This summer has has flown by but maybe that is because it has been so full. The first part of my summer revolved around planning and preparing for my trip to Poland. My friend Shoko (in picture) attended a piano master course with a mutual friend of ours, Heidi. I heard about their experience and knew that it was something that that would very beneficial to my personal education and the education of those that I teach. I left for Poland on July 4th came back on July 15th. During my time in Poland I had five lessons, Four with Stefan Kutrzeba (in picture, white shirt) and one with Olga Lazarska. I also was able to participate in three group improvisation classes with Kasia Stankowska. Stefan’s teaching focuses more on the mental side of playing than on the physical. I had read some of his articles (www.pianoeu.com) and had also read Heinrich Neuhuas book “The Art of Playing the Piano. The reading and talks I had with Shoko helped prepare me for the learning experience. It was an eye opening experience to not only see Stefan teach but to have several lessons with him. At some point my mind and fingers had become disconnected and I no longer was attentively listening to what I was playing. By simply listening I was able to achieve a larger sound, color, speed that I never thought possible before. My time in Poland recharged me and brought back an excitement for learning that had started to dwindle in the shadow or organized education. I would love to go back someday to learn more but for now I am eager to learn on my own and experiment with what my imagination and fingers can do with dots on the page that we call music!
(Music school where we had lessons and practiced)
In addition to practicing three hours a day, having lessons, listening to lessons there were also three performances that we were able to attend. One was at a pub and the group consisted of piano, double bass, violin, accordion and classical guitar. This music was a nice change from all the piano music that I had been hearing. Towards the end of the course, there was a small concert for the participants as well as a concerto concert open to the public.
(Concert hall for the final concert)
Outside of all the organized music there was time to explore the city. Rzeszow Poland is not a tourist destination and as such I had to learn how to communicate with the few Polish words and phrases I knew in addition to pointing and smiling. Shoko and I walked from the hostel to the music school and downtown Rzeszow every day. It was about a thirty minute walk one way but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to see the city at a slower pace and it also gave Shoko and me more time to talk. People in Poland love their ice cream and I have yet to find anything like it back here in the states.
(ice cream from our favorite coffee shop)
Overall I loved the food! There was such a variety and combinations that I probably would have never tried here in the states (like warm milk with cereal instead of cold milk or a sandwich for breakfast). The only thing that I did not enjoy was a carrot dish that was served with our supper at the hostel several nights.
(Typical Polish breakfast, minus the crepe, that was special on our last day)
The master course had a built in relaxation day. At first I was disappointed that I could not practice (which slightly surprised me) but after the day was over I was glad we had the day away from Rzeszow. They took all the participantes that wanted to on a bus and we started up into the mountains outside the city. On the way, we stopped at one of the oldest churches in Poland.
After seeing inside we continued on our journey farther into the mountains to a big bridge (or damn).
It was so nice to be able to get out a walk and enjoy the water and sunshine. There were a lot of vendors at the damn and on one side there were rides and opportunities to go swimming or boating in the lake that was created by the damn. I was hopping that the damn would be turned on while we were there but I am not sure if they do that while people are walking across it ^_^ Since it was lunch time, it was a perfect opportunity for ice cream. Or in my case, a fresh waffle with fresh cream and strawberries and blueberries. This made me so happy!
(Olga and Stefan walking across the damn)
(Teachers and students taking a break and enjoying a cool refreshing treat.)
(Enjoying my treat of a fresh waffle, fresh cream and blueberries and strawberries!)
There is so much more that I could talk about but you will just have to ask if you want to know more ^_~
Coming back was hard. I was ready to be back but I think the hardest transition was hearing so much English. In Rzeszow, there were a total of four participants whose main language was English. There were others that spoke English but I got used to hearing Polish. I miss it, hopefully the next time that I go, I will know more than a few survival words and phrases.
The only other thing that I have done this summer other than work, practice, teach and trying to relax is giving the Single Life talk on a Chrysalis Journey weekend. Being a satisfied single Christian adult has been something that I have been struggling with for the last few years. One of the best resources that I have come across (outside of reading the Bible and praying) is the Boundless podcast and articles online (http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0002325.cfm. http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0002123.cfm.). The podcast and articles have really helped me have a God centered and Biblical perspective on being single and how I can best serve God right now. With a lot of prayer the weekend went smoothly and I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it. I hope to post a variation of the talk I gave on a future post.
Sadly, my summer is coming quickly to an end. School starts on the 23rd and I know it will get crazy. More to come but for now these active fingers need some time to recharge.
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