Who’s Behind That Sousaphone? – Marching Band

Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.  ~Henry Adams

Kyle with Pap and Scooby 9-20-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Mom got Kyle to pose with his Pap for a picture with Kyle’s Marching Band Metal from Bands of America on 9/19/15, 1st Place! Scooby made his appearance too… 9/20/15

Yes, this isn’t another quote chosen by happenstance.  I thought it only fitting since Kyle loves math and he’s my little teenager trying to be unique.  It’s also a reminder that life is delicate, simple, and yet complex, especially when dealing with a teenager.  I know I’ll never truly know Kyle’s outcome in life, but I do know what I’m desperately trying to teach him, and how I’m leading by example.

It’s no secret Kyle’s always loved music, hence why I started him young, at the age of six to be exact, with piano lessons.  Now as a fiery fourteen-year-old he’s in the marching band.  Honestly, this decision, which was solely his, which rings music to my ears.  I love Kyle’s involvement in the band!  It’s wonderful discipline, a structured social activity, good competition and great cultural exposure with their travels, just to name a few benefits.

Unbeknownst to some, I too was involved in the Greater Latrobe Marching Band for four years.  Granted, I never played an instrument, I was in the Colorguard, but I was apart of a great group of people and I had the best years of my life.  The marching band was my gateway to Winterguard, and in my senior year, I was apart of the Indoor Drumline.

Did I influence Kyle at all?  I’m really not sure.  I know I never pushed him into marching band, but I’ve made comments, mostly about my experiences in the band and how much fun I had.  Perhaps something resonated with Kyle, or he’s more like me than I realize, and we have the same type of interests and enjoy the same activities.  Who knows?  Personally I don’t care.  I’m happy he found something he enjoys.

As you may have guessed, Kyle plays the sousaphone.  What is that?  It’s a form of tuba.  Does he like it?  When asked, he kind of shakes his head and nonchalantly smiles.  I’ve learned in teenage terms, that’s a great big YES.

He’s already gone through band camp, which in everyone’s experience is dreaded, yet favorable in lifelong memories.  It’s hard work but the payoff and benefits are well worth it.

About two Saturday’s ago, September 12th, Mom and I were able to attend Kyle’s home band competition at Kiski.  Sadly, it rained off and on throughout the competition.  Add the bitter cold and it made for a less than favorable evening of band watching.  Did I care?  Not one bit!  It brought back memories of marching through the mud, and being soaked to the bones along with everyone else.  Those are the times that bond a group, believe it or not.  The hard times reveals everyone’s true attitude and nature, and can be the glue that unites a large group.  From what I’ve been told, it’s very similar to being in the armed forces, same basic principle.

Kyle in Kiski Marching Band 9-12-15 Aunt Heather Piper

Our little man, middle sousaphone (tube). Kiski Marching Band home competition. 9/12/15

Competitions were always my favorite.  Football games, I didn’t really care much about, and parades were okay, but what I lived for, besides the travel, were the Saturday night competitions.

Naturally, mom and I arrived early.  We wanted to get a good seat and make sure we didn’t miss anything Kyle was involved in.  We didn’t!  In fact, when entering the football field, we came in on the wrong side and had to cross the field, literally in the grass to get to the other side.  While doing so, Kyle and his group of blue were lined up practicing before us.  What luck!  Boy did that make my day!  Naturally, I stood in front of everyone, yelling, “Kyle!  Kyle!”  Of course, he was in the back and didn’t hear me at first.  Getting the attention of a young lady, I was on a mission to make eye contact with Kyle.  Finally, Kyle looked up and tried not to give me that typical grin.  Was I flailing my arms around and waving them in his direction?  You bet I was!  Subtly, he brought his hand up to give me a little wave, trying to appease me so I’d leave.  My night was complete!  I got to see Kyle and he looked good!

It was great watching the bands again.  I truly enjoyed it.  Some braved the rough terrain and kept to their routines, while others stood and performed for the audience.  Kiski stood and played.  They were the last high school on the field, so I didn’t blame them.  As a whole, they looked and sounded great.

Kyle did not disappoint.  When Kyle wants to, he’ll give his all to being the best that he can possibly be given the task at hand.  I’ve seen in when he was a server (alter boy) in church.  The same precision and intent was portrayed while Kyle was on the field.  I mean he carried himself well, and had the attitude of an competitor.  I was very proud!

This past Saturday was Bands of America in Monroeville.  I was unable to attend since I was administering to a scavenger hunt in Arlington, Virginia for Thrill of the Hunt.  When I got back on Sunday, after I picked Kyle up at the tutor’s, I asked about the event.  Proudly, Kyle told me they took first place and he had a metal to show for it.  I could tell he was very pleased, as he should be.

Good job buddy!  I wish I could have been there to watch and support you!  Next time.  I couldn’t be more proud, and I hope your experiences are rewarding and fun.  Congratulations!

 

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Thrill of the Hunt Scavenger Hunts and have No Comments

Shake, shake, shake … Shake Your Booty!

