Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can You Play?

Art and music (two of our favorite things) are brought together by the Pacific Symphony. Twenty pianos, painted by different artists, have been scattered throughout Orange County. Anyone who can strike a chord is invited to sit and play up until February 6th when the pianos will be auctioned off. You can even create your own concert or "Piano Event" where you sign up to play at a designated time and location.

Here, I instigated an impromptu concert in front of the Orange County Performing Arts Center (we bumped into a piano after seeing the Bolshoi ballet). Once the keys were warmed up, Carly took over and played for a group of seniors who were waiting for their rides. One lady enjoying the music said to me, "She is quite good, do you know her?"

This piano was brightly painted with colorful acrylic paints and chalkboard paint and on the back this beautiful quote was written: "Music: You are unto me as light is unto to color".

Carly is planning on setting up her own concert with friend sometime before the event is over. Check out the Pacific Symphony website for more information.

Update 2/11/11
Here are Carly and Meagan with the cool "Peace Piano" at the Irvine Spectrum. They played their duet and took turns playing solo pieces for an hour long concert.

Here, Nate and Allie are taking turns on the "Paisley Piano" at The Block in Orange.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Madrona Marsh

(by Carly)

This week we went to the Madrona Marsh in Torrance. We started off in the lab where we looked at tons of different things through through microscopes. Bob directed and taught us about crustaceans, shrimps, and other living creatures and artifacts. We each used a compound microscope and dissecting scope. First, Bob showed us water from the marsh on the TV. Then he showed us black ants; little black "invading" ants have come all the way from Argentina! They are very hearty ants and are wiping out all the other ant species, unfortunately. They roost in trees.

So we looked at those, and then some yummy gnat larvae. We looked at bacteria, dragonfly larvae, algae and other creatures from the marsh water too. Nate found a "Mayfly" in his petri dish of water, which is very rare (according to Bob). Bob said he might inform the museum of science about it! We also looked at feathers, and the prongs that lock the feather strands in place. That was cool to see! Besides those things, we saw a sycamore leaf under the scope, which have furry stick-looking things protruding from them. And petrified dinosaur dung. Looking through the microscopes in the lab was a fun and educational experience!

Then the next thing we did was walk through the nature center exhibit with our next tour guide; Bill. He was very informative as well. He explained why we have an afternoon coastal breeze, and how it comes in off the sea and onto the land is because land cools down faster than water does, and heats up faster too. And what does heat do? It rises. So when the land heats up, the warm air rises and the cool air off the ocean gets sucked in and pulled over the land. I also thought it was interesting that you can tell a Snowy egret apart from a Great egret by their opposite colors. Great Egrets have an orange beak and black feet, whereas a Snowy Egret has a black beak and orange feet! And...gophers dig their nests for their babies deep under the ground (in their maze underground) because gopher snakes can't get that deep underground--they can't slither backwards out of the hole.

On the walk through the marsh, we saw California poppies. They are generally more yellow on the west coast, and orange in colder climates. We also saw a plant called Mule Fat, which is what people in the olden days used to feed their mules and horses because it would fatten them up. And towards the end of the walk Allie spotted a Chorus frog which everyone held. It was a fun field trip!

Nate holding petrified dinosaur dung.

Allie holding the chorus frog she found.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Art with Paula

We have a new favorite art teacher! A couple of times a month we go to Paula's beautiful home in Newport Beach where we paint with watercolors or acrylics on canvas. Paula gives us tips and suggestions (not to mention a few yummy treats) while we work. She has many talented students and their artwork is often on display at Picnics Deli in Costa Mesa. If you are interested in trying an art lesson with Paula, you can email her at pjcrawford@mac.com

Here are few pictures of some of our work in progress:

"We come away with really nice art to share with our family." - Micayla

"I liked painting my rainbow drink." - Nate

"I like how Paula gives us good corrections and tips, and how we get to chose what we want to paint." - Carly

"Paula is really nice and I love doing art at her house" - Allie

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Piano Duet

Hello fellow blog readers! Carly here. I've been having a lot of fun working on this piano duet (Chopsticks Themes and Variations by Randall Compton) with my friend Meagan! It is a very intense version of Chopsticks, and has a lot of fun rhythms in it. Here is a sample of the duet below. We aren't finished with it yet, only one more page to master, and lots of spots to polish. I'll be performing the piece in Meagan's piano recital in the Spring, and possibly my piano recital (we'll see...I'm currently in the process of switching piano teachers).

Take a listen!

P.S. Here is a really awesome youtube of the piece. :)