Friday, September 22, 2017

Bracing Myself

The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection. -Thomas Paine

Having been released after the periodontal surgery I had six weeks ago, it was time to move to the next phase. On Wednesday, which was also my birthday, I spent two hours in a dental chair for a thorough periodontal cleaning. I have had periodontal cleanings before, but this one was overkill if you were to ask me. Then the following day (yesterday as I am writing this), I spent another two hours at the orthodontist.

Braces again...40 years from the last time I had them at 17, almost to the month. I was thinking, hoping, that braces should make me look younger by at least ten years, but I do not think that worked. Maybe the wrinkles and whitening hair is a giveaway?

So, I am trying to get used to the metal in my mouth and the tension on my teeth with its new aches, which is why I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and could not go back to sleep. I finally gave up sometime after 4:00 and here I am at my computer, having much to do, but not wanting to do it. Computers, although inherently innocent, are such terrible time wasting devices when they are not being used productively!

I have been rather productive the last two weeks as to organizing our homeschool and getting on a schedule. The Princess needs structure to get through her assignments (and I need it too). With her working on Friday and Saturday nights and having added giving piano lessons, she has to be even more flexible than before and do some assignments on some evenings.

While my mind is on getting her focused on her education and piano, I was also looking forward to starting back to work on my house clean up, repurposing rooms, and renovations...but my husband has been tossing around more ideas about the business we might be starting and these ideas are good, but just seem to be too overwhelming to try to put together with just the two of us...actually I am not sure that it will not be just mostly me.

He, of course, is feeling pushed into it because he is scheduled next week to start an install that keeps him away from home for five weeks straight, including weekends, which is against our rules, particularly because he is salaried, not eligible for financial compensation, and has to fight to get off for the extra days because they have him going all over the eastern side of the country, even though other co-workers are sitting at home. He was told that this customer would not buy the machine unless they were promised that my husband would be installing it and other customers also specifically request him.

On the manufacturing side, which is based in England, the Brits have decided to manufacture only one machine to streamline production on their end because of higher demand. So, instead of customizing the machine to the customers specifications at the factory, now the field engineers are to customize their base machine in the field. Therefore, an install that would have only taken three weeks, without working weekends, now can take up to six weeks straight because he is not just adding to the machine, but also removing things from it as well to send back to the factory, which seems to be counterproductive. All this time, the customers are getting impatient with the installer, because they expected to the machine to be production ready in two to three weeks.

My husband is one of their top break-fix guys as well as installer, so often what happens is that his manager is hounding him about finishing the install because there is a problem with a machine somewhere that no one else they sent was able to fix. By the time my husband gets there, the customer is needing to vent about how how the machine being down is losing him business because of how long the problem has persisted, but at the same time they are relieved to see him, because they trust him to actually fix it. He is in demand, which is great for job security, but it is wearing on our family. They need about three more field engineers but the manager cannot find anyone who wants to work for the company. Small wonder there.

I am still not sure what we are supposed to do and when we are to do it if we are. We have asked and are waiting for certain things need to fall into place, if having a business or being self employed are paths to which my Lord is leading us.

Meanwhile, I am in braces...and looking forward to a better smile on the flip side.

My Lord, thank you for the opportunity to have a nice smile again and help my family to find reasons for smiling. Please, my Lord, grab our hands tightly as if we are little children unaware of dangers around us as You lead us on the path You have prepared.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Home Education Fit for a Princess

We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people. -Diane Flynn Keith

I think all homeschooling parents start out with big dreams that their children with be absolutely beyond brilliant academically. We all look for the best of the best curricula and have a basic plan. Then comes maybe it all worked for the children, maybe some struggled a bit, and maybe what was working so well for one, or two, or three just did not work for others. It is then that parents realize that their plans, ideas, and dreams are not meshing with reality. I have only one child so I really need to get it right.

We had a serious set back two years ago when we felt we had no recourse but to pull the Princess out of the Learning Center within three months into her third year there due to situations going completely out of control. For one, she was not sleeping, had terrible anxiety, and was depressed. In part, that was because she became overwhelmed with her assignments and anxious about everything being on transcripts starting that year. Her science and math teachers did not tell us that she only handing in about half her assignments. Then to complicate an already concerning emotional state in the Princess, a very shy boy came into the picture, who had his own disturbing issues and was convinced he was in love with her, but took that to a very unhealthy level...with his mother enabling the whole thing. Even after we pulled her out of the school, where she was only taking two subjects, it took another six more months and a police report about him stalking her before the boy and his family finally stopped, though we had made repeated requests prior to that.

Although the Princess was improving with the pressure off from the school, I think it took another six months before she really relaxed and even longer for me. I felt it was far more important to have devotions and let her talk some things out than to keep to a strict assignment schedule most of last year. I began seeing more of those attributes I loved, that she had when she was younger, coming out. Last summer we switched from her from the Prentice Hall Algebra 1 textbook (made for schools), which she was over halfway through from the Learning Center, to Life of Fred Geometry. I did this because she always responded better to geometry and she learns math so randomly, so she has learned about algebra better from the geometry (insane to me, but works for her). I also have to say here that I really tried not to like Life of Fred, as the name just sounds idiotic to me and the story line is of a six year old math mega genius being a professor of KITTENS University...I mean, it just sounded too silly to be a serious math book. However, it is presented in story form to give a reason for the math. It is also a self teaching book and the Princess has been doing quite well with it.

Just as things were going in a better direction with the Princess, the Queen Mother fell last year...twice. The first time in June and the second time in December. Everything in our lives seem to take a back seat to working through the process of how much she would recover and where she would be living after rehabilitation and then trying to get her qualified for Medicaid. We homeschooled but not with the focus I was hoping we could have. I mean, we only bred our rabbits once last fall because everything in our lives was so up in the air. I am thankful to my Lord for the Florida house being sold so easily and quickly. That took so much off of us.

I went through all that to say that the last two years feels like we made very slow and halting progress in our homeschool. I had these plans, long ago, that the Princess would be taking a few college courses this year, her junior year, but now I feel that was not meant to be. So, I had some long talks with my Lord and my daughter and my husband and then myself. I needed to let go of some expectations and hopes to do what was best for the Princess, according to her desires and attributes. Even though she went to a STEM school for a couple of years and enjoyed it, she is not really a STEM type. She still knocks the sock off in language arts though!

One thing that is very different in her life than most kids her age is that she has been writing for a bi-monthly newsletter published by a local co-op health store about health related issues since she was fourteen. At first I helped her to understand how to write an article, as I have been doing that myself for about eighteen years for the same newsletter, but she now often submits her articles without giving me a chance to look them over and some are still being published, much depending on space and the worthiness of all the submitted articles from other writers.

Another thing is that while few, and by that I mean none of the friends she has, are working, not even one boy who is waiting to go to a trade school because he got his GED too late for the first semester. The schools are laying on homework so heavily that even all the piano teachers complaining how they are losing students because of it and not getting new ones. Highschoolers cannot really have a job and pass to the next grade these days. However, the Princess is playing piano usually two to three weekends a month and she has added taking on two young piano students, although the mother of one (also aunt to the other) has been sick so they have not yet started. The Princess has the benefit of using her talent to earn some money, improve her skills with the piano, and learn about being more self sufficient...and was that not my real goal in homeschooling all along?

With all things being considered, I also felt led to make a big change in science. I found a curriculum that integrates physics and chemistry without all the math. It will earn her two credits, but it is not as intense as the Bob Jones science book she was using at the Learning Center for nine grade. That usually had about 30 vocabulary words and six (usually more) major theorems per chapter that she was supposed to remember. I thought it was rather advanced and she was not moving through it very well. This new curriculum is lacking in labs, but I purchased extensive kits for chemistry and physics that was suggested when I called to inquire about the curriculum a bit more. We plan to do one of the labs each week. This curriculum is also written in more of a story form giving history about the discoverers and properties of the topics in a less textbook manner. She loves it!

