Vote for Meghann Foster tomorrow (Tues 11/7)

fostergaards

Citizens of Coralville, tomorrow is the big day for you to cast your vote for Meghann Foster for Coralville City Council! The polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm. If you’re unsure of your polling place, it’s easy to confirm by following this link.

Meghann has been endorsed by The Gazette, the Iowa City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Local 1260 and AFCSME Council 61. You can also read a number of endorsements from private citizens on Meghann’s website, including my own enthusiastic endorsement.

I have found this year to be very discouraging politically and I have desired at times to find a way to unplug from the whole system. It has been a battle to not allow my cynicism to take over my dedication to do whatever good I’m able to do in this world.

“I cannot do all the that the world needs but the world needs all the good that I can do.”
-Jana Stanfield

When my husband Joe and I marched in the 4th of July parade in support of Meghann for City Council, I felt such relief and true pride to be supporting to be a candidate who is so smart, so richly experienced and so equally committed to all of the citizens in our community.  I remember saying to Meghann’s husband Nick that I had never felt so patriotic on our nation’s Independence Day as I did that day.

foster

As stated on her website: “Meghann Foster is a mother, community volunteer, and small business owner who is running for the open seat on the Coralville City Council. Meghann is committed to ensuring that Coralville is an inclusive place for all its residents.”

Please join me in casting your vote for Meghann Foster tomorrow.

Congratulations to Stella!

Introducing Stella, my featured musician for November and December!

Nov-Dec 2017 Featured Musician-page-001

How awesome is the self-portrait that Stella provided for her featured musician poster?!! I hope you can tell that the shirt she is wearing reads “Be Who You Are”. Stella embodies that message so well.

It also delights me to no end that Stella’s mother Katie captured a photo of our very first fiddle lesson together 4 years ago when she was just shy of her fifth birthday.

IMG_20130905_180042

Since that first lesson, Stella and I have learned so much together. We sing in nearly every lesson because two people who love to sing as much as we do just can’t help ourselves when we get together. We are also both shameless multi-instrumentalists. The more music, the better! I’m actually quite jealous of Stella’s collection of musical instruments and I highly doubt the collection is complete.

Stella draws deep inspiration from performing and I believe it stems at least in part from her generous spirit. She truly understands how much joy a passionate performance brings to the audience and she loves to spread happiness. There is very likely a genetic component as well, given how richly blessed Stella is on both sides of her family with a legacy of performance and music making that goes back many generations.

Please join me in wishing Stella a happy birthday and a hearty congratulations on all her musical accomplishments past, present and future!

Fall Concert 2017

group

Jennifer Masada and I were thrilled to produce another successful Fall Concert at New Song Episcopal Church in Coralville!

Special thanks to all of our wonderful students who worked so hard and played with so much energy and passion and to their families who helped them to achieve their goals.

We knew already that Rey was a Force prodigy who brought new hope to a galaxy on the brink of war but did you know that she’s also a great fiddler?!

Rey

Has a box of noodles ever before performed Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King so expertly and with such musicianship? We think not!

Noodles

A very special thank you to my studio parents for providing those wonderful photos!

The Ninth Doctor performed his own theme song on the accordion. We were surprised he knew of the theme at all!

dr and rose.jpg

Thank you so much to everyone for attending and supporting us with your wonderful energy as we performed. We love you and we look forward to gathering again next year to celebrate the FUN in making music!

food

 

 

Sandburg Songbag

The Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School team has been quiet for the last couple of months. Keith battled a walnut and the walnut bested him, taking a broken wrist as payment for being trodden upon.

Keith has proved to be the tougher nut and his healing is proceeding well so we will be back in action soon.

We are very much looking forward to returning to the Carl Sandburg Historic Site in Galesburg, IL on Sunday, November 12 at 4 pm. Galesburg is a lovely town and we are always happy to be among fellow poetry aficionados.

