended).