St. Lucy Flute School

St. Lucy  Flute School
Class of 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Safias BLOG for March 31st

Day 18 March 31, 2009

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of April and only a month left to teach the children and teachers flute and basic photography we are all curious as to how it will all turn out. For Celine the Flute classes for the adults are going extremely well. All the teachers are eager to learn and several of them have natural musical talent. Among on of them is Mahdhani who is now ready to start private lessons and will be inheriting Sarah bassingthwait’s open hole flute. As far as the orphan girls, only half are excelling and half are behind. Celine is now splitting the classes between the two so the ones who are making progress aren’t having to wait on the children who need a little more help all girls however are equally excited to be doing something so new. They love playing and taking pictures and are always so excited to see Celine and I walk down to their living quarters with our equipment we hope they pursue what we have taught them when we are gone.

One man who has exceeded Celine’s expectations and has put forth so much effort to see this school through is Seyoum Micheal flutist and music director of St. Lucy flute school. Seyoum is the main teacher assistant for flute for Celine, he helps translate and work one on one with the students and teachers that Celine cant get to right away. He himself is learning quickly and excelling in his flute lessons with Celine. Both of us are very impressed at how genuinely passionate he is, He will be taking over the flute lessons when Celine leaves. He will be a tremendous asset to any future flutists coming to teach here. His goal in the long run is to go to an American college for music he is very determined to get there one day and we are rooting for him, someone so genuinely nice and talented should be able to get the chance to really flourish with their passions and unfortunately there are no music schools here that would allow him to progress as much musically. Celine is going to help him get to where he needs to be as much as she possibly can.

On top of everything else Celine now has a full schedule revolving around all 45 aspiring flute students between those times we are teaching the rest of the children grade 1st-6th American children songs to help develop their English skills, songs like: Twinkle, twinkle little star, Head and shoulders, Old McDonald and Skip to my Lou. The songs are a hit and the students are responding well. The teachers are really enjoying the lessons as well often times Celine will make them join in on the singing and dancing and she will use them as marionettes to show the kids head and shoulders which results in the children laughing uncontrollably. Several people have approached my aunt and me and asked us to teach them how to sing like we do, so now we are starting voice lessons with kids and adults once a week.

I have hopes of showing the children and adults more American music such as Blues, musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Muddy Waters and Etta James. I want to teach them some music history, blues being my top choice because it has shaped so much of American history and music but its roots are all stem from Africa. We shall see how that turns out and if I will be allowed to pursue it. Since it is a Catholic school there are certain rules about the music that must be followed so that rules out songs like “Lets go get stoned” and “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” (damn.) I have a feeling though when I introduce these songs to the kids they will like them. I even want to teach the children how to sing “Hit the Road Jack” and “Georgia” if I can.

Things are progressing and can only get more interesting from here.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Safia's blog for March 29th

I am developing a love-hate complex with this country. There are things that you see here that break your heart and that make you feel downright hopeless at times. From the poverty to the unsolved problems people are burdened with day in and day out. If you are reliant on anything to do with technology and expect a constant source of electricity you won't get far. At times you get so frustrated with language barriers, scheduling conflicts and antsy children it brings you close to tears… but then you are always left in awe to marvel at the magnificence of the country’s landscape and you never met any friendlier people who are so accepting in your life. Today was a much needed break from the daily teaching routine. It was exhausting none the less but well worth it. We were out romping the country side from six in the morning and didn’t get back till after six at night.

The event was planned for the top students in the school as a reward for doing so well in their classes. We all were crammed into a heavily ornamented bus full of religious and pop culture icons; our first stop was to the supermarket to pick up lunch for that afternoon. Men with huge wicker baskets on their head filled with Injera were waiting for us as we pulled up. The drive was about three hours so we had to stop at neighboring towns to take a break. In a small town my aunt needed to use the restroom and judging from the look of the town I figured I wouldn’t be using the bathroom for a long time, I was okay with that. My aunt insisted we look for a bathroom anyway so guided by two of the teachers; we set in search of a rest room to use.

We stopped at a relatively clean looking shop and they said we could use their restrooms. We were lead into this back ally with blue doored stalls that lined the walls. I did not have a good feeling about the public restrooms in these remote villages…One of the teachers opened up the stalls for my aunt. I will never forget that sight and smell that was ingrained in my memory when the door swung open to reveal a hole in the middle of the floor with a black cloud of flies swarming around it, dark stains lined the outer walls and to top it off there was a fresh, steaming pile of shit just outside the hole. The stench was so foul with fragrant, spicy waste I had to cover my mouth and nose to keep from gagging. I look at my aunt and she is doing the same thing. The teachers start laughing at us and asking us what's wrong, my aunt just replied. “Never mind, I’ll just go on a rock…” and back to the bus we go.

After a long drive we get to a massive, rocky mountain and I forget the name of what it is called. Up at the top there is an Ethiopian Orthodox church which is dated back before the “birth of Christ” but the exact date of its completion is unknown. The church is literally carved by hand into the mountain. As we start to make our way up the rocky path twists and turns and as we get to even higher elevation my lungs are giving me grief, it had been forever since I had gone on my last hike. I am proud and surprised at myself though, I made it to the top only stopping for brief moments to capture the landscape in a photograph, I didn’t take my sweater off, nor take a drink of water or eat a fasting cake and was hauling my camera around my neck which meant I only had one hand free. There were times it was an adrenaline rush because the paths were narrow and rocky and one slip was a sure plummet to your death. The view got only more breath taking as we traveled higher to the top and finally when we made it there all was a perfect vision of tranquility with the entrance to the church beckoning weary travelers to come into the save haven of its walls with a tree in the middle of its courtyard. We had to wait half and hour for the priests blessing so we could enter. The resting time was welcomed by all so everyone got a chance to catch their breath and cool off under the shade.

When the time came to enter into this sacred and primeval place, we were required to take our shoes off and enter in the cathedral barefoot. The gravity of how old this place really was hit me as soon as I entered its chiseled grotto. The inner caves were sculpted into cathedral arches, the rays of light that shined in revealed ancient paintings that covered all the walls. Intricate designs were engraved on every base and corner. It was so amazing to be standing in such a place so old and untouched. People were treating it with the utmost respect and it did have a very sacred and sobering presence about it. The students that were with me got an explanation and history about the place but it was all in Tigrinya so I couldn’t understand it unfortunately. We were shone the tabernacle for a moment but no one was allowed to enter in (I have plenty of pictures and can’t wait to show them to you all!) Then it was time to leave and head back down the mountain.

When we got back down it was time to eat lunch, the wicker baskets were brought out and huge plates of injera filled with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and peppers were placed into the middle of four groups of adults and kids. They all eat from one plate; there is no separation of the food. To most this would be considered unhygienic but it’s actually quite a bonding experience for the people. Everyone assumed since my aunt and I were Americans that we would just sit inside the bus away from everyone else eating our plain eggs, bread and crackers. That was not at all what we intended to do. We left our food inside and sat down on the ground with the teachers and ate with our hands. The teachers were thrilled to have us join them, they hand fed my aunt and laughed and joked with us about being so foreign to their customs. One man scooped up a burger size handful of injera and in one bite ate the ENTIRE THING and did it over and over again. My aunt and I were shocked, I never new it was possible to stuff that much food down your throat without choking. Really this would be like if someone you knew stuffed an entire whopper down their throat in one bite. What was even more impressive was that a little boy came up and he scooped up the same massive amount of food and fed it to the boy, the boy ate it in one gulp. Quite amazing and vaguely disturbing but it was a wonderful time to bond with the teachers and students.

We visited another church very similar to the first that was made out of the mountain stone that dated back to the 4th century A.D. usually men are only allowed in these churches but today we were given permission to take in the presence of its ancient beauty. When outside we were given this special dirt that had a vivid red color to it was blessed from the priest of the church. People were taking it and storing it in paper cones, this dirt is held in such high esteem by the people they literally eat it because they believe it has healing powers and turns into medicine when ingested. It’s the equivalent to holy water for Catholics. I did not realize this but it had all been explained to my aunt and when she was offered some she took a pinch and placed it in her mouth! I was shocked and without realizing how indignant I sounded said “Did you just eat dirt!?” The people chuckled and explained to me why and then I was offered some. I looked at it; dirt really did not seem appetizing. My aunt convinced me just a tiny pinch out of respect because I was offered, it wouldn’t hurt. I took a pinch and literally ate dirt, it was tasteless but the sand left a lovely grainy feeling in between my teeth and gums. I was told to put it in my water and it would make the water “medicinal water” it was very interesting to say the least.

