Top Hat, White Tie and Tails – Anne’s Earworms Episode 1

I found out about this musical soundtrack from William Zinsser’s book Easy to Remember: The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs (I’m only partway through this book, but it’s great so far). Zinsser wrote this about Fred Astaire:
“But it was Astaire the singer, not Astaire the dancer, that the songwriters wanted to write for. They knew that whatever they wrote, he would sing it perfectly, every note true, every syllable clear, every nuance of emotion and humor caught with natural elegance and timing and taste.”
I was a fan before I even heard Astaire.
My favorite song from this album is “I’m Building Up to An Awful Letdown.” I love this song because of it’s clever lyrics. It uses analogies that are catchy, but unexpected:
I’m like Humpty Dumpty,
Up on the garden wall.
I’m riding high
And who can deny
That whatever goes up must fall?
Poor old Humpty Dumpty,
He got the toughest break,
And yet his fall
Was nothing at all
Like the one I’m going to take.

I’m building up to an awful letdown
By playing around with you.
You’re breaking down my terrific buildup
By treating me as you do.
I also love how the melody matches the words. When he sings: “I’m building up to an awful letdown,” the melody goes up, but drops suddenly at the syllable “down.” It adds to the songs clever feeling. I went around singing this song for weeks (which was especially funny during a Jenga tournament).
This is a great album for the morning, because it’s peppy and interesting.  Each song can stand alone, or you can listen to the whole album straight through (like I am while writing this blog post). The styles of the songs are close enough to not jolt you around, but the moods are different enough to keep you engaged.
If you want to hear the album on Amazon, listen here.

Welcome to Anne’s Earworms!

I love music, but until recently, I only listened to music that my friends and family sent me. Since I started playing in a band with a couple of friends, and making my own covers, I started listening to music on my own.
Anne’s Earworms is a series about the music that I love. Some of it is music that I’ve known for a long time, some of it is new to me, that either I found or someone sent to me.  I’m not a musical expert, but I enjoy listening to good music, and I want to share it with my blog buddies.
My first Earworm is live Here.

2017: Goals and Blog Changes

Since 2017 is upon us, I decided to try something new. I love challenges, but I’ve never completed a yearlong challenge before (I’ve only tried one, and I failed.) So here are five challenges I’m trying in 2017:

    1. A reading challenge. When I saw the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge at the library, I thought it was a great idea for finding new books and authors. Popsugar has a list of 40 book criteria (e.g., a book recommended by a librarian, or a book written by someone with a disability). Here’s the 2017 version that I’m doing: My parents and my sister Sarah are also doing this one, and Christina is doing her own reading challenge. 
    2. Writing every day. This is largely to help me be more consistent with my blogging and journaling. I was originally going to write 100 words every day, but my mom recommended writing a paragraph instead of shooting for a word count because I wouldn’t be tempted to use filler words.
    3. Anne’s Earworms. My sister Sarah invented this brilliant title. I love music, and I’m trying to find new music to enjoy, so I decided to write about the music that I find and enjoy, because other people might be interested in it. I’m going to continue my normal posts on Saturdays and post the Earworms on Wednesdays. This is the challenge that I’m most nervous about, because I’ve never written about my musical tastes, and I’m insecure about the fact that I don’t know tons of music. But I think it will be awesome to talk to my blog buddies about the music I love.
    4. The Bible in a Year. I’m following one of the methods Don Whitney recommends in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Great book, if you’re interested). I’m starting in three different places in the Bible (Genesis, Job and Matthew) and reading three chapters every day, and five on Sundays. I tried to do this once before and failed, but I’m hoping that I can stay dedicated to it better this time with more accountability.
    5. Audible. I’ve never been a huge audiobooks fan, but I think they could be a cool tool for me, especially now that I’m in college. Our family has an Audible subscription, so I’m going to try it for a year. This probably won’t be as hard as some of the other challenges, but I thought it would be helpful for my future reading life (especially since I’m learning to drive, and I can’t read while driving). I’m especially excited about this one since I started listening to podcasts and enjoying them.

Because I want to keep you up to date, I will write about how my challenges are going on the last Saturday of each month. I’m pumped to try new things in 2017, and I’m especially excited about blogging. How are you going to challenge yourself in 2017? Let me know in the comments.
If you want to see my mom’s reading challenge, go here


An Open Letter to My Music Teacher

This has been harder to write than I thought. I thought that since I had so much to say, saying it would be easy. I was wrong. Even so, I will try.

When I first came to lessons, I didn’t speak much. I didn’t even want to come to them, because I was scared of new things. Over time, however, I started loving lessons, instead of dreading them. My passion for piano grew and overshadowed many things in my life. I spent hours practicing, stressing over pieces, and loving the panic. When we took a break from piano lessons, I expected to miss the music, which I expected. I found myself missing you too, which I didn’t expect. Our break wasn’t long, but I realized that I loved music lessons not just because of music, but because of your attitude.

You have a contagious outlook towards life. I almost always left my lesson encouraged, not only about practicing, but about my family, my relationships with other people, and other skills I was learning. You were patient with me when my practicing wasn’t sufficient, and with many I-didn’t-practice-enough-please-forgive-me tears. You helped me when I decided to try something new, like teaching students or arranging mashups. You encouraged me when I started playing music with other people (which eventually led to talking to people). You are far more than “just a music teacher.”

Thank you for being kind and encouraging. I thought that this would be an easy post to write, because I could spend hours writing about your good qualities. I love being around you. You inspire me. Your house is one of my favorite places to be, because you are there. I didn’t realize that the hardest part is deciding what not to say, because I have much to say about you, and only a short post to say it.  You have shaped me so as a musician and as a person that I don’t know what my life would look like without you. You are a huge part of my life, and I hope that I know you for a long time.

With exceeding joy,

Anne Mary Russell