Travel: Hanoi, Vietnam (October 2015)

We took a quick 3-day / 2-night trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, in October 2015 while Beth’s mom was visiting us in Bangkok. I had heard a lot about Hanoi, and as it seemed everyone either loved it or hated it, I was excited to find out for myself. Vietnam is one of the first countries I’ve ever visited where I had to obtain a visa prior to travel, which I did online through vietnamvisacorp.com. I booked airfare through AirAsia and flew out of Don Muang airport, which is cheap and convenient from our condo in Bangkok. Our accommodations in Hanoi were at the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake at the recommendation of a colleague, and it was wonderful: conveniently located, beautiful lakeside views, and helpful staff. One of the first things that struck me about Hanoi was the diverse, almost mismatched architecture. On the way into town from the airport we saw endless clusters of 5+ story, skinny, colorful houses stacked on top of one another. Tucked away between the Vietnamese style houses, there’s many beautiful, well-preserved buildings dating from the French Colonial era, including the Presidential Palace and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. We spent a few hours wandering around looking at interesting buildings, tree-lined streets, and wide-open plazas in the area around Ho Chi Mihn’s Mausoleum — which unfortunately, we were unable to enter due to the short time of our trip. You must arrive there pretty early in the day to get inside for a tour.     The traffic in Hanoi lived up to its reputation as being organized chaos. Motorcycles and cars create a constant soundtrack of honking...

“Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative” by Ken Robinson

Love this quote: “Thinking of education as a preparation for something that happens later can overlook the fact that the first sixteen or eighteen years of a person’s life are not a rehearsal. Young people are living their lives now.” More and more I conceptualize music education the same way. Beginning band isn’t training for high school band, which isn’t training for college band. A student musician should do as much of the same things that a professional musician does as best they can. So I’d rather the students learn to play “Cheerleader” by OMI than hot cross buns. It certainly makes music more interesting and relevant to them, I think. To quote a closefriend of mine, “Start acting now like what you want to become later. If you want to be an engineer, start acting like an engineer. If you want to be a writer, start acting like a writer. Don’t wait until later. Do it now.” Great...

Beginning of the 2015 – 2016 School Year!

  Another year has begun at TCIS! This is my 4th year at the Thai-Chinese International School in Bangkok, Thailand, and it’s already off to a great start. This year, I have more students enrolled than ever: 150 students across 7 different classes. This year, I will be teaching: • High School Wind Ensemble • High School Guitar Ensemble & History of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2 Sections) • High School Audio Production (New this year!) • High School Percussion Ensemble (Also new this year!) • 7th Grade Beginning Band • 8th Grade Intermediate Band I’m particularly excited to offer the Audio Production and Percussion Ensemble classes. A big part of my Masters work at The University of Texas revolved around non-traditional ensembles as a sort out “outreach” to students who normally wouldn’t take music, as traditional music programs might have been inaccessible or uninteresting to them. Audio Production will be focusing on both Live Sound Reinforcement as well as the Recording Arts, and they will serve as the go-to team for all the school’s live sound needs. They’ll also be working with the school’s Video Productions class to work on audio editing, mixing, and mastering. We will be using Roey Izhaki’s excellent “Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices, and Tools” as our initial textbook. Percussion Ensemble was my bread and butter prior to coming to Thailand, but I haven’t taught it since moving here. This year, 7 people have signed up so far. We’ll be doing some fun stuff in there; currently, I’m having them explore YouTube for ideas of things other percussion ensembles have done, as well as watching clips from Stomp, Blue Man Group,...

Pad Thai

Pad Thai for lunch today! Delicious! This sweet woman always brags about how her pad Thai is the best in Bangkok.  Can’t say I disagree with her! ...