"When you change the way you see things, the things you see change." - Author Unknown


2014 Halloween

There was no possibility of going Trick-or-Treating today. The cold autumn wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, also a violin lesson BT needed to attend, that evening outdoor activity was now out of the question.

But still, after rushing through her lesson and scurrying back home, BT enjoyed some fun treating flocks of little creatures in disparate forms. Poor B the T fagunt, MT promise you that there won't be any violin lesson at all on this fun day in the future.

CSYOCO 1st Concert

Bunch of Random Facts (or Opinions):

When: Oct 26th. Where: Mason High School Auditorium. What: The FIRST concert of CSYOCO in action (duh.)

The concert went smoothly. Nobody fell or knocked down chairs. It sounded awesome with more than one hundred kids playing together on the stage. I especially enjoyed Sibelius Finlandia and Donizetti's Don Pasquale, although I have listened to them so many times already during rehersals on Mondays.

The short stories the conductor introduced before playing each music piece were like colorful sprinkles on cupcakes, they were pretty and sweet.

As an overexcited proud Mason mom, MT was helping (if not hindering :)) setting up the stage, driving to shop fruits and serving pizza to the kids.

Dad performed his job extreme diligently on being in charge, after MT left home for her volunteer job. He delivered BT to the venue punctually, buying MT a lunch and waiting for her patiently at the cafeteria. Many thanks to him! :D

Kooky Spooky JamBOOread Night

These are members of the Teen Auxiliary Board of the Mason Public Library on duty at MCC Saturday night, look!

The young red-gowned witch with a ponytail, smiling while face-painting, looks SO familiar to me... Where have I met her before?? xD

Bulbasaur and more...

#Sweg bulbasaur ftw! On saturday this weekend me staying up late being...

Guess what mission I was on? :D

Student of the Month

We got the postcard sent to us from school. It's the second time she has received the Student of the Month award at Mason Middle School since last year. In her eyes, it's not an accomplishment at all. But still, her dad and I rushed to school, afraid of being late, to witness the moment at 6:45 this morning.

Above, the principal was giving out the certificate to students. And BT with Mrs. Carney, her math teacher and MathCounts coach - I can't help but whisper you here, she is our ideal type of teacher who speaks no-nonsense, treats all her students fairly and equitably, genuinely cares about each one of them and gently pushes them to excel with her humongous amount of math practice problems on Edline and emails... we just love her!


National Junior Honor Society is not just an honor roll recognizing outstanding achievement by eighth graders in the areas of scholarship, character, leadership and service. It also gives students an important opportunity to learn and experience beyond the classroom within the community.

Long before this ceremony yesterday, BT had, with great excitement, started her community service job - volunteering at a local charity store for two hours every week. The job is far from interesting, but she decided to sustain. She made me so proud, again; however, at the same time I can't help but start to worry about her time management skills; so many responsbilities/commitments require chunks of time on her schedule and her hours of sleep every night are getting cut short... How can I help?


A saga of adventurous triumph, a paean to nature and life.
I can't love enough of this marvelous movie - its astonishing video of animals, its splendid orchestra music, which combines all the elements in the state of perfection.

This is another piece BT is playing in CSYOCO. To me, the beginning part is most interesting, sounds ominous, dramatic and powerful. It's quite entertaining when you actually watch the kids in the brass section performing it with such great gusto, which is my favorite part of the rehearsals every Monday.


I'm just having my first-ever experience with a heavy-duty real live symphony orchestra. It's called Cincinnati Symphony Youth Concert Orchestra. That place isn't exactly all idyllic and breezy.

Basically what you do is you sit there while the conductors just throw a bunch of insanely difficult orchestra pieces at your face and they go concert tempo straight off the bat and then they expect everyone to play everything flawlessly the first time through.

Our conductor is Mr.S, an erudite, thin, bespectacled, elderly gentleman with the energy and passion of a man about half his age. When he conducts, he directs the orchestra literally as if he were directing troops in battle. He brandishes the baton almost maliciously, and vehemently jabs it into the air every beat with such vehemence and precision that can only be described as intimidating. It's almost as if music materializes with as simple flick of his wrist.

And that's not even the best part. The best part is his vocals. When Mr.S conducts, he gets totally absorbed and he shapes his lips into an O and makes this sibilant sound, like "ch..ch..CH ch..ch..CHHH" while jabbing his baton around fiercely. He is a wonder to watch.

Once, I was sitting second chair, first stand during a rehearsal. Since I was sitting on the left side, I was supposed to be playing the bottom notes of the divisi chords, but he found out that I was playing the top notes instead. So then he jabbed his baton furiously at me, chanting, "INSIDE VOICE! INSIDE VOICE! CH..CH..CHHH!" I was quite taken aback as I scrambled to figure out the notes, and he nearly knocked my stand over.

And then if someone messes up big-time or a section doesn't come in on cue or a section starts rushing or whatever, he stops us in the middle and makes us do the section over again. It's like one of those Run computer games, where you use the arrow keys to jump and turn and stuff and you have to avoid the holes or else you'll fall through. When we keep messing up and replaying a certain section, it's like we keep running and falling, running and falling, again and again.

Last rehearsal, Mr.S decided it would be a great idea to walk around and watch us play while the other conductor conducted, so that he could assess each of our abilities and determine the seatings. He basically just walked around the perimeter of the room and peered at us ominously through his spectacles. It was really unnerving.

