Reflections and Resolutions

Ah, New Years…the time for telling ourselves all of the great things we will do in the new year and all of the changes that will help us along the way. Then January 15th rolls around and we are back to our old habits.
 
It is that time of year again when we all say that we have this long list of things we want to do better in the new year than in the current year. The time where gyms are full as many people take it upon themselves to workout more. That seems like a common theme for New Years resolutions. We want to be healthier, and it seems like there is no better time to do that than after all of the holidays have come and gone. I try and make resolutions each year, but I-like many others-often will pick too lofty of a goal: lose ten pounds a month, cut out junk food completely, etc. Those are both good goals, but unless you are already on your way to reaching them, you will probably crash and burn. Start small with goals like: eat a piece of fruit instead of chips for a snack, pack lunch instead of going out every day. It’s the small, more attainable goals that will help you become more ready to go after the long-term goals that you have.
I had a pretty wild ride in 2015. Here is a look at the biggest moments I had, month by month.
January: Took my first upper level college classes.
February: Auditioned on flute for my current university.
March: Filled out my housing contract for said university.
April: Enrolled in classes at my current university.
May: Officially became a student at my current school.
June: Started taking my blog seriously.
July: Ended my teen years with a bang! (Not really, I spent the day at the mall followed by an evening in at home.)
August: Moved into a dorm for the first time.
September: Marched in my first football game.
October: Actually did a little bit of socializing.
November: Performed in a masterclass for a world class flutist.
December: Fell head-over-heels in love with my blog.
I don’t think I set any resolutions this year, and if I did, I certainly didn’t keep up with them past January. I did grow a lot as a person, though. I have grown musically, and I have matured since living on my own in a dorm. I don’t think I will be setting any big goals for 2016, at least none that are out of my control. I would love to increase the amount of time I spend on my flute, but I am not going to say that I want to practice for 4 hours a day by the end of January. I need to set a more realistic goal of maybe practicing two hours daily by the end of January, three hours a day by the end of February, and so on.
I might want to set a goal to eat more healthfully, but again, I am not going to set a goal of quitting junk food cold turkey. Instead, I might decide to have a piece of fruit instead of a pack of fruit snacks. That is an attainable goal, and that is what is important when making any sort of life change, for the new year or otherwise.
Thanks for reading, and have a happy New Year!

Holiday Wishlist for College Students

Now that Hanukkah and Christmas are over, we might not see much holiday stuff until next fall. Today, I am going to tell you about holiday gifts by reflecting on my wishlist this past year. As you get older, the number of toys and physical gifts on your list decreases and the number of practical gifts and gift cards increases. My list this year totally encompassed that. What did I ask for? I asked for a new backpack,
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a new planner,
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two music books (I am a music major, after all),
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The Flute Book
and gift cards. I think the magic of the holidays is still there, but it is a different kind of magic when you are 18 or 20 than when you are 8 or 10. I think that it is normal-good, even-that our interests change as we get older. I don’t know about you, but the things that I like now are completely different from when I was a kid. Just remember that change is good.
Thanks for reading!
Follow me on Twitter at @itsmixedarts

Should Music Be a Part of the Core Curriculum?

I do not believe that it should. Now, as a music major, it may shock some people that I don’t think music should be a required class. “I had a blast in music, so why wouldn’t everyone else?” I think that if music was a required class (past the 30 minutes of music a week required in elementary school), many people would not enjoy it. I really did not like art class for this reason. At my elementary school, everyone had to take music, PE, art, and library. I really liked music, because I have always been musically inclined, and I found it a lot easier than some of my peers. Some of my classmates preferred PE, others preferred art, and some-like me-preferred music. That is okay.
I love that the recent passing of the Every Child Achieves Act will give more kids access to quality music education. I think that every child should have the opportunity to experience a class where they can express themselves. What I don’t like about the idea of music as a core subject is the fact that it could easily become watered down and boring. In my elementary school art class, we were given an assignment, and everyone had to do it the exact same way. That is not art, and in my opinion, that is not fun. I feel like if music was required by everyone, it would become like my elementary art class. The students who already weren’t that passionate about it would hate having to take it and hate having to do something that was bland enough to accommodate the students with little to no music skills. The students with an interest in music might lose that interest, because an ensemble might have to play more beginner repertoire, and they would not get the challenge they deserve.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for arts education. I think that music, theatre, and visual arts are important for giving kids a creative outlet, but we should not require students to participate in an activity that does nothing for them. Especially not if it sacrifices the music education of students who do have a knack for singing or playing an instrument.
Thanks for reading!
What’s your opinion on the matter? Should music be a core subject or an elective?
Whether you agree or disagree with me, I would love to start a conversation on the topic of music education, so comment below!

Breaking Up with the Oboe

A little story about my tumultuous relationship with the oboe.

They say breaking up is hard to do, and I think they’re right. This past March, I was told that I should give oboe a try. It’s not a very competitive instrument. Not many people play it, so I would have a chance at more jobs. I tried it, and to be honest, it’s kind of fun. It’s different from flute, my main instrument, so it can be a nice break. But it is also a whole lot more difficult. The reeds are expensive, and reed making can be quite time consuming. To top it off, I have problems with my right thumb when I play it. But I love the sound an oboe makes when played well. I played it last summer, and I enjoyed it, but it hurt to practice. It hurt my right thumb, it hurt my lips, it was a stress. I felt relief when I decided to take a break from it. About two months later, I had a craving to play it again. I’m not sure why. I guess with any relationship, we remember the good and ignore the bad. All I could think about was the sound and the fact that it would look good on a resume. I ignored how I didn’t get super into actually practicing it and how much pain it involved. I don’t own my own, and I wouldn’t have access to one until winter. Now that the prospect of playing it again was becoming real, I realized that I don’t love the oboe. I love the opportunity that it would create. So, I have decided to focus more on flute so that I can get to the point where I can get the same opportunities only I am doing it on an instrument that I have not had a love hate relationship with.

Thanks for reading!

A Review of My Erin Condren Life Planner

I am quite the organized person, and I am always on the lookout for different planners and organization methods to try. I first heard about the Life Planner in August of 2013 when I saw a video about it on YouTube by a girl named Dacey. Her channel is YouTube.com/daceycouture. She is one of my favorite people to watch for college organization, and she seems like a generally nice person. I saw her first impressions video on the planner, but I didn’t really think much of it. Fifty dollars for a planner? That’s crazy! Until this past spring I heard from Dacey that the Erin Condren website was selling their planners on clearance so that they would have room to make and sell the new version which came out in June. The clearance price was $30 plus shipping, but I used a discount code that equated to free shipping. I was thrilled when my new planner arrived. It is a pretty hefty price, I won’t lie about that, but it is a very well made planner. The (removable) covers are completely customizable unless you get the ready to ship planner that comes with a coupon to customize a cover later. I got the pre-made planner, and then I customized my own cover:

I love this cover. I customized it with my name, and I also changed the color (which was originally dark blue) to sea foam green. The inside cover is pretty cute with a polka dot print:

I must say that the paper quality is amazing! I have yet to have any problems with ink bleeding through to the next page as it is thicker than the paper in planners that you see at stores like OfficeMax or Target. The 2014/15 version has a lot of quotes sprinkled throughout the planner, and I think the 2015/16 one does, too, just not as many. After the intro, you have all the planner pages, months and weeks together, January through December. In my planner, January through April are blank since I did not have this planner until the beginning of May. Following the calendar, there is a notes section with lines and blank paper. Then there is a two-year look ahead at 2016 and 2017. After that, the planner comes with stickers: a full page of birthday:

And another page with stickers that say: game, day off, hair appointment, dentist appointment, sale, doc appointment, concert, mani/pedi, party, and vacation.

After that, you get two pages of blank stickers, a column each in pink, violet, lavender, blue, turquoise, mint, forest green, olive? green, yellow, and tan. At the back of the planner, you get a two sided pocket to store little things like the free perpetual calendar book that comes with the planner.

The last thing in the planner is a clear zip-pocket so that you can store small things that you want to keep secured in your planner.

I didn’t get any of the Erin Condren brand accessories, and I don’t think they are absolutely necessary. I have been using this planner for the past 7 and a half months, and I love it.

My planning method changed a bit since I first started using it. At first, I used the stickers and the monthly view a lot. I also tracked my daily medicine and my showers for a while. I love the vertical layout, though. It makes much more sense to me to see my week going across a two page spread rather than down one page than down the opposite page.
Here is a blank week from before I got the planner:

Over the summer, I wrote down all of my assignments in the planner, because I was taking an online class. Since I had classes on campus this fall, I wrote down when I had class and only marked in important assignments and tests. I don’t know what I will do in the spring, but I will see. I would like to use it partly as a practice log to mark when and what I practice,

I really do love this planner, and while $50 plus shipping is a big price, I think that there is no way I can go back to the $10 planners you find in Target.

In case you are curious, it is on my Christmas Wishlist. If you want to order one for yourself or maybe as a gift, do so now, because it takes a while to get to you. Also, I might post a “Week in my Life” of my planner sometime in the next couple of months, so stay tuned for that. Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading!