Tuesday, March 29, 2011

From a 10-Year-Old Student

G: Do you want to have kids someday?
Sarah Marie: Yes, I'd like to have kids.
G: Good, well, you have until your 40's I think, so don't worry about it.


One of the more helpful (?) things I've heard a conductor say to an orchestra:

"That sounded... weird."

Monday, March 28, 2011


I came across the following in my blog post drafts, from last August. I'm not sure why I never got around to publishing this one; it's totally brilliant.

Sarah: I've run 16 miles in the past week.
Nathan: Do we have any bagels?
Sarah: Yes. Can I repeat the conversation we just had, though? I told you I ran 16 miles and you asked if we had any bagels.
Nathan: Oh, I meant to say "Babe, you're so impressive!" and then ask about the bagels.

Incidentally, it is now March and the weather is finally giving us a few promising spring-like days now and then: a glimmer or sunlight here, a chirping bird there. I realized this morning that I cannot wait for both the time and the agreeable weather to go for a run. It's been, shall we say, a while. I miss it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nathan's Star-Spangled Banner

This past week marked the third year that Nathan played as the MA All-State chorus accompanist, and the second year that the chorus performed his own arrangement of the National Anthem under his direction. (You can hear last year's chorus doing the same arrangement in this post.)

Yesterday's performance is already up on YouTube, thanks to various proud parents of chorus kids, I suppose. Well, this proud wife is pleased to share a rather wobbly-in-picture but decent-in-sound-quality video with you so you can all admire my husband's brilliant musicianship.

Word on the street is the kids in the all-state chorus thought Nathan was awesome, and a certain notable conductor made mention of helping him get the arrangement published.

I'm so proud.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

To Infinity and Beyond?

Apparently, I can never stop playing this measure. How unfortunate!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Potential Effects of Wine

This week finds me in yet another pit orchestra, this time at a high school whose music director I've played under two or three times before in recent years. As he and I chatted briefly last night, I asked how his kids were. He replied, "They're doing well - they're 14, 12, and 4 now."

"I didn't realize you had a 4-year-old too!" I exclaimed. "I've seen your older two daughters at shows before but didn't know you had a third."

"Well, yes," he replied with a smile, "and that's why I shouldn't drink red wine -- that's what happens."

Summer Festival

Back in February I mentioned that I took an audition and managed to screw it up quite fantastically.

Well, nonetheless, I've found out that I was accepted to the National Orchestral Institute for this summer.

All accepted participants get a scholarship for the program covering everything except room and board, which is only about $500. For a four-week summer music festival this is pretty good -- often these types of programs cost upwards of $4,000.

It means four weeks away from Nathan, and four weeks away from getting my summer garden going (the program runs for the month of June), but I think I'm going to go. I'm even a little excited about it. We'll be playing Mahler 1, Beethoven 1, Mozart 41, Brahms 2, and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, among many other things. There's be chamber music and un-conducted chamber ensembles in addition to the full symphony orchestra experiences.

And if nothing else comes of it, I at least get a T-shirt.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Avoidance Techniques

I have a paper due today. What kind of professor makes a paper due over spring break? Don't these people know that it would be kinder to make it due before the break so we can enjoy a homework-free vacation?

I'm brainstorming ways to avoid writing this paper.

I think I've come up with some good ones... what do you think?

Dear Dr. A,

I was going to write that ten page paper that is due today, but I did a really intense Jillian Michaels workout DVD earlier this week, and my thighs are so sore I cannot rest my laptop on them without discomfort. Do you think I could have an extension on the paper?

Sarah Marie

Do you think that would fly?


Okay, how about this one:

Dear Dr. A,

I was looking forward to writing that paper today. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather, and my doctor prescribed rest. No, really; she definitely told me to lie on the couch watching episodes of The Good Wife all day, and eating granola when I feel weak.

Sarah Marie

Still not convincing?

