Whimsically Theoretical is 2 Years Old! + Updates

Hello everyone! I am so happy to announce that Whimsically Theoretical is officially 2 years old! Last year in 2017, a lot of really great things happened, as well as a ton of new challenges… Read on for the 2-Year Anniversary update! 😀

I was on a roll in the first half of the year, completing two series focusing on mobile game music (check out my 30-article “Single-Track Analysis” series on Kingdom Hearts Unchained/Union Cross, and “Double-Track Analysis” series on Brave Frontier and Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius), an in-depth analysis of Breath of the Wild, as well as conducting seven more interviews with fascinating composers from different parts of the world.

In March of last year, I decided to pick up another teaching job, while my other classes were starting to subside for the school year. In August, I picked up another two programs within that new school I was teaching at, and in September, I started teaching at one more elementary school, in addition to the one I was already at for three days a week, and picked up another set of classes on Monday evenings after an already pretty full morning/afternoon… Long story short, I was teaching seven days a week between August and December. I didn’t post for a while on my website here because I was honestly so burned out and exhausted from teaching every single day, seeing over 800 students a week, going back and forth between five different schools…

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching. I adore children, especially when they are smiling and singing and dancing with me. Nothing has ever before filled my heart with so much joy. But never again will I teach seven days a week. Heck, I don’t want to do ANYTHING seven days a week, other than basic human necessity activities. If you are someone that CAN do something seven days a week, then good for you! It’s simply not something I want to do again.

As my teaching hours start to dwindle this year, and as I am dropping some classes and schools for good, my schedule will be freeing up significantly later next month, which means more time for playing and writing about video games, and composing more music!

In the last few months, I’ve been getting more focused on my own music. As some of you may know, in addition to being a music teacher and video game music enthusiast, I am also a composer! I graduated with a B.A. in Music Composition almost 4 years ago, but got a bit burnt out toward the end of college and haven’t written much music since then, focusing more on teaching and writing.

But recently a small, slowly-growing fire has been lit, and I am preparing to release some music under a new name sometime in the next few months. I have been a composer for 13 years—half of my life!—but only very recently have I gained the confidence in myself and my compositions to finally make the decision to put together a collection of my very personal pieces and release it in an album format. I had posted a bit on soundcloud before, but didn’t really advertise it too much, fearing judgement from others.

This summer, I will be releasing my first album, about 17 tracks total. There will be 13 solo piano pieces, which I’ve written over the last thirteen years, and 4 piano/vocal tracks: 3 of which will overlap/share the same title of solo piano pieces, and 1 which is entirely new (written just last year).

I have been posting some previews of my solo piano pieces that I’ve written over the years on Instagram—if you haven’t watched the videos yet, head on over to my Instagram page and check it out! I will be posting updates on Instagram as well as here on my website, so please stay tuned! ^_^

This year, I also will not be doing nearly as many interviews. This is not at all to say that I won’t be doing any more at all, but for now I am taking a break! I want to sharpen the focus on my music and my writing.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for news about my upcoming album, and follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook to get more daily updates! ^_^ ♪

Ms. Russell’s Happiness Report for Saturday, September 2

This week, I began teaching at one of the many schools that I will be singing and dancing in this school year. I teach about 450 students at this elementary school (Kindergarten through 4th grade + after-school chorus) (the only students I don’t teach are 5th graders who aren’t in my chorus), and the job at this school also carries the bulk of my teaching hours. For the past couple months, I was honestly really nervous to go back, having not taught much at all since last May. But for some wonderful reason, I gained a surge of positivity last weekend, in addition to a massive stream of creative ideas, and ended up having an amazing first week back! Here are some of the highlights… 🙂

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Recognize Weakness but Focus on Strength

When I woke up this morning, I had received an email from a former student’s parent. My student, who we will call William, was one of my best pupils in my music theory classes. He was in my class the very first semester that I ever taught, and continued to take my classes until the highest level that I currently teach. I was very sad to see him go this past spring, but was glad that he had passed my class and would be achieving even greater heights.

Well, to my surprise, William’s mom emailed me to ask if I could teach him private piano lessons. I had a few initial thoughts. First, I was ecstatic at the idea of being able to teach him again. But shortly thereafter, I was filled with self-doubt…

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Ms. Russell’s Happiness Report for Saturday, 2/18

What is a “Happiness Report“, you ask? Well, I had a particularly happy day today, and I also decided that I wanted to have the latest article on my website for now be a happy one. I do have a few articles coming up which I will be posting in the next couple days, but I felt like doing this now, so here we go! Here are some trivial but nonetheless very happy things that have happened in my life over the past couple weeks.

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Authority & Approachability

Fall semester is coming to an end, and for the most part I’m excited. I have taught a lot of concepts to all of my music theory students, and I’d say that a good 90% of them are going to pass to the next class. For the ones who aren’t going to pass, it’s mostly because they haven’t been coming to class, or were a little too young for that class’s subject material to begin with.

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“How do you know so many things!?”

One of the very best parts about teaching young children is their youthful curiosity and wonder, with concepts and topics that are all but innate to me at this point.

With my Music Theory Level 1 class this weekend, I was reviewing whole tones, semitones, flats, sharps, naturals, and going around the room asking students to give us the answers for the workbook problems.

When it comes to flats and sharps, one of the most challenging things to remember is that B# is NOT the same as Cb, just as E# is NOT the same as Fb. Since E & F, and B & C are the only pairs of white keys without a black key between them, E# = F, Fb = E, B# = C, and Cb = B. I went over this concept again with my students, and we continued with our workbook pages.

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Sadness and Music

Games currently playing: Brave Frontier, KH: Unchained, Seven Knights, KH: 358/2 Days

For those of you that have been following my website, or have read one, some, or all of my articles, you may have gathered—subconsciously or not—that I am a very happy and generally positive, excitable person. And this is definitely true in many, genuine ways. But I, like most people, have my down days too. I grew up, also probably like a lot of other people, generally encouraged to suppress any negative emotions, but I have learned over the years that that is not such a great lifestyle. I 100% believe, now, in feeling every emotion that comes along, happy or sad, “positive” or “negative” (though emotions just ARE; they shouldn’t be labeled as good or bad), but in the right context of course. Say you feel a sad spell coming on in the middle of your work day: I would wait until you get home (or at least until a lunch break) to really let it all out. Otherwise, I think it is so important that we let ourselves feel our emotions, particularly “negative” ones, since those are undoubtedly the most uncomfortable to accept. But they also give us the most well-rounded and whole human experience, because we cannot truly experience happiness and triumph without feeling rejection, disappointment, and grief.

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