7 Reasons I’m TOTALLY a Music Nerd

I took this random internet quiz recently that was supposed to tell you “what kind of nerd are you”. I was expecting, of course, to answer questions about math and Star Wars/Trek and anime — but what I didn’t expect was a ton of questions about music, or that my music nerdiness would rank pretty high!

I was kind of surprised at first… but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’m a TOTAL music/choir nerd. And here are 7 reasons to prove it…

1. I get realllll cranky about flat singing.

The most recently famous instance, of course, is Idina Menzel’s ear-shattering “high” note during a live performance of “Let It Go” on New Year’s Eve 2015.

We had the TV on during our family card games and I literally FLINCHED when she hit (or didn’t hit) that high note. Seriously. I like have a bodily trauma memory of that event. It will be forever emblazoned in my soul. I wince just thinking about it.

WARNING: This is a PAINFUL video… for a music nerd.

(For the record — I do feel bad for Idina Menzel. I know it was cold, and that’s a high note, and belting is SO hard on the voice, and everybody makes mistakes, and it sucks that hers was really public… but that doesn’t erase my ear-trauma. Sorry, Idina.)

 

2. I went to a college with a Lutheran Choral Tradition.

g choir robes padres

Yep, that’s me rocking my big fancy choir robes like it’s 1699… no big deal. We’re just a big deal. #GustavusChoirRules #StOlafDrools

P.S. Those are my awesome parents. They know that being a #musicnerd is where it’s at. (They both did music at Lutheran Choral Tradition colleges, too!) 😉

 

3. The ONLY video I’ve uploaded to YouTube is “Snippet of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom'”.

Yeah… I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

…But really — it’s BEAUTIFUL! Gives me chills every time! Just listen!

P.S. Shout-out to my sister, who’s in that big swath of Gustavus choir altos somewhere. =)

 

4. I can totally rock the solfege.

solfege.jpg

Also known as solfeggio in Italian, this is the do-re-mi names for the main scales in Western music.

And yes, I can do do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do OR do-ti-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do, OR EVEN some chromatic action with the do-ti-te-la-le-sol-se-fa-mi-me-re-ra-do. (Thank you, Mr. Haskett and Mr. Duncan!) (Also, I did not look those up until AFTER I wrote them out. That would be cheating.)

 

5. To me, “sounds like a monk chant” is a compliment, not an insult.

As a singer with basically no vibrato and a good ear for sight reading, I’m basically tailor-made to sing complex medieval and Renaissance music because it’s alllll about the parts and not the singers.

Check out this BEAUTIFUL song that was one of my favorites from college. We sang it every year in chapel on Ash Wednesday, and I still try to listen to it every year.

Oh yeah… and it’s like 13 minutes long. And in Latin. #musicnerd

Or check out this AMAZING women-only chant song about the Virgin Mary. (Hat tip: PK directed it for CinCC one year.) I literally bought this on iTunes and listen to it in the car sometimes. (Also it has a sick alto part, which this girls choir totally rocks.) #musicnerd

 

6. I have a favorite version of “Ave Verum Corpus”.

In the (totally not real) words of Jeff Foxworthy, “If you argue with your friends about whether the Mozart or the Byrd version of Ave Verum Corpus is the best… youuuu might be a music nerd.”

Since there are so many different renditions of Latin church texts, there are similar arguments about versions of O Magnum Mysterium, Ubi Caritas, the Magnificat, and dozens of others. (Let the debates ensue in the comments… 😉 )

For the record, I am #TeamByrd on Ave Verum all the way, although I do really like the Mozart, too. Listen to both below! Who’s the best? You decide! (But it’s totally Byrd.)

 

Aaaaand reason number 7 why I’m a total music nerd…

7. I literally have nerd bling to prove it.

nerd bling 2

Yyyyyyyep, that’s a photo of me in high school… with a bunch of medals won at the Kansas State Academic Decathlon competition in 2010… the subject of which was the Renaissance and a large part of my success at which was due to several events in Renaissance music. (Did I mention I still own and listen to the sample CD they gave us? It’s got a killer cover of Absalom Fili! #likeyado)

Sooooo here’s some great music!

