Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amelia Rollings' Voice Studio Recital

The final performance for my fall semester was Wednesday, December 16th. I performed two pieces in the Amelia Rollings' voice studio recital. It was nice to be first in the program with my classical piece, "Porgi amor", because I could relax (and turn pages for Cale) until it was my turn again at the end with my musical theatre piece, "I Can Do Better Than That." I have included the videos with this post. I have to say that belting is still new for me and I'm finding it a fun challenge to step out of my classical "box" and become a better singer on that end of the spectrum.

The whole evening was fantastic, with everyone performing both a musical theatre and classical piece on the program. It was amazing how everyone's improved and changed so much over the course of the semester, me included. Amelia is a great teacher, and I want to include a quote that she had provided to us at one point in the semester for a little more encouragement: (from Nike) "All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES." I believe that every singer told them "YES" at the recital.

Congratulations to everyone in the Amelia Rollings' voice studio this semester and a HUGE thanks goes out to Cale Plute, master accompanist! He had a TON of music to learn and play for all of us and did it well, even with some of the pages ending up under the piano at one point. I also apologize to Cale for watching his fingers more than the music at times. I've always been amazed with superior piano playing skills and has a trance-like effect on me. In any case, may next semester bring everyone many more successes!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We had a little snow fall on Saturday, December 5th. It put us girls (Natalie, Jess and me) in a romantic, "yay for winter and Christmas" kind of mood. I don't ice skate much. Actually, I think I can count the times I've ice skated in my life on one hand. After dinner on Friday night (Dec. 4), Jess, Natalie and I decide to go ice skating, and Yi-Ting planned to join us after she fulfilled a prior commitment. I did manage to fall once in classic style. Jess and Natalie were on each side of me, my skate hit a divot in the ice and I fell forward. Thank goodness that we were holding hands because Jess and Natalie prevented me from doing a total face-plant in the ice! Overall, we had a good time. I'd go again...but not right away. (In the picture is me, Natalie and Jess.)

Another evening of fun was planned for after the Essence of Joy concert on December 11th.We went to Champs to eat, drink, be merry, shoot pool, and enjoy each others' company. I've never been a really great at shooting pool, but I've always enjoyed playing. One of our topics of conversation dealt with my poor skills in both pool and bowling, yet my grandfather used to always put us in the bowling alley or pool table to keep us (my brother, sister and me) out of trouble. Hmm...anyhow... (In the picture is Tzu-Yi.)

Sunday, December 13th was the annual Zombek women's pierogi making ritual. The afternoon was filled with laughter, Christmas songs, reminiscing (and some tears to go along with the reminiscing), food, drink and lots and LOTS of pierogis. We uphold the Polish tradition of my great-grandmother, Josephine Zombek, who did this with my mom and aunts when I was a little girl. The pierogi making is in preparation for the traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia (pronounced Vleeya). Of course, getting to my Aunt Jody's house was the challenge, because of the freezing rain/ice situation that moved through Pennsylvania during my drive home. Nonetheless, it was a good time once I arrived. (In the picture from top is my mom, Aunt Jody, Grandma and then sister, Brea.)

The week of finals (Dec. 14-18) brought the Amelia Rollings' voice studio recital. I was blessed to have a few wonderful friends and family in the audience: Mom, Dad, Brea (sister), Paul, Jess, Natalie, Xavier, and Zach. After the event, Natalie, Xavier and I went to Otto's for a quick but nice dinner and shenanigans ensued for a little while. Yes, that is silly string in the picture with Natalie and me.

Overall, fun has been had. Time has been well-spent and not wasted. Much has been learned and accomplished this semester and I am looking positively at the next semester, even though it will definitely be bringing me a TON of work in multiple areas. I have great friends, wonderful family and many blessings for which I am thankful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

100J Voice Recital

Currently, there are three graduate voice students teaching voice lessons to students who audition for lessons: Aidan Davis, Sarah Rodriguez, and Amelia Rollings. I was blessed enough to be placed with Amelia Rollings. She has taken my voice to great places that I did not know it could go. There is much that I have learned from her this semester, and I am pleased to post the video from the first of two voice recitals.