What I have is a Classical literary child strong in languages and language arts, as she tests very high in grammar, reading comprehension, and writing structures. Heavily relying on living books, story-form books, was the method I began her teaching, so I am not surprised, but it was a bit challenging coming into high school level subjects to find curricula in the STEM world that would work well with her. At this point, it seems everyone is supposed to just get dry textbooks, as if the colors they can add now will make it more interesting rather than just being busy looking.

I updated my homeschool list of materials here on my blog and I added some of her activities and accomplishments because her piano and writing have not just stayed in the home. The little lady has been stepping out with her talents and that is really important to all of us. While she may not be the academic super star devouring and excelling in all subjects as I hoped she would, I have to remind myself one of the top reasons I was drawn to homeschooling and that to teach the child, not the subject, using the interests of the child and preparing her to be a self-disciplining, self-sufficient, responsible adult.

I have not been excited myself about homeschooling for over a year, until now. I feel that this direction is so very right for her and my Lord has told me this too.

Thank you, my Lord, for leading me to curricula that will work so well for my daughter and give her the time she needs to pursue her talents and interests.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

There's a Storm Coming!

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it’s right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. ~Patrick Young

As if it was not enough to worry about my husband's oldest daughter and her family in the Houston area when Hurricane Harvey dumped the heaviest of rains for several days (and they were just fine, thankfully, with a little flooding in the roads mostly) now we have Hurricane Irma and its tagalong Hurricane Jose setting a course for Florida's eastern coast, towards the Queen Mother.

The Queen Mother is not very happy with any kind of change, but when she found out from some of the residents that last year they ended up in a school and some had to sleep on the floor...well, actually, I just cannot find the perfect word to adequately describe how she has been expressing her feelings on the matter right now.

I can think of only one time that she and her husband actually evacuated, coming here to stay with us two days, when the Princess was a young thing, and then they went scurrying back home in fear of looters and never did it again because they worried more about the house being away from it than the storm itself. In the fifty years they lived there, they never had flooding in the house, but I have seen row boats in the street once. So, all those years that we worried about them and then her alone with such storms, asking—begging, really—for her to move and now she is unhappy with us for where she is, which is closer to the coast than she was, but that is the facility we could get her in at the time being that she was not yet approved for Medicaid.

However, as messy as evacs go, my husband and I feel less stress about it because the Queen Mother is being taken care of by people rather than being alone in a house. The nursing home has had more time to plan and they are going to start the evacuation process today. They were considering a place further north and a bit more inland but since have settled on evacuating everyone to a sister facility in Orlando, in the middle of the state, which will likely also be affected, but usually not as badly as the coastal areas where they are presently.

However, this is a huge storm! I have heard of it described as the size of Ohio and in another place they measured the diameter against Florida, which very nearly took up the complete length of the state from the north border to its southern tip. It is massive and so very strong. I cannot imagine what it is like for the people in Barbuda, where every house has been damaged. Although it will have lost strength, it still will affect us here in Georgia as well. My husband is coming home and he may not be going back out at the beginning of next week.

We inherited a generator from the Queen Mother's house that my father-in-law bought many years ago and was never used but maybe once. It is not a very good one, but my husband was trying to get it working for more than just a few minutes so he could sell it and get the one he really wanted. It has always been our intention to become a bit more self-sufficient and prepared especially with two big freezers full of food.

So, yesterday my husband and I decided it was time to get one that really works, before people here decide to do the same. He knew exactly what model he wanted and how much it was. The problem was more about where to go pick one up, because while a number of chain stores claim to sell it, most of them have to ship it, and with a hurricane coming...well, it is just more iffy about whether or not we would get it before the storm hits. But instead of having to drive an hour away to a place that would more likely have it (I would have called first), I found a small local, family-owned business that had one in stock a few minutes away. They even put some gas in it to be sure it would run. I just love small businesses, they usually have such great customer service! Usually, their prices are higher, but not in this case, so good all around. They placed it in my van for me and now we have a generator, one that we can use for camping and hunting as well as power outages.

