Thursday, July 28, 2005

Practice makes perfect!

I am so enjoying this!!! I am excited to come to work each day for many reasons...but the prevailing reason right now is that each day I learn a new song on my guitar.

In addition to the list from last week, I have now mastered the following:
Ivdu Et HaShem B'simcha
Eliyahu Hanavi
Hamavdil/Shavua Tov
Od yavo Shalom

And I am working on:
Al Kol Eileh - not really for camp...just because I have always loved this song!
David Melech Yisrael - Jewish standard
Gesher Tzar M'od - gotta know this one!
Im Tirtzu - another standard

What's next:
BaShanah HaBa-ah - just a really great song!
Eretz Zavat Chalav - from my Camp Komaroff days
Kol HaN'shama (Sufi chant version) - cool song
Od Yishama - fun song

I've also learned which pick I prefer (Dunlop Tortex - green)...which makes me feel like a real guitar player!!!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"Mrs. Lucks, you're wasting your money!"

My parents paid for 13 years of piano lessons...and I stink! I really do. Whenever I tell people that I am awful, they reply, "Oh, you're just being modest." No, I am being honest -- there's a big difference between modest and honest, let me tell you.

When I was nine, I saw the movie "Ice Castles" and as a result, I begged my parents for skating lessons. My mother bought me a blue ice skating dress, just like the one that Lynn Holly Johnson wore in the movie. That was the ONLY thing I had in common with her. She could skate...and I , sadly, could not. It was awful. I was one of the oldest in the beginning class and the clumsiest. It really was an awful experience. After much cajoling and pleading, my parents allowed me to quit after only a few lessons.

And I heard about it for YEARS....

Anytime I tried something new and wanted to give it up, I would hear "this is just like ice skating."

So for 13 long and harrowing years, I stuck with the piano. Poor piano. Having to suffer my plunking away on the keys with no hope of improvement.

I like to blame my mother for her poor criteria in selecting a piano teacher, but it wasn't really her fault. "Mrs. M" was a very nice lady with a great deal of patience. Could she read music? Sure. Motivating? Not particularly. Cruel? Absolutely not! What made her the perfect teacher? She came to the house! I am not kidding. With four kids, my mother needed to get someone who would come to the house and give the older 3 (and the baby eventaully as well) lessons so that she didn't have to schlep us somewhere. Not exactly Carnegie Hall qualifications...but my mother's goal was just for us to learn musicianship. And so...she reached her goal.

The truth is that Mrs. M was a softie and there were never any consequences for not practicing. In fact, I seem to recall that most weeks I was able to divert Mrs. M's attention enough that she didn't seem to notice that I hadn't practiced in months.

When I graduated college with Music degree in hand (voice, not piano!), I decided to quit. I really felt that I had given piano a true shot and no matter how much I did practice, I wasn't ever going to get much better.

It turns out that I was playing the wrong instrument. Guitar is the one that I should have been playing, though I suspect that the only reason I've been able to figure out the guitar so quickly is in no small part to my years of playing the piano.

My current repetoire as of 07/21/05:
Shalom Chaverim
Bim Bam/Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat is Here
Hineh Mah Tov - 2 versions
Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah
Lo Alecha
Elijah Rock - cool, huh Dad?!?
Ani V'Ata
Heiveinu Shalom Alechem
Sh'ma - Sultzer
Bar'chu - Siegal
Mah Yafeh Hayom
The Whole World is Waiting
Etz Chayim Hee/Shalom

The upshot?

If my parents were hoping for a concert pianist, they wasted their money. But if they were hoping for a strumming Rabbi...well, it was money well spent!

[And the title?

An allusion to a true story about my father's childhood friends, the Lucks boys. One day, Mrs. Lucks was doing her marketing when she was appproached by her sons' Hebrew School teacher, Mrs. (Frances) Wilkotz (pronounced Veel-kotz!), who exclaimed, "Mrs. Lucks! You are vaste-ing your money!"

Rebgiraffe writes:
"Our first day in class, Mrs. Wilkotz began to call the roll:

Ber-ko-VICH? (meaning, Is Jeff Berkowitz present?)

Ein-SHtein? ( know)

At that point, we were all literally on the floor laughing.

Teaching a group of American Jewish boys (and a few girls) was no easy task for this Hungarian-born, Polish-raised woman who always said the word "scholar" with reverence. Zichrona liv'racha."]

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Is this the little girl I carried??

Well, I didn't carry her...her parents did. But now I have a SIL on my side -- hooray!

We had an amazing time in TX for JockBro's hallowed nuptials. I will relay more details at another time...just wanted to report that it was wonderful, we're home, the happy couple is in TAHITI, and a good time was had by all!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Pressure: The Best Motivation

I have wanted to play the guitar for years. When I started rabbinical school, I was amazed to find that many of my classmates had been playing for years. And since I am a singer, I thought it was a skill that I should develop. For my 23rd birthday, which I celebrated during my Israel year, my grandparents "bought" me a guitar. I love how my grandparents work. They lovingly write a check, helping us to fund the desired gift. Easy. They don't have to run around crazy, looking for the right gift -- nor do they have to worry that we won't like what they selected. They know that they are in fact presenting us with the opportunity to get exactly what we want.

In any event, I went to the music store in Jerusalem and despite the salesguy's poor English and my awful Hebrew, I walked out with a beautiful guitar. My classmate Ellie Miller drew out the most important guitar chords for songleading, and I went to work.

If this was the movie version...well, let's just say that it didn't exactly take!!

No matter how much I practiced -- and boy did I practice a lot that year -- my fingers were killing me! Not the tips. I had that under control once I developed the all-important calluses. It's just that my fingers didn't seem long enough to play some of the necessary chords (like C and F!). I did stretching exercises -- to no avail.

Over the years, I would pick up my beautiful guitar and try again. But I just couldn't do it.

And then I discovered the problem -- it was the guitar!

I'm not trying to put blame where it doesn't belong. It really was the guitar. It seems that small hands require a smaller neck on the guitar and the guitar I had purchased was not the right guitar for my hands.

So for my 34th birthday this year, I purchased a Baby Taylor (lovingly funded by my grandparents and other family members).

And if this was the movie version...well, let's just say that I was a little busy this year!

Camp started at the J this week, and I am the Camp Rabbi. We don't have a songleader and on Monday, I decided that camp just wouldn't be camp without a songleading Rabbi.

On Monday, I learned "Shalom Chaverim."
On Tuesday, I learned "HaMotzi."
On Wednesday, I learned "The Whole World is Waiting..."
On Thursday, I learned "Bim Bam/Shabbat Shalom."
Today, I am working on "HaTikvah," "Ma Yafeh HaYom," and "Hinei Ma Tov."

Pressure can be a wonderful thing ;)

Gut Shabbos to all!!!