Tonight's recital was for all those who were studying with the three graduate voice students. For this recital, I sang "Porgi amor" from Le Nozze de Figaro. I watched the video a little while ago and could hardly believe that it was my voice. I am amazed at what I have learned to do throughout the course of this semester. I am very happy with my performance and am looking towards my next performance on December 16th, which is the Amelia Rollings studio recital, students solely of Amelia Rollings. On this second recital I will perform "Porgi amor" again, along with a musical theatre/belt song...yet to be chosen.

I hope you enjoy this video and stay tuned for the next one from the next recital. All I have to say right now is "THANK YOU, AMELIA!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PSU Homecoming 2009

My first PSU football experience included decent weather and a win. My second and last PSU football experience for the season was during the Homecoming weekend. The weather wasn't exactly cooperating that weekend. We had our first snowfall. One of the pictures included with this post is the view across the street from my apartment window. There's nothing like waking up to 3+ inches of snow in mid-October in Central Pennsylvania, eh?

John, a friend of mine, crashed on my futon for the weekend. (He was officially my first overnight guest who was NOT related to me!) There was a nice group present from the PSU Alumni Association, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter throughout the weekend. We began our weekend adventure with the Homecoming parade, then attended the alumni reception at Hintz Alumni Center (where I promptly sat in with the band on vocals as soon as I walked through the door!), and then enjoyed all that the weekend had to offer - visits to a variety of establishments, the football game, good food, and great company.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Voice Masterclass - October 14, 2009

One of my personal goals for this calendar year was to become a better singer, and continue to study voice during the remainder of my graduate work. I've been quite fortunate in this area. In the past spring semester, I studied with Professor Richard Kennedy. This semester, I've been placed with Amelia Rollings, a graduate student in the voice department. A graduate student studying with another graduate student isn't unusual, but it doesn't happen often.

I'm learning many different things this semester with my new teacher, Amelia Rollings. The first thing that I'm learning is how to REALLY belt in a healthy way. One of the other interesting things that I'm learning is that classical singing style is not disconnected from belting style. I'm also learning how to execute both styles equally well. Amelia's teaching style is grounded in some pretty current research and I'm looking forward to bringing as much of this back home as is possible.

As part of the requirements for voice lessons this semester, I had to participate in a voice masterclass. The selection that I performed for the masterclass is "I Am What I Am" from the musical, "La Cage Aux Folles" or "The Birdcage". The graduate student-teachers were quite helpful to all the students that evening, and it was fun to listen to all of the different music that everyone's been working on since the start of the semester. The clip is here for you to view - - not the best quality, but what can ya do when servers have limits, right? Anyhow...

I'm looking forward to the rest of the semester and all that I will learn from my upcoming lessons with Amelia. I hope that you enjoy the video and if you're in the area on the evening of December 2nd, that's when we're having our studio recital!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun in Grad School...yes it does happen

How do we have fun in grad school? Well, between the classes, research projects, article writing, voice lessons (for me), meetings and graduate colloquium, we do find some time for fun. A few things that we've managed to do this semester include: PSU football game watching parties, karaoke night, Graduate Student Association dinner, cooking dinner for each other, conducting informal polls/research, seeing concerts...and there is much more to come because there is plenty of time left in the semester!

I've made some new friends this semester as well. Natalie is a new master of music education student. Sue is a civil engineering graduate student and one of Natalie's roommates. Stephanie is another one of Natalie's roommates. Teri is a new doctoral student, and Chuck is also a new master's student.

Jess and I are continuing to hang out, walk a mile or so together daily, and work on an article for publication with Tzu-Yi. We all try to get together when we can. It's tough scheduling though! Everyone's busy taking classes, teaching classes, and doing some sort of homework or research.

As the semester progresses, I'm sure that I'll post more of our adventures and fun times. Stay tuned!!!

Heidi's 1st Penn State Football Experience

The fall semester is flying by. The school work is going well and each day is an adventure. I have part-time work in a flower shop in downtown State College; it gives me a spending money and keeps me from sleeping until noon on a daily basis...I know most high school students would LOVE to be able to do that. Anyhow...

On Saturday, October 10, 2009, I attended my first Penn State football game. Paul and his brother, Chris, drove in from Pittsburgh late the night before. The game was against Eastern Illinois, so a win was greatly anticipated. The weather was chilly and gray at first, but became pretty sunny by the end of the fourth quarter.