I would be happy except that it is in the back of my mind that this is a precaution against the damage this storm could cause.

My Lord, so many people are being affected by these powerful storms. Please, my Lord, be gracious with Your mercy and help us all to help those in need.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Fork in the Path of My Life

It is not your business to succeed, but to do right; when you have done so, the rest lies with God. -C.S. Lewis

I am sitting here at my computer contemplating....where I am in my life, how to get my house back in order (which is overwhelming me), getting back to homeschooling, keeping my daughter moving on the path I know that the Lord has set before her in this season, but more than all that, I am trying to find my footing as to my own path, which at this time seems to be in service between my daughter and my that all there is for me? Am I doing what God wishes of me?

Then there is this: My husband and I have come to that place where we see a fork, a place of decision where we must choose to take only one direction in the road of our lives, because we have pretty much ruled out standing in the same place and just looking at the fork. One way is far more predictable in its destination and has been a long time dream of ours, while the other—well, it could wind around to the same destination or go some undiscovered place that we will love more a place we would never hope to go with all kinds of regrets. Actually, the predictable way will have as many regrets because the other way has so much potential and yet-to-be-tried possibilities.

There have been a few—very few and now very precious—times when my husband and I stepped out in faith to do something we thought was completely illogical, far too risky, and quite possibly insane, except we also felt strongly that our Lord was telling us to do it and even though the voices of reason in my brain told me I should worry—and I did—still every time I went to the Lord, I was immediately at peace.

It is the difference between seeing is believing and believing is seeing (or believing in the unseen). In this material world, in our flesh, we look for safety and security, which is a desire at odds with our spirit. Our spiritual part looks to be closer to God, who is the only real safe and secure place to be, and that is its sole goal, except for bringing others closer to God as well. However, we are blind to the spiritual realms; at least, most of us cannot see and feel what is spiritual in the same way, with that same undeniable certainty, as we do what is made of matter. For instance, gravity is a undeniable certainty that everyone recognizes, but many people without the experience think that those of us who claim to hear God are...crazy, because to the unbeliever (or even unbelieving believer) hearing voices in your head is a mental disorder, especially if you think it is God talking to you (rather than except when it is God talking to you). However, developing spiritual senses is difficult and usually involves discomfort (not encouraging feelings of being safe and secure) in the material realm, the thing we try to avoid, but never really do. On the other hand, there is confirmation and manifestation of the spiritual into the material and that is when you see validation of what was believed, as in prophetic words come to pass as well as miracles and healings happen.

Sunday morning, my husband and I walked into our church service. As the praise and worship band started, I stood up and looked over to my husband who was messing with his phone, to turn it off, and waiting for him to stand with me. I had a momentary prayerful thought. You know the type where you simply think, "Lord, I feel a bit lost as to what I am supposed to do...," and you let that just trail off. I was not really expecting an answer, at least not immediately. However, as soon as my husband stood up and I tried to begin to sing, I had to sit down or I would have been on the floor. My Lord, apparently had much to say to me and it was going to be said right then, so I blocked out all the praising that I really wanted to do and just listened.

First, He told me how pleased He was with what we are doing for the Princess. Having her play piano at the restaurants, starting to teach piano, preparing for the competition next year, and even buying the grand. I felt His sweet approval for us all walking on the path open to all opportunities that He had provided for her. And I have noticed some changes in her; she is having less meltdowns and showing more respect and maturity...not all the time, but those few and far between occurrences are becoming more frequent.

Second, was about my husband...that new thing we had been thinking and talking about trying to decide if it really is the direction my Lord wants us to take, the risky one. The one that causes too much of an emotional reaction to be sure I am hearing God clearly. He was telling me that He had prepared the way and He is blessing us. Still, I asked for signs. I asked for three. My husband had asked for two.