I have long admired Sandburg’s poems but the last time we visited, I learned so much about the man that I had never known before:

  • He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for Abraham Lincoln; The War Years, his biography of Abraham Lincoln (1940).
  • He was honored by the NAACP with their Silver Plaque Award as a “major prophet of civil rights in our time.”
  • He is regarded by some as the first American urban folk singer, accompanying himself on solo guitar at lectures and poetry recitals, and in recordings, long before either of the major folk revival movements.
  • His 1927 anthology The American Songbag has inspired countless musicians for decades, including but not limited to Dan Zanes and Sufjan Stevens.
  • He won a Grammy in 1957 for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.
  • Sandburg was the only American poet ever invited to address a joint session of Congress.

If you’re not near Galesburg, please spread the word to family and friends. This is a very special community event and we’re so honored to be invited back.

Congratulations to Dannye and Rob!

Introducing Dannye and Rob, my featured musicians for September and October!

There is a special place in my heart for family music-making so it’s an extra thrill to be featuring a mother and son for the first time in my featured musician series.

In addition to making music at home, in school ensembles and at church, Dannye and Rob as well as Rob’s two sisters regularly bring their musical gifts to enrich the guests and staff at The Russell and Ann Gerdin American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. I find it truly beautiful that they are so committed to using their talents to share joy and inspiration.

Sept-Oct 2017 Featured Musician (1)-page-001

You can follow some of Dannye’s other creative pursuits at her writing website DannyeChase.com.

Little Village Magazine Review

Many thanks to Little Village Magazine and to Kent Williams for his kind review of Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School.

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.

Reins is the guitarist at the session who slips jazzy passing chords into traditional Irish and Scottish tunes — verging on folk heresy — but always in ways that deepen and add texture. Reins approaches the depth of virtuosity and artistry of performers as revered as Bert Jansch and Nic Jones. There’s a nonchalance and ease to his playing that comes from countless hours sitting in a circle, playing with others just for the joy of it.

Click to read more…

Iowa State Fair 2017

There is always magic to be found at the Iowa State Fair!

Our first stop was Pioneer Hall for the Iowa State Fair Fiddlers Contest. The friendly face of David Bellegante, 9 Time State Grand Champion Fiddler and the annual host of the Iowa State Fair Fiddle Contest, is always a welcome sight. I’ve been bringing my fiddle students to this contest for years and I’m always impressed by how David takes time to connect with each fiddler and prepare them for their turn on the big stage. He is as kind as he is talented. I love his t-shirt here captioned: “I Might Look Like I’m Listening To You But In My Head, I’m Playing The Fiddle.” He is accompanied by Michelle Bell on piano who is also an outstanding fiddler and teacher with a long legacy of music making in Iowa.

Three of my students competed this year and they all played their hearts out and absolutely delighted the crowd. Eviva was my youngest student ever to compete and her composure onstage rivaled the most seasoned of performers. Eviva’s big sister Ania defended her third place title for the second year in a row. Nina took home the blue ribbon and is now the 2017 Iowa State Fair Youth Champion Fiddler!

IMG_2473

Here I am with the other fiddlers who placed this year. I accepted Nina’s trophy on her behalf because she was already over at the Cattle Barn competing in the Spelling Bee. There’s nothing I don’t love about that sentence that I just typed. Oh, Iowa.

IMG_2474

When I arrived at the Spelling Bee, Nina was already in place next to the other competitors so I had to silently mouth to her from across the room while holding up her trophy: “You won first prize!”. I thought her jaw was going to drop off her face. Truly one of the most fun moments of my teaching career.

Nina and Kat, the Junior Champion Fiddler, were featured on the KCCI 5 pm news playing tunes for the crowds gathered at the MidAmerican Energy Stage.

The rest of the day was a blur of fair food, farm animals, and carnival rides with the wonderful Denmead Torkelson family!

IMG_2475

I am so proud of my three fiddlers who all played so beautifully and brought so much joy to the Pioneer Hall audience on Friday. I am one lucky teacher.