Aaaaaand since I’m a TOTAL music nerd, that means I now have to share some of my favorites with you so you can appreciate them too!!! (Though how I can pick just one I don’t know — I love my whole ALBUM of the Moses Hogan Chorale…) So here are a couple faves from Moses Hogan, Pavel Tschesnikoff, Herbert Howells, and F. Melius Christiansen.

Moses Hogan:
This has a cool little bit at the beginning about the history and the legacy of the Moses Hogan Chorale. Also, GOOSEBUMPS THE WHOLE TIME!!! If this doesn’t move you, you’re dead.


Also definitely listen to more of the Moses Hogan Chorale here… literally my favorite choral album.

Pavel Chesnokov
Okay. Like the most beautiful, mysterious piece ever is Chesnokov’s Spasenie (Salvation is Created), sung in its original Russian… but since I’m only featuring one I have to share O Lord God because it’s one of the first pieces I sang in Chapel Choir at Gustavus, so it has sentimental value. (Thanks, T Sletta!)

Herbert Howells
This song is so, so haunting and delicate. It affected me deeply when we sang it in college. The story behind it is also really sad — Howells’ 9-year-old son died of polio and this requiem was written for him.

F. Melius Christiansen
And, because I’m a Gustie and you can’t not mention him, here’s good old F. Melius Felius, as I like to call him. 8-part fugal Protestant hymns. Like ya do. This video isn’t the best ever quality, but as it’s our anthem I just had to share a Gustavus version of Praise to the Lord, directed by the indefatigable Dr. A. =)

(And, I GUESS here’s a PRETTY GOOD recording from THAT OTHER SCHOOL too… 😉 )

SO — are you a music nerd too? What are some of your criteria? What’s your favorite Ave Verum Corpus or Lux Aurumque or any other choral piece? Share in the comments! =)

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I’m loving it: Retrace Health: “family-doc”-styled online primary care by nurse practitioners

Time for a big fat shout out and plug for a really sweet (and cost effective) way to get basic healthcare needs taken care of.

My housemate works for an online healthcare startup called Retrace Health. I feel lucky, cuz I wouldn’t know about it otherwise, and am on-board in a phase of the startup’s growth that’s quite advantageous to me.

TL;DR: $100 yearly fee, then video visits are $50/visit. (12 months of visits are free if you sign up using the promo code I posted on Facebook!)

I’ve been very happy with the video visit / remote-primary-care structure; my video visits tend to be 45 minutes with my primary care provider, whereas my doctor visits generally afford me no more than 15 minutes with a doc, at ~$150 / visit.

So yes, it’s a tradeoff – you’re getting an advance practice registered nurse (APRN) instead of a full-on MD… but you get ~3x as long of a visit, for 1/3 the price… (or 0% of the price through 2015). APRNs can write prescriptions, order MRI’s and specialist care, etc. Affordability has made it a lot easier for me to be proactive about little things as they’re arising, rather than following my usual strategy of “waiting it out” to save money.

I also really dig the convenience of the video visits vs. driving somewhere.

It’s obviously limited, which everybody – including them – recognizes, so they’re good about referring to specialists to visit in person as the needs arise… but it’s a good home-base. I never had dreamed of being able to meet with a primary care (e.g. family medicine) provider as often as every month or two without concern for cost, but during this phase of health issues recently (knee, hemorrhoid, screwed-up-toe, tight right-upper-back) I’ve felt like I can basically get all the primary care I need without that worry.

I also feel really cared about and invested in personally/individually. I feel that I have a really thorough and connected relationship with my primary care provider. The accessibility for frequency of visit, and the ability to directly e-message and call my primary provider rather than just one of their staff – is really helpful to my ability to feel personally and closely cared for — in a way that more than outweighs the distance caused by connecting remotely. Retrace has worked hard to make it easy to get appointments with my main provider, rather than just being assigned random to a provider from an available pool who happened to have time available, which, according to my housemate, is often the unfortunate norm for online care.

(I also think my care provider, Jessica Fashant-Peterson, is pretty legit at this as well, so it’s not just a “systems” thing.)

Once, I actually even received a prompt from them to schedule a followup visit with me, even though it was a free visit. 🙂 They also post a custom-typed-out care plan into your online portal account after every visit, something I’ve not received elsewhere.

Frankly, as a bit of an entrepreneur myself, I’m not sure how they manage to provide all this at the rates they’re charging (even without the 2015 free deal). It’s a young startup, and time will tell whether they can actually make money delivering so much effort and value at so low a fee… but — at least for the moment — that’s their topic to be concerned about, and not mine…

(Another note: Membership is per-family… so though I’m the gimp right now, Rebekah can get free visits this year as well.)

Retrace is not the be-all-end-all, and like anything it has its tradeoffs. In-person care from MD’s has its advantages over online care from APRNs, there’s no question — but there are plenty of advantages of the Retrace setup as well, most of which I’d boil down to accessibility. It’s very affordable (basically free in 2015) and convenient… from which flows high frequency of care, and subsequently, both high quality of relationship and the ability to be more proactive rather than reactive with my care. The only scenario in which I wouldn’t find something like retrace to be of value as a part of my “care portfolio” is if accessibility was not a major problem for me with conventional healthcare, e.g. if I worked somewhere with amazing, low-deductible, low-copay health insurance… which I definitely do not!

(UPDATE: I now understand you can get free home visits too as a part of the coupon code offer.)

So yeah, I decided to share this because I’m quite happy to have stumbled across Retrace by the luck of a housing arrangement… and figured it was silly to not take half an hour or so to write this up and share it with others.

P.S. Here’s the official blurb I got from their ops director: (emphasis is mine)

RetraceHealth is welcoming people to become Premium RetraceHealth members for $99/year/household. If they sign up using Daniel’s coupon-code, they will get 12 months of free video and home visits. If you are interested, become a member at this link and enter Daniel’s coupon code.

 

I Don’t Want a Lot for Christmas… There is Just One Thing I Need… Justice.

Hey friends!

So if you happen to be my Facebook friend, you’ve probably noticed a lot of pictures of me in a dress over the last week. That’s because… I’ve been posting a lot of pictures of myself in a dress (or more specifically, dresses) all week. The reason? It’s DRESSEMBER!!

dressember days 1-5 2014

Dressember is a month-long fundraiser to raise awareness and funds to fight slavery and trafficking, especially slavery and trafficking of women and girls. (Hence the dresses.) Funds raised will go to International Justice Mission, which is:

ijm logoBasically, they’re my heroes. They fight for freedom and dignity for women, children, and men, and they do it even in long, boring court proceedings and endless piles of paperwork. (Seriously, if you’ve never dug into IJM, check them out. They have some SERIOUS bad-guy-busting chops.)

Anyway — so here I am at the end of Week 1 of Dressember, and I have currently raised $85. If you have some dollars floating around that need a home, I — and more importantly IJM — and more importantly, the folks IJM works for — would love if you would add those dollars to the fight for justice for women and girls!

You can donate to me specifically at my Dressember page. Or, if you want, donate to the team I’m on, which is a few of us ladies from my church doing Dressember together. My personal goal is $300 (but I’d love to beat it!) and our team goal is $2000 — so please consider chipping in!

OR, if you don’t have any dollars floating around, or if your floaty dollars need to float in another direction but you still want to support Dressember/IJM, consider donating your social media juice! Share this blog post, or share my donate page, and tell your friends why you support the mission of IJM. Then THEY can send THEIR floaty dollars — and it doesn’t cost you a thing!

International Justice Mission is working like crazy to provide much-needed advocacy to end slavery — so thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll consider financial and/or moral support of this incredibly important cause!

 

48 Titles From My Future Blog

Ok. I read a super cool blog post this morning that had some great ideas for being a better blogger… and by “great ideas” I mean new, inventive ones that aren’t the same basic repetitive ones EVERYONE blogs about. The one that really stuck with me was this: “Write lists of titles.”

GENIUS.

Because, of course, I have all sorts of things that I like to think and talk and write about — but as soon as I think, “Man, I should probably write/post another blog post, since it’s been a while…” my mind goes blank. (Probably because, as I learned from Rachelle Gardner this morning, “Desperation makes a very poor muse.” True dat.)

