Music Magic and “The Rhythm in My Head”

I watched my son’s middle school music concert with tears streaming down my face. I know what you’re thinking. Really? But it’s a middle school music concert.

I know, I know. But I also that know that my dad would have really loved this. He was a huge jazz fan. My dad played the clarinet and I grew up listening to him play and all different types of music, including jazz.

The funny thing is, my son was not a big jazz lover until recently after my father passed. Now he listens to jazz all the time with his earbuds in and attached to his iPhone, snapping his fingers and tapping his toes. Now it feels almost as if my dad is living through my son somehow or maybe it’s just in the genes.

There’s also another huge factor. My son’s middle school jazz band is top-notch. One of the best in the country, in fact, as rated by Downbeat Magazine. His music teacher John A. Zimny (his initials are JAZ!) teaches at both middle schools in the city of Folsom, close to Sacramento.

My son wants to play in the jazz band next year. His instrument is the baritone horn. This past year, he was in the Advanced Band. He plans to practice all summer and audition in the fall. I sure hope he gets in. I was absolutely blown away by the talent of these musicians at this concert.

Most of all, I was touched by their devotion to their band teacher and to each other, and to their high level of commitment. If you ever have an opportunity to support music in the schools, please do! It’s worth every penny and they need many more pennies.

Many of the students spoke during the concert to thank Mr. Zimny for giving them the best year of their lives. One even said she loved her jazz band more than her family. Sorry family! Kids from both of these middle schools traveled together by bus, competed against each other and, for the final concert, were on stage playing together. It was grand and what a sound!

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Music has such a unifying power. Mr. Zimny told the audience that when you set the bar a little higher, you would be surprised what these kids can do. They surpassed expectations and took things further than he ever thought they could.

During the concert, my son watched in awe, snapping his fingers as he does and typing in the names of the pieces he heard into his phone.

My son between listening to pieces, inspired and all jazzed up!
My son between listening to pieces, inspired and all jazzed up!

The next day, my son gave a presentation of a poem he wrote for his English class. I was such in awe, I wanted to share it here. 

The Rhythm in My Head

As I walk through the world
I see a rhythm to things
like a way of life
while with the snap of my fingers
and the blow of my horn
I form a picture of
the world around me,
A picture full of sound and
beauty where the rhythm just won’t
stop.
Then I open my eyes and realize
the world is just too quiet.

If you want to take a listen, here’s a bit of the jazz band with Mr. Zimny conducting.

Their Latest Act – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for a 100-word story with Friday Fictioneers, a writing group hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Thanks, Rochelle for your leadership every week. Thanks to Roger Bultot for providing this week’s photo.

My story follows. 

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PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

(Horror: 100 words)

Their Latest Act

The taste of metal tainted her tongue. Laine shook the salt shaker into her mouth. No use. The blood was still there and she spat it out, crouched with her hips off the floor.

Her mother had loved the green parrots who flew in from Mexico. They had watched their mating dance once from her patio, their gentle fluttering of feathers high in the sky. It was a performance for her, her mother would say.

No mother, it never was. They have the power of flight and beaks for pecking your eyeballs of your sockets until you’re blind. That’s all.

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

No Batteries Required – Friday Fictioneers

Welcome to Friday Fictoneers, where every week writers attempt to create a 100-word story based on a photo. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the group each and every week. The photo was provided by Sean Fallon. Thank you, Sean.

This week’s prompt is a repeat from three years ago. Since many of you may not have seen this and because I’m satisfied with my story, I decided to repost it with a few minor changes. It feels good to like something that I wrote! I hope you enjoy it. 

If you would like to participate, click here for details.

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PHOTO PROMPT © Sean Fallon

(100 words)

No Batteries Required

“Do we have any batteries, Daddy?” she said, looking at the jar.

“No. Those are for recycled. And, since it’s filled to the top, I get to throw away three of your toys.” He laughed and patted her head.

The little girl gazed at him in disbelief, then sat on his lap. “Why? They’re not broken. They just need batteries.”

“So we don’t need anything new then?” he asked. “You can’t have it all. What’s it going to be? Batteries or new toys?”

The little girl held her ragged doll close to her chest. “You can’t throw away this one.”

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here. 

Time Capsulated – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo was provided by Sandra Crook.

Join in the fun. Here are instructions. The objective is to write a 100-word story based on the photo prompt below. All are welcome.

crook
PHOTO PROMPT – © Sandra Crook

Genre: Memoir (100 words)

Time Capsulated

Time left no marks on our faces. It was measured with popsicle sticks and with pruny fingers from too much pool time. Our eyes blurred with chlorine as we watched double-features on repeat. We walked home with recycled tubs of popcorn in our bellies. No one told us to hurry. We kept no watches.

What we didn’t know was that this time we could never get back.

Do we have enough hands for all the candy at the store? Who would go? One more. Walk the dirt path. We traveled them all, shortcuts to save time that needed no saving.