The ride back home had to be one of the most entertaining and nerve wrecking rides I have ever been on. The roads here are full off hills and steep turns with no lanes and no barriers so if the bus driver does not turn in time then you drive off a cliff, no joke. There are endless hills and you can’t see past the corners or over the top of the hills to tell if a car is coming strait at you or not. These people also drive really fast and take corners sharply and this is a bus packed with people. What makes this ride so entertaining is that my aunt has really bad vertigo and is terrified the whole drive home. When my aunt gets like this she screams and swears and is the worst backseat driver you could imagine.

Since she is in the presence of nuns and children she is trying to keep her composure and is not doing very well. As we are climbing higher and higher up these dirt mountain roads, squeaks, squawks of sheer terror emit from her mouth and shrill “OH MY GOD!” shouts escape. Her face twists and contorts in every effort not to swear loudly. Only half of the derogatory word comes out before she tries to recover such as: “Holy shiiieaaaawww!” She would then start talking madly under her breath about how crazy this driver is and how he is going to kill us all. Granted this driver was driving irresponsibly to U.S. driving standards and I was also nervous but because I was watching my panic stricken aunt right next to me gripping on to the handle bars for dear life with the funniest expressions fear on her face, hair blowing every which direction – I could not stop laughing. I was crying I was laughing so hard. I wasn’t the only one; the whole bus was practically rolling from watching this poor damsel in distress.

After three hours of that we finally made it back home in one peace, the teachers and kids did a little thanksgiving dance around the school yard that was really sweet to watch, despite the fact that most of these children and teachers have almost nothing at all they are some of the happiest and playful people I have ever met. My exhausted aunt collapsed on the bed and I took a much needed shower. The water turned a dark shade of brown because of how much dirt we collected on ourselves from hiking and having it blown in from the dirt roads we drove upon. I was tired, sweaty, and dirty and sun burnt but the happiest I have been in a long time. It was a truly an amazing experience I will hold dear to me for the rest of my life.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Safia's Post March 26th


It is now day 13 of living here in Adigrat, Ethiopia and I am absolutely in love with the countryside, I have never seen mountains such as these, they seem to stretch into forever. The high altitude and the weather have not bothered me much at all. The only thing that undoubtedly is getting to my aunt and I are the things we are witnessing with our own eyes, the changes happening within us as we are living amidst the conditions of the poverty stricken villages. From the parentless children, the old and young, sick beggars falling apart on the streets. It is one thing to see it from the comfort of your own home on your plasma screen TV.

It’s entirely different when you are living in it. There are no televisions, no fancy i-phones, no flashy cars, no skyscrapers just mountains and rural landscape. You are surrounded in it, you smell it, taste it, and touch it. Its everywhere you look. Even the rich live simply. What they consider rich here is poor college student status in the states. Rich families have things like TV’s, phones, CD players and stereos and perfume. We had dinner a couple nights ago with one of these “rich” families. They were very hospitable and excited we were in their home and doused us in perfume. (which is a privilege here) The house is divided into sections: the living quarters is one building, the bedroom and kitchen in another. In the middle of the house is an open space between the rooms where there are stray cats and dogs running across the metal rooftops. They have running water and toilets that flush. The majority of the towns do not have plumbing. We here have running water but we have to get our drinking water at a place called Gola and bring it back. Luckily that’s not too far of a drive for us but that’s not the case for neighboring villages.

Remote, destitute and beautiful villages like Zalambessa and Saasi have NO electricity and have to drive for hours to get their water, or walk by foot to the nearest well which can be half a days walk just to get there, then they must walk back carrying as much water as they can, some people have donkeys to help with the load but there are a lot of villagers (a good majority children) that must hand carry it or strap it onto their backs for the long journey back home; all with little or NO food in their gut. This is not an over-exaggeration of circumstances this is their reality. School children and teachers will walk on empty stomachs for miles over mountains climbing through the vast war torn terrain in the heat to get to school. It’s astonishing to see how little they can live on but it does take a toll on their little bodies, I have witnessed students collapsing and fainting in classrooms because they are so weak and have gotten heat stroke.

Some of these kids have diabetes and are BARELY surviving. Meds aren’t delivered all the time the doctors are far away, people don’t know how to take care of kids when they go into shock. While sustaining a happy, healthy and prosperous life is a struggle for most Americans, staying alive is a struggle for these people. On top of the rough conditions and scarce resources there is the AIDS epidemic. The girls I am helping teach English and photography to have lost their parents to AIDS. Especially problematic places where AIDS spreads like wildfire is near the military camps, the soldiers will go and get drunk and party. In places like these were religion and heavy rooted cultural beliefs get in the way of strait to the fact sexual education, people don’t even know what condoms are… So we have an abundance of children and dead or dying parents and not enough resources to go around which shouldn’t be the case.

Yet there is happiness and beauty in all of it still. The children are still smiling, laughing, playing and loving. They are full of life thanks to the dedication of the women who take care of them and help raise them; they have a sense of community here with the nuns and the other children. My aunt and I are trying to expose them to different, new and exciting things before we go so they have a better understanding of outside culture, English language, help them develop skills for their future and broaden their horizons. Its going both ways, we are learning about this beautiful culture and history of the country as well as learning to be more self sustaining. I jokingly tell my aunt that we are going to be prepared for life after the fall of the American empire when we have lost all modern conveniences’ then regress to a more primitive way of living. We hand wash our clothes and hang them on a line to dry, we don’t use cell phones to communicate, we have no GPS devices. We eat only from a garden or get fruits at the local market which comes from local gardens, we have our own flock of sheep and chickens, rabbits and sometimes our electricity goes out and we are without power for the day so everything at night is candle lit. Life is drastically different and at a slower pace. While the technology aspect of it can be very frustrating I am constantly in awe with everything I come across whether I am in disturbance of why problems aren’t being solved, watching myself change from the inside while physically I remain the same, or how I am witnessing landscapes you only hear about in fairytales. Life is very interesting right now.

March 27th

Salaam to all,

Finished my first full week of the flute schools. After much cacaphony in the beginnging things have shaped up. By Wednesday I began each class with a flute class agreement. In this agreement I have required all students must be present for all classes unless excuse is reasonable, they must come on time and bring their materials to class, they must have homework assignments ready for me at the beginning of class, they must not talk or play during my instruction, and they must practice outside of their classes 2 days per week. If they do not abide by this agreement the students are out of the class. I had to put this agreement into place because 1. I have too many students wanting to learn, 2. They are so excited to learn this instrument and it is so new to them that they just can't help themselves and have to try to play the flutes, which then they loose half of my instruction, and I can't teach above all the noise. My voice is so tired at the end of each flute class it isn't even funny. And my patience is a bit wary.

So I figured I better set some ground rules so that I can get somewhere with the students. Since I have done this, I have had very orderly and productive classes. I have the students learning their first three notes, they know how to shape their embouchures, their posture and hand positions are looking great, they are studying their theory, and learning to read and write rhythm. So it has been very good for the latter part of the week. For their practice time, the students have to agree that they will check out the flute for their scheduled time, they must take care of the instrument during their practice time and they must clean and sanitize the flute after each practice session. I have made all students sign the class agreement and the practice agreement. This has been good because it has made them see how serious I am about helping them learn the instruments and the responsibility they are required if they wish to learn the flute. Because they are all so interested, they have abided with me without complaint. These Ethiopians are beautiful people, they do what I tell them and they work very hard. Now that things are a bit more orderly I believe their progress will run smoothly. I expected my first classes to have bumps in the road. I also knew they would be very excited.

For the general music classes, I have the 1-3 learning "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Old McDonald Had A Farm" and "Head and Shoulders." The teachers love my input in their classes with the songs I present to them and it really helps them learn their English. For grades 4-6 (with the exception of the flute students) I have them learning "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" "Michael Row Your Boat Ashore" and "I know That You Know" (another round). I have the 6th graders learning the same as the 4th and 5th to help support the English and the strength in their singing. The 6th graders are also learning a couple of Ray Charles tunes "Hit Road Jack" and "Georgia" to help spice of their music classes. We haven't got the 6th graders started on the RC tunes yet but that will happen next week.

One of the 2nd grade classes we taught "Head and Shoulders" to this week, called us back into the classroom this morning after my other classes I instructed. They came out in 2's and sang the song. Very well actually, except they would say knees and toos (instead of toes) and sat (instead of seat which is used for bottom). When I taught them the song, I had the children slap their bottoms for when they said seat and I had them wiggle their hips when they said hips. It was pretty cute to watch them perform for me and mimick the words not quite saying them in full pronunciation, but as best as they could and to shake their hips. Then they sang Safia and I a thank you song that said I love you more than my ABC's and my 1,2,3's. We were touched by the sweetness of their voices and the sincerity of their song to us.

That's it for today, tomorrow, I go on a hike with 60 other students and 26 teachers. Actually its more like a mountain climb. Wish me luck.

Until tomorrow,

Celine and Safia

March 26th

Salaam to all,

The flute school has been up and running for almost a week. I have 5 different classes I am teaching on the flute. I have the 9 orphan girls, 20 6th graders that take the class on different days and 12 adults that also take classes on different days.

My schedule for flute is:

Monday - Friday 1-2pm orphan girls
Monday, Wed, Friday 4:30-5:30pm, adult class A
Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 4:30-5:30, adult class B, Saturday class is at 11am
Monday and Wednesday, 6th grade group A
Tuesday and Thursday, 6th grade B

Then inbetween these classes I am teaching 12 general music classes with 50-60 students each. It is a lot of children. The school is grades K-8, but I only teach grades 1-6 in music because in Ethiopia when the student starts the 7th grade music is considered an elective and these students have to take 8 classes, so there is absolutely no room in their daily work to have a music class. The total number of children in this school is almost 1,000 students.
In addition to this work I am also teaching a private voice lesson and flute lessons to the music teacher at St Lucy's school.

Will update more later, have to scoot.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Please Send Books, Films & More Flutes

Hi Everyone,

A few more things in need out here;

They really need young children's books. Things that are very easy to read. All of them are working on their English and this would help them. Movies can be in either format DVD or VHS.

I am doing extremely well. The sisters feed us well and we are very healthy. I have 19 flute students!!! They are very eager to learn and they love to listen to me play. It is a lot of work so far but these children and adults are very smart and they pick up extremely fast. I am very impressed with their ability to learn so quickly.

Life here is completely different. Everything about it is different. We are in a small village that is out in the middle of no where. If you look on a map of North Eastern Ethiopia there is a mountain range and we are in one of the valleys of the mountains. The hills are filled with fragrant trees and flowers that are in brilliant colors. The air is always warm and filled with this fragrance. It is beautiful. The sky is crystal blue and stretches as far as one can see. The stars at night are breathtaking and my niece and I look at them until our necks are sore.

The days are warm but the nights are cool. We are in the light rain season, so some afternoons we get showers that just pore and sometimes hail. The gardens in the sisters house fill up in minutes with water. But no one complains because it is a blessing to get the rain. If they don't get the rain then their crops will ruin and people will go hungry. These people live by their crops, small herds of livestock, and chickens.

People live in small brick buildings no bigger than a bathroom, one door for entrance, no windows, and no toilet. They hike for miles to get to the river to get water. You see small children along the roads shepherding their flocks of goats, sheeps, cows and camels. I have seen these little shepherds as young as 4 years old! No kidding-its unbelievable.

Streets are still dirt in Adigrat, but the main road is paved. I think the sisters said they paved the street just last year. Taxis are donkey draw carriages. People in town constantly beg for money or food. Some people are so skinny it hurts to look at them.

I have so much to share it will take forever to get it all in one email. So please keep writing so that I can share with you more. If you don't mind, could you post this to my blog? the internet will not allow me to pull up my blog. I have been sending messages to my husband to post for me. I can't even read if others have left me messages. I am asking for people to please write to my email because this comes up and I can communicate to the outside world. As well, we are having trouble getting the computer to let us download the pictures. We are trying very hard to share with others what we are experiencing. It has been frustrating. We are very spoiled by our broadband availability in the US, our comfortable homes, our supermarkets, and cell phones.
We still need more flutes. I have more students than flutes and I think if we had at least 3 more then not so many would have to share per flute.

We also need alcohol swabs to clean the mouth pieces and make them sanitary for the next player.

I hope to hear from you all soon.

God Bless, Celine

Address for the Orphanage

Please send all donations to:

Sr. Mary Gintella
C/O St. Lucy School
P.O. Box 12
Adigrat, Ethiopia (no zip)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

First Flute Lesson!

Today, I gave the first flute lesson to the teachers at St. Lucy School. I have 7 enrolled for lessons. Once again, they all did really well. they picked it up quickly and did very well. All of them could produce a great sound in the middle and low registers. We began the high register position but that was harder for them. The teachers will return on Monday at 4:30 and have a flute class everyday after school from 4:30 to 5:15pm. I then will teach the music teacher a private lesson after that. By the time my day is ending, I am going to be exhausted.

Everyone wants to learn the flute. Today I had another sister from another house (can't remember the name of the school, but it is the place where Vanessa made her dome for the children) and she said she wants to learn the flute. So I cannot stress enough that I need more flutes.

At 2pm Safia and I went to play with the children. We played "London Bridge" "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "Musical Chairs". After that Safia gave the children a small class in photography and I sat down and colored with some of the kids who did not want to take the class. We colored an entire book. The coloring book was about Christmas and pictures of elfs and Santa Clause. But these kids have no clue who Santa Claus is and so they colored him in bright multi colors that they thought looked good. One child named Naitu made me a beautiful free style art and wrote me special notes of love on the paper. It was very sweet and I will probally frame this adorable piece of work.

I have to say the children wore me out a little today. So I told the sisters that I will need to make my visits timely so that I don't burn out too quickly. I have 6 more weeks to go and I want to make sure the flute school above anything will be up and running by the time I leave. Although the I love the children so much that I probally won't be able to stay away.

I came back to the sisters house and sat down to have a cup of tea. It felt good to put the warm comfort into me and just sit down and space. After I gather some energy back I gave Sr. letteselassie a private flute lesson. This is the privelage I am giving the sisters because they are putting us up and I told them they get special services from me. Both Sr. Lette and Sr. Mary are learning the flute. But Sr. Mary must have been busy and could not come to the lesson.

I'm finishing my day with attending Mass, watching some TV and visiting with the sisters. I will attend to my lesson plans tomorrow and will not blog because I will keep my day quiet. I send everyone my love and hope some of you write to me soon.



New Flute Owners

Dear Friends,

Here are the new owners of the flutes:

Young Students and music teacher:
Original owner: New owner
1. Karla Flygare 1. Eden Desta and Niyat Bahta
2. Sarah Bassingthwaighte 2. Bamcerga Hoftu and Mankalesh Abandy
3. Sarah Bassingthwaighte 3. Sr. Mary Gintella
4. Megan Lyden 4. Helen Berihu
5. Marilyn First 5. Yohanna Mahair/ Guina Alraha
6. Renton Vo-Tech School 6. Luwana Abraha and Selamaiwit Ghlivet
7. Mary Ann Eckmann 7. Sr. Letteselassie
8. Carolyn Blanchard 8. Flutist and St. Lucy Music teacher Seyoum Micheal

Adult Students (who are the teachers at the St. Lucy School)
1. Karla Flygare 1. Abraha Mehari Gegray
2. Sarah Bassingthwaighte 2. Azmera Tesfary wlsaa
3. " " 3. Magos Abraha Gidey
4. Megan Lyden 4. Medhanic Maddera Glsiassie
5. Marilyn First 5. Student will start on Monday
6. Renton Vo Tech School 6. Ferawini Yacob Endris

These students say thank you very much for sending the flutes. They are enjoying the lessons very much and eagerly study the music lessons and instruments everyday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Feast Day of St. Joseph

Today started with attending mass for the feast day of St. Joseph with the sisters. The mass is very interesting because it is in "Tigriniya" the local language that is spoken in Adigrat. The mass is extremely hard to follow, I have no clue of how to read the language as it looks like a bunch of swirling circles and I can't figure it out. Not to include it moves pretty quickly. Sr. Mary gave me an English version to help me but I can't keep up-it moves that fast.

