Saturday, December 6, 2014

In The Mood

Originally, I was going to use this post and just post it on my sister's wall so she would feel the love, but then I decided it needs to be shared with more people and I would spread all the love!

Every time Christmas comes around, I just REALLY feel the need to listen to the Messiah all the way through.  The hard part, is that I have been ruined for life and the MoTab's version just doesn't cut it.  Sorry Motab fans!  (Thanks a lot college.)

Someday, I am going to own a baroque violin, and play in England, or California or something.  Seriously, these versions are pretty darn awesome.  I dare you to listen to the whole thing!  I personally, believe this makes for excellent Saturday cleaning.  The Messiah is such a pivotal piece of literature, that it should be listened to in it's best form.  Obviously.  It really does sound so much better!

If you hate the soloists in this one, here's another one.

Take a listen, mop the floor, wrap a present or something.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Much Needed

A friend of mine sent this letter to me.  It was much needed.

Everything in the letter is scarily accurate.  I have hit the point in the year where I want desperately to just leave, go home to where I know there is food in the fridge, and maybe someone to ask me how my day was.  Really, it isn't that bad I know! but some days I very much feel like it is.  I get up to go to school every day for these kids, and once I get there I remember.

Recently, they've all been saying, "Ms. Helm listen! Look what happens when I go like this!!" Proceed to make inhuman/gross noises out of their instrument.  Isn't that sooo cool?|!?  I cringe, and they laugh.  They haven't done this until recently, so I'm guessing it's the weather.  

I play a funny on my advanced kids every week, and finally last week my one brilliant student caught on to what was happening.

A little background; my students think I only like them on Tuesday's, because I told them so.  After a few weeks on a Wednesday I told them, "Students that was so yesterday and maybe today I will like you! Eventually, they've start arguing about whether the day I like them is Tuesday or Wednesday, and if they say it IS Tuesday that you like us, and I say well, I am pretty sure it is only Wednesdays.  On Wednesday's I tell them the same only that the day is Tuesday.  They go bananas arguing about it as though it is the most important thing, and I laugh.  The lone cello player, this week while they were arguing told me very seriously he was sure I said Tuesday's. I said I know, he said then why..... trailed off...and then I looked at him raised eyebrows and we both started laughing.  He said, "Ms. Helm, you are good!"       I am good.

Speaking of cellos, I bought cello rosin just to have some on hand.  It is the nice stuff, and I used it all my cello bows today.  I wish I could capture their faces when this big noise comes out al of a sudden.  It scares them, and then they start giggling (cellos are always giggling).  Then the viola players all want some of the magic stuff. "Don't you want louder too?" they say.  I just laugh (no way jose).  My beginners don't understand why they can't have some.  Silly violas!

As you can see, nothing too exciting.  I am surviving, barely.  Glad to get a break!  Oh, and here is the letter.  I copy and pasted it.   It's from a blog post I found from somewhere.

Dear First-Year Teacher,
I love you. I know that it’s soon, and I know that this might freak you out, but I can’t keep it inside anymore. I LOVE YOU! There. I said it.
I love that you have willingly entered a profession knowing that it is difficult. You’ve heard horror stories of the long hours, the nonexistent weekends, the classroom management, the parent management, the education policies that continue to get more and more ludicrous, the tiny paychecks, and you showed up anyway. You’re here because teaching and kids and the future mean a lot to you.
I love the fresh ideas that you bring. Whether you’re coming in with a degree in education or six weeks of training from an alternative certification program, you are bursting with cool ideas and new ways of doing things. Online funding for field trips, crazy new apps that look like they’re from the future, foldables for note-taking so elaborate they make paper cranes look like child’s play: I LOVE YOUR BRAIN! Some of your ideas will work and be absolutely genius, some might be on their way to genius and just need some tweaking, and some might crumble apart in your hands as you stand there weeping, but don’t you dare stop cranking them out. I need them! Your students need them! The world needs them!
I love your energy and enthusiasm. Where does it come from, and how can I arrange to have it injected intravenously? There are times where you feel like your joy and spirit have been stomped on and intentionally set on fire by your students or other people around you, but just stop, drop, and roll onward, my friend. Your optimism and upbeat attitude are just some of the things I love best about you.
I know that it's hard sometimes. I've been there. The paralyzing, hopeless feeling that settles in on Sunday afternoons. The head-on-your-desk cries at the end of a school day (and sometimes, right in the middle of it). The words that feel like the only ones you use while speaking to family and friends anymore: "Sorry, I' can't make it to [special event or fun outing] because I have to [insert teaching commitment here]." But just know that it won't always be this way. It's not that it gets easier, necessarily, or that those things disappear, but right now you are getting stronger, faster, and more equipped to manage the parts that are difficult. So don't give up. Keep fighting the good fight. There are too many people that love you and need you. (Like me.)
I’m sorry to tell you this in a letter instead of in person, but I’ve been by your house every night this week and you haven’t been home. Are you working or something?
 Your Very Public Admirer
Love, Teach teaches English at a Title I middle school and writes about it at In addition to teaching, she enjoys most large bodies of water, tetherball, and this YouTube video of baby fennec foxes taking a bubble bath.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fall, Pictures and Popcorn