The music in his laughter had a way of rounding off the missing notes in her soul.  ~Gloria Naylor

Kyle-busting-a-move-at-Casey's-Wedding-c.-2004-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle (about 3 years old) busting a move at Casey’s wedding at Green Gables in Jennerstown, PA 2004

The other day I was listening to the radio and what song came on?  Yes!  (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty by KC and the Sunshine Band.  Okay, catchy song, but why would that tune in particular bring a smile to my face?  Simple.  Because it has the same effect on my sister and parents, yes even my dad.  Ready for the story?  Before I begin, one might guess this story has everything to do with a certain little boy.  If that was your thought, then you’d be correct!

When Kyle was a baby, still in diapers and not yet speaking, his Aunt Nikki would shake his little chubby belly and sing, “Shake, shake, shake … shake, shake, shake … shake your booty, shake your booty!”  Coming from my dry humored sister, it was pretty funny.  Periodically, when she’d fly home from Arizona, she would continue this tradition.  It caught on, and I’d find myself singing the same song to Kyle while shaking his little body.  Eventually, my dad joined the bandwagon and it became a thing in the Piper household with the theme song originating from the seventy’s.

Looking back, a little over a decade ago, we needed more reasons to laugh than ever before.  Having Kyle around all the time brought light to our darkness and allowed us to enjoy life.  Incorporating those funny instances momentarily brought us out of our depressed state, from the loss of Ryan.  Yes, we humored ourselves at Kyle’s expense.  Don’t judge!  I’m sure there’s worse things in life.

This sporadic and silly behavior continued for years until Kyle was a toddler.  He became so accustomed to the song that upon hearing it, he would automatically shake his booty, literally.  No joke!  It was hilarious!  Instantly, when we began to sing the first set of “shake” he’d give us a smile to light the world, kick his legs around and pound his heels on the floor.  Sometimes if he was feeling spry, he’d get up on his feet, stabilize himself with a wide stance, and rapidly shake his backside back and forth.

The older Kyle got, the funnier the reaction came from him.  Sometimes we’d be sitting in the living room and my dad would give Kyle this peculiar look, indicating what was to follow, before spouting out “Shake, shake, shake.”  Kyle would return his pappy’s look with a HUGE smile and a twinkle in his eyes, and begin his mini performance.  It was too cute!  We loved watching and encouraging Kyle to dance around and be merry.  It was a positive experience for both parties, Kyle thrived on our attention and being center stage, even if it was only for a few minutes, and we loved seeing him happy.  Yes, of course we’d applaud and cheer him on.  Kyle always did love music, especially one with a solid beat or catchy lyrics.  Funny part?  The only lyrics we knew were “Shake, shake, shake… shake, shake, shake… shake your booty, shake your booty.”

Those days ended when Kyle was two or three years old, maybe all the way up till the age of four.  Then the appeal was lost in Kyle’s eyes, certainly not ours.  Nothing would bring me great joy as to have Kyle stand there again shaking his bottom and singing “Shake, shake, shake…”  Although, Kyle’s now thirteen and I’m sure he’s forgotten all about that song and dance.  I’m also fairly certain, he’d be devastated if I suggested such an action.

I guess this is the joy of life, when it’s least expected, something happens, like a song coming on the radio that takes me back a few years of fun memories with my little man.  It warms my heart over and over again and makes me truly appreciate this little boy God gave us, and the wonderful family and life I was blessed with.  My only regret?  I wish I would’ve captured that memory on video!  That would’ve been the best ever!  At the time, I never thought of it, and when Kyle got older he wouldn’t let me record him.  Dang!

P.S. On Friday, 5/22/15 I went to the movies with a group of my friends to see Pitch Perfect 2.  (Love those movies!)  What song did they begin singing?  Yes!  I about fell out of my seat giggling at the perfect timing of this blog post.

 

“(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” Lyrics

Aah, everybody, get on the floor
Let’s dance
Don’t fight the feeling
Give yourself a chanceShake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Oh, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your bootyAah, You can, you can do it
Very well
You’re the best in the world
I can tell

Oh, Shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Oh, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Woah, woah, yeah

Shake shake, shake shake
Aah, Shake shake, shake shake

Aah, Shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty
Oh, shake shake shake, shake shake shake
Shake your booty, shake your booty

Aah, Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Aah, don’t fight the feeling
Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Aah, give yourself a chance

Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
You can do it, do it
Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Come home with mama now

Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Woo woo hoo
Shake shake, shake shake, shake your booty
Aah, run down to sister

Shake shake (come on), shake shake (come on) on your booty
Aah! do your duty. Aah haa
Shake shake (come on), shake shake (come on)

posted by auntheather in Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Gift of Music – The Final Piano Lesson

The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.  ~Kiran Desai

Kyle-at-Slippery-Rock-Jazz-Band-4-5-14-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Close up of Kyle playing the trumpet at Slippery Rock University for 7th grade Jazz Band. 4/5/14

Kyle just turned thirteen a little over a week ago and things are already changing.  I am sad to report, yesterday was Kyle’s last formal piano lesson.  He’s been taking lessons since he was six years old.  Indulge me for a moment, while I take you there and back.

I know I’ve mentioned his music lessons from time to time.   Sweet Sounds of Music Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond Music for the Eyes and Ears When Kyle was a little tyke of about five years of age, he wanted to play the guitar. Great!  I made one of our famous deals with him.   If I got him piano lessons and he learned to read music and play the instrument moderately well, when the teacher said he was ready, I would get him guitar lessons.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.  He thought so!