So today, I would like to share a list of titles that I hope to someday actually author! Leave a note in the comments section if there’s one (or several) that you’d like to read, and I’ll try to bring them into being sooner than “someday”. =)

48 (or so) Titles From My Future Blog

Why I Left the Lutheran Church (or maybe “Why I Left the Secret-Code-Name-So-I-Don’t-Piss-People-Off Church”)
Why I’m Terrified of Drug Cartels, but Still Like Mexico (or “The Thing That Terrifies Me More Than Anything On The Planet”)
Why I’m Glad I Married a ‘Weirdo’
Why Reconciliation Is the Best Thing Since EVER.
How I Accidentally Made A Million Dollars (Wishful thinking there!)
Why The United States Education System Is Broken (maybe someday I’ll be able to write “And What We Can Do To Fix It” !)
Why I’d Rather Work For Connected Families Than Be A Teacher
The Biggest Reason Religious Education Wins Over Public Education
The Thing That Frustrates Me Most About Christian Leaders
Why Connected Families‘ Message Explodes My Face With Awesomeness
Why Mental Organization and Workspace Organization Don’t Always Go Together
924 Things I Never Knew I Learned In College — Till They Were Really Useful
293 Reasons Why It’s Important to Major in a Subject That Interests You, and Not in One That You Just Choose In Order to Have a Job Later (insert my life here)
Why I Despise 50 Shades of Gray, Even Though I Haven’t Read It.
On Why I Am A Feminist… and What The Heck That Means
The Mistaken Faces of Feminism (Or at Least the Ones I Dislike)
Pros and Cons of “Conservative” Ideals
Pros and Cons of “Liberal” Ideals
The Preacher and the Patriarchy: A Personal Reflection
Why Lakes Are Infinitely Superior to Swimming Pools
Why Media/Ad Portrayals of Women Make Me Mad.
How to Use Your Learning/Thinking Style to Your Advantage
Why Being Multi-lingual is AWESOME (or “Why the USA is dumb for not requiring more foreign language proficiency”, or “Why immigrants are way smarter than most Americans give them credit for”)
Why I Care About My Country, But Am Not A “Patriot”
Music That Helps Me Get Work Done
Why “The Sing-Off” Was Way Better Than American Idol Will Ever Be
Why I Think The Government Should Get Its Nose Out of the Marriage Business
Is the US a “Christian Nation”? (Research required! I believe there is a book by this title…)
Why My Generation is Put Off by Traditional Evangelism (and/or Traditional Missionary-stuff)
394 African Authors that Everyone Should Read (because I doubt your high school and/or college bothered to teach you about a continent that is home to 1/7 of the world’s population. Whoops.)
Why Ngugi wa Thiongo Rocks My Socks
203 Ways White Supremacy Hurts White People (not my original idea… but one I love because it explains so much!!!)
987 Weird Things That Help My Brain Function Properly
239 Books I Appreciated Much More Once I Was An Adult
Why I Read Shakespeare For FUN! =)
398 Ways White People Were Asshats to First Nations Peoples (And Why We Should Call Them Whatever the Heck They Want to Be Called)
Why “Whiteness” Is A Total Crock
Why We Can’t Just “Move On” From The Oppressive Sins of Our Past
Why I Love Post-It Notes
On Privilege, and What To Do Once You Realize You Have It
[related] Why I Hate and Love My American Passport
“Yes, I Really Mean It When I Ask for Socks for Christmas”
Why Small, Mass-Market Paperback Books Make Me Happy
Why e-Readers Explode My Face With Awesomeness
482 Reasons Why Water is The Most Tasty Liquid On The Entire Planet!
My Husband is So Awesome That You Don’t Even Understand… No, Really.
752 Life Lessons from the Bike Ride Kid (“I Feel Happy of Myself!”)

I seriously recommend this exercise to anyone who loves to write but struggles with choosing topics. Who knew I had almost 50 blog posts lurking inside me?

Don’t forget to “vote” on your favorites in the comments if you want to read them sooner than whenever I get to them!

Banned Books Change Lives.

[Warning: Offensive language ahead.]

This week (the week of Sept. 30th, 2012) is the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week. As someone who loves books and who has been greatly challenged and stretched by some of these “banned books”, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you why it’s important to keep “banned books” in our libraries, and especially in our schools.

