Archive | December 2013

Before the Ball Drops on 2014, 10 tips for maximizing Financial Aid for College

road2college

road2collegeGot plans for New Year’s Eve? Whether you are zipping up that sequined gown or are just snuggling on your jammies for a night of movies, have that conversation with your college-bound teen about how to finance that higher education. Read all about it in my next installation at road2college

Teenage Play Dates

Last week, my son’s music teacher approached parents like me – parents with kids who love playing music and performing for others-  with what he thought would be a big imposition.

Would I mind picking up my child plus a few of their bandmates – and their instruments – at school and driving them around town on a December afternoon to play two different gigs?

Would I mind?

I was delighted!

Ever since the beginning of the school year, my son leaves the house at 6:15 on Monday and Tuesday mornings to make a 6:30  jazz band rehearsal. That’s A.M. That’s ungodly early for most and even harder for teen musicians.

But this is a dedicated bunch. And now they would have the opportunity to bring some Christmas joy through music to the Baldwin House in Birmingham and then play the lobby of the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Of course, to me, wearing my Jewish goggles, this was the perfect opportunity for me to help my son and his bandmates perform a Christmas mitzvah.  So, with my car loaded with six kids, a guitar, sax, bass, and I think a few brass instruments, we were off.

The Bloomfield HS Hills Jazz Band as well as the Bloomfield Hills HS String Ensemble alternatively played traditional and contemporary Christmas music to the delight of the residents of the Baldwin House. They came in walking, or with their walkers to take in the sweet strings and the bright jazz tunes. The only musician they could not hear, was my son.

Unfortunately, his guitar amp adapter fried out somewhere between the school and the gig. And in the middle of the gig, while the strings played we had the following text conversation.

Mom, can you see if there is a music store nearby to buy me a new adapter?

Now?

Yes, my adapter died and no one can hear me.

Sorry, but there is no way I can do that right now. You should have checked this before we left the house. 

It was working, don’t make this out to be my fault*~X( at wits' end

Again, I’m sorry there is nothing I can do for you now. Stop fiddling with your amp and stand up. You are performing. 

But, they can’t hear me. 

Fake it. The show must go on. 

So, in  this video, you may or may not see a young man  on the floor fiddling with his amp and then at the last moment stand up and pretend to play his guitar.

In between gigs, after we loaded up the car with kids and instruments, I did have time to stop and buy some batteries to power his next guitar.  I turned instantly from a villan into a hero. They were now playing the big room: the lobby at Beumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Unless you are having a baby, or this is your place of employment, the hospital is a somber place to be. Especially this time of year. So what a nice gift it was for the musicians at BHHS to bring their talents to play in the hospital. The acoustics sounded fantastic.  The strings sounded sweeter

and the jazz music sounded happier

Weary doctors and nurses and technicians stopped from their rounds to take a listen. Some caregivers of patients even started dancing in the lobby.

The afternoon gave me the opportunity to socialize with other roadie parents who had devoted the afternoon to driving and listening. One mom of a senior cello player told me that she was getting some ridicule for letting her son consider pursuing music in college. But she said music, and playing the cello is the one thing in school that holds his passion and attention.

As I listened and sipped a cup of coffee from the hospital cafeteria, I thought how lucky my son is to be in a school with such a great music program that thinks “outside the school,” to allow them to play in public places. I also thought about the kids just down the road in Detroit, who may not have a music program in their school. Because when it comes to tight budgets, music is seen as frivolous. A luxury that poorly performing schools with low testing students cannot afford.

The last sentence is the farthest thing from the truth.

 I ask those who wish to cut music in schools: can common core make people want to dance? Want to make kids come to school at 6:30 in the morning? Can common core bring joy to a hospital or an assisted living facility the way music can?

This is my final post for 2013. I invite you to listen to these talented young musicians playing some holiday joy. Thank you for following my blog, for reading me and for writing to me.

Have a joyous Christmas and a happy 2014

Enhanced by Zemanta

Join me on the Road 2 College

For some us, it feels like we ourselves just graduated college.

How is it, that now we have children who are old enough to begin the college application process.

