Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Non-horse blog #1: Glee?

Stacy told me I ought to blog about Glee.

At first, I thought, "That's silly, who wants to hear me talk about Glee?? If they wanted to hear about Glee, they would watch the show!"

But then I thought about telling you all WHY I love Glee so much. My friends from high school and college probably understand already, but anyone who knows me in a strictly "horse" sense won't.

I've been obsessed with horses since I could say the word-
My first encounter with a horse- it's all downhill from here...

But, growing up in the Chicago suburbs wasn't the best opportunity for full-immersion-horseness. My county had the highest ratio of horses to people in Illinois, so there were LOTS of horses to be had, and my parents gave me every opportunity to have lessons, usually twice a week, working at the barn for practice rides etc, but I had to find something to do in school, too. 

So, with my brother three years ahead of me in school, he started band in the fourth grade. Drums, of course. I would have been in first. Full band started in fifth grade, and by the time he was in sixth and I was in third, I couldn't STAND it. I HAD to play an instrument. I think I'd decided on sax at that point, but I can't be sure. In my school system you had to play clarinet before saxophone, so I was obliged, I got put into lessons and started playing clarinet. 

My timeline may be iffy here, but I think I'm close. We got tested for instruments in 4th, started band in 5th. My band director in 4-6th grade was Mrs. Zimmerman, probably the least noteworthy of my music teachers. My band director in 7th and 8th grade changed my life. I can't really describe it now, why or how it happened, but she had such passion and drive and determination, it led us, as Jr. High kids, to thow our whole heart and soul into playing and be BETTER than anyone could imagine. We played countless festivals and traveled as far as Washington DC to perform. She would hand us music and say "This is a high school level piece. No one will believe we can play it. Lets go." And we would.
Miss Shofner directing the band at the American School Band Directors Association Convention in June of 1998

Not only that, but I had a great group of "lunch buddies" in Jr. High. We would eat lunch and then go into the band room instead of recess and do whatever Miss Shofner wanted us to do- fill the pop machine, hang out, practice occasionally. Whatever. 
Jenni, Me, Laura, Kristi, Kelly, Jill and April

I switched to Tenor Sax my 7th grade year. Kristi played Alto, Jenni, April and Jill played clarinet, Kelly played French Horn and Laura played flute. We were inseparable.

In high school, I stayed in band, but it took a backseat to choir after my freshman year. I think I just lost my drive- we excelled SO much in Jr. High and then my freshman year I had a lot of the same "Shofner graduates" and when they graduated, I just fizzled. I stayed in, all four years, but it just kind of got pushed to the wayside. I tried out for drum major my junior year and when I didn't get it, I think I was just done. We still made our fun, though. Noon football games on Saturdays in wool uniforms, trips to Disney, stripping on the band bus to change into uniforms...

Silly-stringing Mr. Blakewell at a game. Me and Chris Warren plotted this whole thing, I have no doubt.
I joined choir my sophomore year and that was IT for me. My director, Mr. Jensen (Dr. J), only worked in the range of "spectacular and more spectacular." He was fresh out of school, had talent oozing out of him and again, passion and drive like you couldn't believe. In that way, he reminded me of Miss Shofner- he would also hand us a hard piece of music and craft it into what he believed it could be. Our end of year "Pops concerts" were nothing short of full on productions. Everyone was on stage, we sang showtunes and current music and brought faculty on stage, sang in the audience, anything you could imagine. 

The entire choir on stage singing, I believe this was Les Mis

 Secret Garden

The talent in our department was fabulous. I will listen to original cast recordings and think "eh, we did it better."

Aside from the music and talent and productions, I, again, had a great group of friends. We could spend HOURS together all week long. We were silly. We broke into random song and dance. We wore matching PJs and pigtails and made T shirts and carried stuffed animals. We stayed up all night after prom and took a limo to Six Flags the next morning. We made up words like "Yo-eth."

Betsy, Chris, Me and Steve dancing at Six Flags the day after prom
Steve, Laura, Jess, Ryan, Scott, Colleen, Michelle, Chris, Ryan, Jen, Amanda and Me at our hotel in Disney
Singing Moulin Rouge with Laura and Jess on a table at Randall Oaks while Julie, Susan and Jenni look on. My 17th birthday, I think
Murder Mystery dinner with Tobe, Lubna, Julie, Jim, Verun, Susan and Matt

 Julie, Me, Laura, Susan, Jenni, Matt and Jim

And, in high school, I discovered my love of theatre. No, I didn't want to be on stage, but I wanted to be backstage and I wanted to do EVERYTHING I could. I started as stage crew, moved to props mistress, assistant stage manager and eventually stage manager. We stayed after school every day. EVERY DAY. We had more fun backstage than anyone should ever have. Our teachers were young- younger than I am now, and we had a ball together. Another group of inspiring individuals who made it FUN to stay after school and learn how to dress sets, build flats, do lights, sound. I remember being lost at the end of the year when we'd struck our last set and didn't have anything else to do in the scene shop. We did a talent show at the beginning of the year, followed by a fall play, musical in the spring and a spring play. Nothing we did was boring. Dr. J did the spring musical and by my senior year, more than 10% of the student body was involved. Almost the entire football team, cheerleading squad and the pommies tried out and Dr. J did his best not to cut anyone.

My fellow techies helped shape me into who I am today. Another thing that you can't put into words, you can only try to describe it.
On the set of Hello Dolly with Laura, Betsy, Jenni, Hillary, Jen and Jake
Me, Justin, Laura, Steve, Sarah, Shuana, Lauren, Jenni, Kent and Michelle backstage
Mr. Seiler, Miss Kawa, Ms. Burg and Mr. Cummins. Fabulous group of teachers.
Sr. theatre girls prank on the boys dressing room
Props crew for The Phantom Tollbooth, one of our greatest productions ever
In high school, we would get dismissed from study hall to go to the band room and hang out. I was in band and choir and Spanish, so I got no lunch. I would leave band 10 min early to go to the cafeteria to grab lunch and eat it in the first 10 min of choir with all the other crazies. We were always laughing. We got to school 40 minutes early so we could sit out in front of the fine arts department and chit chat. Thats just what we did.

The last time I played my sax was at high school graduation, but I made the last minute decision to join choir at college my Freshman year. In college, all the choir people knew I was an equine major, but the equine people thought I was a music major. I tried out with "My Country Tis of Thee"- I literally walked into Dr. Almquist's office and said "Hi, I was in choir in high school and didn't think I wanted to join in college but I can't imagine life without music and I'd love to try out but don't have a piece prepared." He handed me a songbook, babied me through my audition and totally humored me. I managed to make it into choir and made some of my best friends in college that way. They helped me find my place in the world until I could figure out how to funtion with my fellow "aggies." I joined the professional music sorority- Sigma Alpha Iota- which allowed me to be involved in the longest running student produced musical for my four years of college- aka- more theatre. Again, incredible friends who could break into random song and dance, spend hours and hours together at all hours of the day and night, make horrible tasks seem fun, go on trips together that could have been the most hellacious times ever- and still have fun.
SAI rush, my MIT class sisters
Performing Lion King with my sisters, no Michelle is not supposed to be on her butt
Singing to Abby in the Quad on Valentines day my freshman year
We used to gather after choir for Chicken Strips night at Winslow. We would LITERALLY clear the cafeteria with how obnoxious we would be. There could be up to 20 of us taking over a table and being quite... resonant. (Loud.)
We were ALWAYS in hysterics.
Board games in Josh's room usually ended up with all of us in a pile on the bed.

So, if you've made it this far, you might remember that this blog started with me talking about Glee. The reason I love Glee so much is because I lived it.  Glee is like a sitcom about my LIFE. The love, hate, passion, he-said, she-said, who's dating who, who's gay, who's not, are you gay, straight, neither or both, crushes on teachers, bullying and standing up for one another, being singled out and uniting as a group under pressure, bus trips and competitions, lunch room drama, rivalry over who is better, rivalry over which group should get more respect, locker room craziness, fund raising and... well...everything... I laugh and cry because most of the time- I've BEEN there!

Any time anyone compliments me as a teacher, asks me how I got into it or where my passion comes from, I refer back to my music teachers- Miss Childress (my elementary teacher that I didn't delve into because it was too long as it was!), Miss Shofner, Mr. Blakewell, Mr. Jensen and Dr. Almquist all taught me what it was to be dedicated, driven, determined and love what you do- and how to pass all that on to their students.


  1. Loved this entry :) All the old photos made me smile. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Pretty sure that's the same reason I love Glee. I've sung in various show choirs since I was ten. I can't get enough of it.