Problems With Being A Flautist | Motley Monday

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I play the flute. I like playing the flute. Playing the flute is fun. But I also have some issues with playing the flute. I’m going to tell you what they are.

1. You can’t really play quietly.
To make any noise at all, it takes a lot of effort. And that much effort means that it is rather loud at times. I know some people are skilled enough to play quietly, but I am not one of them.

2. If you want to play somewhere, you have to take it with you.
Guitars are great, because everyone has one, and you can share. That’s the case with most other instruments too. If someone has one,  you can play theirs. But you can’t share flutes. At least with clarinets and stuff, you can use a different reed, but flutes? Nope. At least it’s easier to carry around than a double bass (although you can share those).

3. There’s so many different things that you have to focus on at once.
There’s the normal stuff, like speed and all that. But you also have to focus on breathing. And tone. And pitch. Some notes use exactly the same fingers, but are entire octaves apart.

4. There’s no flute music anywhere.
I got a voucher for a music store for my birthday a few years ago. In the piles and piles and piles of piano and guitar music, there were three books of flute music. This is why I have become extremely good at transcription.

5. Some songs just don’t sound good on flute.
Half the time, when I finally get music for certain songs, it just doesn’t sound right.

6. You can’t sing while playing the flute.
I may have possibly tried it a few times.

7. The littlest things can affect how you sound.
Mouth too dry? Doesn’t sound right. Humid day? You have to tune it differently (I’m not kidding). Got a cold? Hahaha have fun with that.

8. It’s exhausting.
To get more breath out of your lungs, you have to stand. I don’t do well with standing for long periods of time. And you have to hold your arms up. Plus my pinky always ends up bent weirdly. When I went busking, I ended up with really sore back and shoulders. Playing the flute is actually physically painful at times.

9. It’s hard.
Based on what I know, I’m going to say that the flute is one of the hardest instruments to play (common Western instruments, that is).

But really, I love my flute. It’s nice to be unique in what I play, and it is a nice sounding instrument.

What are your least favourite things about the instrument that you play? Which instrument do you think would be the hardest? I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Beauty In The Broken | Motley Monday

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I actually already had a post written and scheduled for this week (way ahead of time, for once), but I think I’ll bump that to next week, because I want to talk about something else.

A little bit of background on what I’m talking about: I live in New Zealand, in the lower North Island. In the South Island, there’s a city called Christchurch. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because there was a very large earthquake there in February 2011, not long before the Japanese earthquake. The earthquake killed 185 people and basically caused a whole lot of ruin in the city. Whole buildings collapsed, and others were discovered to be unstable.

From very early on Friday until yesterday evening, I attended a Girls’ Brigade conference in a small town that’s an hour south of Christchurch. Yesterday, we had the choice of sitting around for an hour, or driving to the airport early. We settled on something in the middle: leaving for the airport early, but taking a tiki tour around Christchurch, to look at all the rubble and the progress. (Tiki tour = going from one place to another along a longer route, either intentionally, like our trip through Christchurch, or unintentionally, like if you make a wrong turn.)

So we drove around Christchurch for an hour. And that’s what I want to talk about.

Different parts of the city are in different stages in the repair process. Some buildings and areas have been fixed, or weren’t damaged to begin with. Others are in various stages of reconstruction and repair, with scaffolding and temporary solutions. There are some empty lots, either because they haven’t begun to rebuild there, or they’re not going to. And, probably the saddest of all, there’s some buildings just sitting there, waiting to be demolished.

All around the city, you can find memorials for those who lost their lives. Some special steps have been placed. One of the lots, which previously had a building where many people died, is being left empty as a memorial. The city hasn’t forgotten. There are reminders everywhere.

But they aren’t being held back by grief. They are building. Repairing. Moving on. Letting the future happen. They’re acknowledging the past, and working hard to make a better future.

And, in amongst it all, there is beauty. A gorgeous playground which was installed recently, covered in children playing. Filled with laughter. There’s walls that have been decorated with the most beautiful graffiti. The drab, depressing streets have been brightened by these colourful works of art.