Dear Dr. A,

I was so thrilled to get to finish my paper today, especially in light of the beautiful weather that we're actually having for a change, which particularly makes me want to spend time indoors doing homework. However, my religion requires that when the weather gets above 40 degrees for the first time each year, I have to go outside for a jog, or perhaps a nice long walk with my husband. I have to take my camera with me to document the beginnings of spring. I would be happy to send you a picture of bulbs pushing up through the dirt, or tree branches laden with buds filled with promise, in lieu of my paper. Would that be acceptable?

Sarah Marie


Maybe I'd better write that paper now.

Pop Quiz Answered

I recently gave a Pop Quiz here on the blog, which was met with great enthusiasm... from my Dad, anyway. (Hi, Dad!) I offered a prize to anyone who could tell me the connection between The Pirates of Penzance and Thoroughly Modern Millie - two shows I ended up playing just a few weeks apart.

[Incidentally, I'm playing another cycle of Millie this week, at a different venue.]

As promised, here's the answer. (Nobody guessed it. Which is okay, I guess, because I had no idea what I'd give as a prize.)

In the 1983 film version of The Pirates of Penzance they added a song not originally in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates, but taken from G&S's Ruddigore and modified for Pirates. The song is "My Eyes Are Fully Open" and is sung by Frederic, the Pirate King, and Ruth. I guess the filmmakers felt that the Major General Song just wasn't enough, and another frenetic patter song was needed!

Well, Thoroughly Modern Millie also has a modified version of the same song from Ruddigore. It even begins with the same lyrics: "My Eyes Are Fully Open..." In Millie, the song is called "Speed Test." It's pretty funny.

Here's the original from Ruddigore:

And here's the one from the 1983 film of Pirates:

And finally, here it is in Millie. This song always makes me laugh when Millie sings her high note and Mr. Graydon says, "Niiiice." (3:08 in video.) It all starts slowly, but don't be deceived - it is a patter song!

And finally, on an unrelated note, here's my favorite song from Millie, "Forget About The Boy":

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Remember how I said I made some amazing granola?

It turned out so good. I has cinnamon and coconut in it - how could it not be good?

This morning I had it sprinkled over coconut milk yogurt, with fresh fruit.


To make the granola, I used Elise's recipe for quinoa granola, with some modifications. So what I ended up with, after my changes, was basically this:

Cinnamon Quinoa Granola:

1 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
1 1/4 cup whole, uncooked buckwheat groats
1/3 cup red quinoa
2 T chia seeds
3/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted and salted because that's what I had)
1/4 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 T+ cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

[You can add dried fruit like raisins, dried cherries or cranberries, etc. after the granola is cooked.]

Combine dry ingredients. Melt coconut oil and combine with maple syrup, then pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, and bake at 225 for 60 minutes.

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure that buckwheat groats and uncooked quinoa would be particularly tasty in granola, but I take Elise's recommendations seriously so I decided to give it a try. Sure enough, this granola is amazing! So crunchy, and cinnamon-y... and really pretty easy to make. I know some of the ingredients are unconventional, so you might have to make a trip to Whole Foods, or make a few substitutions. But it's worth it - I highly recommend checking out Elise's original recipe or using my modified version and making this granola.

I've been enjoying mine with yogurt, or mixed with puffed kamut cereal and swimming in almond milk.

Or munched on plain while blogging.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Good Morning

My Jillian Michaels workout DVD kicked my butt big-time this morning. And it was good.

But only after I had slept until 9:30. Which was the best.

Allegra recently introduced me to Emma Wallace, and I listened to her all morning.

While I listened to her latest album, I ate homemade granola. Recipe and pictures forthcoming. This is life-changing granola.

I caught up on the blogs I love to read. All good ones. [My top blog recommendations forthcoming. You know you're dying to know my inspiration sources.]

I made breakfast for my husband. Fried egg and asiago cheese sandwiches on toasted bagels.

I have big plans for my spring break this week: hang out with my best friend and favorite man in the world, cook and freeze things to get us through the rest of the semester, do some sewing and craft projects, take pictures with my camera, go for a run outside now that it's getting sunnier, catch up with friends, lounge around the house - you know how it is.