If you are a veteran college parent, or just getting started with having conversations with your teen about getting started down the path to college, I invite you read my series on the new online newsletter called road2college.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Let’s Explore Owls – with Owls: Michigan Owl Prowl

122380352_72cb93fce0_s

From the attic bedroom window in my Rochester home, deep deep in the night, you could hear the sound of a train. The (unwelcome but necessary)  woosh of the two nearby highways. Then, every once in a while, an eerie sound could be heard: Whoo Whoo Hooooooo…. It was the Barred Owl who lived in a grove of woods up at the Cobbs Hill Reservoir.

 

Since moving to our development in suburban Detroit, things are a lot more quiet. I miss the sound of the trains. I don’t miss the woosh of the highway. But, and this is strange, because we live in a more wooded suburban area, I no longer hear any owls. And I miss that late-night hoot of that Barred owl very, very much.

 

Chouette rayée / Barred Owl

Chouette rayée / Barred Owl (Photo credit: meantux)night Barred Owl hoot very much.

 

I’m not much of a birder. I leave that hobby up to my husband. He even has a life list. I like to hike. And if I hear a bird, I think, fantastic, what a beautiful song that bird has, now let’s move on. I don’t like standing in one place for too long for the sake of identifying or calling to a bird.

 

But, then again, those owls have a soft spot with me. So, the other morning, as I drowsily heard the report that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources would be hosting “Owl Prowl” evenings all over the state,I did some further investigation and found the one happening closest to our house.

 

Turns out it took place last Sunday night at Bald Mountain State Recreation Area in Auburn Hills. The free event attracted about 125 people of all ages for a talk, some s’mores by a campfire, and the hope of sighting some owls.

Around the campfire, our guides, members of the Audobon Society, explained the order of calling the owls. It turns out that the larger owls tend to eat the smaller screech owls. So, the screech owls would be called first, then the larger owls in a different part of the forest. If the larger owls were called first, the smaller ones would make themselves scarce.

Another thing that scares away owls, and other wildlife, are humans. The guides advised us to be as quiet as possible. We were a big group. As I explained earlier, about 150 owl enthusiasts had come out that freezing night, with temperatures in the teens, to sight some owls. Those were 100 plus pairs of boots stomping in the snow.  Children’s snow pants swish swished as they walked.  Yet, when we were deep enough in the woods and the bird guides released their calls, it was quiet enough to hear the snow falling on our parkas.

 

In the end, a screech-owl and a Barred Owl called back to us. We didn’t see any owls, but just hearing them call back to our calls in the night was enough. And, it was time spent in the cold refreshing winter air.

If you live in Michigan and want to find an Owl Prowl near you, check out this site, and tell me what you saw and heard.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Reporter’s Notebook: Seeking expert sources (or those who learned through trial by fire) about College application process

journalist

I’ve landed a great writing project for an online newsletter called www.road2college.com. Yes, my blog posts may be sparse these days, but blogging has led me to real work. So, if you are a blogger and are wondering what it’s all for, if anyone is listening, keep going. Keep writing. You’ll get there!

Now, on to my neediness in finding some great sources who can speak on the  biggest decision, and one of the biggest investments, a person can make, and that is choosing, and paying for – a college education.

I’m dividing my series into the following  possible topics and need your expertise and stories:

  • Private vs. Public education – These days, some are questioning the value of a high-priced private education and wonder if the same quality and advantages can be found for their student at a public university. At the same time, others say that private colleges offer individualized attention and career direction, better connections after graduation for securing employment, and larger endowments for scholarships and financial aid.  Is the high price tag of a private university worth it? what are the pros and cons of each? For the middle class, what is the most economical: a state college, with lower tuition, or a private college with a bigger endowment and better chance to secure financial aid/scholarships, etc.
  • Community college vs. Four-year institutions. To save money, there is a growing trend where students take their core requirements at a community college and then transfer them to a four-year institution. Is this easier said than done?  Anyone out there who successfully transferred their credits from a community college to a four-year institution?
  • Scholarships: There are so many out there that few students take advantage of. What are the best ways of finding a scholarship just for you or your student? What are the more unusual scholarships you or your child have attained?
  • The role of the Safety School in the college application process – What are the benefits of applying to a school where your grades and SAT scores  rise way above the average applicant to that school?

Looking forward to your wisdom and help! (and did I mention I needed this like yesterday?)

Saved for college and now there is no financial aid for you? is this absolutely true?

Thank you!

 

Enhanced by Zemanta
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 813 other followers

%d bloggers like this: