Dubai, the unpacking

I started this post nearly a week ago. All seems to have become quite busy with many meetings and the preparations for the start of school. Now the meetings have finished and school is in full swing. I have decided to post this snippet I started earlier in the week.

A week in the past…Today marks the start of the third week living in Dubai. Today was an eventful day, as our household goods arrived from Vietnam. Well, more accurately our household goods arrived at our home in Dubai, but arrived from Vietnam about three days ago.

A wonderful group from our moving company arrived early, unloaded the truck and quickly had all the boxes in the house. We decided we would do much of the unpacking, as we had many things to do and would unpack all over the next several days.

My wife and I did unbox the kitchen and several other areas. It is always amazing at how well all travelled from our home in Vietnam to storage for six weeks, and then to the ship and all the way to dubai without incident. No damage to anything we have opened. At least so far no damage.

Aside from this day of unpacking the week has been good. Quite a bit of work with the many meetings and preparations for the start of school. We are becoming acquainted with many wonderful new colleagues and friends.

We also have spent some time shopping to pick up needed and some unneeded items for the flat. While a large mall is only a short walk from our flat it does not seem so short when out in the Dubai heat. Quite different from the humid heat of Hanoi, Vietnam. One should always remember that full shoes are a benefit over sandals when walking in the sand. According to my wife, “Wow, it burns!!!”

Now we await important documents which allow us to acquire Internet, television, and the advantageous drivers license. Which is most important between Internet and freedom through driving? I have a feeling it will be Internet. :-)

Best to all and hope the week is grand.

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Dubai, the beginning

It has been one week since my wife and I arrived in Dubai. The sites are grand and we are slowly acclimating to our new home. If only our household shipment would arrive. Having some of the comforts that are in our shipment would make all so much better. While I know a simple vegetable peeler or juicer I is not a necessity, they do make things simpler and more normal.

We have been enjoying several of the local sites and the cuisine. The most recognizable is the Burj Khalifa and the water fountain show, as well as some shopping. All quite amazing.

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This is just the beginning of our life here in Dubai. So looking forward to all in this interesting, and rapidly growing city.

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Boats, rain and trekking

My view of the back of the bus drivers head did finally end. I will admit that my view turned into a view of my eyelids during a short nap.

After arriving at LaVie Vu Linh Ecolodge we had a wonderful lunch followed by a drizzling trek through the area.

LaVie Vu Linh Ecolodge is a project in creation and bringing back sustainable living and agriculture. You can read about the project at the website.

The kids were able to enjoy a boat ride and a wonderful trek through the commune. Along the trek were eucalyptus trees, fragrant cinnamon trees, a visit with a sustainable farmer, and a small boat builder.

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Now it is time for some rest. Cool breeze, but lovely place to rest. More tomorrow and happy wishes to all from LaVie Vu Linh.

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My View

Today begins a short trip with 14 middle school students graded 6 and 7. We are traveling to LaVie Ecolodge, which is about two hours northwest of Hanoi, Vietnam.

The students began this trip yesterday with basic training in rock climbing. They learned to tie basic knots, fit their harness, and various aspects if climbing at VietClimb in Hanoi.

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Now the fun part of the trip. LaVie Ecolodge while inly two hours from Hanoi takes about five hours by bus. There is not any major highway between the two locations. So, for the next five hours this is my view.

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More as the trip continues. Happy day to all.

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Lather, Rinse and Repeat

A conversation on Twitter today has brought up the topic of practice. For musicians practice can be a bane to ones life. We practice, prepare, exercise, drill, study, recite, rehearse and a multitude of other synonyms to do that which we love, and that is to perform music. By definition “Practice” is the act of rehearsing a behavior or engaging in an activity over and over to improve. Practice is not a method by which one improves as practice is a method of reinforcement of actions that generate an outcome. With that, Does practice make one improve or make one perfect as stated in the old adage that “Practice makes perfect”? I think not.

Most individuals go to the practice room, take our their instrument and begin what they believe is practice. This is not a good way to learn. One needs to have a plan, a guide, or some sort of organized structure to get through and accomplish the many tasks a musician needs to accomplish in a single, or multiple practice session.

Practicing is much like studying. So often individuals are not taught how to study in school, just as most young musicians are not taught how to practice. It is so much more than opening a book, reading, or putting horn to lips and blowing. There are some simple steps one can take to become better at the art of practicing. Yes, I said art, as practicing is a learned skill and an art in itself.

Below is a list of a few items one can do to aid in become better at the art of practice:

  • Schedule your practice time and meet your schedule.
  • Log your practice.
  • Take notes during your practice time and during lessons.
  • Review your notes after a practice session and after lessons.
  • List goals for the week, month, year, and your long-term goals such as auditions, etc.
  • Review your goals and see if you are meeting your expectations.
  • Adjust your goals periodically.
  • Warm up – this is not practice time and never let a warmup become practice.
  • Stay focused on your schedule.
  • Remember the practice room is for practice and to learn.

Below is a simple sample practice routine and should vary depending on one’s ability. This is not the end all and many will have other thoughts:

  • Warm up – This is a warmup and not time to practice. Breathing exercises and time to get the lips going with easy long tones in the middle and lower register.
  • Flexibility exercises – Scales in thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, etc., as well as wide slurs.
  • Scales and arpeggios – These are key to flexibility and learning how to play music.
  • Lip Trills.
  • Work the extremes of the horn range.
  • Now time to settle in on etudes, excerpts, solos, etc.

