Monthly Archives: December 2009

Improv Everywhere: Guerrilla Handbell Strikeforce

Ah, it’s the holiday season and I can’t stop posting.  I love Improv Everywhere.  And I find it hard to get to feel too negative about the Salvation Army bell ringers, even though the Army itself has notoriously anti-gay hiring policies.  In any event, a great video:

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Who says there’s no “Sanity Clause”?

Andrew Sullivan gave Paul Krugman a “Best Pun in a Long Time” award for this line (discussing Republicans, in the sixth paragraph): “No, Virginia, at this point there is no sanity clause.”  (Emphasis Andrew’s.) An alert reader pointed out that “sanity clause” is from the classic Marx Brothers movie, A Night at the Opera. The entire “contract scene” is worth watching.

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If he played the cello,

I bet this guy would be a super-accurate shifter:

I had no idea tape measures could be so much fun.

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Grading papers

. . . is hard work, in case you’ve ever wondered.  I just spent an over an hour writing comments on just one.  Fourteen more to go.  The more problematic the paper, the more labor-intensive it is to evaluate, comment on, and grade.  Since I teach mostly applied music, it’s been a while since I was confronted by a stack of term papers written by first-year students.  These days it’s actually an inbox full of papers, since I had the students submit them electronically, both to save paper and so I could try using the “insert comment” feature in MSWord.

My next-door neighbor teaches philosophy.  My paper-grading workload is nothing compared to his.

I wonder how many people outside academia realize how many hours a conscientious college professor spends on grading papers and essay exams.  If you do a good job, it takes forever. The energy to do it comes from care, commitment, and a sense of mission.  I could have given the paper I just read a B- and written a few comments in 5 or 10 minutes.  How much would that have helped the student learn?

I’m not writing to pat myself on the back, because I have it easy with just sixteen papers.  This process does, however, fill me with a sense of awe at what my liberal-arts colleagues do day in and day out.


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At the Midwest Clinic

I’m in Chicago (where it’s been in the 20s but, thankfully, the “Windy City” hasn’t been windy), attending the Midwest [Band and Orchestra] Clinic.  I gave a presentation yesterday on cello technique basis. If you’re finding your way here for the first time because you were there, welcome!

I’ll be posting a more detailed version of my handout once I get back to Indiana, along with some video clips covering some of the issues we discussed.

Meanwhile, I’m having a great time attending conference sessions and hearing fantastic young orchestras from around the country.  The Carmel (IN) High School orchestra was incredible, I say with unabashed Hoosier pride. And the Lafayette High School Chamber Orchestra (from Lexington KY) was amazing as well, playing with extraordinary energy and enthusiasm.

Those of us who participate in training young people to be professional musicians worry a lot about audience declines, etc.  Hanging out with people whose mission is involving young people in making music, period (i.e., not necessarily to have a career, “just” to transform their lives) is a joy.  Great, positive people with a nearly intoxicating sense of purpose.


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Listening links for today’s radio appearance

Here’s an update on today’s radio appearance discussing the Bach Cello Suites and Eric Siblin’s book about them.  The segment is at 11:00 AM Eastern Time (after the NPR news, I assume).  I’ll be on sometime after 11:15 AM (that’s when they are calling me).

To listen live, go to the the WBUR website and click on “listen live.”  After 3:00 PM ET, you can listen to the recorded show on the program’s site.

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Radio Appearance Monday 12/8

Want something to listen to Monday morning?  I’ll be a guest during the 11:00 AM-noon segment of On Point, an NPR program originating from WBUR in Boston.  Eric Siblin, whose book has been the feature of my last two posts, will be the main guest, talking about his book The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece. My role will be to give a professional cellist and teacher’s perspective on the Suites. You can listen to the program live via the website, or later from the show’s archive.


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