Music, My Life, Travel

Boston Trip

I just thought I’d share a few photo highlights from my recent Boston trip. My friend Amy Chaplin (of and I drove well over 10 hours from our respective homes in Indiana and Ohio to receive training in the Piano Certification Course sponsored by the Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML).

Here is a photo of Amy and I standing in front of Brookline Music School, which is hosting the training.

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Brookline Music School is a nonprofit which has been in operation for over 90 years. Their building is a beautiful old Victorian home.

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We are learning so much. Each day, we arrive at Brookline Music School by 9am. The day’s activities wrap-up at 4:30pm. We have a 45-minute lunch break each day. It was like being back in school!

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Each evening, there are reading assignments and other assignments. It’s a very intensive course. We are learning so much.

During class, we move, sing, chant rhythms, listen to lectures, discuss, share, ask questions, etc…. It’s wonderful.

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Our teachers for this course were Marilyn Lowe, Jennifer Fisher, and intern Janna Olson.

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Marilyn is the author of the Music Moves for Piano method, the only piano method to-date that is based on Edwin Gordon’s work.

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We spent class time listening to lectures, discussing learning theories, and participating in movement and singing activities.

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In the evenings, we studied and read from Dr. Gordon’s tome, “Learning Sequences in Music.” Eating cannoli made the studying even sweeter.

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Each day, we were assigned to compose a melody in a particular mode (major, harmonic minor, dorian, phrygian, etc.). The following day, we shared our melodies with the group.

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Between the two weeks of training, we found time to explore Boston.

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Here we are exploring the Harvard campus in Cambridge.

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And here is a group of us enjoying dinner at a classmate’s home nearby. (Thanks for hosting, Rachel!)

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Here I am with Marilyn, after receiving certification.

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And here I am with my travel buddy, Amy Chaplin of

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By the way, Amy and I used to find a place to stay during the course. This was our first experience using Airbnb, and I can happily say it was a positive one. We stayed in a third story of an old Victorian home. Our apartment was absolutely perfect for us. I definitely intend to use airbnb for future trips.

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Here is a group photo of our entire class.

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In upcoming weeks and months, I look forward to incorporating what I learned into my teaching. Music Learning Theory (MLT) is an incredible philosophy with huge implications for our teaching. There are going to be a number of things that will be changing about my teaching going forward as a result of becoming more familiar with MLT.

My Life

Travel Journal: Puerto Rico DAY 2…continued

DAY 2 – January 27, continued…

We ate lunch at a restaurant called “Mojito’s” that had authentic Puerto Rican food.  I ordered a chicken breast dinner with creole sauce.  Paul ordered the beef mofongo.  This is when we first discovered our newfound love for plantains!

Plantains look a lot like bananas except they are green and slightly larger.  They taste very different than a banana, though.  They are starchy like a potato but the taste is sweeter.  Plaintains are used in many different dishes.  Mofongo is a dish involving plaintains that are fried and then mashed using a mortar and pestle.  Mofongo is often served with a meat sauce over the top.  More details about mofongo later…we encountered it again during the food tour.

After lunch, we visited another fort, Castillo San Cristóbal located on the eastern end of the walled city of Old San Juan.  While El Morro was designed to protect the city from attacks by sea, San Cristóbal was intended to protect the city from enemy approaches by land.  The fort covers 27 acres.

San Cristóbal has five independent units, each connected by a moat or tunnel, designed to be independent should the other units fail during attack.


Here is a view of the main plaza inside San Cristóbal.  San Cristóbal has everything: dungeons, tunnels, sentry boxes, huge cannons, a WWII era lookout, etc.  Inside the two circular walls shown below towards the right of the photo are two wells.  Underneath the ground is a huge cistern that stored rainwater collected throughout the fort.


It’s fun to imagine how it would have looked in its heyday.


The soldiers would have bunked in very tight quarters.


Paul posing with his “toy cannon.”


A view overlooking part of the fort and San Juan beyond.


A view facing the other direction, towards Old San Juan.


To cool off, we stopped at the Old Harbor Brewery, which is the only micro brewery on the island.  Paul ordered a coffee-chocolate beer (what a combination!) and I ordered a mojito (Puerto Rico is known for their rum, after all).


We took a taxi back to our hotel in Candado and took a walk on the beach for awhile.

For dinner, we went to a Japanese Sushi restaurant.  One of the types of sushi that we ordered was cream cheese, avocado, and plantains.  So good!  It was a nice ending to a full day.


My Life

Butterfly 1

Has the suspense built enough yet?  LOL  🙂

Here are some long-awaited butterfly photos:


I love how the light is shining through this butterfly’s wings.



I chased this little black n’ pink butterfly for a little while.


The wings look pretty both from the side and from the top.


ZOOM!  Here comes trouble.


Stay tuned for another installment of butterfly pictures from Frederick Meijer Gardens tomorrow.

My Life

At The Gardens

We also had the opportunity to see the butterfly exhibit at the Frederick Meijer Gardens last weekend, with my parents.  Over the next few days, I’m going to share some of the butterfly photos I took!


I’m always behind the camera, so it’s rare that I get a photo of me.  But here is one that Paul took while we were at the gardens.


Stay tuned for butterfly pictures tomorrow!

Food, My Life

Toledo Adventure

To celebrate Paul’s freedom from schoolwork and grading, we took a little adventure into Toledo earlier this week.  We first visiting a used bookstore that I had heard good things about:


It was HUGE inside, and there were lots of great books to browse.  We took a little stack of books home with us.


Then, we went for lunch at a Korean restaurant.  The food was DELICIOUS.


It was fun to get out-of-town and do something fun and different!

My Life

Levitation Photography Attempt

Ever hear of levitation photography?  I hadn’t either, until I stumbled upon this Japanese girl’s blog.  I don’t know how she does it, but she takes pictures that make it look like she is flying!  Here is an example of a photo she took of herself:

Her photos looked so cool, that one afternoon Paul & I decided we would try our hand at it.  As it turns out, jumping in a way that looks like you are flying actually takes a lot of talent.  Most of the pictures we took were pretty laughable.  But here are the best two (still pretty laughable):

My Life

Goodbye, D40?

Guess what happened to my old camera!  I sold it…to my husband!  I probably would have sold it on craigslist, but Paul decided he wanted it.  I’m so glad he does, because now when I want to stop to take pictures, he won’t have to wait for me…we can go on photo shoots together!

Part of me is sad that I won’t be using my trusty D40 much anymore.  It was a surprise Christmas gift from my hubby back in 2008.  The real gift though, of course, was being able to get into photography as a hobby — not just the camera itself.  The D40 was a great camera to learn on, and I’m glad it will still get plenty of use as I move on to the fancier D7000.

Just look at that focused, furrowed brow…