Since I only believe in unconventional gifts, for Kyle’s sixth birthday, I decided to give the gift of music, piano lessons!  On his celebration day, I told Kyle what I got him, which meant nothing to a six-year-old.  I’m sure he felt “jipped” without having a tangible present from me, but I didn’t care.  I knew deep down inside this was the perfect gift.

Mom called around the area looking for a good piano teacher who would instruct our youngster in all aspects of piano.  God blessed us with a great one, Ms. Debbie! (who is my cousin Merle Piper’s wife’s sister)  Perfect, basically family!  In the more recent years, Kyle was instructed by David Emanuelson, a music student at Seton Hill University.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take Kyle for his first lesson due to work, but mom stepped in to get his musical interest started.  Before she picked him up, she stopped at the local music store and purchased a basic keyboard.  Nothing fancy, just something simple for him to practice on.  Mom commented when Kyle saw it, he was smiling from ear to ear.  He wanted to start playing the instrument right away.  Then, came the lessons.  Keep in mind, Kyle was six years old and probably forgot all about my gift to him, since it was mentioned a few weeks earlier, or he truly didn’t care until it became real.

Kyle's-trumpet-beginnings-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

The beginning of the trumpet! 6th grade musical From the Inside Out 2013

Mom took Kyle to Ms. Debbie’s house for his first lesson.  She said he was elated!   She couldn’t get him to settle down, he was jumping out of his skin with shear excitement!  That made my day!  In fact, Ms. Debbie was so good with my little man, that she let him strum her guitar and knock on the piano keys before starting, getting him acclimated.  Ms. Debbie said she was happy to see a kid so enthused about lessons, unlike some of her  students who were made to go and didn’t want to be there.  Good so far!

I felt like I was actually there.  Mom called me during the lesson from her car and filled me in on the events leading up to that moment.  She was cracking up over Kyle’s reaction and I couldn’t help but join in, while I was sitting at my desk at work.  I felt like I could see the scene unfold as if I was a fly on the wall.  I know Kyle all too well.

I was thrilled for the kid!  Even though many said Kyle was too young and I shouldn’t waste my money, I knew it was what he needed at the time.  My intent wasn’t to have a child prodigy, but simply to expose him to various music snippets, and the proper way of reading music and playing the instrument.  I was always told that if you can play the piano, you can play any instrument, not to mention he would be able to carry that basic knowledge with him for life.  Like mom always says, no one can take education away from you.  I agree!  Learning something at any age is a good practice.

Kyle---trumpet-line-at-Slippery-Rock-Jazz-Band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-4-5-14

Kyle (7th grade) & the trumpet line at Slippery Rock University for Jazz Band 4/5/14

That night, Kyle told me all about his lesson.  He had stars still in his eyes.  He demonstrated what he learned from his NEW piano books and showed me his NEW keyboard.  He was still lit up like a light bulb hours later, from his earlier adventure.  His energy and positive reaction drew me into his experience.  I couldn’t help it, I was psyched, and they weren’t even my lessons!  I did ask Kyle, “So you think you’re gonna like it?”  While I was asking the question Kyle began nodding his head in affirmation before responding “Yes, Aiya (Aunt Heather)!  I love it!”  My heart melted for this little boy and his desire to play the piano.  All I could say was, “So you like your birthday gift?”  Simply he replied, “Yep!”

Over the years, I can honestly say Kyle always did enjoy going to lessons.  I’m not sure if it was the lessons, or the fact that all attention was on him, or he enjoyed learning, or he loved getting stickers (early), or the kudos and positive reinforcement that Kyle thrives on.  Perhaps is was all the above.   He didn’t always like to sit and practice at home, unless we were giving him our undivided attention.  Then, he would practice and practice.

Occasionally, Kyle would explore his keyboard and start playing pre-programmed music.  Sometimes he would get up and dance around the living room or march around.   He was so contagious when he was just plain having fun that I would find myself following in his footsteps.  He was our very own pied Piper (pun included).  He would also get a kick out of playing a song with the sound of another instrument.  Sometimes he would choose the flute or the violin etc. while practicing his lessons.  He always did love to discover different sounds.  I’m guessing it was his way of challenging himself or to spice it up a bit, maybe both.

From early on, we were told Kyle was doing very well.  (Too bad he didn’t practice regularly and wasn’t encouraged from everyone to do so)  He was able to identify different notes just from listening and he started to pick up reading the sheet music pretty well too.  When learning to play with his left hand, he seemed to do so effortlessly, relative to a youngster.  Yep, that was the right move for Kyle at that age.  Please keep in mind, there’s no doubt he has a talent, but he never really tried, leaving his untapped potential a mystery.   Although if he would have practiced more, I bet he would have even impressed himself.

I always tried to encourage Kyle with piano.  I remember when I exposed him to the music of Elton John and the piano man himself, Billy Joel.  He was definitely intrigued.  He even enjoyed some classical music I gave him.  On a side note, one evening we came across MTV Cribbs.  You know the show they walk through the house(s) of the rich and famous.  That evening they were showcasing 50 cent. (I think).  Kyle’s eyes were huge!  He was floored at the grandeur of the place, mostly the electronics.  I told him to keep up playing the piano and he could be that wealthy.  He asked, “I can make money playing the piano?”  Too cute!  My response, “Heck yes!  If you are really that good and dedicated to your discipline.”  He practiced the piano that night without instance!

