Something to Ponder, by Dr. Bob Moorehead

By Dr. Bob Moorehead:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

—Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church, in a 1995 collection of his prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcasts

First 2014 Post!

It’s been very quiet here, but 2014 has nonetheless been a roller coaster of events. I’ve learned that

  • The senders of e-mail newsletters may track how many times you’ve opened their e-mail and exactly which links inside it you’ve clicked, potentially including your location at the time of opening and even through what OS you viewed it;
  • There is more than meets the eye to the recently discontinued line of Nook Simple Touch e-readers, info on which I’ve been continuously adding to a certain page on this website;
  • It is possible to schedule future text messages via Gmail, Google Voice, and the Boomerang extension for Chrome (a.k.a. there are many programs and apps if you just know where to look);
  • You may never know what kind of awesome people you may stumble upon if you make an account and post around on Reddit, the world’s largest ​online message board;
  • Persistence does pay off (though it may have to be carried out carefully/uniquely); and
  • It is possible to quickly teach a very young child excellent rhythmic playing by using visual gestures.

Since this is a musically related blog, I’ll focus on the last bullet. If the student cannot hear a steady rhythm or play according to a metronome alone, work with them visually:

Have them memorize the sequence of keys that the student press in a short piece, then point to each of the student’s fingers to indicate when each should play, pointing from finger to finger and holding on long notes. Then repeat doing this a couple of times, and eventually take away the visual cue. This helps the student train his/her ears starting with his/her eyes, which particularly helps in our visual technology-dominated age.

How to speak in public

I just served as a sort of spokesman/performer at the local Rotary Club here in Alexandria, LA yesterday, for the Louisiana International Piano Competition.

Follow a live feed of the performers right now! It’s the second day of the First Round, and the Semifinalists will be announced tonight.

Sorry—too caught up with my promoting. Where was I? Oh, right: about how to speak in public. Well, I spoke about the competition’s importance towards pianists and the city, and played, giving a brief rundown of Chopin etudes (playing the beginnings of several from Op. 10) that audience members could expect to hear, between full pieces. Those full pieces that I played were the Chopin Waltz in C-sharp Minor, Op. 64 No. 2; my An American Toccata (the first time I played it in public!); and Rachmaninoff’s arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. I suppose I would say that they all went the best that they could have, given the circumstances. And I spoke between all the pieces, except the last two (always get straight to an encore piece while the audience is still clapping… in my opinion!).

Anyway, I was told shortly after the event that my speaking-&-intertwined-performing was great, yet I have never considered myself a “public speaker.” I thought about it for some time afterwards, and I realized that—ever since I was told to speak about my pieces in certain performances (all thanks to the LIPC’s Tour of Champions, no less)—there is really only one matter to keep in mind whenever it comes to any time when one must speak in front of a great amount of people.

Well, okay: two matters.

1. Keep in mind at least a couple points that you should make about your topic. Having three points is ideal.
2. Don’t be afraid to correct yourself in the middle of your speech or to change things up a bit, right on the spot (such as adding whatever you realized you should have said a moment ago, and literally saying, “Wait a minute…” half to the audience and half to yourself, or pulling away parts of your speech on the spot if you see you’re crunched for time).

These two points combined, if you keep these in mind every single time you speak, will help you eventually shed all of your nervousness when holding the verbal stage in front of people.

For the matter of #1: have something like an unnumbered bullet list in your head of specific things to say at some point in your speech. Let me elaborate on #2: when I mean “don’t be afraid,” I mean that if you are searching for an analogy in your head during your speech, or a comparison suddenly sparks in your thoughts (which connects one idea to another and which you had never expected to realize while speaking) feel free to give yourself entire seconds of silence to think and consider how to best say it. Don’t feel that the audience is pressuring you to speak nonstop. The only pressure coming from the audience is: they don’t want to hear a fake speaker. Or, at least, I don’t want to hear a fake speaker. I want to see a person make mistakes or think and be actively aware in his/her position on the podium (or wherever), rather than listen to a person read off a typed essay, however eloquent he/she may be. It’s scripted—artificial. So the former would earn much more respect from me than the latter.

I believe the best musicians are the most flexible ones, like a classical pianist who would be willing to try playing a jazz piece in front of an audience of strangers if suddenly asked, given the sheet music (or some other reasonable level of basic guidance). I also happen to believe that, entirely outside of music, the best people in general are the most flexible ones.

I strive to be this.