My husband's first sign came when he was working out of state last week. One night he woke quite early in the morning and the framework of it all was just pouring out so fast that he actually did a voice recording so he would not forget anything. I would also count that as my first one as well.

My second sign was in that moment during the praise portion of the Sunday service. The third for me and the second for my husband was at the end of the service. Our pastor said he had been praying in tongues for hours throughout the week and he could have easily given everyone there a prophetic word. I remember thinking that he will probably not be calling on us, but he felt led to call out five and we were the fourth ones. As soon as he called our names, I was smiling and in tears. I knew that was going to be it, another sign.

He told us that God has seen all the things we have been doing in secret, things people did not know but that God did, and that He was going to bless us. He included the word "promotion."

My husband and I were particularly quiet as we left until we came home to sit down for lunch. I shared what my Lord had told me and, since the Princess was helping with the children during service, we told her about what the pastor had said. I asked my husband how he interpreted the term "promotion," to which he said that he tried not to think of the way he did but...he saw it as the second of the two signs for which he had asked. (Yeah, it was my third of three, too.) Then I learned during that conversation that my husband had thought I had talked to the pastor about what we were considering. I corrected him saying that I had not said a thing about it to anyone at the church...just one or two long distant friends.

About nine years ago when my husband had lost his job, due to downsizing, and was out of work for the first time in his life, I spent hours on my knees in prayer and many days of fasting asking that he would be able to get a job before the severance pay ran out and I believed that my Lord told me that he would. We had just received the last check when he was called in to interview for a job based solely on his reputation (because even though he had submitted a resume, it was lost in the sea of data because it did not specifically fit the job description, a problem when you are versatile, I guess) and was given it that day. It did not pay as well as we were used to, but it was a job and we did not even have to pay one bill late. Two years later, still having only one vehicle and eking by, we felt the Lord asked us to double our tithe for six months, which was really crazy, because we would have to use up the meager reserves we had and every thing seemed to break, but we had no money to fix anything. On the sixth month my husband was called out of the blue by a recruiter who had come across his resume from three years before when he lost his job. He was offered a better paying job and promised opportunities, but those opportunities never manifested.

What I never told my husband is that when I was spending all that time praying and fasting as he was out of work, my Lord not only told me that he would have a job before we spent the last severance check, but that he would be "like a CEO." But that was about nine years ago and it has not happened at through the last two employers. Now I am thinking that God said "like a CEO," because if He had told me that my husband would be self-employed, I think He knew I would have lost it completely or just never really accepted it. In honesty, we could not have done it then or even all these years later, we simply did not have a safety net of savings, but it is a possibility.

But this is a one time deal, really. It is only because my husband has his inheritance, so if the business does not work out well, all that is gone and we have nothing to work toward our dream of having a small homestead. If instead we buy property and set up a little homestead, at least we will have that, but he will be stuck where he is as to his work. Yet, there is the possibility that we do both: that he has his own business and does so well that we can get the homestead property too, we just may have to wait a bit longer to get there.

There are several customers that request him. They would rather have him do all their work, because he strives to actually fix their machines, tries to save them money, is honest with them, and has good business ethics, besides he is one of the best in technical skills. I am bragging, yes, but it is true that he is the most popular and requested technician among the customers, which is why he travels and works more hours than most of his co-workers.

So, if we are to start a self-employment business, then I will be managing the office, so to speak, which I used to do. I actually was the office manager of a small sailboat manufacturer when I lived in Florida, so I did it all: payroll, buying parts and supplies, accounts payable and receivable, banking, sales receipts, letters, answer phones, make coffee (that I never drank), keep the president on schedule, and just about anything else they asked me to do. As it is, I am taking a guess that if my husband works ten full days a month with the fees he is planning to charge, that should cover all our expenses with a bit to spare, so if he works more than that, we should do well. Also, the company he works for presently also has hired contractors in the past and since customers request him, it would be beneficial for the company to contract him for some jobs as well.