Seeing these things has made me realize some things about the challenges that we face in life.

The first is that it is important to acknowledge the hardships and the bad times. Just because they are in the past, it doesn’t mean that we should forget about them.

The second is that we can move on from these hardships, and use them to make us stronger. It may take a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end.

And finally, it is important to find the beauty in the broken. If there is no beauty, then make some. A little splash of beauty can have a huge impact. Find joy in the midst of strife.

Thank you, Christchurch, for teaching me so much through your hardships.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Dear Americans | Motley Monday

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Dear Americans,

Ever since I was old enough to understand jealousy, I’ve been jealous of your country. It seemed to me that you got everything, while we were just left with the tail end of whatever you decided to share with Australia. You get all the concerts. Your country is overly represented in books and movies and TV shows. You have all the theme parks. It seems as though most of the Western world is catered just for you.

But lately, I’ve realized that your country, which to me seemed so perfect as a child, is not as wonderful as I used to believe.

You see, my country may be small, and it may be left out of a lot of things, but we’re a close country. We’re a friendly country. And, majority of the time, we’re a safe country.

Now, these may make me feel proud of my country, but they also make me sad when I think about all of the countries that can’t say this. Especially the last one. Every single person has the right to be safe, but a lot of people don’t actually have that.

It makes me so sad to see the news coming out of your country sometimes, Americans. It makes me sad to see that the country that I once believed was perfect is more broken than I thought.

There are things that I’m not trying to say here. I’m not trying to say that New Zealand is perfect, because it is not. And I am not trying to say that America has no redeeming qualities, because it does. My childhood fantasies were not completely wrong.

What I am trying to say is that all countries are broken in different ways, the same way that all people are broken. I’m saying that it’s important to recognize those broken places and to stick them back together. To repair them. I know that New Zealand has many places in need of repair, as does every country. But today, I’m specifically talking about America.

Americans, I don’t understand what it is like to live in your country. To have the privileges that I so often craved as a child, and yet to have dozens of people killed when they’re having a fun night out. I don’t understand how that affects you. Do you feel unsafe? Do you feel too removed from the situation or too used to it to be affected? I’m curious to know.

But really what I wanted to say was that I’m praying for your country. I’m praying for something to change, so that a fun night out doesn’t become something terrible. So that people can feel safer. I’m praying for you. It makes me so sad to hear about everything that goes on, and not be able to do anything about it. Except pray. Please know that what I really want to do is to bundle up all of those who have lost loved ones and hug them tight. I’ll have to settle for virtual hugs instead.

Americans, I’m praying for you. I know that your country can make a change, and become the nation that I imagined you to be.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

Book Review: The Raven Boys | Wordy Wednesday

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Reason I didn’t post on Monday: we had a long weekend and I got my days all muddled.

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Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Where do I begin?

I’d heard people raving about this book/series (mostly Cait from Paper Fury), and so, not knowing a thing about it, other than the fact that the characters had interesting names, I decided to read it.

Right before I started reading it, I decided to read the blurb. It made me weary of the book. Stuff about the dead? Not my cup of tea. But I decided to proceed anyway.

For the most part, this is a great book. I can understand why people rave(n) (hahaha I’m so not funny) about it. It’s written well, it kept me guessing, and the characters were rather interesting.

But, like I said, the subject matter was not my cup of tea. Not only do I know virtually nothing about ley lines and ghosts and all that guff, I also don’t enjoy reading about it. It made me uncomfortable and uneasy, I guess.

I kept going anyway. May as well finish it, right? I’m glad I did finish it, because at least I can say that I gave it a good attempt, but I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

It’s kinda similar to how I felt when reading The Rest Of Us Just Live Here. You can read that review here, if you’re interested. Both are well written and interesting, but they contrast with my upbringing and beliefs, and that makes me uncomfortable.

