The first song I wanted to share was actually the finale of the concert. It is an arrangement of "Take Me Out to the 'Bell' Game" in the style of a cheesy waltz, Pink Panther, and Magnificent 7. It was arranged by myself and a fellow student, Morgan Ruthard, as a final project for our Handbell Directing course. We really enjoyed adding a bit of drama to this song and I hope you enjoy it.
Since giant gingerbread houses are in short supply at this time of year, we built our own out of wood and thick cardboard. We designed special candies for the front of the house out of tissue paper and colored cling wrap and spray painted the house to look more authentic. On a bright, windy day, the four of us carried the house into the backyard and posed in front of our palm tree (not very Christmassy, right?)
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As part of a class project, Morgan Ruthardt and I edited a handbell piece arranged by Paul Ellsworth. We auditioned the piece and were accepted into the concert. We had a wonderful time being a part of Come Christmas Sing in this way and we are looking forward to hopefully doing it again in the future.
Our goal today is to entirely eradicate failure. We somehow have the idea that if our children fail, they will be bruised for life, unable to cope with the realities of society and unable to make a successful living. But is this really the right response? Is the key to success the eradication of failure?
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For a school assignment, I recently had the opportunity to read Lew Wallace's unabridged book Ben-Hur and I thought I would share a quick review of it. I had been well acquainted with the Charleston Heston movie of this classic story and had assumed that the book would be similar. I was surprised at how different the two really were.
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For the past two years now, I have been able to serve as the Music Director for the four and five year old JAM Jellybean Class - a Bible club for the younger children. Every week I prepare fun Bible songs for them to sing and then lead them in "song time" for twenty minutes. We sing anything from the Hippopotamus song, to the B-I-B-L-E and enjoy singing about God's love for us.
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When we became too old to compete, Wendy, Mom, and I agreed to volunteer judge one of the local competitions. For the past four years, we have thoroughly enjoyed helping run these tournaments and seeing a side of the competitions we had never seen before and we have loved judging the different aspects of the competitions: research presentation, robot design, robot performance, and teamwork.
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Through The Master's College handbell groups, we had the privilege of playing in the annual Come Christmas Sing concerts - a week long concert series put on by the college and featuring a wide variety of music and instruments. We were also able to expand our musical abilities under the direction of Professor Claire Blackwell and enjoyed playing songs such as, "Angels We Have Heard on High", "The First Noel", "Joy to the World", and even a funky version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".
Continue Reading "Ringing in the Christmas season" »
This particular song really stretched the three of us as we had to come up with creative ways to cover as many bells as possible while still making the piece look easy and sound good to the audience. The song included everything from the very lowest bells (weighing nearly sixteen pounds apiece!) to some of the highest and each of us covered over an octave of bells.
Through this semester we have been able to expand our repertoire as well as enjoy practicing challenging pieces together. This next semester we are looking forward to playing a Lord of the Rings medley (since our group is named after it) and to pulling off another fun song!
This month, my sisters and I participated in the 12th annual Master's College Bellfest, a fun listening and learning opportunity for handbell ringers and lovers. We had over ten choirs and small ensembles from all over southern California share their works, including a special mini-concert by renowned solo ringer Christine Anderson. While there, each choir was able to sight read through a new piece while learning many new and fun techniques as well as participate in a mass ring of Joel Raney's arrangement of "We Three Kings".
We'd like to thank Claire Blackwell for coordinating the event and Christine Anderson for directing and teaching us. We all learned a lot and really appreciated all the hard work that was put into this.
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This year, Wendy and I have had the opportunity to experience small ensemble ringing through our group - The Fellowship of the Ring. We started this trio last year with our friend Morgan Ruthardt and enjoyed it so much that we decided to continue this semester. At the beginning of the semester, the three of us made the decision that the trio would only play music that was either written or arranged by someone in the group, allowing us the freedom to play whatever song we want in whatever way we want to play it. Because we are all either music majors or music lovers, writing our own music has been great and has helped us all grow in our music abilities. It has given us a better understanding of the pieces we are playing (how they work and fit together) and has also been a lot of fun!
Last semester we started our first performance off with a comedy skit on "I've got the Joy". In the skit, Morgan is trying to be very professional and solemn while playing this Sunday school song - without the joy. The other two players (Wendy and I) aren't exactly thrilled with that and keep trying to take over the song to "liven" it up a bit - much to Morgan's frustration . Throughout the song the three of us constantly go back and forth - each one trying to take control of the song and play as they think it should be played until the climax, where the three ringers finally all agree on the best way to play the song.
This semester we decided to do two new songs. Over the summer, Wendy and I arranged "What Child is This" for the trio while Morgan worked on arranging the song "Andantino". We have really enjoyed playing both of these beautiful pieces and have had the opportunity to play in the annual Master's College Bellfest and are looking forward to performing in the Master's College Come Christmas Sing this year. Below is a video of our trio performing "Andantino" at Bellfest.