There are perks to being a teacher.  I see them occasionally.  I'm learning that a first year teaching job is all about how you handle the ups and the downs.  It really is up and down ALL the time and so you just muddle your way through it the best you can and hope it works out. And you pray a lot.  And cry.  And laugh hysterically. And call your mom. It really is the best job, most of the time.

I love Fall.  It is my favorite season, hands down.  I mean, I like the other ones too but something about Fall...  It's probably the spiced cider I feel validated to drink more frequently with the time of year.  It literally tastes like liquid fall in a cup. After that description you know you want to go try it!

Anyways,  it has been a crazy week.  I just finished my very first concert!  Woohoo!  Sometimes, I look at it the wrong way and say "Man, I really shouldn't be stressed because I only have one group of students to really worry about and not four like my other friends." I should stop.  But here I was, stressing anyway.

My kids did very well!  I know this for three reasons.  A. I had a parent ask me how to get her kid into orchestra.  B.  I got flowers (Automatic A's! but not really.)

C. My kids played their little hearts out!  I did a concert reflection and it was pretty hilarious.  I'll put those on the next post. I was so proud! An orchestra mother told me that she was so happy that this year I had picked out a piece that they could pretty well play and a piece that they could play super well, and that was awesome.  I guess that is a pretty high compliment.  I had to start the downbeat quickly because if I paused at all I'm pretty sure that the kids would see my hands were shaking. I didn't have to say anything either, which is also good because I would have rambled and rambled...ok moving on.

I just like being a teacher because kids give me stuff, duh! Happy Halloween bring on the caramel popcorn! I was given a bag from a student who assured me it would be the best caramel popcorn ever!! It was pretty tasty!  I didn't take a picture and I don't think anyone would feel better if I showed you the empty bag. Caramel popcorn to me is like crack.  Good stuff!
 My other gifts tend to be drawings.  I took off their names so if the picture looks a little weird that's why.
Apparently, I have a think for popcorn which is what that big one in the middle right below is.

Wise words. 
I don't really know what this one is, but I like it. 

Made from a students palms and fingers

On here somewhere it says I am a music rocker. I prefer the term roller...hee hee!

And I have no idea. 

I appreciate them.  The sad part is that only one of these pictures is from one of my actual students....Hmmm...

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I don't know how to spell DayQuil and I'm too lazy to look it up.

For my readers' information playing a concert while on DayQuil can be quite exciting.

For the last TWO weeks I have been telling my students that they need to come to THIS concert!  This one in particular because we were playing Shostakovich and it is one of my all time favorite pieces! I first discovered this piece in a music history class and I even told my students all about it, and showed them some of a recording/video of the piece. I love music history!

 The concert was so exhilarating!  Besides Shosty, we played Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 which is one of my favorite piano concertos that my brother in law played on a CD for me once. Thanks Jim!  (Go listen to it on Youtube while at work or something.)  Basically, this was a dream programmed concert in my opinion!!  One of my college colleagues plays in the symphony with me and we were laughing but were a little sad because traditionally at college after a concert, the music students get together to talk to the conductor, each other, laugh, talk about silly things that happened while playing and then go and eat some ice cream together because the ice cream shop is close. planning on the ice cream shops part!  It doesn't work like that here. The conductor disappears and everyone goes home.  What are you supposed to do with all your energy and feeling of general epic awesomeness???