Stopping at the Joe Pa statue was something I'd never done. I'd driven past it many times when going to and from campus, so we actually made it a point to stop and make the most of the photo opportunity.

The game was great. The win that we anticipated came true. I loved the Blue Band's half-time performance. It made me realize that I'm not exactly a BAD drill writer, just not a corps style drill writer!

After the game, Chris bought a new hat and sweatshirt, and we honored his request to go to the Meyer Dairy Store/Restaurant for ice cream. I enjoyed the overall experience. It was a good day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The New Apartment - Bellefonte

So, this week, I (Heidi) said "Good-bye" to my apartment in Vairo Village and "Hello" to my new apartment in Bellefonte. It's a little bit bigger than my Vairo apartment as it actually has one bedroom, and I like it a lot because it reminds me a little of the house in which I grew up...meaning paneling on the walls in the living room area, work needing to be done to update the space, but in a very quiet area with friendly and helpful neighbors.

I don't mind being out-of-town a little bit, but I think the setting will help me concentrate more on writing and studying to finish my degree work.

I also have to say that having an actual bedroom again means that I get to sleep in a real bed...and that was something that I missed during the course of the past Spring semester.

Well, until next time, have fun and take care!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Weekend: Family Events Galore

The weekend of Memorial Day brought several events. Heidi, her sister, Brea, and their father, George, traveled to the Philadelphia area to attend Amanda Fedinetz's wedding on Saturday. Few members of the Fedinetz family were able to attend due to health, family and other reasons, but the bride (Amanda) was very grateful to those of her family who could attend. It was beautiful, albeit hot, for the event and all in attendance enjoyed the day. George and Heidi drove throughout the night to get home for Sunday, so that they could easily attend the next event: a family picnic/reunion of sorts for the Zombek's & Nichols' families. Again blessed with some beautiful weather, all in attendance were able to enjoy the afternoon. Memorial Day itself brought much needed home time for Paul and Heidi. They worked on "Operation Curb Appeal" from late morning to early evening, trimming shrubbery, cleaning up the trimmings, digging out the dead plant-life and putting in the new plant-life. A picture of the summer-ready exterior will soon be posted.

The creative genius of Paul and Heidi's minds lent Grandma Zombek and Uncle Nick a video camera so that they could contribute to Heidi's on-going geneaology research. Heidi is anxious to watch/listen to the video and transcribe the audio to synthesize the stories that make her family history interesting.

While it was somewhat of an exhausting weekend, it was nice to spend time with members of both sides of the family. The weather was cooperative, the food was scrumptious, and the fellowship shared was great.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Girls' Weekend 2009

There are many things that you do not get to do when you are a full-time band director. One of these things is having an entirely free weekend to spend with some of your friends at a given get-away destination. Since I'd been living in State College, a few of my friends from the PSU Alumni Association, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, thought it would be great to have a Girls' weekend. The rules were simple: No work, no husbands/boyfriends, no children, no pets, no thinking, just fun and relaxing.

Friday, March 28th, while I finished with all of my obligations and pre-planned events, Kathy, Kathy and Laura got settled into their room, went shopping and ate. I picked them up for an evening of people watching at one of State College's local establishments. Fun was had by all.

Saturday led us to painting pottery at 2000 Degrees, some more dining, watching the Pens win and then watching Pitt lose. As a Penn Stater, are we surprised? Nah...

Sunday brought us to do some more minor shopping, a stop at the Berkey Creamery, and our final lunch at Otto's Pub and Brewery.

There was not a time when we weren't laughing. As appropriate, we reminded ourselves of the rules (like when we attempted to think), and maintained them as much as possible. Thanks Laura, Kathy M., and Kathy K. for a great time!

Notable quotes:
How Laura orders food, "I'd like two slices of people, please...wait, I mean pizza!"
How Kathy M. orders food, "The beer-brained dunken chicken looks good...oh, my god...I meant beer-brined drunken chicken!"

PMEA 2009

Time and money are both factors in my ability to attend the annual PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators' Association) state conference over the last 10 years. This year, all the stars aligned and I was able to attend the conference, held in the Valley Forge (Philadelphia) area.

My teaching partner, Alan, had the lucky chance to stay on-site in the Radisson. A picture of his "galactic" room is available above. Ah, the convenience...I stayed about 5 minutes away, which was not too bad.

