Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aiken Fans on Decade Countdown

New Year graphic by AmazingCA ushers in a season that holds much promise for Clay Aiken, his new label, and his fans.

Fans Celebrate Decca Decade

Clay Nation Greets New Year

As the hours and minutes of 2009 wind down, Clay Aiken fans are at once in a retrospective mode, as well as greatly anticipating the singer's new label and a new 10 years already tagged the Decca Decade!

New Year's Eve gatherings are planned throughout the many niches of Clay Cyberspace. Some are elaborate with "engraved" invitites, while others will consist of informal gatherings. All will include sharing favorite music, photos, and performances by Singer Man.

A New Year Celebration is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST Thursday in the public thread at Chexxxy's Place, and all fans are welcome. As the invitation states, a 2003-09 rewind of Clay's albums, songs, interviews, TV/radio appearances is planned.

Graphic by fivegoldens, photo by zippy888

Participants should be prepared to share photos, blends, montages, and videos from the past six years. An example of this New Year's Eve shindig can be viewed in SueReu's montage Clay Aiken - A Retrospective - Part 1, The Music in the player below.

This is just the beginning, as she is preparing three more segments and plans to premiere the second, Clay Aiken - A Retrospective - Part 2, TV Appearances, at the New Year's gathering. To download Retrospective Part 1, here is the Sendspace link.

Clay Aiken - A Retrospective - Part 1,The Music
Montage by SueReu

Clay Cyberspace will be hopping on New Year's Eve. I hope to add information about other site parties planned for members and non-members, so do check back.

Still celebrating Clay's debut blog from Wednesday's Huffington Post, CA fandom sleuths have noted that the UNICEF Ambassador's initial post -- Progress in Somalia Despite Difficult Circumstances -- still leads the Impact section and is listed under various headings, including "Don't Miss HuffPost Bloggers."

Clay in Somalia
Clickable by Fountaindawg

Clay's blog about Somalia is also posted at the UNICEF Fieldnotes site.

Below are clickables by Cotton and AmazingCA celebrating the season, the end of one era and the bright beginning of another:

Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year!

Greeting by A Beautiful Mind

Monday, December 28, 2009

Clay Aiken Montage Rewinds 2009

Memories of 2009 - Montage by LovesClaysVoice

Fans Anticipate 2010, Decca Decade

Montage Bids 2009 Farewell

The old year is winding down; and, like everyone the world over, Clay Aiken fans are recalling highlights of 2009. Even more pronounced, however, is the immeasurable anticipation of 2010!

"Memories of 2009" by LovesClaysVoice replays the departing year with a parade of events including Clay's final performance of "Spamalot"; Golfing for Inclusion fundraiser of the National Inclusion Project; GLAAD presentation; judging stint on "America's Next Top Model" with Tyra Banks; Family Equality Council Award; guest performer with "David Foster & Friends" Concert; "30 Rock"; Capital Awards; Champions for Change Gala; and a second surprise appearance at another
DF&F Concert.

BULLETIN: In his capacity as UNICEF Ambassador, Clay posted an excellent essay at 6:23 a.m. 12/29/09 on The Huffington Post: Progress in Somalia Despite Difficult Circumstances. Readers who click on Clay's byline are taken to his UNICEF bio.

The 2009 montage plays to the beautiful song "Shine," performed by William Joseph, pianist-composer. LCV has provided a Sendspace link for those who would like to download the video. Memories of 2009 can also be viewed at YouTube.

William Joseph was the opening act for Clay's 2005 Joyful Noise Tour, covering 36 cities in the US and Canada during November and December. His latest album, Beyond, is in stores now.

The song "Shine" is from the multi-artist album EFY 2009 - Be Thou an Example. Originally produced for Especially for Youth participants, the CD was released to the public at the end of the summer. Individual songs can be downloaded at the site link.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: In honor of 2009's "Very Best of Clay Aiken" compilation, the clickable overview begins with the artistic cover and features graphics by cindilu2, 1; Fountiandawg, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10; AmazingCA, 3, 5, 7, 11; and Ashes, 9. Photographers include Katy4Clay, 5, and BigAppleforClay, 10.

New Decca Chapter Blasts Off

During down time, Singer Man's fans reminisce about past performances, stream, vote, chat, share favorite videos, photos, graphics, even recipes.

All the while, alert sentries maintain Internet vigils via Google, Twitter, and other news/social networking sites for any hint the tide might be turning. In the late afternoon of Aug. 27, a simple tweet -- Just met Clay Aiken! -- sounded the alarm throughout Cyberspace.

Within minutes, message board sleuths knew the twitterer's name, rank, and serial number: Drew Farrar, music publicist for Decca Records in New York City. Ten minutes later Clay's new label posted a photo via TwitPic of the singer with David Novik, head of A&R for @deccalabelgroup.

DECCA JOURNEY BEGINS - Clay met with Decca vice president David Novik in late August. - Photo from TwitPic.

Global Fan Response Surprises Decca

Views at the TwitPic site, which hit 10,000 by midnight, are closing in on 32k. Fans discovered YouTube video blogs in which Novik was interviewed about the music business. Twitter and TwitPic were flooded with excited comments from fans from around the globe.

Faithful Japanese fans chimed in at TwitPic: All the Clay fans from Japan are looking forward to his new music. Please get him to come over to Japan!

Apparently surprised with the outpouring of excitement from CA fans worldwide, Decca at Twitter responded with this tweet:

With apologies to VP Novik, visual artists immediately converted Clay's portion of the pixels into graphics, banners, avatars, and other designs. The clickables are by AmazingCA, Fountiandawg, and cindilu2.

The Clay Nation bids 2009 a fond farewell and knows the best is yet to come! Bring on 2010!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Clay Aiken Sings of Christmas Joy

Graphic by Cotton

Wishing all a joyous Christmas!
Recommended Playlist: 'Merry Christmas With Love' by Clay Aiken

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love!

Graphic by AmazingCA

If "Merry Christmas With Love" is not filling your holiday airwaves, the solution is a click away with mp3 downloads at Amazon or other online outlets.

MCWL Playlist

Merry Christmas With Love
Mary, Did You Know
Hark the Herald Angels Sing/O Come All Ye Faithful
O, Holy Night
Don't Save It All for Christmas Day
Joy to the World
Sleigh Ride
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Silent Night
The Christmas Song
Winter Wonderland
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Clay's 12/21/04 performance of "Mary, Did You Know" from MCWL is among the Christmas Day videos featured on the MSN website.

The clickable graphics below are by Lindylo, AmazingCA, and Cotton. Photographer of the first photo is zippy888.

Special thnx to the faithful who visit the Carolina blog throughout the year. Wishing you and yours peace, love, and all of the wonder of the season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Clay Nation Loses Special Friend

Tribute to Ashes-Claysmelody - Montage by Aspiegirl
'Because You Loved Me' sung by Clay Aiken

Because She Loved Us

Fans Recall Memories of Joan

Joan Martin lived life with her arms wide open for family, friends, and Clay Aiken, whom she loved as much for his glorious voice as for his huge, charitable heart. Expressions of her love for the talented singer adorn her blog in the handsome graphics and montages she created and shared with others.

The Tribute to Ashes-Claysmelody montage by Aspiegirl features many of Joan's graphics accompanied by Clay singing "Because You Loved Me." To view the montage on YouTube, click on the link. To download the montage, here is a Sendspace file.

When Joan, whose screen names were Ashes and Claysmelody, died late last week, the Clay Nation lost a very special friend. Countless fans could describe her vibrant, uplifting, cheerful emails (to be read with the day's first "cuppa"); the online assistance she freely gave others not as computer savvy as she; the thoughtfulness exemplified in the notes, CDs, and DVDs she frequently mailed to online friends.

Ashes Never a Fan of Textism

When Clayonline converted from HTML to textism lingo in the blogs, Joan scrambled with me to locate codes that would generate journal entries similar to the previous system. Truthfully, I must add that she cussed the whole way, wishing daily for a reprieve and return to HTML.

I have not only lost a very good friend, but my grandchildren lost a very special great-auntie who delighted in surprising our family with graphics and montages of Kai and Lia.

The loss of Joan has sent ripples through the Clay Aiken fandom. Threads at the Clayboard and the Clayonline message board -- OFC Member Ashes Passes -- are filled with thouhgtful tributes.

We learned of Joan's death Monday night because her son Perry replied to one of the many emails on his mother's computer inquiring about her absence. Joan, who loved walking in the town of Red Deer, contracted a lung infection early last week and grumbled that she must really be sick to take a cab three blocks to her doctor's office on Tuesday.

She received medication, and her doctor assured her all would be well. In a matter of days, she took a sudden downward spiral and was gone.


Friends Plan Memorial Donations

Friends can make an online donation to the National Inclusion Project in memory of Joan Martin by completing the form at this link. Aron Hall knows that some remembrances may be in honor of Ashes or Claysmelody. Friends may also print the form and mail a donation to the Raleigh office. There is no need to complete the "notification" part of the form.

For months, Joan has been urging me to join Facebook. For some reason, Monday I did. The opening post is about Joan's death and contains many messages of grief from her friends. The post also includes a link to her beloved Clay-The Man blog where faithful readers are expressing their feelings in comments.

One of the most endearing remarks came from Claycolombia, who frequently apologizes for her English skills. At the Facebook link, she could not have expressed the thoughts of many more eloquently:

This is sad news that shakes the soul to me. Joan was a wonderful woman; we were always in contact. My dear Joan, all clay Aiken fans will miss you.

Following a clickable interlude of graphics by Ashes/Claysmelody, some of the expressions of loss will be shared here. Photographer of the first graphic is gerwishp.

Clay Friends Share Sadness

Below are some of the many lovely expressions posted by Joan's friends. Please share your thoughts in the comments so that her two sons can read them online.

Rest in peace, Ashes. You brought so much to the Clay Aiken fandom, and you will be missed. You gave us so much beauty with your blogs. - katymom

I'll miss you and your beautiful blogs, Ashes. Thank you so much for everything. Rest in peace, my friend. - Nelia

Your blogs were beautiful and your montages could not be more dedicated and amazing in expressing Clay Aiken. You were a great friend and I thank you. I will miss your posts that came so regularly and you always sounded so lively and open. I really will miss you. - Camille4488

Joan was my first Clay buddy back in 2003. In December 2005, she flew from Calgary to Arizona to stay with me for two weeks and to attend her first live Clay Aiken concert. We had great 5th row center seats, and she was mesmerized. I am so glad that I shared that joyful evening with her.

Rest in peace, dear Joan. May you hear the music and see the man from wherever you dwell.
- skybar22

When she told me she wasn't feeling well, I asked Ashes if there was anything I could do for her, and the response was "What can you do? Pray I will get to the next concert tour!" - Cathie Sato

I am so sad and shocked to hear this. Her graphics and montages were done so lovingly and her blogs were so nice to read. She will be terribly missed. - gerwhisp

Joan will be so missed. She loved Clay completely and unconditionally; that was so evident in the beautiful blogs she took so much care over. We have lost a good friend, but heaven has another angel now. - LosAngelesDawn

I know that there are no lonely people where she is now because she will be there loving them just as much as she loved all of us. - Aspiegirl

I am so filled with emotion right now on hearing this news. I saw the subject line and it just wouldn't register. Joan was one of Clay's biggest fans, and her loss will be felt across the nation. - Sandy Hall

Below is a double-clickable of the opening graphic from the montage:

May Joan rest in the peace, love, and joy that she gave to so many others. - hosaa


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clay Aiken Fans Wrap for Inclusion

BEST IS YET TO COME -- As the Wrapping for Inclusion campaign winds down, Clay Aiken fans look to 2010 and the singer's new album with Decca Records. Graphic by cindilu2.

Holiday Introduction to Inclusion

WFI Raises Funds, Awareness

We are, as they say, the product of the choices we make. I challenge each of you to make the choice that leads to full access, celebrating the human rights we all deserve. When you see a child in a wheelchair, will you choose to see the child? Or the chair?

When you stand in the presence of someone who cannot speak, will you choose to hear only silence? Or will you choose the tapestry that is found in the language without words?

When you’re facing parenting or teaching a child with a disability, will you choose to be overwhelmed by the challenges? Or will you choose to recognize a different kind of hero who brings you one of life’s most precious gifts, hope?" -- Clay Aiken, Voices for Change, 2005

No fundraiser of the National Inclusion Project, founded six years ago by Clay Aiken and Diane Bubel, parallels a unique, nationwide appeal with one-on-one introductions to the foundation's mission better than the Christmas season's Wrapping for Inclusion campaign.

As stated on the foundation's website, the goals of the volunteer WFI effort seek to raise awareness and support for the National Inclusion Project, spread holiday cheer, and have fun. In compiling experiences from some of this season's wrappers, I would say the participants are accomplishing all of the above.

Originally the Buble/Aiken Foundation, the National Inclusion Project underwent a name change in 2009 to better identify its purpose.