Oh, back to my students... I even offered them double extra credit for attending.  Oh, their faces!  "DOUBLE EXTRA Credit??  Are you serious??  Miss Helm, nobody gives DOUBLE extra credit."   Well small child, I do when it is imperatively important and will change your life forever,  and I REALLY want to you to go  But I don't tell them its only 10 points.  See, you don't tell them that I get to pick the number to double :).
  Even though my Dayquil over alert, yet slightly slow stupor made me see the words arco and not pizz. and I may or may not have played in a rest (my stand partner had a grand time giggling about both of these.. sad face)  Stupid DayQuil that I love because it makes me feel happy... and able to play because my drippy nose stays mostly under control!

Guess how many of my beloved wonderful students came! Out of the 7 that promised me with adoring faces, flowers and chocolate, I had one. ONE!  ONE measly student!  Oh man, I was livid.  I even came to this concert with a drippy nose, and they can't come??? AND, she didn't even bring me chocolate or flowers!

The whole way home...mufg gurgle *grinding teeth noises* aearaerg..stupid kids afaerge nagrebstarg... great concert opportunity.....mmreghha... I have failed them..argdfgni aaerhb!

However, on the drive home I came up with a brilliant plan of attack for next time!! Get this, I will just stick in a 50 point zero in the grade book so they all think they are failing and tell them if they want those points they will go to this concert and  Bam! Their grades will go up.... Brilliant!  Genius!  I texted this brilliant plan to a fellow teacher friend and she kindly told me that my idea while brilliant, was most likely was not legal and to go bed now.  I listened to her sage advice, took my NyQuil and went to bed.

Here, watch this video, maybe then you will understand why I LOVE this, or you won't and that's fine.  I am only posting part 1. You can watch the rest on your own time.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Firstly,  I am  sort of apologizing for not having any pictures for this post.  However, I feel less guilt because you got to look at so many from the last two posts.  Yep, guilt gone.

These are some of my favorite questions I am asked on a daily basis. (no sarcasm here..)

1.  Do we need our music today? 
2.  Are we playing today?  (how often, when I am here, do we play small child?)
3.  Does this G sound good? 
4.  What do you mean, count?  Like, count to 4? 
5.  Why does it sound bad when I go like this? 
6.  Why do I have a zero for that practice record? 
7.  What do you mean extra credit?  How much extra credit? 
8.  Wait, this G is on the D string???  Since when??? 
9.   Do we need stands?
10.  When did you hand out those?  I never got one!  (I hand them out the same day same
11. Why is my bow not making any sound?
12. Do you have any rosin?
13. Can you play like Lindsey Sterling?  Do you know who that is?  
14. Miss Helm, are you 35?  Miss Helm what is your husband like?  (yes they really think I am 35....) 

I am sure there are a plethora more, but these are my favorite....not!

This right here....story of my life!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What happens in Vegas

If one has a blog, I suppose one should use it.  

This post is going to include the 2 things I have learned this week.  

1.  Chocolate is a strong motivator.  I had a student slip out before the bell.  I hate that.  Don't do it.  That is what I told them.  So then I emailed his mother.  I happen to relate well to her and her family, and she replied that he will do whatever it takes to apologize.  

The next day he looked properly chastized and very ashamed and said, "Miss Helm, I'm sorry, what can I do to make it up to you?"  I being the proper teacher, said "Student,  bring me chocolate and all is well." 

 He looked at me, "what?"    I said, "You heard me," and continued tuning.  
Here is what I got for my troubles.  I think he is forgiven.  He told he his mom said he had to tie the bow.
 2.  Students do stupid things even though you tell them a million times.  I always tell them to keep their cases closed when not using them.  She dropped her bow, endpin first and this is where it landed.  I don't feel too bad because its a white $69.00 violin from Amazon I can't tune.  Does that make me a bad teacher?

Two weeks ago, I had the best company!  I haven't seen my nephew in two years and I like that he and his sister can come and visit!!

She came because there was a very large music festival. He came because he is awesome!  We didn't make it in time to see the band I wanted to, but oh well it still was fun.  This particular band, according to my nephew, is the epitome of teenybopper angst music.  He was right, but I still enjoyed myself.  I give them a little slack because one member is from New Zealand.  I think that is a valid reason.  I think I wished a little that I was younger and knew all these things, but oh well.  

 She is having so much fun!
Afterwards we went exploring.  I hadn't been to the Linq so we went.  

I told her she needed to pose because there was a fountain!

I think she looks super great in this picture.  Probably because she can be taller in the frame.  Everyone needs a touristy picture.  I like the guy waving or fist pumping in the background.