We have really enjoyed this special opportunity both in increasing our skill with the bells and in building friendships and have already started planning some very special (and fun) pieces for next year!
What do you get when you combine three timpanis, several percussion instruments, a synthesizer, and several full bell choirs? Some great music and a lot of fun!
This fall The Master's College held their 12th annual Bell festival (Bellfest) which we had the opportunity to participate in. Each of the several choirs and small ensembles performed their works and there were some amazing pieces! We even got to hear a small mini concert by Christine Anderson, a renowned solo ringer who wowed us all with her quick playing and juggling bells!
The concert ended with a mass ring where all the participating choirs played together along with the percussion and synth. Under the conducting of Christine Anderson, we played Joel Raney's mystical arrangement of "We Three Kings" which uses a variety of techniques and sounds to make you feel as if you were on the journey with the wise men.
At the beginning of this semester an interesting problem arose for Master's College Jubilation Handbell Choir. While the group was scheduled to meet twice a week, class conflicts prevented all but four of us to meet for the second rehearsal. Our handbell director Claire Blackwell decided to use the time instead to help the four members who could make practice learn how to do four-in-hand ringing. The result? The Jubilant Four was formed.
The four of us (Wendy Mack, Amy Mack, Steffie Hydanus, and Hannah Knapp) decided that we would become a four-in-hand quartet. Four-in-hand ringing is a special technique where each person holds four bells (two in each hand) and keeps holding them for the entire song. While only sixteen bells can be played per song, we are able to use those bells in combinations to make the sound lively and full. Unlike most choirs, we do not use tables, allowing us the freedom to walk around and stand with the audience. We have all enjoyed learning this new technique from Mrs. Blackwell and have had a lot of fun getting to know each other better!
This summer, my sisters and I decided to prepare a special piece to perform at the Master's College annual Bellfest and chose the song "O Holy Night". While Wendy and I have been ringing bells for a long time, this was Emily and Kelly's first time to ring handbells and they were very eager to learn. We had a lot of fun practicing together and filling the house with music (although I think Mom and Dad may have gotten a little tired of the same song being played over and over) and were able to pull it off. It was amazing to see how quickly the piece came together and how smoothy it went.
We were able to perform our song in the Master's college Bellfest and really enjoyed it! Below is the video of us all playing this piece.
Playing this song was a lot of fun and the four of us are looking forward to doing more together soon!
My opportunity came in my freshman year of high school. Because we are enrolled in the A Beka Academy program, we were able to take many courses through DVD. When I learned that there was a DVD course to teach me how to play any stringed instrument, I was really excited and, after discussing it with Lisa Hernacki, the church orchestra director, Amy and I decided to learn the viola.
At last, our DVDs arrived and as we started studying under the Jaffé Strings Program, screeches filled the house as our family and neighbors had to put up with - not one - but two beginning string players. I am so grateful that they did support me, and that they never made negative remarks. It didn't take too long, however, for us to begin experimenting with our instruments. We were so excited when we were able to sound out Pirates of the Caribbean (the original song from the ride) on our instruments as well as several other songs!
As we finished up the second year of our study under the strings program, we began preparing to audition for the Grace Baptist Church Orchestra. The first violinist in the orchestra, Patti Graham, was such a big help and encouragement, and she helped us go through an intense three month "viola boot camp" to help us get ready for our auditions. At the end of August, Amy and I auditioned for Mrs. Hernacki and were accepted into the orchestra!
It 's been a wonderful experience to be a part of this incredible group of people. It has been such a big blessing to me as I start to pursue music more seriously, and, although we still hear the regular viola jokes (what violist doesn't?), all of the musicians are so positive and encouraging! I am grateful for the privilege to be a part of this special family.
For several years, a set of two octave handbells have been sitting in the attic of the local church, just waiting for someone to come along to start a bell choir - I guess that someone was me.
Last year, one of the members of the church mentioned the bells and asked if Amy or I would be interested in directing a choir. At the time, while I really wanted to help, I couldn't imagine myself directing a bell choir where I would be the youngest person there.
Continue Reading "Directing My First Bell Choir" »
On Saturday, September 5, 1992 at 5:54 PM. and 5:55 PM. The Lord answered our prayers and brought us two very healthy identical twin girls.
Two years earlier, our Sunday school class did a series on Parenting Perfect Children. That's a pretty presumptuous tittle but the presenters of this class were half a dozen older couples who had already been through the trials of parenting and whose children were a testimony to their accomplishments.
Each Sunday, one couple shared from their perspective the things that had contributed to the well being of their family. One couple who spoke shared how they began to pray for their children before they were born. Not only that, they continued to pray regularly for their children's friends, and even their spouses to be - unknown at the time.