The above items are just simple thoughts, but if put into place in ones daily life improvement can be great. It is YOU that does the work and not the equipment. Fancy lead pipes, mouthpieces, and more are not what makes a great player as a great player is a player that is disciplined and works hard to learn, and to practice. Setting a schedule, meeting that schedule, making notes, reviewing those notes are so important to being successful in any career. You setup your schedule based upon class schedule, ensembles and other events out of your control and you need to meet the times you setup. Do not be over zealous, but set reasonable times for success. Remember that you set your times and set them for you to be successful in all that you do.

One needs to remember that the practice room is for practicing. Do not sit and play the things that you know so that others can hear you play well. Practice time is the time to practice, learn, improve, and most importantly to make mistakes. Learn from the mistakes but do not learn the mistakes. Practice will never make one perfect if one continually practices the mistakes. Of course, mistakes happen in performance and one cannot stop, but in the practice room it is time to assess and review why you made the mistake. Ask yourself questions. Be bold, be blunt about your playing. Assess, evaluate, find the solution, test the solution, re-evaluate, and test another solution if the first did not work. Take your time … Lather, rinse and repeat.

Yes, those words taken from the directions found on bottles of shampoo are important. Lather, rinse and repeat or play, review and evaluate, and repeat this cycle. It is a cycle or circle that never ends. Play through a simple etude then review and evaluate your performance. If you made a mistake think why you made the mistake. Find a correction, make a change, and use your mind to come up with a solution. Then you start over with the solution in place. The solution could be a simple fingering change, or change to your airstream, where you breath, what you are thinking while playing, and so many other options. Lather, rinse and repeat.

From my past, my mentor made me play through excerpts a minimum of ten times without any mistakes. If a mistake occurred I would have to start over at the first play through. So, playing the opening to Till Eulenspiegal’s Merry Pranks I would play through one time, then two, then three and if I made a mistake it was back to playing it the first time. Never continue practicing when a mistake is made, as one will only learn the mistake. Then that mistake becomes learned and when it comes time to perform it is likely that mistake will happen in performance. Be bold, use your mind, learn, practice in the practice room, perform and perform well because you learned to practice perfectly. Lather, rinse and repeat … It is not drudgery, but fun to learn, and fun to perform well. Lather, rinse and repeat.

Please feel free to ask me questions. I am always so happy to try and help in any way that I can. These thoughts are mine are will be different for each individual. Fine tuning to find what works best for you is an important aspect of learning. Just because one person can play a high c by puffing their cheeks, a squeezing their eyes closed does not mean it will work for you. Happy day to all. Lather, rinse and repeat.

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Summer of New Journeys

What an amazing Summer I have experienced. It is difficult to know where to begin, but to say WOW!!

I met an incredible woman last Winter and this was just the first of many wonderful New Journeys. A lifetime past, but now a lifetime together has given a bright light in my life. Jennifer and I were married on 11 July 2011 and have made the start of our life together with a huge move to Hanoi, Vietnam. I cannot express the excitement that is ever present in each day, hour, and minute as we explore our new lives together here in Hanoi.

Panoramic Image of My Neighborhood in Hanoi, Vietnam

Panoramic of My Neighborhood

Hanoi and the people of Vietnam are incredible. I am so enjoying meeting and learning from every person I come in contact with each day. All have been so helpful to me. This is especially true since my skills in the Vietnamese language are nil. I have learned a few words and am able to greet others, give some basic directions, and a a couple of weather terms. Ah, yes it is a joy to try and learn these few words, and one day I will be able to converse in some basic manner.

I have great respect for all people here on our incredible planet, and feel it is important to respect the culture, society, to try and learn the language, and embrace all that is Vietnam. Thus, I am trying new words, walking up to people asking questions, and being what my Twitter profile states, “…all around good guy with an inquisitive mind”.

Each day this journey has new paths that are unveiled. Choosing a path, has nothing to do with worrying about whether the path chosen is correct, but that one makes a choice and learns. Each path brings about new people, thoughts, sights, sounds, and so many different things that I cannot list in this post. A path is about exploring and I am doing so every chance that comes about. Even the most simple path of acclimating my body to the heat and humidity of Hanoi can be daunting, but to get my running game back on track I must chose that path and learn. The same goes for anything we do in life … a bit of reinventing … never think that one knows all that is on any particular item as all in life is ever-changing, ever-growing, and truly a journey along the many paths of life.

This Summer of New Journeys has been a grand experience with my marriage to Jennifer, the move to Hanoi, and sharing ones life with all in the world. This short post is the beginning of what I hope will be many posts about the many experiences in Hanoi, the wonderful people of Vietnam, and all that exists in this grand world of ours.

Keep checking back for new posts as this is going to be a joyous ride. Also, keep up with me on the various social networking sites as I write, tweet, post about life, share photos of all that I see through the camera lens, and meet new friends around the world.

Cyclist

Early Morning Cyclist

Gardner taking care of the roundabout

Gardner

Vietnamese woman walking on streets of Ciputra, Hanoi, Vietnam

Walker

 

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Found on Facebook – Pillsbury Dough Boy

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Pillsbury DougboyDoughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

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