As you may know, I am a licensed secondary English teacher. As a part of my student teaching, I had the privilege of teaching Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to 9th graders at a small rural-ish (almost entirely white & Latino/a) school in Minnesota. But before I continue my story, let me share a little background on the controversy surrounding this novel:

  • In the last ten years, To Kill a Mockingbird has been the #21 most challenged book.
  • Although its major race-related theme is the injustice and wrongness of racism, it is often challenged for being a racist book or for “promot[ing] white supremacy.”
  • One of the most frequent reasons cited for its banning is the use of the word “nigger”.

Now, back to my classroom. Knowing a few of my mischievous 9th graders as I did, I decided to be proactive about the use of the “n-word” in our classroom. I spent five minutes at the start of the first reading day explaining to my students that, although the author used that word frequently to accurately depict the setting of her writing, it was not acceptable for them to use that word, and they should count this as their fair warning that anyone choosing to say that word in class would be sent directly to the office.

Of course, the first “culprit”, to my embarrassment, was a student whose English proficiency was not up to grade level and who, I’m pretty sure, accidentally let it slip only because he had read it so many times in the novel. (But, follow-through-er as I was, I sent him to the office as promised, poor kid. I make me wince sometimes.) That night, I went home and designed an entire lesson specifically to educate my students about the historical significance of the “n-word”, because it was clear to me that the vast majority of them had no idea what they were (not) saying.

The next day, we went through my lesson and I did my level best to help my students understand that the “n-word” was so awful because of the hateful, dehumanizing racism it embodied. I searched for and found a photo that I thought exemplified the demeaning stereotype whites created to oppress blacks, and we discussed it:

A slide from our discussion.

Before, the class had been its usual jovial self; as soon I showed this image, it was silent. You could feel the shock in the room, and when I finally coaxed responses to the discussion questions they were muted and brief.

After I was sure the meaning of the word had been made clear, we talked about the history of various words used to describe African-Americans (including which terms are generally acceptable today) and then ended by taking a few minutes for the students to jot what they had learned on a notecard. Most responses were simple — “I learned never to say that word” — but a few students shared more deeply:

I learned that the “n word” is more meaningful than I thought. I knew you shouldn’t use it but I didn’t know it was that important.

I found out that colored is not a good word to call a black/African-American person.

I learned today that black people were introduced as monkeys and were set up as them just because their skin was a color that some people didn’t like. I hate how whites think they can make fun of a different skin color!

I thought it was very sad when we learned about the bank of a man and saw the resemblance between it and the one of a monkey. I will never call anyone that word because of how disrespectful it is.

I learned that black people are not bad, and have never been bad. White people just made them out to be bad, and made them seem like they were [bad] to everyone. They are the same as us, just different colored skin, but that means nothing. They are still the same as us, and we are still the same as them.

My feelings were changed about how people treat other people that people were really awful to people that were different races and they still do. I got chills when I heard the things that people did and said and even showed the African American people as. It was upsetting to me and really hit a spot in my heart that had never really been touched before. Thank you. : )

I share these not to toot my own horn — clearly I was not a model teacher! — but to show the incredible need to educate our young people about past sins in order to help them understand their present world.

If To Kill a Mockingbird (or other books that contain “the n-word”) were banned, this conversation never would have happened. If we had never brought the “n-word” into our classroom, all those students would still not understand why their hackles raise when they hear it, or why it is taboo to say it. If I or the school or the parents had tried to sweep it under the rug, my students would have remained ignorant, and the only way to make any good out of our messy, hurtful, embarrassing history is to stop it from repeating itself. So I ask you this: If we sanitize our schools of all the ugly past, how will we ever learn from it?

Humanity is cruel and kind, evil and good, racist and just, murderous and life-giving. We learn how to act by seeing both what to do and what not to do. Removing the “bad parts” from our children’s education doesn’t make them better people, just more likely to fall into the same traps as their predecessors.

So this week, check out a “banned book”! You don’t have to like it — you don’t have to think it’s appropriate for any age (most things are not) — but please, before you reject it as a “filthy, trashy novel”, think about what we it might teach us and how it might help us to avoid repeating history.