Eventually, I did get him a guitar and lessons for a later Christmas, in addition to his piano lessons.  Again, unconventional gifts are the best for a growing, curious, smart little boy.  He was never at a loss for toys, especially Thomas the Tank Engine and later Legos.  Mom and dad and Nicole always had that covered!  I handled the gifts that would eventually shape our rug rat from the inside out.

I believed by the time Kyle was eight or nine years old, he was playing the piano with ease and strumming his way through the guitar.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, he would also learn to play the trumpet in junior high and join the jazz band.  I’m glad my family and me were all apart of building the foundation for Kyle’s love of music and his musical abilities.

With the exception of maybe a half a year to year, when Kyle chose to focus on guitar, he always played the piano from the age of six to thirteen.  He was definitely better at piano than guitar, but of course he had more practice.  Although, I was told from Ms. Debbie who initially taught him to play both instruments, that he picked up the guitar better than most.  He was a natural with using his hands on the instrument, without looking at the strings and keeping his eyes on the sheet music.  Again, piano was a good choice for him initially.

Was all that running around and moving schedules and expense and sometimes fighting with Kyle to practice worth it?  Every last second of it!  That was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.  I am so grateful that my parents and my sister all helped me to encourage Kyle and reinforce his lessons.  Also friends and other family members were wonderful when asking Kyle about his music instructions.  The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group let Kyle play Christmas tunes for those attending the soup kitchen one year.  This positive reinforcement helped shape him even more.  I know his dad would have also helped to encourage Kyle too!  He probably wouldn’t have missed a lesson.

http://youtu.be/YvIBKxjqdkM

Honestly, I am sad over Kyle’s decision to stop his piano lessons, but it was always his choice.  He was given the opportunity to stop at any time (unless he was paid up until a certain point).  Yes, sometimes the lessons were an inconvenience when making plans, especially in the summer, but it was a good obstacle to have to work around.  Mom helped out a lot and would step in when I couldn’t.  Personally, I loved taking Kyle to his lessons and sitting there listening to him play and watching him progress over the years.  Mostly, I treasured my time with Kyle and truly enjoyed hanging out with my little man on an off beat day, just the two of us.

Kyle still plays an instrument, the trumpet.  Unfortunately, his guitar days are a thing of the past and maybe the piano will join the guitar in the land of the forgotten, but he’s still involved in music.  He’s in the jazz band at school and wants to join the high school marching band playing the trumpet.  I can’t wait to be a band parent and watch him in his next years of musical progress!  I am very proud!

On another side note, since Kyle’s interests are now into War Machine, I guess I’ll have to take up a new hobby to hang with him.  At least we still have snowboarding!

Check out Kyle’s sixth grade musical.  He’s in the front row, second from the left in the stripped shirt.  This was taken in the spring of 2013.

http://youtu.be/h2Hhal-H0PA

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,LEGO's,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Sweet Sounds of Music

Where words leave off, music begins.  ~Heinrich Heine

Kyle's-7th-grade-band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

Kyle’s 7th grade band recital. My little trumpet player (yes when he stood up, that clip on tie came to the middle of his chest!) Yikes! 2013

On Sunday Kyle had his youth group Christmas play.  His role?  The light man of course.  Yep!  He stood at the light switch and turned it off and on.  Remember there are no small parts and everyone has a role to play, just like life.  Everyone can’t be the star and in Kyle’s case, over the years he played a shepherd and one of the kings.  He had his fill and wanted to participate backstage.  Nothing wrong with that!  He did a great job!  Even with his not-so-center-0f-stage-role, Kyle attended all the practices and always gave his best.  That’s my buddy, if he’s going to do something, he will give it his all.

As I was sitting there, watching the kids get situated and ready to perform for their parents, a family friend, who was also Kyle’s second grade Sunday school teacher, Mrs. DePalma (Kyle loved her to death!) came over to me to chit chat.  On a side note, Mrs. DePalma is such a sincere, friendly, warmhearted person!  The kind who instantly spreads joy and good cheer to everyone around her.  Knowing her is a true blessing.  Her one daughter Angie, married one of my cousins.  So I guess we are related!

Sacred-Heart-Saint-Cecilia-Youth-Group-Christmas-Play-1-5-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle was the lighting technician. 1/5/13

Anyway, as we sat there talking, she informed me that she just talked to Kyle, admitting she drew a blank with his name, as he did with hers.  Too cute!  I’m sure Kyle was thrown off his game, since he always did like and respected Mrs. DePalma, and she gave him the little extra attention he craved.  She asked me what role Kyle was playing and we both giggled a little at our lighting technician.

As we sat there, I noticed they had a keyboard set up to play music throughout the play.  I commented that Kyle could have played a few songs.  Mrs. DePalma was intrigued asking me about his piano playing.  Naturally, like a proud mama (aunt) I told her, “He’s been playing the piano since he was six years old.”  Her eyes perked up and she was really impressed.  So I continued, “Yep, he’s really pretty good.  He doesn’t have the drive to practice at home, but he loves playing with is instructor and in front of family.”  Then, I informed her that he briefly took up the guitar and he plays the trumpet in school.  Of course, I couldn’t stop.  Normally, I don’t like bragging, well that’s not true when it comes to Kyle, but I couldn’t help myself.  Informing Mrs. DePalma that Kyle is in band class at his school, and he tried out and made it for jazz band.  Her face lit up!  And you know what?  It was in all sincerity and pride.  She loves to see kids doing well, not to mention she new Ryan and she knows what Kyle means to us.  (Her daughter Angie, the one I just referred to, was in Ryan’s class all the way from Sacred Heart Elementary School to Greater Latrobe High School graduation).

