Friday, January 30, 2009

Sweet Clara Schumann

Since I have begun blogging, I had to check this book out again about Clara Schumann. Susanna Reich tells a beautiful story of Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso that I couldn't miss posting something about her in my blog. Her story really touched me and left me feeling drawn to her somehow.

I first learned of Clara from the library's copy of Beethoven's Wig, a wonderful compilation with amusing lyrics for classical music. My favorite song on the first CD is "Harmony".
Sweet Clara Schumann played the piano well
And when she played her music cast a magic spell
Her husband Robert wrote the melody
The Schumanns were a family joined in harmony
They'd sing and play
Together every day
Together they made music merrily
The Schumanns were a family joined in harmony

They had some children in their happy home
So they would never ever have to play alone
When mom and daddy played their happy song
The children tapped their tippy toes and sang along
They played their song
The kids all sang along
Together they made music merrily
The Schumanns were a family joined in harmony
OK so Clara was a concert pianist and composer and Robert a composer (in case anyone didn't know). Clara performed in her first concerts in the spring of 1830 (March 6-April 7, according to the book). She continues performing until 1891, 4 years before her death. Based on my admiration for her, I like to think that she was Heavenly Father's herald for the Restoration of His church again on the earth.Some favorite quotes from the book:
"Work is always the best diversion from pain." Clara

Reich tells us that Clara "immersed herself in her work and found in music the comfort she needed."

New Music Journal from 1865:
"There are many virtuosos who are not inferior to her in technique or general interpretation, but she distinguishes herself from all the rest through her high level of musicality, which gives her performances the stamp of a divine summons."

Yes, sweet Clara Schumann must have been


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


at the brink
Just over two years after stepping up my education with HAPE Group and 7 years after finally learning was education was really all about in Oliver DeMille’s A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, I stand at the brink of my mentored education.

Advanced friendship had pulled me through wonderful classics in HAPE Group, but in August of 2008 we found it time to part ways, each to their own avenue of getting the education they needed. It took me four more months to prepare for and then really find my own new path.

By being mentored in my education I hope to: maximize my study time and feel confident that I'm getting the best education possible, more effectively meet my need to learn, fill in the gaps of my education, apply and realign my existing knowledge with correct/higher educational principles, experience a new level of educational training (a mentor), improve my writing along with all of these goals, gain a better sense of my mission and guidance in building my second tower.

With the education gained via the mentoring experience, I hope to: more fully experience Leadership Education so that I can lead others along that path, better understand educational theories so I can lead others to true educational principles, increase my impact on the world, help anyone in any educational situation to be inspired and do the hard work necessary to get a great education, understand the mentor process so that I can help others mentor, spread the impact of the 5 environments of learning, improve my ability to help my children.

The process begins with reading and responding to Mortimer Adler’s 1941 article, “Invitation to the Pain of Learning”. While I have continued my studies during the last few months since HAPE Group ended, my first response was complete joy. To follow the analogy of the teacher who told his student to come to him when he wanted knowledge as much as he wanted air, I was finally breathing again. At least a little.

I know I'm ready to be mentored. I just do. The past four months have proved it to me. I'm so relieved and excited and ready to use some mental muscles that I haven't been able to use for a while and in a new and more intense fashion than before.

Adler, et al
As I read Adler’s essay I love it, and I'm also thinking of everything else I've learned about education and trying to see how it all fits together.

When I think of the pain of learning, I also think of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Finding Flow. Pain, but pain with a purpose. Pain that is just the right amount and permeated by meaning.

When I think of pain in education, I also think of my neighbor who must spend several hours each afternoon helping her children with their home work of gaining information. Then I think of How Schools Work: A Sociological Analysis of Education by K B DeMarrais (???) and the rite of passage. Certainly school isn’t always easy. In our society it has become a difficult thing that everyone just does. Whether or not it has meaning or merit beyond that, is certainly debatable. The difference I see is the goal; gain sterile, useless information? Or gain knowledge and wisdom in order to be transformed? Both have their prices in our society, both in the lack and the gain.

Recently, when I think of getting education at almost no expense or by “capillary attraction”, I think of John Holt’s How Children Learn. I don’t need fancy curriculum because my children already know how to learn. They just need a few simple tools and some inspiration. The kind of expenses required for Scholar Phase, however, is less known to me in many ways. Regularly and continually working over my head is still strange to me.

right now

After the joy of returning to scholarly studies, my review of Adler’s article while writing this short essay has humbled me some. I have tasted the discipline of Scholar Phase, but I have not yet feasted.