Sunday, October 28, 2012

And the Rain, Rain, Rain, Came Down, Down, Down...

A lot has been going on in these past few days!  First update, I know everyone has been curious about how we faired through the hurricane.  All is well here in Pétionville, we just had a LOT of rain.  The hurricane also caused us to have a few days off from school, which I have renamed as Haitian snow days.  Thank you to everyone for the extra prayers these past few days and you are in mine as you prepare for the storm.

As you can see, the rain did not keep Kelsey and I inside!  We took a little walk around town in the rain.  The only true discovery from this adventure was that my jacket is not in fact waterproof!     

Also I now have a schedule with the school, which means my days have gotten very busy.  To give a little taste of the different things I’m doing with the school, here’s a rundown of what my schedule entails.  Everyday of the week I begin with office hours in Pétionville doing administrative work for the school.  This includes working on the satellite school plans, the newsletter, and anything else that pops up!  

Around midday, I head down to Port-au-Prince to teach.  When I first get there, I help teach the students at the primary school.  I’ve also enjoyed observing my colleagues teach; it’s a great learning opportunity for me to see teaching in Creole!  

Then after I’m finished with the primary school, I teach private woodwind lessons.  I teach most of the OPST woodwind players and a few younger flute players.  I was surprised to find out how much I enjoy teaching oboe, clarinet and bassoon...who would have ever guessed that I would teach anything other than flute!

One particularly touching moment was when one of my oboe students thanked me after his first lesson.  He explained to me that he hadn't had a private teacher since 2009 and claimed that he was anxious for more lessons.  It made me smile to know how appreciative he and so many others are to learn about music.  Their passion and drive is literally contagious! 

Other highlights from this week have included getting to have a debut performance at a local jazz club.  The guitar teacher at Holy Trinity asked if I played jazz and the next thing I know I’m performing with his group at Latin Quarter (translated from Creole).  I had a blast and it was wonderful to make connections with many of the local musicians!

Also last weekend, I made a trip to Jacmel, which is located in the southern part of Haiti.  I went with Kelsey and Pierre, who helps conduct at the music school in Jacmel.  I had a lot of fun playing with the band during the rehearsal.  Best part was getting to play a piece that I haven’t played since high school (it was quite comforting how much easier it was than when I played it ten plus years ago!).  

We also took a quick trip to the beach, so I have now officially taken a swim in the Haitian waters!  This week is another busy week of rehearsals, but I’ll write again soon!  And thank you to my sponsors from this past week, Deb and Dennis Shows!  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Planning the School Year

First of all a thank you to my sponsors last week, Janine Higgins and Bill Easton.  Then of course a thank you to my sponsors this week, Dino and Carolyn Morgoglione and Frank and Barbara Rupert.  

Last week was a little lighter, but lots of planning for getting the school year started.  With the return of the Boys Choir from the United States tour and the administrative staff with them, we had a lot of catching up to do!  This included talking about travels, creating schedules, and determining our responsibilities.  

One of the things I'm currently working on is a newsletter that will be sent out to the music schools, parents, and donors.  It will be sent out quarterly and used to keep everyone connected with what is going on at Holy Trinity Music School and all the satellite schools.  Here's a little preview of the front page (as you can see I still have to finish the opening article!).  

On Thursday night I was invited to attend a dinner meeting among the administration and the wind faculty.  We discussed the different wind ensembles  and who would be directing them.  An exciting addition for this year is the creation of a marching band.  I'll be helping teach the basic marching steps - here's hoping I still remember everything from high school!

Other fun moments of the week included learning how to cook in my room with limited cooking supplies and no oven.  Kelsey and I have been trying many new no-bake recipes.  If anybody has any favorites they recommend definitely email those to me.

Saturdays here are crazy!  The days are filled with rehearsals for both the beginning students and the pre-professional orchestra, OPST.  As you can see I've already found myself right at home in the flute section of OPST!

Right now the orchestra is working on music for our December concert.  We are playing two different violin concertos, Tchaikovsky's Polonaise, and selections from the Nutcracker.  

One of my favorite days of each week is Sunday.  I love my new congregation here that I worship with each week.  After the service we have our own little coffee hour with discussions about the sermon and what we would like to do in the community.  Right now we are planning bath kits and pen pals for the women in prison in Pétionville.  We are also making an effort to help with recycling and help people learn about taking care of the environment.  I'm really excited to be a part of these plans and look forward to seeing how they unfold.

My Sunday was not complete though without a random party!  To explain, Kelsey and I were hanging out in my room in the evening and all of the sudden we could hear music.  We went running to the roof of the church to check it out.  Turns out there was a kompa party happening right on the street in front of the church!  Kompa is a music that is traditional to Haiti and tons of fun.  My next goal in Haiti is to learn how to dance to kompa!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Week of School

As I mentioned last week, school started here in Haiti this past Monday.  Although classes for the School of Music don’t actually begin till October 8th, I still had a week full of excitement.  

On Wednesday, I was told I would be assisting with an instrument demonstration for the third graders of Holy Trinity School.  The purpose of the demonstration was to introduce each of the instruments to help aid the students in their instrument choice.  I was in charge of showing off the woodwinds (flute, clarinet, and oboe).  Let’s just say my rendition of Hot Cross Buns was really quite moving on the clarinet and oboe.  Therefore I’m pretty sure flute is going to be the hit this year since I could actually demonstrate that one!  

After my portion of the demo, I had a wonderful time visiting with the students.  What I loved the most is that the children don’t quite understand the concept that I’m still learning to speak Creole.  They think that if you speak louder, faster and all at once in a large group that somehow I will magically understand.  I had a really good laugh and thankfully photo is the same word in both languages, so the kids had a good time taking pictures with me.

On Thursday morning, Kelsey and I picked up some of the instruments lying around the office of Holy Trinity and improvised a plethora of tunes.  This picture highlights one of the things I really love about Haiti.  As you wait for rehearsals, transportation, etc., there are many moments for spontaneous creativity and fellowship.  We truly entertained with our music and brought many a smile to the visitors of the school that morning. 

The rest of Thursday was spent getting ready for a performance that the beginning instrumental students were giving on Friday morning.  The students had been asked to give a small demonstration to Albert Ramdin, the Assistant  Secretary General of the Organization of American States, who was making a visit to Haiti.  

After the performance he gave a short speech to the students and visited with them.  Although it was a brief concert, you could tell that the students enjoyed performing and getting to share their music.     

Another highlight of this week is that I received my first piece of mail!  Thank you 815 staff for the card; it definitely brought a smile to my day! 

Today, Kelsey and I were invited to Willys and Suzette’s (fellow parishioners from St. Jacques) house for lunch.  They live up the mountains from Pétionville and the scenery was gorgeous.  Many people in area live off the food that they grow.  The hillsides were a beautiful patchwork of greens and golds with different foods for harvesting.  

After a delicious lunch, Suzette had one of the local people stop by to meet us.  His name is Louis and he is a blind musician here in the mountains.  He is often found singing along his walks up and down the country road.  Louis kindly gave us a mini-concert singing contemporary Christian songs, Haitian hymns, and even a piece that he had written himself.  His songs brought tears to my eyes as he so passionately sang to us; music is his world and his love for it was radiating.  

We eventually had to make our way back down to Pétionville, but not without a few stops for a few more pictures (the house with the red roof is where Willys and Suzette live).  It was a wonderful way to end a week of laughter, community, and new friendships.