I’m the kind of person who is a stickler for the rules. Last year, I was the only person at my school who followed a certain rule about cellphones (which has now been changed). It’s not because I’m a goody-two-shoes; it’s because I felt extremely guilty and uncomfortable if I didn’t. Whenever I broke the rule accidentally, I felt awful.

And I feel as though this is the same concept. I’ve been brought up with certain beliefs, and this book contrasts those beliefs. It’s not wrong or against the rules for me to read it, but it does make me feel uncomfortable, and that’s just the kind of person that I am. I know other people who have been brought up with the same (or very similar) beliefs, and they don’t have a problem with reading this kind of thing. And that’s fine. It all comes down to personal preference.

I rated this book three stars, because I can see why people would like it; it’s just not for me. If you are considering reading it, just consider how you feel about the subject matter of the book. If you’re fine with it, then this is the perfect book for you. If, however, you feel the same as me, I wouldn’t recommend it to you.

That turned out a lot deeper and more philosophical than I intended.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann

The List: Update #5

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How on earth is it already June? My highschool graduation is in five months. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Changes to The List: No changes.

Books I’ve read: I’ve read nine books on The List since the last update, but it only counts for three.

Confused? Me too.

So I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia for the first time, which is seven books, but is just under one book on The List. In the past, I’d read up to The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader before getting bored and giving up. I’d done that at least three times in the past. However, this time I was determined. I decided to read one Narnia book between every non-Narnia book that I read, and it worked pretty well. I’ve always loved the first two, so they were great. The Horse And His Boy is always interesting, although I don’t like it quite as much as the first two. Same with Prince Caspian. I finally read all of The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, and I don’t know why I always struggled with it before. It was great. The Silver Chair was a brand new one for me, and I really enjoyed it. Probably my favourite of the last five. As for The Last Battle, I didn’t really enjoy it as much, although I don’t really know why. I must say that I really picked up on the symbolism in all of them. C.S. Lewis was an amazing writer in that sense. I gave the first two five stars, and all the others four stars, although I might bump up The Silver Chair. Mmm, maybe.

Now that that’s over, time for our regular small reviews. The next one I read was The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz. I’ve never seen the movie, or read it before, but I’ve somehow always known the basic plot. It was basically as I expected, although slightly different as well. In general, I enjoyed it. I’m kind of disappointed, though, that there wasn’t a spiel about “You’ve always had a heart; you just needed me to tell you,” or something like that. From the way the characters were written, I expected to read that at some point. But oh well. Four stars.

Finally, I read The Handmaid’s Tale. Let me tell you, this surprised me so much. I had no knowledge of where or when it was set, so I was expecting some old fashioned, Victorian type story, filled with old language. This assumption was purely based on the title. Clearly my knowledge of what a handmaid is was seriously lacking. Instead, what I got was some kind of weird, dystopian type ish society. Honestly, it was so amazing. I loved it. I know that I often claim to dislike dystopians, but this one had few of the elements that I disliked, while still being dystopian. I can’t tell you how much I loved this one. It was incredible. Five stars.

Favourite/least favourite: Well, clearly my favourite was The Handmaid’s Tale. As for least favourite, I have to say The Last Battle.

Next to read: I’ve got 1984 out, and I’m terrified, but I’m going to read it. Also, The Kite Runner is reserved, and I’m quite excited, because someone told me the other day that it is very good.

Les Miserables update: Hey! What’s this? New section? Long story short, I have Les Mis on kindle, and I’ve decided to start reading it as a longterm read on my phone. I’m not sure how well it’s going to work, but I’ll try. I’ve already gotten further than the other times I attempted it, which is good. The lower amount of words per page is making it harder to skim read, which I often accidentally do, so it’s working well so far. Although I’m less than 2% through, and about half of that was the contents page(s). It’s going to take me a while, which is why I’ve decided to throw this on the end each time. Basically nothing has happened so far.

Another update, done and dusted. At the end of this month, I’ll go through The List and figure out if I’m actually halfway there or not. I think I need to pick up the pace a bit, but life is busy. Less procrastination, I suppose.

Arohanui,
Tessa Ann