 My attempt.  I don't think it is even very profile picture worthy but oh well.

 We explored the Flamingo casino.  It was actually pretty fun!  I wouldn't mind going again.


 We found ducks.  And the Koi were humungaginormous!  I really have never seen them that big.  I used to think I would want a pond with Koi.  Nevermind.

 I took a picture just at the right moment.

 Of course after this we went to the Bellagio.  I had loved their display of kites and things that they had the previous week and so I was very excited, but they had changed it!!! I was so sad!  But this one was beautiful too.

Third time's a charm.

 I liked the bears! They were so cute but this picture has a very awkward angle.  Oh well.  I thought they were awesome!

I don't have any pictures of us by the fountains or with our gelato which in my opinion was the best part.  We just chatted with our gelato and passed our cups of delicious goodness around to each other  for tasting, which we just do naturally.  Family habits don't die I guess. We talked about how our family is super weird and very cool. We talked a long time.  It was the best!  
The highlights: in what other family would there have to be a rule no singing at the table?  Right?!?  We talked about our absolute favorite moments of our parents, family reunions, nicknames.  Me not having aunt in front of my name with them, the strange things our family members do.  I learned new things about my sister and brother-in-law from their children :)  They learned new things about their grandparents.  Sorry, you won't get to read any of those things here.  I don't think anyone will tell you either.  What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas don'tcha know.  

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


 I don't know if anyone reads this blog anymore, but I felt the need to post.  Sometimes, it is hard to write things that you think are interesting but no one else may care about.  So if you are still reading this blog, great!  I think I might start using it more now, now that I have a grown up job that might be slightly more interesting for people to read. College, stuff..who cares?  And maybe I will use it as therapy when days get today.  Hard days are gross.

Well, (as this post is aptly named)  it's been a year.  I had been in Arizona for a year and had plans to stay there.  It's a hopping place.  Dancing, single people, and quite the social scene, and very Mormon.   Many great things and sad things happened to me there there.  The most important being, I got a degree! Then a job, well technically two jobs.
I miss Arizona.  A LOT! So, now you get to read all about how cool it is there!

  I miss picking oranges and REAL orange juice... and I miss fresh goat cheese and baby goats!

These were in the backyard.  Sometimes I play in a pit and get paid :). I cant get the video to work..sorry!

 And baseball games...and my uber cool friends!  I think this is what I miss the most.

 Sometimes I miss my desk, but I get over that one quickly...
So after a few months I couldn't handle doing nothing but applications! Stir crazy!  That gets old really quickly.
So I found a friend and got a new job as a human resources assistant.  I absolutely loved the people I worked with.  They seriously were the best.  I did however bribe them with chocolate so they would like me :)  Being behind a desk after student teaching eventually makes you go crazy too.

  I took care of the insurance stuff and helped Alison my awesome coworker with other things.  I don't have a picture of her, but she is super cool and has red hair like me, which made work fun and very entertaining (so I hear).  People didn't know who I was so Randy made me a sign.  Thanks Randy! This is Randy...he tells the best stories and we always get lots done.

 I miss my Tongan ladies and their ice cream. Basically I miss all my roommates.  I wish I had a picture of all of them.  

I miss my best friend Ashley. 

We very seriously took a million pictures of ourselves, and no we are not vain.   These other ones are much better....

I won a wheelchair race...shocking.  
Went to a wedding

 Had to make a checklist where to move, because I was not doing what I wanted to in AZ and filled out 24 applications and had 8 interviews with 2 job offers.  I hit a milestone number with the car...well...close

Sold it and got a new one....yay!  Picked up moved to Nevada and found a drawerful of music... Before..

And I miss kayaking.  Mostly just the water...I admit.  

Well, I know this post was super long and you are tired of reading about how great Arizona.  I guess I feel I owe that place a little.  I found myself again there, and found myself with new interests.  On the flip side, having a job in your degree area is a good thing.  Moving was necessary I am learning. I think I wouldn't be as on top of my grading if I was in AZ because I know people there and would rather play with them then do grading.  Have I mentioned I don't really like grading?

Teaching is hard, but in a totally different way than I expected.  I sure have a lot of up days and down days, days I love my students and days I want to squish their little heads.  Today was a squish their heads, but I think I will make it the week.  Sometimes I give my students good vibes and tell them I do like them, but only because they give me stuff.    That right there is chocolate...payment for leaving before the bell.  A good days work!