Family, Fidelia Hall, Libraries, Life, Titusville, PA

Never Stop Looking Up

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Take a moment and look up wherever you may be on this Earth.

The trees all around us in Titusville, PA these days are budding, ready to sprout new leaves that will provide us some protection from the sun in the upcoming summer months. A familiar sound reemerges in those trees. The songs and chirps of birds have returned after a few months absence. We are happy to have all of this back after the winter.

A few days ago we sat in our treehouse and heard a very loud sound coming from the trees above. Finn remarked that it must be a hawk because of how loud it was and his idea of what a hawk would sound like. I agreed with him. It sounded like the bird that opened The Colbert Report. We continued to monitor the treetops, looking for our elusive hawk. We only saw the turkey vultures that usually circle the area above our home. It wasn’t them making this sound…it had to be something else, something hidden.

Out of the corner of our eyes we spied two blue jays doing a little song and dance for each other. We were amazed that that sound could come from a blue jay. We enjoyed the dance they did for each other, weaving from branch to branch with ease and grace. Finn, Aero, and I learned something new together. I was reminded how amazing the world can be if we just take a moment to look up. Never stop looking up. You will learn something new when you look up at the world in a different way. I am 37.5 years old and I never knew what a blue jay sounded like until I looked up. Finn and Aero reminded me to do that. I’m now passing that along to you. Have a nice day.

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Life, Music

Thank You ★

Around 2:20AM.

It felt real but the images all around me told me that it was a dream. Floating in and out of space, the visuals were not of this world. The sharp pain on the left side of my head was very real however, and it urged me to WAKE UP. The left side of my brain. Ouch. My eye could barely open. Something is happening inside of your head. But something is also happening elsewhere. WAKE UP.

I walked down the hall and then down the stairs. I knew where the ibuprofen bottle was located. Two? Three? Nah, I’ll take four this time. The pain in my head was familiar but this time it felt a lot stronger. Four seemed like a good number to numb the brain and let me get back to sleep.

I walked into the kitchen. It is constantly lit by a few holiday lights that float like stars above us. I turned sharply. The TV was still on. The blue from the still VCR screen shined brightly. My left eye hit the sharp color and I curled up a little bit. My eye absorbed the image and the rest of my body couldn’t take it. I curled up a little bit and almost tripped over myself.

All of this was a migraine of course but I think it was something more. Sometimes there are people that spend their time on Earth and they have a considerable impact on others. Mr. Bowie was one of those people. SOUND AND VISION was the song that hit me in teenage years. The lack of lyrics from the start, the bizarre sounds throughout, and the “hello here I am an now I’m done and gone” vibe of the whole song hit me. What a great piece of art.

Now Mr. Bowie is gone from this world but his art will always be with us. I think more about his family in the wake of his passing now than I do his art. I hope they are well.

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
I’M A BLACKSTAR

Libraries, MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY, Music

MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012

It is with GREAT honor that I present to you the MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 album. This album was created at the Portland Public Library in our Teen Library Study Room #119 over four weeks in July 2012 and mixed and edited in August 2012.

For this program, we used:
1 Tascam Portastudio 424 Mark III
1 Casio CTK-450 Synthesizer
1 Shure PG58 Microphone

Many thanks go out to all of the teens that participated in this project, specifically Richard, Ilhan, Chrispo, Jordan, and everyone else.  Thanks for lending your talents to the album and sharing this music with the world.

Also, thank you to Michael Whittaker, my coworker who lent his audio mixing wizardry to the project and showed some teens that really cool music can be made with a cassette tape, a microphone, and some cool ideas.

 

 

Libraries, MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY

MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY (Tracks 1-5)

We continue to tweak/manipulate/twiddle/mix/master with the teen music made in the library this summer.  We filled up three tapes of music, so the next step for myself and my cohort Michael has been mixing down the tracks to digital files.  We’re using Audacity to edit the music on the computer.  We’ve simply hooked up our cassette four track machine to the computer in mono and we’re going from there.


(the mixing room, aka my office)

Here’s a small update of the tracks we’ve worked on with the teens.  The best is yet to come…

 

 

Libraries, MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY, Music

MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 (Week 2)

Michael works with a group of teens on a sound collage.

We gathered back in Teen Study Room #119 today to record some more music with our teens.  This week, however, we had Michael Whittaker helping us out.  Michael’s part of our Teen Library team and has a pretty awesome past history of dabbling in all sorts of cool music things.  He’s also really good at twisting knobs and making recordings sound pretty.  This week we started out with our drums machines roaring in the background, hitting buttons and making a sound collage.  The recordings happening this year are little pieces of music: a sound here, a voice there, and some spoken word and organ in between.

Laying down some spoken word
Adding some organ sounds to the spoken word

An idea being tossed for the recordings happening this summer is to compile everything into one long piece…a sound collage of teens…that tells the story of the teen community who visited the library in 2012

I’ll be back next week with some more information about MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 and hopefully some music!

MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY

MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012 (Week 1)

One of my favorite things to do is make music.  It gets even better when you work with really cool people to create something.  To top that, it makes it the best when you work with some really talented and neat teens who just want to try something new.

Last summer, we had our first MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY program.  Local artist Sontiago led the group and in the end the teens recorded two hip hop tracks which you can listen to here:

For the 2012 MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY program, I was unable to get Sontiago back due to scheduling (she’s a super busy person!) and this year I thought it would be neat to try something new.  Earlier in the year I bought an old Tascam Portastudio machine that looks like this:

The machine was very similar to the four track that I started recording my own music on back in the day.  I remember it taking some time to learn how the thing worked but I look back on my time with the machine fondly and am happy I got that experience.  I also wanted to show the teens that music is totally possible with a computer.  Don’t get me wrong…I am a HUGE band of Garageband and other digital tools that can be used to make music but I wanted to show the other side of the story.  Just to try something interesting.

And yesterday we began our journey.  I camped out in one of our study rooms with the Portastudio, my guitar, one mic, and my iPhone which we’d use Garageband to make drum loops.  For our first day, it was just myself and Richard in the study room making noises into a mic.  We clapped, we hummed, we made a beat, we made blips on a synthesizer, and Richard rapped a story in Acholi.  It was so much fun making these little bits of music with Richard.  It reminded me of when I was 15 and twisting knobs and strumming on out of tune guitars and humming into mics in my bedroom.  The difference was that I was alone back then…this time Richard and I shared the experience.  It was really cool.

Here’s a brief clip of some synthesizer noodling that we did yesterday.

I’ll be back next week with some more information about MAKE MUSIC AT THE LIBRARY 2012.