Next, we had breakfast and the sisters and Safia and I sat down and plotted out what we are going to do with the children. I have now set up music classes that occur daily with grades 1-6 where I will teach them American folk songs, children's songs and hymns. This will keep me pretty busy as I will be teaching most days several hours out of the day. I then teach the flute class at 1pm Monday through Friday and I am also teaching the flute to the mother superior because she wants to learn.

As well, the music teacher at the orphanage school is a flutist and he studied flute in college and received his degree in flute performance. He came to the nuns house to meet me and I had him play a little bit. But it looks like he will need some lessons as his tone needs improvement as well as his posture and his technique. But at least he knows how to play the flute and he can help me alot while I am here and continue lessons with the children when I leave. But he could still use additional help. So if any flutists still want to come it would really help.

Today was the first flute class. I have 13 eager flute students and 7 flutes to give. So I have had to do the buddy system and have the students learn in pairs. The reason why I only have 7 instead of the 9 is because one went to Sr. Letteselassie and the other is going to the music teacher. I hope soon Safia and I can get this picture problem solved and be able to post pictures of the new owners of the flutes. Anyway, I had Sr. Lette and the children bring chairs and sit in a half circle. Today we learned how to play the headjoint and begin lessons in music theory.

Because there are so many children and the language barrier it took me the entire lesson time to get just through that part of it. But the students did amazingly well. they all can produce tone in the middle and low register and they can blow easily 8 beats. In fact most of them produced a really big and beautiful tone on the headjoint. I was surprised how easily they picked it up.

After class was over the girls handed back the flutes with great care and each gave me a big hug and kiss. I cleaned up the classroom and exited out the door with Sr. Lette to meet with Safia in her first photography class. She said it was pretty intense getting the children started. First of all she did not have a translater and she had to show them what to do. But these girls are very smart and they picked up fast. but beforeSafia could get them to point and shoot the girls were crazily taking pictures of everything. Corners of walls, their eyeballs, the floor, you name it.

Safia finally shuffled them all outside and they began taking shots of trees and other various things. Some really listened to Safia and did what she told them but others were camera crazy and only wanted to play with the cameras. I was very proud of Safia and her ability to do such a great job with her first class. She told me afterwards that she was a little nervous and today was a learning experience and shared she will have better ways of constructing the class tomorrow.

But I will leave her to tell her story from her point of view as she will describe it better than I.
I will finish my day with giving a private lesson to the music teacher and doing some practicing. The sisters have adoration tonight so I have to go to the other side of the school so that I do not disturb them. they don't need to be listening to long tones and scales while trying
to pray, that just won't work. As well, our room is 2 doors down from the chapel and the building is made of brick and mud so my flute is like a super microphone blasting throughout the convent because of the accoustics.

I am missing home but this is an experience. I love working with the children. they are the most beautiful little lives. They always come and hug me and give me kisses. they yearn for mother love and don't have it so I don't mind being swarmed on a daily basis several times a day. These children are also extremely kind and very well mannered it is wonderful to be with them. Of the 21 girls, 10 lost their parents to AIDS and the others were abandoned. It is very sad, because the ones that were abandoned still see their parents from time to time and can't understand why their parents don't want them. So I love them as much as I can while I'm here.

Well, I need to sign off. God bless all my wonderful family and friends I hope all of you are doing extemely well.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Arrived in Adigrat

Salaam Everyone,

If you have been wondering where I am or why I haven't posted any blogs it is because we have been out of power or the internet has not been available for us to use. I apologize for taking this long to get to all of you but that is the way it is here.

We arrived in Adigrat on Monday afternoon after a long wait for our airplane (6 hours) and then a terrifying plane ride on an old prop aircraft. Needless to say it was pretty scary. Not to include the confusing way of handling air travel with Ethiopian Air. But when we landed in Makele, the landscape was breathtakingly beautiful and any inconvenience or frustration was immediately gone while Safia and I gazed at the gorgeous Ethiopian terrain.

We have met the children and been able to give them the clothes. The sisters with to especially thank you Kim Lintott and Cecile Tron for their generosity of giving so many cute clothes to the children. The children are in need of underwear and socks, girl's clothes for sizes 12, 14/16.

There supply of clothes is pretty baron and really could use your donations. Please see my email that I sent to everyone before I left for the address. PLEASE send clothes. As well, the sisters are trying to build a library for the children and are in need of children's books and videos.
Safia and I are in hopes of getting the pictures online soon so that we can share them with all of you.