You can learn more about the programs, resources, and activities for making a difference through the National Inclusion Project by visiting the charity's website. Our Story outlines the organization's history. Specifics on the holiday project are available at the WFI link.

These reports from three Clay Aiken message boards have been abbreviated but not much. There are hundreds of CA fan boards with equally compelling experiences to share from WFI this season. I hope others will be add theirs in the comment section.

PLAYBILLER: I worked a WFI stand alone in a book store. There was not much action, the store paper was not very festive, so most people were asking directions to the rest rooms.

One man came by, looked at the banner, had two gifts wrapped, and donated. He reacted to the usual spiel about this wonderful organization with a knowing nod. He returned later with another book to be wrapped and commented that he has a disabled child and understands the need and benefits of inclusion.

We talked about how the typical child is helped by being in an inclusive environment. While wrapping still another book, I told him about the K-12 syllabus. He said he was aware of it and that his son was not in the norm spectrum.

The word "spectrum" alerted us that he is well aware of the work needed for inclusion. He talked about the difficulties he confronted before his town finally got with the program.

We mentioned the grant program for disabled children to participate in community aid. He then told us that his eight-year-old son, determined that all children receive toys this Christmas, asked his friends to donate used and "lightly used" toys.

The project became a very successful school program, and a rental truck was needed to deliver the toys. We congratulated the proud father on his amazing son and urged him to contact TNIP and tell his story.

It was the perfect end to the day. Stories like this make me think that the name change was a very good idea. People can see in the name just what the foundation stands for -- inclusion.

Making a Difference: Graphic by AmazingCA, photos by Tasapio

AIKIM: The best thing Clay ever did was change the name of the Foundation because the word "inclusion" is like a magnet. Today two women saw the word, and their eyes lit up. They both have boys with autism and were very interested in the Foundation and its work.

We had lovely conversations with them, and that is what it is all about -- getting the word out and seeing the interest.

CLAYLOVE: Friday I had two groups of volunteers signed up for shifts at Borders while I was at work. Unfortunately, one of the scheduled wrappers did not show up, leaving a volunteer who is hearing-impaired to manage the shift.

Instead of texting me in a panic, she contacted a friend who is also hearing-impaired but has some limited hearing and speech abilities to come work with her.

The two worked the four-hour shift completely on their own and communicated quite well with the public using alternative methods such as writing on pads and passing them back and forth, pointing, using hand gestures, etc.

The volunteer and her friend may not have been able to describe in audible words what the National Inclusion Project does, but they represented the mission of full inclusion beautifully. They did a fantastic job, and I hope both pf them will join us again next year.

RCKNRLLMOM: Nine days of wrapping and four to go, weather permitting! I wrapped one present for a woman, and she asked about our charity. When I said "National Inclusion Project," she exclaimed, "Oh!" ... and gave me $20.

This season we have enjoyed working with young people, and they have said how much fun the project is. My daughter explained to a man about the NIP, and he told her of his nephew who was included and how he was able to keep up with other kids.
The man asked if he could just make a small donation that might put a smile on a child's face.

In the photo of our mall setup, you can see a couple of the guys who volunteered. The mall gives us the space and tables every year at no cost to us.

Today a couple of people asked me if I ever go home, LOL!

Double-click to expand WFI in Mason City, IA - Photo by Rcknrllmom

RHODE ISLAND FAN: Last night was my first time to wrap for inclusion. When I explained that supporters are Wrapping for Inclusion all over the country, people are very impressed. Their faces lit up when we outlined the goals of the National Inclusion Project.

One man explained he is very pleased about the project because his son has Downs Syndrome. Another woman told us of her niece who is blind and has participated in inclusive camps.

RI is the smallest state, and it turns out I taught at the school the niece attended 10 years ago. I was so happy to learn that she will be entering college as a freshman to major in journalism.

A lovely young teenager picked up our information card. Even though she didn't have anything to be wrapped, she beamed as she read about the project and showed it to her mother as they left the store.

It felt so good that not only were we raising money for the project, but we were also getting the voice of the project heard.

Every year since 2004 Clay has been such an important part of my Christmas because of his beautiful songs and his concerts and because of who he is.

Now WFI will also be a part of my Christmas every year. I look forward to doing it again next year. It's one of those times where you get more than you give.

A Man of Heart: Graphic by Clayquebec1, photo by Invisible926

CABLEGIRL: I have wrapped everyday, each with new volunteers and new adventures. Saturday was a long 12-hour day with three different sets of volunteers working four-hour shifts.