This lesson hit home. I have seen the power of prayer work miracles in my own life and in the lives of others who call upon the Lord. Kathy and I decided that we would begin to pray for a child even though we knew that the time would be far off. During these times in prayer together, we found that we both had a desire to have twins - something that we had each desired since our early days and yet never discussed between us. The Bible says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." PSALM 37:4. Believing this desire to be sincere, we decided to express these desires in our time of prayer.
Keep in mind that there are no twins in either of our families for at least 4-5 generations that we know of. The instances of “twinning” in normal conception are very low. They are hereditary or can be the result of advanced aged (38+) or fertility drugs taken at the time of conception. Neither of these were the case for us.
By the time of our second pre-natal visit to the doctor, Kathy's womb had already grown quite large. We shared with our doctor that we had been praying for twins and that we suspected that Kathy had twins. Our doctor suspected that we had miscalculated the date of conception. An ultrasound examination quickly resolved the issue - identical twins! Identical twins are NOT hereditary but are the result of one fertilized egg that splits during the early weeks. Our babies shared the same sac and a common placenta - which is extremely rare (1 in 30,000 births) and often very dangerous.
By Kathy's 5th month of pregnancy, she was approaching the size of a full term single birth! Our doctors became very concerned about the health of the twins. We began a routine of examinations which would bring us to the hospital once a week and 3 times a week in the last stages of pregnancy. Although the babies were expected to arrive a month short of their calculated due date of Labor Day (no pun intended), the babies held out until Saturday, September 5th.
Meanwhile Kathy kept growing and growing and growing ... Fortunately, the babies remained in good health and both remained in the head down position thus allowing us to plan for a normal childbirth.
Early Saturday morning, I took Kathy to the hospital. She immediately went into active labor. They brought in all of the equipment and staff and everything stopped. After several procedures and another 10 hours of difficult labor, the decision was made to perform an unscheduled C-section.
Twin births are already classified as high risk pregnancies. With a C-section now things really got hopping. The staff at St. Joseph's Medical Center were terrific. Within minutes, a medical team of 9 people were assembled and ready. Moments later, our two daughters, Baby A :7 lbs. 4 oz. and Baby B: 7 lbs. 2 oz. were born. Our prayers for healthy twins had been answered!
Their names are:
BABY A: Wendy Anne Mack
BABY B: Amy Elizabeth Mack
Born Saturday, September 5th at 5:54 & 5:55 PM.
Kathy is greatly relieved to no longer be carrying such large babies. The hospital staff was also quite amazed at their healthy size - apparently uncommon in identical twins. Identical they are. I can't yet tell them apart. If I don't return one baby to the same crib from which I took her - forget it, I'm lost!
Kathy and the girls will remain at the hospital for the next few days. Then the real excitement begins.
Kathy and I want to thank you for your friendship, your encouragement, and your support.
Eric (Proud Papa), Kathy, Wendy, and Amy
Amy and Wendy, I'll never forget the moment you made me a mom - a role I have and always will cherish. I don't deserve to have such wonderful daughters like you two, but I'm thrilled that I do! I've loved every moment of it - pushing you around downtown Burbank in your twin stroller, sitting on the couch at the condo reading to you, and all of the "bonding" moments in Pine Mountain. You have become incredible godly women, and I am proud of both of you! Happy Birthday my precious ones!
My mother knew that I wanted to try something new and decided to try to get me into the world of Scupley clay. I was not impressed, but she insisted I give it a try.
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A magi named Artaban leaves his home and sells everything he has to go look for the Messiah. All the other magi taunted him for his decision. A reluctant servant accompanied Artaban only for a reward of his (the servant's) freedom. Artaban brings three gifts for Jesus; a ruby, a sapphire, and a pearl. Along the way, he stops and helps needy people and gives the gifts away to provide for them. He got sidetracked, and for 33 years, Artaban lived with a colony of outcasts and lepers using his medical skills and farming abilities to help them. Artaban learned that Jesus was in Jerusalem and set out to meet him. Many troubles prevented him from seeing Jesus before the crucifixion. Before Artaban’s death, Jesus rewarded his faithful servant, Artaban, with his heart’s desire.
My dad gave my sisters and me a challenge of how many verses from the Bible we could find to support this movie. He said if we found enough verses, we could earn the new Nancy Drew computer game for the four of us to play together. My dad also said that if we write a blog post about it, we could earn another game. These are the verses and the reasons why that we found:
John 3:16- For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on Him will never perish but have eternal life. –Answers why Jesus came.
Isaiah 9:6- For unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given and the government will be upon His shoulders and His name will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. –The prophecy that Jesus was Born.