Kyle-playing-trumpet-7th-grade-jazz-band-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

Kyle playing the trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. (look how short that clip on tie is? YIKES!) 2013

Kyle is musically talented, there is no denying it.  Now, I’m not saying he is a musical genius or a child prodigy, because he’s not.   But he does enjoy music, always has, and he seems to enjoy playing (except when I make him practice).

This past fall, Kyle had a band assembly at his school and mom and I attended.  One another side note, Kyle just expects us to be there at a moments notice.  He called us the day of the event, two hours before hand to be exact, and informed us of the activity.  On Kyle’s defense I guess he told my dad, but that’s like telling Kyle.   No fear, mom and I were there!  It was held in the school’s gym and the seventh and eighth grade students performed as well as their high school marching band.  You know what?  I was quite impressed!

Kyle's-Youth-Group-Christmas-Play-1-5-13-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Sacred Heart/Saint Cecilia’s Youth Group Christmas play. Kyle handled the lights! 1/5/13

First of all, Kyle had on a nice pressed white button down shirt (sleeves rolled to the elbows), nice dress slacks, black socks, black dress shoes and a black tie.  Mom and I were floored!  He looked so grown up!  The only comment we both made was his tie.  It stopped at the middle of his chest.  Yikes!  It looked ridiculous.  So I made my way down to the horn section to offer assistance with the tie tying, thinking it just needs retied.  Low and behold, it was a clip-on tie!  What?  Ok, no point in making it into a bid deal, especially since the rest of him looked spot on.  As to not break the positive comments toward Kyle, I will not get into our shopping experience during Christmas for a real tie, not a clip-on.  I’ll save that one for a rainy day.

As we left, mom mentioned about buying the kid a nice tie.  Good idea mom!  However, we forgot until his next assembly right before Christmas.  Now it was too late!  This assembly was held in their auditorium and the kids were on stage.  While mom and I got settled in, we read over the program book.  Funny thing.  Kyle’s name had an asterisk by it.   We both looked at each other and at the same time said, “What did he do?” half joking.

Kyl's-7th-grade-jazz-band-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Kyle playing trumpet for his 7th grade jazz band. Look’in good! 2013

Mom and I were front and center, focused on Kyle.  As the program began and we started intently watching the kid.  He did something too comical, not intentionally.  As he started to play, that little man dropped his sheet music and he began to scramble to retrieve it.  Mom and I gave a bit of a chuckle since it was too cute.  Plus, let’s not forget his lack of flexibility reaching for the pieces of paper while sitting and trying not to disturb his neighbors, all while trying to continue to play.   Yep!  He’s definitely my nephew!

After the kids in his grade played a few tunes, they gathered the jazz band to the side of the stage.  Incidentally, the same side mom and I were residing.  Boy we know how to pick our seats!

Kyle completely ignored us the entire way through, which is fine because besides being too cool to have an aunt and a grandmother (Gigi) I know he gets nervous.

Both assemblies were very impressive, especially the marching band for the earlier musical assembly.  It’s funny, we never knew Kyle was in the jazz band.  Now don’t get me wrong, he did a great job!  I could also tell he seemed to enjoy it.  It wasn’t till after his second assembly, did we find out that he had to audition for said activity.  Wow!  That’s great buddy!  Good job!

Kyle-playing-trumpet-jazz-band-7th-grade-Aunt-Heather-Piper-2013

7th grade – Kyle playing the trumpet … looking good, staying focused!   Also looks like that kid is holding onto the sheet music!  2013

Kyle, that kid never ceases to amaze and impress me.  He is also surprising, in all good ways.  Apparently, he is planning on joining the marching band when he’s older.  Being very ecstatic over this comment, I told him I’ll be a band parent (aunt)!  Ya, Kyle just rolled his eyes and was like ‘O boy’.   I ensured him it would be a great time and I’d make it really fun.  Plus, if they don’t do band trips, I’ll help to get those kids traveling.  That didn’t entice him, at ALL!  We’ll see.

I am really happy he found his interest, and that it’s in music!  I hope it’s very rewarding for him!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Smallest Moments, Mean the Most

The true genius shudders at incompleteness – and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.  ~Edgar Allen Poe

Kyle-in-front-of-grape-barber-Aunt-Heather-Piper-9-2-13

Kyle taking a break from picking grapes… making grape jelly. 9/2/13

A part of loving a child, is really appreciating them for their humor, reasoning, intellect, innocence and for those unplanned, unexplained small moments that really bond adult and child.  At least that’s my opinion.  I mean there are many many more parts to loving a child like discipline, teaching respect, education and so on and so forth.  But if you don’t truly appreciate them for who they are, then there’s a part missing, because like I said, it’s a PART of loving a child.