The first group included two sisters and a woman who just moved from Texas to Illinois and loves the snow. They are very nice ladies who really got into the wrapping and loved what the Project is doing.

My second group of thee included a mother and her two daughters. The older daughter, a sophomore and part of a new local youth service group. She signed up and convinced her sister and mother to join her. Last summer she helped build homes in Costa Rica.

The last group of three were teens, two boys and a girl from a local church service group. The boys were not the best of wrappers, but they tried. I asked them if they would switch with me and be the ones to stand by the door and direct people over to our wrapping area. They jumped at the chance.

We were located in a Barnes & Noble store that was really busy and so were we. The customers we wrapped for were in a festive mood, generous, and impressed with the work the Project is doing. The conversations generated by the word INCLUSION in the name have been incredible.

A few folks Saturday knew a child with a disability. The one that stands out most from this full day was the woman who, after we discussed the Project and what the NIP does, talked about her son who is disabled.

She became very emotional and with tears in her eyes said, "Thank you, thank you for what you are doing and for what the NIP is doing. You have made my day, and you should be proud of yourselves."

To Touch a Heart: Graphic by AmazingCA, photo by dc4clay

AIKIM: At the end of the evening Saturday, we were preparing to close up when a woman stopped with several gifts to be wrapped. While wrapping, we told her about the Project. She was very interested and then became quite emotional telling us about her brother with special needs and how much the Project would have meant to him when he was younger.

She described their attempts to send him to camp and then being told to take him home. He is 19 now, but she was so excited about The Project that she actually volunteered right then to help us wrap next year and took information to pass out at her church.

She left us names and numbers and said her mother would also be interested. It was such a wonderful and heartwarming way to end the evening. We are very excited to have additional wrappers next year because this means we can schedule more days!

SUEREU: It's wonderful to talk about the Project. Most people are so impressed with the mission and the vision. It makes me very proud to be a fan of Clay Aiken.

While I was wrapping, a woman who has a disabled child was thrilled to see the word "inclusion" in the name. She's been working hard to make it a part of the vocabulary of the schools her child attends.

I finished up my third round of WFI Sunday. As we were getting ready to leave, my 11-year-old son pulled $5 out of his pocket, part of his Christmas present from his grandparents, and placed it in the donation jar. I told him that was very kind and he just looked at me and said "I believe in the cause, and I want to help".

I wish I could thank Clay personally for everything that he's given not only to me but to my family. My son is now giving without blinking an eye because it's the right thing to do.

2010 National Inclusion Project Calendar cover

Calendar Raises $718 for Inclusion

The 2010 National Inclusion Project calendar produced for CA fans by Rosa Shurtz raised a total of $718. Included with the check mailed to Aron Hall at NIP headquarters in Raleigh was a list of names and addresses of those participating in the fundraiser.

According to Rosa's report, 111 calendars featuring photos by toni7babe were sold. Theh cover is shown in the picture above.

Below is a clickable of cindilu2's opening graphic:

Wishing all a joyous Christmas Week!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recitals Celebrate Christmas Season

MUSICAL GREETING -- A Beautiful Mind created the MCWL holiday graphic with a Clay Aiken photo taken by fivegoldens during a Joyful Noise concert.

Merry Christmas With Love

Student Recitals Greet Holidays

Holiday student recitals have become a giant "Merry Christmas With Love" greeting card, celebrating the season and honoring the parents who make music lessons possible throughout the year.

From scheduling and supporting to coaching, encouraging, and cajoling, parents play vital roles in the music lesson cycle. This week's performers represent young musicians from my home studio and Wesleyan Christian Academy's program.

In this blog's intermission, Clay Aiken sings holiday greetings in a montage of "Merry Christmas with Love," title track of his 2004 holiday album. The platinum MCWL was recognized by Billboard as the Best Selling Christmas Album of 2004 and the Best Selling Christian Album of 2005.

Pianists Play to Packed House

In Wednesday's holiday recital, piano students played to a living room packed with a friendly audience of 21 receptive parents, siblings, and friends.

All available seats -- sofa, chairs, bass stool, floor pillows -- were crowded into the modest "concert hall" for the occasion. Appropriately, an old stool once belonging to our family's musical matriarch was even called into service.

The program consisted of a variety of holiday songs mixed with piano literature, a show tune ("Beauty and the Beast"), and an original composition by Caleb, sixth grade student, entitled "Arabian Knight."