Matthew 11:5- The Blind receive sight, the Lame walk, those who have leprosy are healed, the deaf her, the dead are raised and the good news is preached to the poor. –Blind man received his sight
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The awards ceremony was held at Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita. Wendy was the first of three students to speak. She shared what the various stages of Awana meant to her spiritual growth and development. Amy delighted all by playing the piano before and during the ceremony, including two of her own compositions.
Continue Reading "Amy and Wendy Earn the Awana Citation Award!" »
Today, my sister and I rang in The Master's College 11th annual Bellfest, led by Artist in Residence Christine Anderson. (We're in the back row, at 1:19 on the video).
My sister and I had the double treat of ringing not only with our own church handbell choir, the Master's Hands, but also with Jubilation, one of the handbell choirs at The Master's College.
This is the last song that we rang. It was written by John F. Wade, arranged by Cynthia Dobrinski, and conducted by Christine Anderson.
My father listened to me as I told him all about my frustrations, then he suggested I try something different. He recommended taking the easiest children's song I could think of and arranging a simple piece - which I did. I chose the song "I've got the Joy Joy Joy Joy" by George Willis Cooke.
My Dad must have been in a ragtime mood because when I showed him my arrangement he challenged me to write something worthy of a ragtime pianist at Disneyland. I took his challenge and began to play around with it on the piano until I knew how I wanted it to sound. After that, the notes came easily and in twenty minutes I had finished my first ragtime piano duet.
I hope you enjoy-joy-joy-joy this arrangement!
Here's my arrangement:
You might enjoy reading and trying to keep up with the lyrics here.
(Right-click on the link below to save the mp3 file to your computer.)
First I should probably tell that home schooling is a family effort. I have been home schooled my entire life and have loved it. My mother does not work outside of the home - but she's never idle. She is constantly busy teaching my three sisters and I (all varying grades), running the household, as well as assisting my father as a secretary for his business when needed. My father works at home and runs his business from his office which is on the same level we all do school. He also acts as our principal (if needed), and teaches us occasionally.
In the article I read, the point was made that "...One disadvantage is the financial burden or hardship it can impose upon a family. It is the responsibility of the parents to purchase the curriculum needed for home schooling where the public school provides it at no charge." It is true that home schooling costs. Books can be expensive, but this also gives the parents the freedom to choose the material for their child. If there is something we disagree with, the parent can find another resource for their child - public schoolers do not have that option.
The article also brought up "...Another disadvantage is the amount of time it drains from parents who perform the task..." There's no denying it, home schooling does take a lot of time an effort. But the job of parents is to be responsible and devote the time to their children and train them. All throughout history, we read how children were privately educated, whether by their parents or by a hired tutor. Either way, the parents took on the responsibility of training their child through time and/or resources. Parents took this task seriously and did their best to provide for their child. They then took great pride when their children grew up with the established values and principles they had learned at home.
Another point made was "...the lack of a guide or counselor can be a serious disadvantage. Sometimes, children have issues or concerns that they don't feel comfortable talking to their parents about....(in public school) Children also have their teachers to talk to and provide support. It is important for children to have someone safe they can confide in when necessary." If you are being home schooled your parents become your guide and counselor. If your parents are involved in your life every day there isn't that hesitation of talking with them. You know they care about you, else they wouldn't be home schooling you. I can guarantee to you that most home school students aren't going to want to give up talking with someone they know and love for a complete stranger that the school district says you can trust.
Probably the biggest point that this article made is nothing new. This argument keeps coming back again and again. "...The biggest disadvantage to home schooling is the child's lack of socialization which does not provide them the opportunity to interact with other children." This is a severely mistaken point of view that many people believe. I have found that home schooling has allowed me more socialization than I probably could have had at a public school. Without the constant interruptions that public schools have, I am able to focus harder on school, get more done, and get done faster than a public school student. With the extra time I get every day, I have been able to participate in many different activities such as handbell choir, extra curricular science courses, vocal choir, church activities, robotics, drama, etc. I still get to interact with people, the difference is that I get to choose who those people should be.
I hope I have given some more information on the benefits of home schooling. I have found this to be a blessing to me - our family has never been closer. I admire and really want to thank my parents for making the right decision to home schooling us.
I have long been jealous of my father's GTD wallet which came complete with several spare pads of paper, a pen and pen holder, money holder, and credit card holder. I grew tired of lugging around several pens and different pads of paper in my purse “just in case I have an idea I need to capture.”
The wallets came in a beautiful box which held the wallet, several spare pads of paper (each the right size for the wallet) as well as a few ink re-fills.
I am now fully enjoying my new GTD wallet and the freedom it allows me to capture information on the go. I would highly recommend this product to anyone else who in interested in a great capture tool.
The BE WiSE science alliance is a group dedicated to engaging and teaching young women in science and technology and providing them with valuable experiences, background, and skills to pursue their goals.
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