We have had a horrible time with getting the thumb drive to work do we cannot transfer the pictures to the sisters computer in order to post them to the blog. It has been a bit frustrating. The scenery, landscape, orphanage and especially the children are just beautiful. We can't wait to let you see them. If we cannot get the thumbdrive to work Safia and I are going to see if Adigrat has a computer cafe and we can dump her pictures onto photobucket and let you know they are there.

I have started music classes with K-3 but not the flute classes. I am waiting on Sr. Letteselassie to be able to take flute classes with the girls and she is currently not available. When I start classes, Sr. Lette and Sr. Mary will learn the flute too and be able to help with the instruction after I leave.

In this area, we will need more flutes and music stands. Please make sure the flutes are in good playing condition so that the children can easily adapt to them. I invite any of the flutists to come and help the children after I have left. The sisters would love to have your help.

That's it for now. I cannot access my comcast account so I have a gmail account set up. It is
Drop me a line.
I would love to hear from you.

God Bless to all of you.

With much love,
Celine and Safia

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flutes are packed

March 10, 2009

Thank you to all who were so kind to donate the flutes. I will posts pictures of the new owners when I get to the orphanaged. I received 10 flutes and of the 10, 6 of them were in need of some minor repair. I managed to get 2 repaired out of the funds received for the trip but it was too costly to repair the other 4. I was very worried that I was only going to be able to take 6 flutes with me. But then I got lucky and was introduced to a gal that is studying to become a repair technician and of the 4, she repaired 2 and repaired them into excellent condition. The school where she studies instrument repair learned of my trip and then donated 1 of their flutes which is also in excellent condition. This allows me to take 9 flutes with me to Ethiopia. I am so grateful to all of you to be able to have 9 flutes that are in excellent condition for these children. They are packed with my theory books, rhythm books, flute repertoire, song books, hymnal, and music stands. I still need alcohol swabs, cleaning clothes and tuning rods (5 more tuning rods) to be sent to the school. If anyone can do this it would be greatly appreciated. Please contact me via email for the address.
Thank you,

Brand New Clothes for the girls

March 9th, 2009
I was out shopping for girls clothing today at a children’s outlet store. While browsing, I ran into an old friend who worked at the store. She directed me to find clothing at reasonable prices so that I could get more than just a couple of items. We were talking and she learned I was buying clothes for the girls in Ethiopia. She told me after Christmas the store was going to throw away a large amount of clothes but the company agreed to sell the cloths to the workers at the store for .1 cent each instead of tossing them. A co-worker bought all she could and was going to give them to a local charity until she heard today about the girls in Ethiopia. She gave me all the clothes. We tallied up how much it would have cost to buy these clothes retail and it is over $5,000.00. They are brand new and she gave them to me to bring to the orphanage. What I cannot fit in my suitcase will be shipped. I thought this was wonderful news and I wanted to share with everyone. If you are interested in helping send clothes or other items to this orphanage, please contact me by email and I will give you that information.
God Bless,

Flutist, Heesun Park 3/8/09

Tonight at 7pm I received a phone call from a former student and dear friend Heesun Park. Heesun is from Seoul, Korea, she came to the United States to better her studies in English and further her education in music. As well, she decided to continue her lessons in flute and ended up in my Music Works Northwest Studio. During Heesun's time with me she became interested in my method I use to instruct young children. She took additional lessons to learn this methodology so that she could use it for her own private instruction. She found it to be a excellent source to educate children in music and to learn flute. Heesun and I worked together for nearly two years before she went to study at the University of Puget Sound. She continued her flute work with Karla Flygare and received her Masters in music education.
After receiving her degree, Heesun returned to Korea and reconnected with me. This was this last December. She learned about my trip and felt she was being called to this mission. She called me in the beginning of January to ask questions and discuss the possibility of joining me and to assist with this school. This last Sunday she announced to me that she is indeed planning her trip and will join me in April. She will help in flute instruction and general music education.
I am very excited to have Heesun join us and feel that these children will benefit all the more from her experience and music education.

I also have to say how lucky we are to be able to meet these children and have the opportunity to learn from them too. I am sure there is so much for us to learn.

God Bless,