Just a month ago, the company offered a former contracted tech a higher income than my husband makes and that is because they are desperate to hire more techs, even though the treat the ones they have badly and gave them all insulting raises in the spring, not even covering the rise in living expenses for the last three years since their last insulting raises. My husband has brought in about a third of their field techs. Most of those worked under him in another company and respect him. The guys call him when they have a problem, basically, both the men in the field and the manager treat my husband as is he is a field manager, which he was promised again just months ago, but it still has not happened. The stress between his mother's affairs, which are finally settled...mostly, and his job has aged him and he is too worn out to put any effort into starting out on his own right now.

And then there is this: Even though we both think God is guiding us to this, even though we think He has provided the signs, even though we are willing to try this, we do not have that certainty because it is so risky and emotionally charged. However, there is one thing my husband said that we agree on: If that is the path God wants us to take, it will work out.

My Lord, You have led us through some tough times and hard decisions. I trust You will lead us through this one as well and may the outcome be a testimony that glorifies You!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fine Tuning a Souring Note

Nothing beats a live performance. Nothing. -Jonathan Demme

The Princess will be playing at another restaurant this Friday night. It has the same name as the one she has been playing, but in a different town about 30 minutes away. Apparently, the family owned all three of these restaurants but the one closest to us was sold to a man (friend, probably, or family, I know not) but the menus are the same. My husband approached the owner of this one when we ate there on Sunday afternoon while the Princess was at a park for a youth cookout event.

However, it was brought up in the conversation that the restaurant is not member of a PRO, so if they should come, the Princess would not be able to continue playing. All this week I have been trying to understand what performing rights organizations (PROs) do besides strong arming businesses offering live music to pay yearly fees. Now I understand a bit more. It is supposed to be about songwriters' getting their fair share of royalties and while I am for that, I am just not convinced that PROs really do work in their favor that much better as they claim to do. Not only do some charge a fee to the songwriter to become a member but they hold the venue responsible for the music played because a PRO charges fees according to capacity, as in how many people would possibly hear the music. The restaurant is suppose to pay a yearly fee to display a sticker around the entrance and so that music within the repertoire of whichever PRO the restaurant chose can be performed.

Now here is the ironic part: The Princess has been playing classical music written before 1922, that is before copyright law protected music. She did play about three or four songs that would be considered protected by copyright, so we have eliminated them from her list. The songs that are considered public domain are ineligible for any PRO repertoire. I had been encouraging her to learn more modern and better recognized songs, but now we know that is not in the best interest of keeping her venue. So even if another musician plays copyright protected music and a PRO tries to come down on the restaurant, the Princess can legally still play there because we spent Monday afternoon making a list of all her music to prove that she will only be playing public domain music. That gives her more marketability for small businesses that do not really have music as focal point to bring in business as would a bar with a dance floor. However, the PROs like to pressure the restaurants even if all the music performed there is not under their protection, because someone may play a song that is and the worse part is if songwriter is in one PRO, he or she cannot be in another, so the venue basically is pressured to be in all of them. Besides that I think the fees are a bit steep because coffee shops and small family restaurants offering a corner for budding musicians are really not into making money off the music and rarely pay the musicians.

I talked to the Princess' piano teacher about this and she said she played for years in a coffee shop and just played whatever she wanted without a problem. I mentioned that we are kind of out in the sticks so it probably is not as well monitored around us as it would be places like New York City and LA. However, ASCAP has an office in Atlanta and has been known to hire music teachers to sit in just waiting for any song that would be a violation. Also, it seemed to my husband that this restaurant owner has run into this problem previously or knows someone personally who has. So, we will try to stay outside of their domain and keep with the classical and public domain songs with our list handy and give a copy to the restaurant for their records.

The few newer songs that the Princess has learned have not been popular for several decades and the songwriter would not be making anything from them even with a PRO, which is why I wonder how they really make sure songwriters get their share. Of the four PROs in America, they all have their own structures for fee and membership pay outs some with a minimum, but basically songwriters and publishers only get a share of the fees based on how popular the PRO thinks the song is, as in how much it is played on the most popular radio stations.