Perhaps the most excited performer was Chase, who has studied less than a month at the academy. He and his five guests arrived early, so I asked if he would like to practice our duet selections and try out the grand piano.

As he approached the bench, I noticed his arms were visibly shaking. Touching his wrists, I asked if he was nervous; but he shook his head, "No, just cold!" Sure enough, the minute we started playing he was cool, calm, and collected. No doubt, one or more of his guests captured his piano debut on camera.

Musicians Boost Holiday Repertoire

Since we have devoted much of December to Christmas music, most students have acquired an extensive repertoire of carols and holiday tunes to share with their families during the school break.

The afternoon's final performer was Emily, a high school senior who was 10 minutes late due to extra heavy traffic. Almost everyone hung around to hear her play a Rocherolle arrangement of "What Child Is This?" and the exposition of Mozart's Sonata in F, K. 332.

Imagine the expression on this student's face as she stepped into a room filled with a wall-to-wall audience quietly waiting. Calmly, Emily put down an armful of literature books, reversed the order of her pieces, and warmed up with the slower, softer carol. Later at her piano lesson, senior cool evaporated and she exclaimed to the teacher, "Now that was pressure!!!"

This teacher is always pleased when musicality shines through. Despite some nerves, dynamic differences, shadings, and echoes were present. High fives to Jeremy, Noah, Chase, Christian, Jessicca, Joseph, Caleb, and Emily for the gifts they shared with their families and each other.

Merry Christmas with Love - Montage by iloveclay101

Clay Aiken's Merry Christmas with Love CD was released by RCA Records on Nov. 16, 2004. The album was re-released on Aug. 18, 2009 on the Sony label and is available through Amazon and other online sites.

Featuring videos by Hippoga, SecretlyLovesClay, Scarlett, and Clack Unlimited from the 2004-06 Joyful Noise tours and television appearances, the Merry Christmas With Love montage by iloveclay101 can also be viewed at YouTube.

Written by Greg Wayne Davis and Bill Smiley, the MCWL was first recorded by Sandi Patti for a 1983 Christmas album.

Merry Christmas With Love

She leaned with her head on the window
Watching evergreen bend in the snow
Remembering Christmas the way it had been
So many seasons ago.

When children would reach for their stockings
And open the presents they found
The lights on the tree would shine bright in their eyes
Reflecting the love all around.

This year there's no one to open the gifts
No reason for trimming the tree
And just as a tear made it's way to the floor
She heard voices outside start to sing.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love.

Carolers sang as she opened the door
Faces of friends in the crowd
And all of the shadows of lonely reminders
Driven away by the sound.

Now the heart that for years had been silent
Was suddenly filled with a song
As she clung to their hands like a child in the night
She found her self singing along.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all who may dwell here
Merry Christmas if even just one
May the joy of the season surround you
Merry Christmas with love!

Below are clickables of MCWL graphics by AmazingCA, photos by Riversend, 1; A Beautiful Mind, photo by fivegoldens, 2; and Ambassador of Love, photo by toni7babe, 3.

Strings Share Holiday Sounds

Thursday's program starred a trio of sixth grade violinists, one who started just last summer. Video for a grandmother unable to attend commenced at the downbeat. Although smaller in numbers, Thursday's audience still created plenty of applause.

For this session, students usually rehearse for 30 minutes and perform during the second half of the class. Sharing harmony lines and solo sections, the trio played nine carols, opening with "Adeste Fidelis" and ending with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Suzuki, Handel, and Lully were also represented as each programmed a piece from her fall literature studies.

To me, a heartening note was the young ensemble playing together for the first time and sounding as if we had a week of intense rehearsals under our belts. Applause to Anna, Erica, and Ora, whose afternoon of joyful music set the tone for the season.

Students Lobby for Gift Bag Goodies

As an aside, the contents of the annual gift bags from the teacher apparently have attained levels of monumental importance. Students know that a new pencil for marking music is an automatic.

However, the past week's lessons yielded some intense lobbying in the stream of hints for such goodies as hot chocolate with marshmallows, candy canes, and pop corn.

The colorful bags decorating the grand piano earlier this week are now gone. Hopefully, their contents and the music learned for the Christmas season will be re-opened often in the coming days.

A Beautiful Mind surprised me with these Christmas designs of grandchildren Kai and Lia.

Have you performed in a holiday student recital, been the music teacher, the parent, or all of the above? Do share your experiences in a comment below.

Have a wonderful week, all. Merry Christmas With Love!