I love all aspects, well maybe not the disciplining them, but it goes with the territory.  Recently, the small moments part really revealed itself to me through Kyle.  My last blog touched on it, Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond, but there’s been more!  I’m sure these small moments happen at a higher rate than I can see them.  Let’s face it with running around checking off my task list and getting caught up in the pace of the day, I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’m aware.  In my eyes, that’s fine as long as I catch and glimpse every now and again.

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Storm had a blast playing with us while we picked grapes! 9/2/13

Last Sunday Kyle was at my house, winding down for the day.  Lately, I’ve been struggling with Kyle regarding his reading.  He loves to read, but this summer he hasn’t found much interest to get lost in the books.  Now that school has started up, I thought he would get back to his routine and pick up where he left off.  Nope.  At least not just yet.

While sitting in the living-room Kyle got up and walked over to one of my bookshelves to examine the spines of the books.  Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s nothing like the feel and the smell of an actual book, where you can turn the pages, makes notes in the margins, smudge up the pages with food and drink to later rediscover yours or someone’s past.  There’s nothing wrong with digital books, I think they are great for traveling and such, but I still have an affinity for the real deal.  The words on my pages and cover design will never change, unlike its digital sister.

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Storm getting ready to climb the grape harbor…Kyle was picking grapes to the left. 9/2/13

Anyway, Kyle started to read the titles and question me about them.  He saw the Mortal Instrument series and stopped and noted The City of Bones.  We just saw that movie and now his interest was peeked, asking me which books are good.  I love going through my past reads, introducing my old friends to my nephew.  Then, he stopped at The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy.  For some reason over the years those books keep catching his eye.  They are the old plain covers with a small symbol on each in muted solid colors.  Nothing flashy, yet intriguing to him.  Personally, I loved those books, immensely and I told Kyle so.  Of course, I had to sadly inform him they are more adult oriented and very violent, but really good reads.  He just nodded and continued perusing, until he came on an old book with a red cover entitle Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Kyle reaching to pick the grapes.. thinking grape jelly! 9/2/13

I’ve never seen another book with this cover, in fact I know it used to be a part of a larger collection of classic writers, but I have no idea what happened to the rest of the compilation.  Somehow Mr. Poe has been following me over the years, hanging out on my bookshelf.  It contains short stories, poems and essays.  I’ve read through the entire book several times, but I can’t say in the past decade.  During high school and college I would pull out stories and poems for a class project, but I haven’t sat and enjoyed his works in quite some time.

With a huge smile, I introduced Kyle to Edgar Allen Poe.  I said, “Here buddy let me read you a few poems.  Gigi used to read some of them to me when I was little and I loved them!”  I opened up the aged pages and the first poem I saw was The Raven.  Every time I think of that poem, the move The Crow starring Brandon Lee, the son of the famous Bruce Lee, comes to mind.  Recapping the movie to Kyle, I dove right into the poem, since he didn’t seem to have a clue what I was talking about, nor did he care.  When reading poetry, it’s so much fun to keep the rhythm and enunciate the words with gusto, to truly paint the picture.  I must say I am pretty good at it, at least enough to capture some of Kyle’s attention.

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Seven & Storm hanging out under the grape harbor. 9/2/13

After The Raven I moved onto mom’s favorite, Bells.  Kyle listened, but I could tell he wasn’t too into it.  He even said, “All I heard out of that was Bells.  Bells, bells, bells, the ringing of the bells.”  I laughed and said, “See!  You enjoyed it and even started to memorize it!”  I must say I was quite entertained and was loving the time, maybe not as much as Kyle, but I do believe he will remember it, just like I remember the first time I was introduced to Edgar Allen Poe.

I think I really lost him sometime around A Dream Within A Dream.  Asking Kyle if I could read him a short story, he quickly said “No!”.  I was really getting into this walk down memory lane and reading to Kyle once again.  So that was a major disappointment.  I’m not sure if it was the way I was projecting the poems, the idea of poetry or if the kind-of-creepy content threw Kyle over the edge.  Yes, Bells is rather upbeat and cheery, yet it has the creepy dead thing about the content.  Kyle hates suspense, thrillers or anything remotely scarey and disturbing.  I’m sure he picked up on it, especially from The Raven.  Note to self, maybe I should pick another classic to introduce to Kyle.  Regardless, I enjoyed our small moments of togetherness and having the opportunity to read to Kyle again.

Putting the book aside to turn on the stove, Kyle and I had a great time on Labor Day making grape jelly.  It was the day after we got back from our New York trip, What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand and What It Takes to Move a Tree Stand … Continued.  Before we left, dad mentioned the grapes were ready to pick.  So on Monday, Kyle had it in his head that he wanted to pick grapes.  Not really on my list of desirableness, but I thought what the heck, I was just sitting around anyway.

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Storm kept pouncing on our hands while we picked the grapes. 9/2/13

We actually had a great time.  It was nice and peaceful, except the two of us chit chatting occasionally.  Seven and Scooby came out to join us and run around, as did Storm.  She had a blast, running up and down the grape harbor, creeping among the leaves to pounce on our hands as we reached for grape bunches above our heads.  It turned out to be a nice time full of accomplishments.  We ended up with five or six brown grocery bags full of grapes.

Now what to do with them?  Initially, Kyle wanted to make grape juice, except we still had grape juice from years ago we never drank.  So we agreed upon grape jelly.  We only made a few batches and gave the rest of the grapes to my cousin Karen for her crew to use up.