We had a couple of copied copies of those public domain songs, but to make this completely above board, we are going to be looking them up to be printed off fresh to avoid any publisher's rights as well.

And all this so a young lady can play a little piano and earn a bit of change!

I have to make a note here that I find to be a bit of history that I just learned. One of the PROs tried to double its fee in 1940, which ended up in a radio boycott of all its music, including promo jingles! The radio broadcasters wanted to prove a point, the songs were popular because they were being broadcasted, not just the other way around. (Remember this was decades before the Internet and any portable recording devices.) During the boycott though, music that was beneath what a PRO would accept was used and at the time they were called such unPC terms as "hillibilly" and "race" and foreign as well as public domain traditional songs, but people actually began to like country, blues, jazz, and ethnic music. Radio broadcasting companies made their point about how much they influenced the music industry, so the PRO came to an agreement with lower fees.

I think the PROs model is antiquated when we consider how well we are connected the Internet today and that there should be a simpler and more efficient way to pay songwriters. Performers know what they are going to perform and where, and the venue can provide them with a number of seats. It seems to me that the PROs could be sure to pay the songwriters and publishers directly for actual performances instead of collecting a blanket fee, from which less popular songwriters do not see a penny, when their songs could be rather quite popular with pockets of local crowds. I know it would be more work for us on the performers' side, but I think the performers should be the ones to pay the fees directly and let capitalism work. It could just be pennies, but it is just like the 1940 radio broadcasters boycott proved: songwriters do not make money and become popular when their songs are not performed, so unless the song was rather popular, songwriters would probably offer performance licensing at lower rates to get more play and then they can raise the fees if they like. That is the only way songwriters are actually in control of their copyright.

I think PROs acting as the music mafia is actually damaging making those small venues disappear where the direct pay model would encourage more businesses to offer live music, instead of clamping it down so hard that everyone is afraid to whistle a tune. One PRO even went after the Girl Scouts for singing campfires songs in 1996 and forget about singing "God Bless America" in public! I mean, really, where does it end? What if I am humming a tune under copyright while shopping in a store? Can the retail store be sued for that?

It is just easier for a PRO to collect from a business or club than individual performers, but it is an outdated way to do it. I would happily pay composers directly a fee per use and develop a relationship to help promote their music if they would reject the PROs. From what I am reading on the Internet, I think other performers would also, but then there will always be some that do not bother to pay. Still, it would not be any worse for the ones lesser known who the PROs do not pay anyway, even though their song is performed.

This is one of those times I want to fix the world, but it has become so convoluted that I also think it would be better to burn it and start over...but then mankind being what it is, the world arising from the ashes of the old would most likely have all the same elements that destroyed it.

There is far more behind the scenes than we first thought, but I thank you, my Lord, for guiding us and preparing us for what may come.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Three Pianos,
Two Young Students,
and a Princess in a Tizzy

Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it. –Tom Lehrer

Having a new piano that we can see from all angles of our living spaces just makes me think of Christmas, hence the "On the First Day of Christmas" kind of title. And God is surprising us with so many blessings right now that it is as if they are just pouring down on us, like a flooding rain after a years of drought!

It has been discussed with the Princess that besides playing in restaurants on the weekends she can, that she could also take on a young piano student or two. It would not be as much as she can make per hour in tips, but it would be steady and the rewards of teaching would be so worth it, because she will get so much in return. Of course, she does not know this yet, not having the experience. She has not really allowed herself to love to play again like she did when she was younger, but the new grand piano we think will help. What has most motivated her of late is making money at playing the piano and competing.

Her piano teacher told me that when she was in college for music, one of her professors told her that she needed to take on a few students during the summer. I cannot imagine this now, but apparently she simply hated that idea. She had no patience and it grated on her every time a child would hit a wrong note. However, at some point that changed for her and she found that she loved teaching and she had an incredible amount of patience. Then, just as we met, she found that she had a particular gift with teaching very young students that she did not even know she had previously. In fact, most of the parents of younger students have told me that she was referred to them by another piano teacher who would not take younger students or that she was the only teacher they could find that would take a younger student. My Princess was the very youngest she had ever and has yet ever taken, although there is one boy who started just a month in age later than she was and he went slow, until he could play a bit of jazz.

My reasoning for the Princess teaching is that when your own eyes are weary, seeing through another's young eyes can be renewing. Hearing the music she used to play and watching a child progress might be encouraging to her. Also, she will have to teach theory, ear training, and technique. The Princess has wonderful technique, but she has forgotten (or thinks she has) most of the music theory she learned and used to struggle with ear training. I always found that I learned more and it lasted better when I was teaching it and I used to teach the Princess music theory and ear training between her lessons, so I am hoping that works for the Princess.

I was talking to a friend and former neighbor, who moved about 25 minutes south and west of us and finally got back from visiting family in California, about how the Princess may be looking for two young students and she asked how much she was going to charge. We had been discussing it, so the Princess felt that $10 for each 30 minute lesson would be good. I was thinking more like $12 to $15, but since this is her first teaching experience, $10 probably is a good starting point. Experienced musicians and teachers charge around $80-$100 a month for 30-minute lessons. My friend immediately wanted her 9-year-old daughter to take lessons under the Princess and her 6-year-old nephew has been wanting to learn piano also. I was hoping for 4 to 7 in age, but we know the the girl so it will probably work out.

We also had already discussed what days and times, which really would only be Monday or Thursday nights. So my friend and I decided on 5:30 and 6:00 back to back on Monday. Again I was hoping for one child per night, because this is all so new for the Princess, but she will adapt, hopefully. We are not starting next Monday, as that day the Princess gets braces on her lower teeth and will probably be doubly uncomfortable, but the one after. (Prayers appreciated.)

Yesterday we both poured over the books she had used and searched online. I talked to her piano teacher telling her that we have gone from "she (her teacher) and I both thought this is a good idea" to "she (the Princess) has two students so she is doing this. Aaaaah!" This family has been looking for a piano teacher and there are just none around them. They are probably 90 minutes away from Trudy so there is no competition and Trudy is glad to help.

Since we missed a couple of lessons due to the competition and illness of late, I asked if we could come 30 minutes early next week so that she could go over what the Princess would cover in the first lessons. The Princess began younger so she had started with different books than neither one of these children will. She moved into both the series they will start with, but she moved into higher levels. So she never did the first books of the Alfred's Prep Course like the boy will probably need, because Music for Little Mozarts covered much of it, just slower paced for young students. She did not do the first books of the next level Alfred's Basic Piano Library, because it was covered in the Prep Course.

I suggested that she first start them on the digital piano and make the grand or the upright if we still have it, a kind of reward for sitting right (and not kicking). This will give us time to get our minds wrapped around the best way work this all out with the pianos. Piano rich and space poor, but it is what it is.

Speaking of the upright, since the Princess has two students, my husband suggested that maybe we do not sell it, but move it to the basement. That would less distracting for them and allow us to have our living space, because as it is right now, the pianos are in the middle of our living room and the digital is in the dining room, but we had plans for it to go into the hideout room once the Princess moves her clothes and sleeps in the current guest room...and, no, we are not ready for that yet. There is no place to escape to for the rest of us so this is the new plan and I already took off our listing on Craigslist.

However, the downstairs is cluttered with homeschool stuff, my husband's work and hunting stuff, and a desk that needs to be moved upstairs to the hideout room (that needs repainted) along with bin containers filled from the Queen Mother's house. We all need a real vacation but instead we need to use vacation time to clean up all together. I will say thank you, my Lord, that closing went through yesterday so that is the last we have to worry about the house in Florida.

My Lord, so much going on. Some coming to a close and some new things cropping up. Keep us on that path You have prepared for us and help my daughter really love music more deeply than she ever has.