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

Linger in the Moonbeam Wilderness

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Linger in the moonbeam wilderness
stay a while
take off your hat, your scarf and
breathe in the air

Feel it nip at your neck and
sting your eyes
dance upon your lips
and whistle in your eardrums

Its song filters through the clouds
whispered in the wind
and is carried by feathered wings
waiting in the shadows

Memories drift on frayed edges
slipping through fingertips
remembering what you can’t forget
like tracked footfalls in the fallen snow

Memories old, memories new
memories waiting for a cue
marked by the hawk passing through
who waits for no one

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Let’s all the seize the moment in 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!  Wishing everyone the best year ever and that you’re happy, healthy and go after your dreams. How is your new year going so far?

Raining Apples – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, where writers across the globe accept the challenge of writing a 100-word story based on a photo. Thanks to our lovely hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who also provided this week’s photo prompt.

My story this week is semi-autobiographical. I hope you enjoy it.

Feel free to join in the fun and write your own story. Here’s are instructions.

rainy-night
PHOTO PROMPT -© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

(100 words)

Raining Apples

The rain cascaded out the sky like coins clattering the windshield.

Irene felt the presence of her father next to her, who only cautioned,”Slow down. Careful.” She gripped the steering wheel tighter.

Finally, her dad broke the wipers’ mad rhythm and said, “It doesn’t rain like this in California.”

“I can’t see a thing!” Irene laughed and pulled over.

“Hey, any apples left?” he asked.

Earlier they had picked apples, but her father’s bucket had fallen to the ground, bruising most of them.

Who knew they would eat those raining apples in the pouring rain? They couldn’t have tasted better.

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

That Time I was in a Parade

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With temperatures in the triple digits, I will leave town with the masses in search of a cool breeze. But, we’ll be back so my son can participate in a festive holiday parade with his water polo team. I don’t know the specifics of his participation; if he’ll be walking or riding, chanting or hand waving. Since it will involve traveling on black asphalt, I know one thing. It will be hot.

I was in a Fourth of July parade once. I’ll never forget it. I was on the neighborhood drill team and, somehow, we ended up in the Fourth of July parade. Or, perhaps, we formed for the sole purpose of participating in the parade? I may have had something to do with getting the group together, although I would never claim that responsibility while we attempted to function as an organization.

I just remember the mad flurry to be in the parade and how excited I was. We managed to pull together a uniform: navy shorts, a white T-shirt (because we all had that one!) white gloves, and tennis shoes. We practiced our 8 counts of 8, and chanted the drill team cry: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8! With our voices rising with the 7-8, to start again. Over and over. And over. It was endless. Our jagged movements were in unison: a movement for every count, all angular, arms above, arms below, switching back and forth, one arm high, the other side, etc; we may have even included a side head. The next counts of eight were strikingly similar, but we rehearsed it all like mad so we knew it backwards and forwards.

Our parade route was 5 miles. You heard that right. A mega 5-mile hike! We must have been 8 or 9 years old, so the journey was a long one. Hey, it would still be a long one, even today. I remember going under bridges, up hills, through tunnels all behind a blaring marching band, who most people thought we were associated with. They stole our thunder, you see. But by mile 3 or 4, we were so delirious we just wanted to stop our 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-ing.

Monster blisters had formed on the back on my heels. I don’t know if our blue and white color scheme was chosen expressly for the Fourth of July parade or not, but by the end, we also had beet-red faces to complete the Fourth of July ensemble. We were red-faced, white and blue. I would also add brown because there was so much brown everywhere. All the many horses were brown, who left their shit, like little presents, all over the route. We attempted to tip-toe and chasse in a spontaneous re-choreographing of our routine all around the brown horseshit, as if we could fool anyone. Why would you bother with such a thing when you very nearly wanted to faint?

At some point, we arrived at the central parade area where we were to dazzle everyone with our performance, all red-faced and patriotic. We may have left out our chant altogether, gone half deaf from the blare of trumpets before us.

I just wanted it all to stop.

And, then it did. It went on entirely too long, but then it ended suddenly. Kaput, like in one big heap and we no longer had anywhere else to march. I was so so happy, so thrilled we did it. Who knew such misery could result in such joy and achievement. I’m certain I waved a flag at the end.

I’d show you a photo to prove I was there, but this was before we photographed every second of our lives. You’ll just have to take my word for it. I was in the Fourth of July parade, red (faced), white and blue.

Perhaps this photo of our local cattle run can serve as a stand-in. This is from the previous year, however. It was cancelled this year due to extreme heat and a high of 108. Yikes!

We don't want to piss him off, do we? We'll cancel, we'll cancel! Image source: Anne Stokes
We don’t want to piss him off, do we? We’ll cancel, we’ll cancel! Image source: Anne Stokes

I hope everyone who is celebrating has a Happy Fourth of July! Stay cool!

Have you ever been in a parade? If not, do you want to?

photo credit: Downtown Cannon Beach Parade via photopin (license)