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...

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,...