Also he happened to be doing it during the middle of a piece that was new, which meant it was pure sight-reading for most of us. Even worse, it happened so that at that particular moment when he was standing right next to me and watching me creepily, I was utterly lost. And the fact that he was watching me wasn't exactly helpful. I could feel myself burning up and I could feel his eyes drilling a hole through my head.

So then what do I do? Calm down. I simulated knowing exactly what I was doing. I even moved in rhythm and stressed the important notes with my movements like I knew the piece very well. But that really isn't all that useful if someone is standing right in front of you watching your every move, because I'm pretty sure it wasn't long before he looked at my bow movement and found out that it wasn't moving in synchrony with that of everybody else. But I don't know, because he appeared to be smiling. I guess he was laughing at me and my epic failure. So now I'm working really hard at home and being sure I can truly play those pieces well...


This is what I was sharing with BT this week,
"Be like a star and shine, whether people care or do not care; the clouds are temporary, but your beauty is permanent." ~ M.F. Moonzajer

DIY: Change Violin Strings

The music shop where we purchased our violin two years ago is about 30 miles away from where we live. The shop owner, also the luthier, is a gregarious man who tirelessly brags and talks everything about violin and readily provides the service for his customers for free.

But I decided not to bother him. The travelling time shudders me. Unbelieving it's harder than rocket science, I was determined to do it myself.
And that's what happened.

Here's my steps of accomplishing the mission:

1) Order the strings (duh!). I got the string set from Amazon months ago (just get prepared in case BT broke any string accidentally), it's "Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold". Our original string set was the brand, but this time my curiosity induced me to try Gold - some people online said it sounds brilliant, I wanted to see how brilliant it would sound.

2) Watch the how-to video on YouTube. This is the best one I could find.

3) Change the strings one by one by following the instructions in the video. I started the D first, then A, G, and E.

4) Let the strings to settle for hours and tune them.

My tips:

  • Replace the string individually. It would keep the tension on the bridge from slackening too much. Never take off all strings at the same time.
  • Use a pair of tweezers to place the ball end of the string into its fine tuner. I was using my fingers only at the beginning, it was quite awkward.
  • Make sure the string is in the proper notches in the bridge, turn the peg slowly and don't over tighten the string.
  • Check the bridge and make sure it is standing up straight 90 degree perpendicular to the body.
  • Don't touch the new strings with your fingers, especially the part between the bridge and the finger board.
Look at that, I did it! I am absolutely a professional amateur, am I not? xD It took me about 35 minutes to finish changing all 4 strings - including all actions of watching (the video), wondering, goggling, pushing, pulling, fumbling, turning and tuning. Whew! Not that bad for the first-time newbie, right?! And I noticed the color of the G string is different from the other three; it's slightly brownish and it sounds as if a little warmer. Hee hee...

(PS: 1) I didn't use Peg Compound mentioned in that video this time because I don't have it, but I have found it on Amazon and have put it into my shopping cart.
2) BT has been playing violin on those new strings for 5 days already, they haven't gotten loose, or just a tiny bit but not badly, we tightened them up using fine tuner. Yay!!!!)

Let's Celebrate!

There're glorious reasons to smile this weekend!

Of course the creature who brought us all the sparkling is BT. Our number one joy is JH4113, it is cardinal. Although it came to us almost as we expected, but the journey of witnessing her working towards that goal was excruciating and torturous. There were related convoluted stories we wouldn't tell anybody. Only three of us knew the taste of this little triumph. And also, the successful acceptance into both "M" and "N" societies... do I really need to list all of these?


Special writing utensils her daddy purposefully prepared for her right before the event. See the difference between them, after that special day she called "the Hunger Games in the Real World". Do you know what BT used it for, for 90 minutes?

Keep It Up!

It Starts Here

Read this book, if you're constantly bothered by the imperfections of life. I got it from Amazon many years ago, somewhat by chance, when I was looking for a self-help book. I'm so glad that I did, because it has changed my view, tremendously, to a much greater degree than I thought it would.

Happiness is a journey, and it starts here.

English Folk Songs


True Friend

(Image credit: quoteswave.com)


FINALLY I got this audition thing over with! *whew*

Before the audition, I was led into a warm up room where a bunch of people were practicing at the same time (and the sounds all melded other very discordantly), and I was actually not nervous at all. I think I am getting better at this kind of stuff :)

Then when my turn came, the person called my name and insisted upon taking a picture of me which was kind of awkward, and led me into the audition room. The judges/conductors, both seemed very nice and spoke very formally, like radio-broadcasting people. I played the pieces in a manner like I did at home, completely detached from my surroundings. :D The sightreading was not difficult, it was just in G major 4-4 time, but there were some really annoying accidentals. I think I did alright...meh.. And then afterward Mr. S told me, "You played the Mozart Concerto with skill far beyond your years." ^_^ Like, sureeeeee...

Somehow I have a feeling that I did well. xD

And guesswhatguesswhatguesswhat--- YAY! I got the letter on Wednesday saying that I got in! But... you know what, I also learned that all my classmates who had auditioned got in as well. Which somehow seems to indicate that it really isn't much of an accomplishment. -_-

A Good Day

It's been a crazily eventful and stressful week, and it looks this craziness will last another two weeks. Ughhh!

But still I managed to give myself a half day off - reading a book of my favorite writer, drinking a cup of glorious mud and sniffing the roses which my best buddy surreptitiously put on my table.

(Left, the #selfie I took that day. Doesn't it show my jubilee? xD)

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