Then there are also the important things, like cleaning the house and catching up on laundry and writing my paper that's due on Friday and practicing my violin.

Wait, no - I think the first things I mentioned are more important, actually.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


The sky has been bluer of late.

The days are getting longer.

Last night I didn't have a gig.

Today I didn't have any obligations at all.

I went to church - the church we started attending after Nathan resigned his position as organist and music director at our old church - because I wanted to, and my spirit was lifted and revived.

Nathan and I both sing in the choir, and we get to sit side by side.

We sang Handel this morning.

The people at this church are nice.

Nathan and I had lunch with a friend afterwards.

Then we all decided to take an excursion to Whole Foods, because I won a $25 gift card from my school in a healthy-meals-nutrition-competition, for my submission of a photo of my breakfast.

Then the three of us spent an impromptu evening with a fun-loving, young-at-heart, wonderful woman. We ate too much good food and drank just enough good wine and laughed a lot.

I wish I had more weekends like this one.

But guess who's on spring break now?

Me, that's who!

Sure, I have to teach all my students and play three rehearsals and three shows and write a final paper, but so what?

After a day like today, nothing can rain on my euphoric parade!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tiny Party Theme

Via a fun blog of collected party ideas, Party Perfect, I came across one of the cutest birthday party ideas ever. It's a Tiny Birthday Party for a tiny birthday girl!

Cupcakes instead of a cake, tiny balloons instead of full-sized, tiny fruit kebabs (I would do mine on toothpicks!), tiny hamburgers, tiny chip bags, tiny brownies, tiny treats like mini gummi bears and mini goldfish crackers, and tiny juice boxes and soda cans.

The cuteness is just killing me.

[Note to self: with hypothetical future baby, be sure to throw a "tiny" themed birthday party while child is still in the "tiny" stages of life.]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


You know you're a violinist

and a conservatory student

[and thereby friends with many other violinists]


you sign on to facebook

and your news feed contains more status updates in Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean characters than in English.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

String Orchestra Concert

Boston.com says to come to my school string orchestra concert tomorrow night! Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" arranged for string orchestra by Mahler, and Handel's Concerto Grosso Op. 6 No. 5. Should be a nice concert, if people practice the tricky parts a bit more between now and then.

And by "people," I include myself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bring It On, Friday

I have approximately one million things (okay, I'm rounding up) to do before tomorrow morning.

Standing in the way of me accomplishing those things (necessary things like practicing Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, Handel, Paganini, Sibelius, and Bach; necessary things like cleaning my whole house from top to bottom before in-laws arrive for the weekend) are:

String orchestra rehearsal (10:15-12:30)
Shostakovich class (1:00-3:45)
[Drive home. Hope for no traffic.]
Teach lessons (5:00-6:30)
Orchestra rehearsal (7:30-10:00)

So when I get home at 10:30 pm, I must accomplish everything in a whirlwind of productivity, then try to get a full night's sleep before tomorrow's 9:00-5:00 teaching marathon followed by an orchestra concert.

No problem.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


11-year-old student E: I've head that everything is funnier when you're drunk. Is that true?

Me: I've heard that too, but I don't really know; I don't get drunk. Do you? [I was joking!]

E: Haha! No! Because I hate the taste of beer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Play On Words

My friend Melissa and I are both in the same graduate program at the same school, and we carpool to many of our classes and rehearsals. Being involved in many of the same activities, we both understand what it's like to be, well, exhausted. And stressed. Etc.

Earlier this week the following conversation took place:

Sarah: Does the smell of this banana bother you? Some people don't like the smell of bananas. Tell me if it does and I'll throw it out the window immediately.

Melissa: Great idea - throw it out the window right now while there's a cop car beside us! In fact, can you aim for the cop? I wonder if a banana counts as a deadly weapon.

Sarah: Assault!

Melissa: No, abanana!


Sarah: Apepper!

Both of us: hahahahaha!

Melissa: We need more sleep.

Sarah: Seriously.