It was a fun day in the kitchen, even though my mom would probably disagree.  I love knowing that Kyle is exposed to traditions, especially canning.  He was even getting creative by substituting the sugar for honey.   He was very proud of himself, as was I.  It turned out to be another unplanned time to bond, and for that I am very thankful and blessed.

You can’t plan these small moments, just realize when they are present and soak them up like the sun, for they’ll disappear before you know it, like grape jelly.

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing and have No Comments

Music Reinforces Our Tight Bond

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.  ~Ludwig van Beethoven

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Kyle at his 1st piano recital, at his 1st grand piano. 5/17/09

Last night I took Kyle to his piano lessons.  I must admit, I truly love getting my little man, eating dinner together, and just plain hanging out.  He is back in the swing of school and back to a standard routine.  As with most special memories, this one was unplanned and came as a surprise.

My phone died early in the day.  Why didn’t I charge it you may ask?  Well, simply because I had no idea what I did with the plug.  I have a stock pile of cords from my last iPhone, which also charges my iPad and Kyle’s iPod Touch, but alas I only have the one plug for the iPhone 5.  I’ve been meaning to get another one, but like many people, I put it off until there’s an issue.  Guess what?  Issue!  I needed my phone to call on Greensburg businesses to get the Discovering Greensburg Scavenger Hunt ready and finalized for Seton Hill University.  Crap.

Anyway, I had to leave to pick up Kyle.  Naturally, once in my car, he reached for my phone to probably play a game and it was dead.  He looked at me in shock.  I know!  We both felt really off our game.  Almost as if we were being detoxed from an addiction.  Now that I’m thinking back on it, that’s a shame we are like that with our phones.  But we are a product of our surroundings.  Did we survive without it?  Most certainly!  Did it help that Kyle had his phone?  Yes!  Only so my parents and my sister could touch base with him, no dire emergency.

Why is this relevant?  I’m so used to getting my emails via my phone, as well as text messages and Facebook messages, it didn’t dawn on me that Kyle’s music teacher would be reaching out to me through my online communications.  Yep, he had to cancel Kyle’s piano lesson.  Well, as I found out the next day, after recovering my long lost phone cord (1 day) and juiced up the handheld addiction, his teacher did indeed cancel his lessons.  Actually, using common sense, it didn’t take a phone to tell me Kyle’s piano teacher wasn’t there.

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Kyle’s music recital group. 5/17/09

While sitting in the waiting room, and as the minutes passed, Kyle became impatient and wouldn’t let me read, (he forgot his book The Lord or the Rings: Return of the King).  At that point, we both decided to get up and look around for his teacher.  His teacher, David is a Seton Hill student and who is always on time and very responsible.  Just out of curiosity, Kyle and I walked down to his piano practice room to check out the situation.  Nope no David but there was THE PIANO!

Not being able to resist a beautiful baby grand piano, I walked in, sat down and started striking the keys.  I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano but my parents didn’t have the money when I was younger and it never was a priority for me as I got older.  Maybe one day I will take the time and learn.  But for now, it’s all on Kyle.

Kyle knowing that I had no idea what notes I was hitting, and no clue how to combine them to form a single song, he sat beside me on the piano bench and started to play a few memorized tunes.  Show off!  But I loved it.

Without saying anything and almost as if by muscle memory, Kyle opened his piano book and started to play a song,  It was one he previously covered in a past lesson, totally new to me.  Kyle started to actually instruct me, showing me were to place my fingers and how to play.

It was AWESOME!  He played a few notes and I watched his little chubby fingers to mimic his actions, messing up every other time.  He was very patient and showed me the fingering a few times so I could follow along.  He even went as far as to instruct me how to play with both hands, and I did!  Now there was certainly no mistaking me for Mozart or Beethoven, but I was playing an actual song, all because of Kyle!

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Close up of Kyle at his 1st piano recital. 5/17/09

Kyle sat further down on the keys to my right and played along side me.  He was too cute, even waiting for me as I slowly hit the notes.  We both enjoyed sharing in on the same song, side-by-side, in our space, just the two of us. (As I wrote that, the song, Just the Two of Us popped in my head! I crack myself up!)  We played together for at least twenty minutes or so.  Yes the same song!  I think Kyle was really enjoying playing with me, as I know I was most certainly having a great time.

Then, out of nowhere, Kyle turned to another one of his piano books and started to teach me about notes, and counts.  He was actually instructing me!  I loved it.  Sitting there attentively and taking in all his knowledge, I started to grasp the music theory.  As he reviewed the notes, it came back to me how to read music, not that I was ever very good at it but I got by.

Once Kyle started to get bored with the situation he busted out one of his standard songs, which happens to be his pappy’s favorite Ode to Joy (German: Ode an die Freude) by Ludwig van Beethoven, always a favorite of mine too and always beautifully played by Kyle.

We sat and played, mostly in silence until it was half past the hour.  Then we decided we were done for the day and headed home.  As we left I told Kyle how much I always wanted to play the piano and I asked him if he would teach me.  He smiled this grin that was almost ornery mixed with excitement and nodded his head in agreement.  Cool!