I had the chance to round-out my professional development by attending educational sessions, performances and social gatherings with former undergraduate colleagues as well as current graduate colleagues. The All-State performance that I chose to attend was the All-State Jazz and Vocal Jazz Ensembles. What great talent we have in the state of Pennsylvania!

It was refreshing to be able to attend the 2009 PMEA conference, and I am looking forward to next year's conference in my home area of Pittsburgh.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pierogi Party!

When the Steelers made it to the Superbowl this year, I decided to have a Superbowl party in my new apartment. What I didn't do was take many good pictures of that event.

Anyhow, the fare for that party was typical of Pittsburgh folk. Paul and I made several kinds of pierogies for the event and they were a hit! They were so much of a hit that some of my grad friends wanted to learn how to make them. I promised that we'd set a date for a pierogi making lesson.

We gathered on Saturday, March 21, 2009 for the culinary lesson at the Docker residence. Yu-Chen, Jess, Cathe and Yi-Ting helped to prepare a new batch of dough with Paul's instruction, and then work with the ready batches of dough to turn them into pierogies. I was on the finishing end with the actual cooking. In total, we made the following types: potato/cheese, potato/cheese/bacon, beef/cheese, prune, apricot, apple. When all the cooking was finished, we gladly sat down to eat and then play a fun game of Apples-to-Apples.

A couple of days later, I used the dough that the girls made to make the following types of pierogies: cannoli filling (ricotta & chocolate), apple, cottage cheese/onion. Good times, good friends, and good food. Who could ask for anything more?

"Bach's" Lunch

It's been a LONG time since I performed publicly for anything other than some sort of church-related function...alright, about 12 years. When I decided to finish my master's coursework, I also decided that it would be a good idea to go back to studying voice. I thoroughly enjoy singing, and could stand to learn more about teaching voice, so why not?

There's been a ton of "untraining" going on in my voice lessons...particularly unlearning the "super dark" tone from my Diocesan Choir experience and learning the difference between choral diction and solo singing diction. I've worked on several short songs, mostly American folk songs, which has been very refreshing. Professor Kennedy has been wonderful to work with and I'll never forget the day that he told me he had signed up not just me, but his entire studio for the "Bach's Lunch" concert.

It was about a month ago, and he had asked me if I had ever heard of the concert series. Since this was my first time on campus during the academic year, I had no knowledge of the concert series. He explained it to me and of course built up the drama to that pregnant pause where I was wondering, "Okay, what did he do??" Then he said that he signed me up for the March 26th concert. "As a matter of fact," he said with a smile, "I signed up my whole studio!" I was a little relieved that it wasn't just me, but also still a little anxious about the thought of singing for something that wasn't church-related.

That being said, I've been working really hard on getting the words in correct order for "Come again, sweet love doth now invite." The song is not as easy as it appears. It's REALLY easy to swap the words in verse 1 for verse 2, etc., and in no particular pattern. My knack for swapping one part of a verse for another has created both some humorous moments and frustrating moments in rehearsal. I've learned a new level of patience with myself.

My accompanist is a doc student friend of mine, Lauren Kooistra. She has a pretty heavy load with both taking classes and teaching classes and probably didn't have the space to take me on, but I'm very thankful that she did. Our rehearsals together were efficient and fun, and so was the performance. I can't say "thanks" enough.

Now we go to today. The performance was at 12:10 this afternoon, and I was second on the program. I am one of two females in Professor Kennedy's studio. Something that I'm absolutely thrilled about is that I FINALLY put all the words in the right place in the performance. I seriously didn't think that I'd ever get one fully correct performance with the lyrics. Enjoy the video!

Spring Break "09" with Corey...Memphis, TN

Throughout my undergrad, I only had one real spring break...1998, when my sister and I decided to drive to our brother's place in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. I had not had any spring break trips at any other time because I was always on some tour with some ensemble...choir, mainly. They were fun tours, but it was never really a spring break trip. Anyhow...

There's a blues singer by the name of Barbara Blue. She was originally from Pittsburgh, and one of my closest friends, Corey, and I discovered her while she was still performing in Pittsburgh. We were instant fans, and rarely missed a performance. You want stage presence? Barbara's got it!

Barbara relocated to Memphis just over 10 years ago, for a better gig: singing at Silky O'Sullivan's. After Barbara's move, Corey and I said that we'd go to Memphis some day, just to see her in her element. This spring break was our first chance.

We stayed at the Westin, Executive Suite (Thank you, Tonny!), which was just around the corner from Silky O'Sullivan's. We toured through Beale Street, which isn't very long, but there is a lot there, walked through a significant part of the city, visited Graceland, and just overall relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. I even got the privilege of joining Barbara on-stage to sing one of her more upbeat numbers and closer for her final set on Sunday night, "Trouble with a Capital T".

We had a great time. This spring break was well worth it! So, I guess our next trip will be...?

My 33rd

The difference between this year's birthday and the last eight is that I did not spend it in the classroom with students or at some sort of after-school rehearsal (i.e. musical, concert band, jazz band). I DID get to spend it with close friends and family.

The first part of my celebration was dinner with my PSU grad friends. We went to my favorite restaurant, Otto's Pub and Brewery, and as with most get-togethers this semester, we had a theme: birthday songs. Everyone in attendance had to compose or sing a different birthday song. I uploaded the video from the said event. A good time was had by all, and I feel very fortunate to be among so many fun-loving, intelligent and talented people. I'm very happy to call them my friends. Thanks to everyone in attendance that evening and enjoy the video!

The second part of my celebration was dinner with my family. We went to the Primanti's restaurant in Moon Township, which is about 10 minutes from my home...not quite the atmosphere as the original one in the Strip District of Pittsburgh, but the food is just as good. It was nice to be with my family all in one place, since the beginning of the semester. I'm very blessed to have such a loving, supportive and awesome family.

The third part of my celebration was my trip to Memphis with Corey...that takes me to the "Spring Break" post.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hello from PSU - video

Well, it's been a month since I made the great move from teacher to student. I'm finally settled into my apartment, class schedule AND exercise schedule. I've never cooked so much since I made this change...and I'm finding that I LIKE to cook. Anyhow, classes are going well and this is where I'm putting all of my updates. I'll post again soon! Until later, have fun and take care!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kicking off the Semester with some new friends

I moved to State College on Thursday, January 8th. It was a nice day, comparatively speaking, since we had so many VERY cold days since then. Being in State College now just amplifies the winter weather, but I'm okay with that. This attitude is a little new for me as I've never really been a lover of snow and cold since childhood. Really, I could move to a beach type atmosphere at any time and not be bothered at all.

My apartment is efficiency or studio style. My living room IS my bedroom. My kitchen is actually bigger than my kitchen back in Pittsburgh - - more storage AND counter space. There's a small dining area where I've also put most of my music stuff. As it stands, I only have a few boxes left to sift through and then I'll have floor space around the entire dining area.

Classes began for Penn State on Monday, January 12th and I also auditioned for voice lessons that day. My classes include 20th Century Music Theory Review, Contemporary Issues in Music Education (aka Graduate Colloquium), Voice lessons (I made it!), Conducting, and Master's Research Seminar. I have met many new people that are either graduate or doctoral students in the music department of Penn State. The faculty are very helpful and supportive as well. I've had many exchanges that have helped to guide me in refocusing my research project and re-writing chapters one and two, as well as creating chapter three.

Adjusting to life as a student has been interesting. On the first day of class, I looked around and realized that other than the driver, I was the oldest person on the bus. After my class ended that same day, I ran into a former student, Brittany, in front of the HUB. I was greeted with a very excited "Mrs. A!!!" and a hug; the conversation that Brittany and I had gave me that reminder of home that everyone longs for when they're away. A few days later, I ran into another former student, Tiffany, on my bus. She apparently lives across the street from me and is here just for the semester...kind of like me.

If all goes well this semester and no major obstacles occur with my research project, I will graduate in August of this year. Graduating this year is one of my New Year's resolutions. I'm sticking to it!

On Monday, January 19th, I was invited to a dinner party by one of the doctoral students, Yi-Ting. It was both a Pre-Chinese New Year party and a house-warming party for Yi-Ting. Everyone brought some sort of food or drink for the party and we enjoyed each other's company, learned about some of the Chinese New Year traditions, ate, drank, hula-hooped and were merry.

I'm quite happy with what I'm doing right now. It's the right place to be, and the right time to be here. I miss my home, my students and my family, but finishing my master's degree has been a goal of mine since I began official study in 2002.

We are...PENN STATE!