July 18, 2011

Last Day in Oxford...Last Day of Fund for Teachers Trip! Biking, The Bate Collection

This is an early clarinet.
The next time Cristi or Esther (my sweet clarinetists) lose their ligatures,
 I'm handing them lots of string.  

Andrew and I have been looking forward to seeing the Bate Instrument Collection all trip, so today was an exciting and kind of sad day all wrapped into one.  After some amazing experiences this was our official last day with the Fund For Teachers portion of our trip.  Tomorrow we are headed to Edinburgh and later on Dublin, but the official grant portion of the trip came to an excellent end viewing the most amazing collection of instruments I have ever seen in one building.  It was so amazing, in fact, that we're going to do a separate post on it in a few days because the amount of information we have is just too much for one sitting.  We took lots of video of the different instruments, some ranging back as far as the 16th century!  We can't wait to show our band kids the pictures of the origins of their instruments!

Before viewing the Bate collection though, we rented bikes and literally spent the entire day biking (Andrew's Note: Read: "nearly dying") through the town of Oxford.  Oxford is known as a biker's city, every single street has well marked bike lanes (that are occasionally shared with the bus lane) which make it easy to speed through town.   Took as many pictures as we could when it wasn't raining, and in true British fashion, we rode in the rain.  Here are a few things I learned from the experience:

1.  Buses always have the right of way.  (Translation: Buses don't look where they're going)
2.  Yellow lights come on BEFORE green lights AND before red lights.
3.  Understanding #2 is vital to avoiding angry Brits
4.  Umbrellas are useless while biking.
5.  Andrew bikes as slowly as he walks.  (In my defense, your legs are twice as long as mine...)
6.  Due to #4, a rain jacket makes an excellent purchase.
7.  Rain jackets do not allow any range of head movement.
8.  Which means you need to keep reminding yourself of #1.  Often.

I look like I'm 12 in this picture....
just need pink streamers coming from my handlebars

See the Yellow light?  This is before we realized that meant GO.
I believe these are 'punting' boats!  Evidently a quintessential thing to do in Oxford.  

Saw these houses that back up to the river that runs through Oxford.  

Here is a sneak peak of a few gems in the Bate Instrument Collection!  Don't worry, we have WAY more information about this collection coming in a few days!

Early timpani, also called Kettle Drums (with real calf skin heads!)

A Serpentine...like a cross between a tuba, a clarinet, and a didgeridoo

 We couldn't play on any of the historical instruments of course, but they did have reproductions of a crumhorn and a cornetto (both used in the medieval and renaissance eras) that I got to play on!!  So fun!  We have a video that we'll post later, but the crumhorn sounded very much like a bagpipe practice chanter and the cornetto sounded a little like a wooden trumpet.  Like Allison said, there was so much to this museum that we'll give it a page all it's own when we get back and make a video for our kids to see.  We think they'll like seeing all of the old, weird, and bizarre instruments!

Last dinner before Edinburgh.  Thanks Fund for Teachers!!
By the way, we are not going to stop blogging.  Our daily trip posts from Edinburgh and Dublin will be available at our normal personal blog site that has been feeling very neglected recently!  http://keepingthetime.blogspot.com

We aren't quite finished with this site though, so check both!  We want to be sure and say "thank you" again to Fund for Teachers - this trip has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we've seen so much that we can take back home and use in our teaching.  One of the biggest things that has been reinforced during the trip is that there is no substitute for hearing music performed live by great performers.  It has an impact that little else can match.  If you are a classroom teacher and have at least 3 years of teaching experience, APPLY FOR THIS!!  Being able to tailor your professional development to what will help you the most is one of the strongest aspects of what FFT does.  We would be glad to help you with the process as we were helped by other Fellows, so please feel free to contact us below with any questions.  Hooray Fund for Teachers!  Thanks!!

aredmon@graceschool.org (Andrew)
aredmon@houstonchristianhs.org (Allison)    


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