Posts Tagged With: music

A Little Change

If I could change one thing about myself, what would it be?

My impulsive reaction to this question was that I would not be so much of a perfectionist. But in contemplating it, the issue is more complicated than that. You see, a perfectionist is who I am – it’s a part of my core personality, and a strong part at that. Sometimes it’s a positive trait – I am careful, I am responsible, people trust me to get things done the right way. My over-achiever personality combined with my perfectionism has led me to accomplish a lot of great things in my life, and I love that.

What I don’t like about being a perfectionist is the expectations I place on myself. I hold myself to a higher standard than I hold others to, not because I think they are capable of achieving less than me but because I am more forgiving of others. When someone else makes a mistake, my reaction is to be positive and lift them up. “It’s no big deal! We’ll make it work! Buck up, little camper!” When I make a mistake, I really beat myself up about it. The worse the mistake, the longer my attacks against myself will last. “I can’t believe I was so stupid. What was I thinking? Why did I do that?” Rarely are my self-attacks productive, nor do they lead me to change myself for the better. I end up frustrated with myself and quite discouraged.

This reminds me of a song called Gentle by Michael McLean.

Like a gentle wind can blow the clouds from the sky,
Like a gentle touch can ease the pain of goodbye,
Like a gentle smile embraces empty souls in lonely places,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Like the friend who gently builds us up when we’re down,
Like a gentle kiss can turn our world all around,
We’ve been hurt by others often,
We’ve forgiven and forgotten,
We should be more gentle with ourselves.

Life can be hard but
We need not be
So hard on ourselves,
If we will see

Like the Shepherd leads His flock with gentle commands.
With His gentle voice that only hearts understand.
One thing we can know for certain, He has borne the awful burdens
So we can be more gentle with ourselves.

One thing that I know for certain:
He will bear my every burden,
So I can be gentle with myself.

So if I could change one thing about myself, what would it be? I would learn to be more gentle with myself.

Categories: NaBloPoMo | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blast from the Past

Alright, ladies and gentlemen! Story time!

In my high school, it was a custom for the seniors to give our band and choir teachers a gift at the end of the year. Well, at least it was for music nerds like me 🙂

My band teacher has gone by the nickname “Doc” for as long as I can remember. Some of his earliest students gave him the nickname, and it stuck. Sometime during my senior year, we discovered that Doc, whose primary instrument is trombone (same as mine), had never had better than a student model trombone. It was pretty old and beat up. It looked something like this:


Us trombone players call this basic style of trombone a “pea shooter.” The name comes from the fact that you can set a pea in the mouthpiece and blow hard enough that the pea will travel all the way through the trombone and come out the bell. There’s your useless trivia for the day! So Doc, after playing trombone and teaching music for years, still had a beat-up pea shooter.

My friend Paul (a fellow trombonist) and I came up with the idea to raise enough money to purchase a nicer trombone for our beloved teacher. We gathered funds from the students, and then we branched out and gathered funds from alumni and from Doc’s family members and friends. Doc is loved by so many people that it took hardly any effort at all. We bought him a brand new, professional trombone. It was beautiful.

I worked at Chick-fil-A at the time and brought home a huge cardboard box from work. Paul and I put the trombone inside it and then wrapped it like a giant present, complete with a bow.

At the final concert of the year, we interrupted Doc just before the final song. As one student took the microphone and began expressing our appreciation, Paul and I rolled the massive gift box on a dolly onto the stage. Doc (and probably many others) shed a few tears when he opened it. It was a very touching, and the gift felt like only a small token compared to the appreciation he deserved.

We had arranged for Doc’s oldest son to conduct the final song so that Doc could play with us, and Paul and I were able to play our last song of our senior year sitting on either side of him in the trombone section. It was one of the highlights of my high school experience.

Why bring this story up now? Well, I hadn’t really thought about it for a long time. But this past weekend, I was asked to help in the pit orchestra at my high school’s musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. It’s difficult music, and the trombone players were struggling, so I am performing with them. Honestly, I had a rough time with it, too. Anyway, at the end of last night’s show (opening night), I discovered that one of the high school trombonists is using Doc’s trombone to play in the pit orchestra – the very trombone I helped raise funds for over seven years ago! They (the trombonists) told me that he brings it out during class to play. And they knew that students had given it to him as a gift, which means he has shared the story. I was so excited to find out that he is still using it and enjoying it!

I feel like the gift I helped to give has become a gift to me, in the satisfaction of knowing that Doc has a constant reminder of just how many people he has positively affected throughout the years. What we gave to him seven years ago was much more than a trombone – it was the combined love and support of many, many people who care about him.

Doc is nearing retirement age, and last night he suggested bringing together an alumni jazz band before he retires. Sign me up, folks. I am so there.

Categories: NaBloPoMo | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Lil’ Bit of Music

One of the things I love most about Ghana: they love music! And I love music! It is very common to hear people singing or playing instruments in public, even sitting on trotros or walking down the street. The kids in our orphanage sing all the time, too. Ghanaians also dance frequently, and I love that they’re so openly expressive.

Here are two short video clips that I think you will enjoy. The first is a song I taught to 8-year-old Sophia while we were waiting for her school bus:

Give, Said the Little Stream

The second is 3-year-old Godwyn doing some African drumming:

Godwyn the Drummer

Want to help? Visit here to see what you can do for Potter’s Village.

Categories: Ghana Volunteer | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Ghanaian Marching Band

Last Sunday, three fellow volunteers and I were walking back to our house through the village (Dodowa). Suddenly, I heard a trombone on the next street up. Though I’ve been playing trombone for 14 years, I dismissed it because it was so out of place. A few steps later, I heard it again, and this time I was sure. So I mentioned it, and we turned around, following the sound.

We turned the corner, and I witnessed my first Ghanaian “band,” which consisted of three trombones, two trumpets, and a handful of drums – sounds like a good ratio to me 😉 They were quite terrible, but we pulled out cameras anyway, and they stopped to play for us.

We followed the “marching band” until they arrived at a party! The next thing we know, Patricia is dancing in the middle of the Ghanaians!


While we were watching Patricia dance, Patience asked one of the locals why they were having a party, and was informed that it was a funeral! We gate crashed a funeral! Haha. Then one of the trombonists (a girl, by the way, which is awesome) walked up behind me, and I told her I play trombone.

Suddenly I found myself with a trombone in hand, playing a duet with one of the trumpet players. I’ll admit, I didn’t play that well, but the Ghanaians loved it!


How’s that for a random adventure in Africa?  I actually do have some videos, but I’m having compatibility issues with my tablet. I’ll post them later if I figure it out 🙂

Categories: Ghana Volunteer | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

We Are Saying Thank You, Jesus

Each morning at Potter’s Village, they have a “devotion,” where they sing several religious songs, pray, and hear a spiritual message from one of the resident reverends or one of the older kids. One of the songs has been stuck in my head all day. It says, “We are saying thank you, Jesus. Thank you, my Lord.” I think those are the only words, but repeated many times.

First of all, I love starting each day with this devotional, even though I only understand half of it. I hope to learn many of their songs while I’m here. Anyway…because of this song, I’ve been contemplating the many tender mercies God has shown me since I left home – and they are many. No bug bites, no sunburn, only minor sickness, easy-going fellow volunteers, safety in crowds, running into the missionaries from my faith on Saturday so that I could find the church Sunday morning, two fellow volunteers who joined me for church even though they knew nothing about it, children who warm up quickly and show love constantly, a cook who makes popcorn (a snack I eat nearly every day at home and thought I would really miss) every morning which helps me feel at home here, a baby who contracted malaria and was able to come home from the hospital today, and many, many others. “Thank you, my Lord.”

Today I successfully and safely rode a trotro by myself to Madina and back (about 45 minutes each way). I also learned how to wash my clothes by hand…and realized what a wussy American I am when a 15 year old girl (Mawrine) took pity on me and began to help. I have only washed my underwear so far, and yet my hands are actually raw. But I’ll get it down!

At the orphanage, I spent some time having the kids read to me. Some of them are really good at it!


Speaking of tender mercies, three new volunteers came today, just as we were beginning to worry that we wouldn’t have enough help. They are only here for a couple of weeks more (they transferred from another orphanage placement in Ghana), but it’s great to have them!

Today I also said goodbye to seven of our teenagers who, thanks to a lot of time and dedication from one of the volunteers, are heading to senior high school (boarding school) in the morning. They are each receiving money from sponsors, which allows them to finish their education! It’s very, very cool. There are still a few who are waiting for sponsor money in order to go, but this is a great start!

Stay tuned for my experience with a Ghanaian band. It’s a great story with some fun videos. For now, goodnight!

Categories: Ghana Volunteer | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment