What happens in my piano class – THE UPGRADED VERSION

My piano class has remarkably evolved. I am now entering the fourth year of study with some of my students here in Bucharest. Things are getting serious and I’m doing my best to keep up with their needs and their wants. So I have designed a new format for my piano class starting this year that might inspire other teachers.

The foundation of this new format is my new student manual/agenda, called My MUSIC Journal. I created this manual/agenda as a clever way of keeping all the important lessons in one place, in a specific order and, next to these lessons, I created weekly agenda pages on which kids can mark their study days and their evolution. The agenda pages have a space for teacher observations, a stave for melodic exercise, wether it’s solfegge or intervals, and a line for rhythmic exercise. The lessons include the 4 qualities of sound and everything that I want to cover this school year, from durations to instruments in the orchestra.

My Music Journal

SCALES – of course.

The COMEBACK PIECE. The very first piece of the school year will be slightly easier than the last piece we studied, to start off building their confidence and use this opportunity to revise all the elements.

PERSONALISED REPERTOIRE – I always have at least 3 options for them to choose from. This way I can learn what they like and I’ll get better at finding new material for them and they don’t get to complain about it, because they picked it.🙂

LISTENING – An extra 5 to 10 minutes will be devoted to listening to a musical piece. I already have the list for an entire year. But we will do different sort of listening on the same piece on each piano class. Free listening, listening while following the musical score and listening while watching the performers. In one month, they get to listen a piece at least 3 times and their monthly project will be to paint, draw or colour an image inspired by that piece. I can’t wait to see their works!

All things new!

back

Hello, everyone! My WordPress break is over, I am back and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone’s been up to, I didn’t get a chance to visit my blogging friends, I was kinda hoping everyone was in holiday…

Anyways, we’re back to school, back to work and back to reflection.

I have to be completely honest. I have a brand new blank school year ahead of me. Even though I’ve been working all summer on new and exciting projects for this year for my students, there’s a little anxiety thinking of it, because when I used to work in an institution, everything was there, already planned out, you could visualise it, all you had to do is show up and do your job and get your paycheck. Now that I’m working on my own, all I can do is show up and pray to God that as I’m stepping forward, things will fall into place.

There is one side of me who is excited about it. It’s that side of me that is speaking from the future, saying: there’s nothing to worry about, things will turn better than you expect! in a cheerful, high-pitched voice.

This particular side comes with a sprinkle of guilt. Because I look around and I see so many people struggling. Not everyone gets to fulfil their dreams, not everyone gets to wake up with a bright and exciting purpose. Makes you wonder…

Then, there another side of me. The one that says: what if one day all my students decide to drop the piano classes…what do I do then? I feel my hair is turning grey just thinking about it. This is the one scenario I feel I should be prepared for and the one scenario that I don’t even want to consider. It’s out of the question!

So here’s to a beautiful autumn, to stepping in faith, to new hope, to new revelations …all things new!

Hope you’re having a nice, chilly Tuesday, as I’m enjoying here in Bucharest and have a refreshing week!

The Happiness Tag

Such an awesome opportunity to reflect on happiness!!!

Thank you so much, Angie, from LivingOutsideTheBox for nominating me for the happiness tag.

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5 Things That Make Me Happy – 

  • Cooking – I always think of the people I cook for and how much they’ll enjoy it. That makes me happy.
  • Teaching – it feels like I can literally reach, touch and change someone’s mind and life. Both scary and exciting. In the long run…worth it!
  • Dreaming – if this counts as an activity, I get happier just thinking of what my dreams are and what I hope will come.
  • Friends – My friends are the best! I rarely get to spend time with all of them, but those moments are memorable.
  • Bananas. Enough said.

5 Songs That Make Me Happy

  • Magnificent, as performed by Darlene Zschech…the harp simply transports me to heaven.
  • Cheek to Cheek – Ella Fitzgerald…of course.
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – yes, I am THAT girl😀.
  • Baby’s in Love – Jamie Foxx
  • Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – WHAM! …it’s not my go to song, but it can’t not make you happy…come on!🙂

5 Nominations: 

Until next time!

The One Where They All Turn 30

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Can we all agree there’s an “expectation list” to check when you’re 30?

About marriage. When I was small I wanted to become a singer, a news anchor, a police woman, a lawyer and a fashion designer…in that order. My career goals seemed to drastically change as I grew up. But what I knew for sure is that I wanted to go to college, find a job and only after I’m stable on my own, I’ll get married. I figured 27 is a great age to have a wedding.

I did go to college and my career is on a promising path, but we’re not married and we’re not even planning and we’re having the best time ever. I mean if you ask me, we might as well be married if marriage is more than a certificate.

Am I looking forward to a complicated and expensive wedding where I’d invite people from 6 different cities and 3 different countries where everyone judges my dress, my location, the food, the band, the dj? No, not really. Am I tired of being asked about it? Yes, yes I am. When will people start asking: are you happy? does he treat you well?

Sometimes it feels like we don’t have our friends’ approval or that my relationship is not serious enough because we are not married. That seems a little unfair. Marriage should be about respect, trust, kindness and support. Why can’t people imagine that someone can commit to all of that without signing a paper? Especially today when people easily can get out of that commitment…

About babies. Is it really that bad if I don’t want to start having babies? I know they say that you’re not supposed to wait until you’re ready to have babies, because you’ll never REALLY be ready, but I just can’t imagine myself with a baby yet. Of course I thought about it. My conclusion is I would be awesome as a mother and our DNA might produce the best baby ever. But when I thought about it, when I visualised it, we weren’t living in a rented apartment and we didn’t have to worry about paying rent and buying diapers. In my vision we are rent free and we’re financially and professionally secure and the baby was not the “dream killer”.

About home. Right now these things seem so far away from us. A few years ago I decided to make peace with the thought that I’ll never own a property and I’ll be living in rent my whole life…and I did. Except lately I’ve been starting to ache for a place. It’s like I miss it… Like I miss my home, but I don’t even have it yet. Weird feeling, can’t really explain it.

About now. Our balcony is 8 meters long. Don’t be wowed. It’s an ugly rusted balcony. We only use it for storage. But the view is exquisite. I can never properly wash the windows because I’m above a sidewalk and it’s not ideal to walk down the street, on your way to work and have water and detergent drip on you, so I can’t bring myself to do it. But this is my next week’s resolution. I’ll be sharing my sunset with you when I’m done.

Perspective

It was December 2015. I had been working as a kindergarten music and piano teacher in Bucharest for more than 2 years. The Jazz in Kindergarten project was blooming, not really like I wanted to, live band and everything…but still, pretty good. Parents loved it, kids loved it, I loved it. I finally had a hang of what music classes should look like in kindergarten, I had created my own sequence, it was finally flowing. And finally had my piano method and approach figured out.

Behind the scenes trouble was piling up. It’s hard to work with people who don’t give their best. It’s hard to work with impulsive, unbalanced and irascible people. It’s hard to work with arrogant and proud people. These people were turning my days and my passion into dread. How rare and how precious it is these days to actually find your calling and earn a living through it. Well, imagine someone taking that and turning it into dread.

Throughout the Christmas holiday I just started to open my mind to the idea of quitting my job, even though I had never done it before. It was a weird Christmas holiday…no snow, no frost, just sunny, warm weather, couldn’t even bring myself to hum carols like I usually do. I talked to my friends and family about it, about quitting my job, not about the weather. Had no idea what would be next, but I was terrified of staying at my job…that option couldn’t be next.

I imagined that with my impressive resume and my unique training, schools were going to jump at the opportunity to hire me. It wasn’t like that. I had fewer offers than I was expecting and beneath my desires.

The only acceptable offer I had was a collaboration that was supposed to start this autumn. Meanwhile I turned them down. I recently realised it was another dread in disguise.

If someone told me: You are going to spend the next year earning only from private piano classes, I probably never would’ve quit my job. I wouldn’t have been able to see what could be beyond, what was on this other side.

So I’ve been spending the last few months preparing myself for a job that isn’t happening anymore and now I’m a little excited about the idea of simply teaching piano. It’s a wonderful thought, I’ve got so many ideas, although I am awfully good in the classroom, feels like I’m wasting a great talent…but can’t compromise, not knowing what I know now.

You start to realise at one point that no amount of money is worth you health and your precious time with family.

Be Humane

I’ve been living in rented apartments since 2005. Up until now I’ve lived in 5 different places with very different apartment owners. Still there is one family, apartment owners, I will never forget. Today’s post in MY PEOPLE features them.

They decided to sell the apartment that I was living in, but they didn’t kick me out, they just moved me to a different apartment they had just bought in the building they were living in. And when I say they moved me, they actually moved me. You cannot imagine how many things I have to take with me every time I move, it actually required a truck to load everything and they did all the carrying, in and out of the elevators, in and out of the truck.

They spent a whole night repainting my bedroom so it will be fresh when I move in the next day and they immediately changed the door locks so I can sleep in peace. a63c38faab31b96e11b1580b89692109

They invited me to dinner knowing that I didn’t have the time to buy anything for the new apartment and always made sure that I was comfortable.

I am good tenant, generally speaking, quite honest, I take care of the house as if it’s my own, I try to always pay the rent and all the other costs in time, but if I ever had  trouble and couldn’t pay right away, they trusted me and waited until I had the money, never pressuring me.

And when something broke and needed to be replaced or fixed, they would never keep us waiting, they would get on it right away; and it wasn’t because the contract said so…it was because that’s the kind of people they are.

I wasn’t the only tenant they ever had. They’ve been lending apartments for many years and they had all sorts of unpleasant situations with difficult people that maybe didn’t take good care of the apartment or left in the middle of the night leaving them with loads of debts they had to pay…and so on. But they never changed. They never let the fear change them. They approached every new tenant with joy and openness, giving each of us the benefit of the doubt.

So the lesson here is to never let yourself be changed for the worst by your experiences. Stay rooted in love, let go of grudges and regrets. Life is not perfect, people are not perfect, there will always be something to piss you off…let them go and keep on being humane, no matter what.

Be Kind

Florina is one of my best friends. We went to school together, she joined the music school when we were in the 3rd grade. Can’t really remember how and why we bonded,  but we became best friends, we spent our college years living together and we’ve been through everything from pathetic to glorious.

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I remember a certain event when we were 10 or 11. Florina was the quietest girl in class, she was an angel. So our teacher thought she can count on her, being responsible and all, to go and get something for her, something that required leaving the classroom. Before she could leave, the teacher says: Wait! You can choose someone to come along with you. And she picks me. The teacher makes a very obviously confused face and yells: Ioana? Why in the world would you choose Ioana? Don’t get me wrong, I was a model student, but I was kinda wild and loud and inappropriate sometimes, what she meant was that we were complete opposites, couldn’t understand why she would ever befriend me.

As you can imagine, things haven’t changed much when we grew up. She was and is still the quiet, calm, balanced, good girl that doesn’t assign judgement and doesn’t treat people differently just because she doesn’t like them. And I am the loud, irascible, thick headed, mean girl that judges everyone and brings justice to the world.

Still I must have learned something from her if she made it to my gratitude list. God only knows that in my teenage years our friendship was the single good thing happening, and that spending time with her, having lunch or just trying out her sister’s make up was the highlight of my day and probably the only thing that I was looking forward to.

She has witnessed some of my lamest, lowest moments, has been there for me in every possible way, but she still managed to remain a best friend, who is exactly what you need her to be at that moment. Not to mention the college years when she practically shared everything she had with me…Now that I think of it, the packages she received from home were awfully large for just one person, I bet her mom thought of me when she added all those cookies. The sweetest lady!❤

So if we had to weigh things down, she was incomparable kinder to me than I was to her and she still stays my best friend. Up until this day, the question cannot be answered: Why in the world would you choose Ioana? 😀

What I’m learning from Florina is that if all you can do to show your friendship towards someone is be kind – do it! You might be the only person that shows kindness, you might be the only one that doesn’t judge and you might be the only one that still cares.

P.S.: I can’t explain why so many of our photos have drinks in them.😉

Be Generous

Today I’m featuring on MY PEOPLE a very special family: David & Renate Sorensen.

I don’t know them as closely as I know everyone else I posted about, but you’ll see why they made my list. 10403485_768863569907074_950427312756299739_n

The Sorensen family is from Netherlands. They are my college sponsors. They are christians and they are the creators of Christian Art Posters. When they started sponsoring me, they were probably around 30 years-old – a pretty young family.

Above all the charity actions they could do, all the investments or spendings, they chose to sponsor a student. And from all the humanitarian organisations, from all the poor students that needed help through college, they chose me.

Throughout my Bachelor studies, 4 years in a row, come rain or come shine, they sent me the money I needed monthly to pay my rent and all the house expenses.

(In Romania, public college is free as long as you have high grades and, if you are among the best in your class, you can even receive a modest scholarship to encourage you to keep up the good work.)

While I knew I wasn’t the only student that had a sponsor, I realised later on that these people, who have only seen me in pictures, trusted me with their money, trusted that they were investing in my future, trusted that I would use these money for the purpose it was given and that I would take advantage to the fullest of this opportunity, to make the most out of my college years and my education and build a future for myself.

And that I did. I felt such a deep responsibility, I will forever honour them for their investment.

I know that all of us might have had regrets over being generous and charitable towards some people that disappointed us, but my testimony is one of those stories that can confirm that once in a blue moon you can radically change someone’s path through giving.

So what I think I should learn from them is not only to be generous with my money, but to be generous with my kindness, with my time, with my attention, with all my resources.

 

Be There

MY PEOPLE is a new category I added as a celebration of my 30th birthday, where I want to document all the people that have made a difference in my life and that inspire me, and maybe you too, to be a better human being.

Today I’ll tell you about another special lady. Nicole Weyts.163465_10150376148640612_6411662_n

I met Nicole in church when I was around 15; her and her family moved from Belgium to Romania about 20 years ago as missionaries and settled down in a small Romanian village to help out poor families and the gypsy community. They’re doing an awesome job!

She has been and is an amazing friend.

Some context. In high-school, when I started going to church, my mom was very much against it and managed to make my frantic teenage years even harder than they should be. Nicole’s home was my home when I needed. She cared for me, she fed me, she spent a lot of money and time investing in me, probably not even realising how much her friendship meant to me all along.

I can never forget the night my mom kicked me out, it was pretty chilly outside and I was only wearing a red sweater and jeans and, luckily, a phone card in my back pocket. I called her in the middle of the night and she drove to pick me up like nothing happened. It is because of people like Nicole that I can look at adversity with no worries.

Being around her and observing her back then made me realise what kind of a person I want to be, and suddenly I had a new example to follow, other than what I already had.

When I finished high-school and was thinking about going to college, she did everything in her power to find sponsors that would pay for my rent and expenses so I can live in a new city, finish college, make a new life and make my dreams come true. (The sponsors will be featured in a different post.)

And she keeps being this awesome friend to me and so many others that need her without any condition, without any judgement, without expectation. Just pure kindness, generosity and joy!

If I had to choose one thing about her that I should learn, I would probably pick PRESENCE. I may never have the same exact ability to properly and materially help the people around me, but I can, apparently, make a difference for someone just by being there. By saying I am here for you and really mean it and really care.

While writing this I am actually overwhelmed by the thought that I was so privileged to have these people as pillars…divine appointments, my friends.

Have a great new week!

Nicole and her family created Talmid Ministries to help their community. If you ever decide to help, you can learn more about them pressing the link.

To see all the people I featured on this category, please see MY PEOPLE.

Be More

Getting closer and closer to my 30th birthday and still celebrating the people in my life that inspire me to be better constantly.

Today I’m celebrating one of the most important women in my life.

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I met her when I was around 14 years-old at church. She is 11 years older than me, back then she was freshly married, had two small kids and had just moved to my town. You would think her life was about more than hanging out with troubled teenagers…it wasn’t.😀

For some reason, she thought is was important to involve us, to spend time with us, to be friends with us. Movie nights, walking in the park nights, swimming pool or mountain camping weekends, game nights, holidays, regular days for just hanging out and complaining about our profound and eternal problems, sleepovers…anything you can think of. That meant so much to me. Having someone to care about who you are and what you are about as if you’re someone worth spending time with. It doesn’t get better than that.

She has given me a bed to sleep in when I had no place to go, she has fed me countless times, even when there was nothing to eat but sandwiches or fries, she would rave her freezer and her winter stocks when I was in college, to pack anything she could find for me and my friends and she even broke her piggy Bank to buy me sandals for my prom night.❤

She was the shoulder I cried on for every possible reason, she is my midnight sickness call and my Christmas recipes fairy. I know it seems like I’m talking about a mystical, magical creature, but that’s just who she is.

This is Cami, my pastor’s wife. Always wondering what MORE can I do. She is restless until she knows that she’s done everything in her power and above her power to help the people around her.

So if I have to learn anything from her, that is to be passionate. Passionate about God and passionate about God’s plans. Because when you’re passionate about God, you let yourself be used in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine and you can change the lives of teenage weirdos like myself, getting them closer to knowing their purpose in life. She cares more, she does more, she is more.

How lucky am I?