Our family is not the most musical.  My mom played the piano in her younger days and my sister played the flute for a few years.  I did learn to play the scales on the saxophone, but none of us is fluent in music.  Kyle is the closest we have and he is pretty good.  No prodigy, but I’m happy with his musical abilities and his love and appreciation for the musical arts.

We had a great night!  Before our musical performance we watched Parental Guidance, which I rented and was never able to watch.  Kyle really wanted to see it and we had just enough time to squeeze it in before his lessons, since he didn’t have homework.  It was a funny movie that we both got a kick out of.

I will admit, I enjoyed my music lesson so much more than sitting there watching a movie with Kyle.  I literally could have have stayed in that practice room all night and played and listened to the beautiful music leaving Kyle’s fingers.  Can’t wait for my first lesson!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

Music For the Eyes & Ears

Music is a moral law.  It gives soul t the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.  ~Plato

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Kyle hanging out on the Big Piano FAO Schwarz. ‘Aunt Nikki & Kyle’s week of Fun’ in New York City, NY 2011

Yesterday was Kyle’s sixth grade music recital.  Yes, it was his last music assembly of elementary school.  He sang and played the trumpet along with the rest of the sixth grade class.  He’s grown up so much in many ways, and yet he is still truly just a kid.

Mom and I were in the second row enjoying the musical theme, From the Inside Out.  Dad and Nicole were both working, so I did my best to video tape some of the assembly, giving them a glimpse of what was presented.

As Kyle mounted the stage, I caught his eye.  He gave me one of his trying-not-to-smile smiles.  Naturally, I had to give him a wave to confirm my presence, and to instigate a bit.  I was sincerely excited to see him sing and play!

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Kyle with his friends at his 6th Grade Music Recital 2/21/13

As he was clapping and singing and stomping and playing his trumpet, all the memories of Kyle’s love of music floated in my head like a painting.  Kandinsky’s theory came to mind.  Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) said he could see sound as color and visa verse.  The music I heard came across my mind as images of Kyle over the years, like I was seeing a symphony of pictures tied to their memories.

Always having an adoration for music, even as a tiny five month old baby that could barely hold himself up, Kyle would keep the beat and sway to music, or at least try.  Either for Kyle’s first or second Christmas, my grandma got him this stuffed musical penguin that played Jingle Bells.  On a side note, maybe that’s why Kyle has such a bond with that song.  When we played the penguin, Kyle’s eyes would light up, he would smile and his body would go into motion.  The best part, the penguin moved from side-to-side and Kyle would try and mimic the motion.  It was too funny!  I have no idea what ever happened to that beloved piece of entertainment, but Kyle’s love of music prevails.  I’m not talking about just music on the radio or pumping from my iTunes.  Any music or rhythms coming from anywhere and everywhere picked up by his ears.

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Kyle’s 6th Grade Class. “From the Inside Out” 2/21/13

Watching Kyle view a movie is hilarious.  The best part is usually the end while the credits are rolling and the theme song is playing.  Without knowing he’s being watched or without a care, Kyle inadvertently busts a move to the tunes.  Actually, that goes for any show or commercial.  While sitting on the living-room floor either assembling or playing with his Legos, sometimes certain tunes will project from the TV.  Kyle’s body is automatically swaying to the music as if he’s a puppet on strings.  He loves music!

At the very beginning of last semester’s piano lessons, the instructor asked Kyle to bring in his old practice books so he could review and brush up on the basics.  During the lull in time while Kyle didn’t have piano lessons he got rusty, like anyone would.  So to ensure Kyle was learning properly and advancing, David his piano instructor, reinforced his foundation.  Great idea!

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Kyle bust’n a move on the dance floor 2003.  Proof I did get him in a shirt & tie!

I remember that first lesson so well.  As we sat in the Seton Hill common room waiting for Kyle’s turn, he started to read through the piano book, a piece he hasn’t looked at for literally years.  Of course what’s old is new again, and Kyle being such an astute student, started looking thr0ugh his music books recapturing knowledge from the first songs that started out his piano training.  Always coming prepared with a book to read, I couldn’t focus on the words on the page for the distraction in front of me.  Kyle was flipping through the pages and humming the songs to reacquired himself with his old friends, the music.  Yes, he was actually humming to himself turning the pages rapidly as if cramming for a test.  His actions were not intended to bring attention to himself, but to prepare for his piano lesson.  He was so engrossed in his own thoughts, he really didn’t notice everyone in the room smiling in his direction.  As I sat there and stared at him, thinking he would notice me, he continued with his train of thought and didn’t break concentration.  I was ready to bust a gut and laugh out loud, that is until he was saved by his piano teacher.  David’s appearance interrupted Kyle’s focus and brought him back to reality.

We used to laugh and say music would sooth the savage beast, referring to Kyle.  It did!

I love seeing the joy and inspiration that music brings to Kyle.  For the sixth grade field trip this year, the students went to Heinz Hall and listened to the symphony.  He came home and told us all about it with sheer excitement.  In fact, while we were driving, Kyle remembered his trip to Pittsburgh because he started searching the radio for a specific channel.  He was trying to find the classical music station on the radio.  He said, “Aunt Heather, they told us we could listen to the music on the radio.”  Once he found it, he beamed with delight!  Since then, Kyle has been listening to the classical music station when we are on the move.  Nice change of pace!  Good thinking Kyle!

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Patience,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments
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