year in review

The Choir Year in Review: 16 Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Year

The Choir Year in Review: 16 Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Year

Have you ever done a year-in-review for your choir year? Have you taken time recently to evaluate yourself and your teaching? Do you set goals for your choir at the beginning of the year, or make a mental list of things you'd like to accomplish?

Taking time for reflection and evaluation is a healthy and productive way to check in and stay engaged in your work.

2015: A Year in Review

2015: A Year in Review

Happy New Year's Eve, y'all! 2015 was a whirlwind for us - so many big changes! It's pretty amazing to think back to this time last year and see how far we've come and how much has happened. Here's a look back on one of our biggest years yet:

We visited NYC twice - once with SD's parents to see "Lion King" on Broadway, and then again a few weeks later for the Chamber Music America conference. This was the first time I ever stayed overnight in the City and I actually felt like I knew my way around the Times Square area by the time we left!

In February, we went cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing for the first time at a nearby park (rentals were only $3/person!). I started my dissertation research (eight weeks long) and we had the opportunity to see the St. Olaf Choir in concert - amazing!

2013: A Year in Review


For the past few years, New Year's Eve day has been, for me, a time of looking forward to the promise of the New Year but also reflecting on the year past: remembering the good, acknowledging the challenges, and feeling immense gratitude for all that we've been given. 2013 was a fun year!  Here are a few of my favorite memories:

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Skiing in Utah

We went skiing in Utah with SD's family right after the New Year.  Highlights include part skiing/part walking down an Olympic Women's Downhill trail (I thought I might die), learning to ride the Poma lift, and seeing a tiger at the zoo.

IMG_1625 Niagara Falls in March

We spent a weekend in Lewiston, NY and took a day trip to Niagara Falls (don't let our smiling faces fool you - it was freeeezing!).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Musical Pairs concert

We organized a concert at church in April called "The Art of Song: Musical Pairs".  SD and I performed two settings of "Mondnacht" (Schumann and Brahms) and we invited a few friends of ours to choose, present, and perform a pair of songs that had something in common (composer, text, theme, melodic material).  To tie the whole thing together, we played our game of "Musical Memory" (first seen in the 2011 WCMW!).  Great fun!

lilac_festival Lilac Festival in May (yes, May)

We attended many of Rochester's festivals this year - the Lilac Festival, the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Corn Hill Arts Festival, the Festival on the Green, the Park Ave Summer Arts Festival (on our street!), the Rochester Fringe Festival, and the Hilton Apple Festival (with the largest apple crisp I've ever seen - 5' in diameter!).

Junaluska Lake Junaluska, NC

We played music together, cooked together, and vacationed together this summer and enjoyed many-a #weekendadventure.  One of the highlights was our week at Lake J with dear friends.  Here we are cooking dinner on the grill one night (I actually just stepped in for the photo - the boys were the real chefs!).  We also enjoyed our share of barbecue, fried green tomatoes, and hush puppies.

IMG_2013 The Bean in Chicago

I presented a research poster at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy outside of Chicago in July - it was my first time in the city!

IMG_1960 Dinner at Frog Pond in Rochester

We shared spontaneous dinners out at our favorite places (like the above picture snapped one summer evening at Frog Pond), leisurely strolls through the neighborhood at dusk, and lots of time up on the roof (watching the city fireworks show on the 4th of July was definitely a highlight!).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Apple-picking in Upstate NY

We traveled around New England, ate lobster, saw the horses race at Saratoga Springs, and went apple-picking (followed by an afternoon of pie-baking!).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Handbell choir planning

We became the Interim Handbell Choir directors at church and led a group of seven (ages 9-81!) for a fun six-week session with everything from how to pick up a bell to playing together in worship (read more about our adventures here, here, and here).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 "This World Alive" at Nazareth College

My parents came up for a weekend visit in November.  We were all thrilled to attend a performance of SD's new wind/film consortium project, "This World Alive"!

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Outtake from our Christmas card shoot

Somebody may have turned 30 this year.  Just sayin'.

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Thanksgiving weekend

We spent Thanksgiving in CT (SD's parents hosted dinner for the first time this year - we were responsible for the stuffing, cranberry-orange relish, and corn pudding).  On Friday, we drove down to NJ to visit my grandparents and spread a little Christmas cheer.

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Dinner in NYC

We spent Christmas in VT (including a brief walk through our favorite town - Woodstock) and enjoyed seeing both sides of SD's family.  We took a day trip into the big city with SD's parents and brother to see "Once" (amazing!), M&M World, the big tree, and the original P.J. Clarke's (in that order).

Ashley Danyew | 2013 Our Christmas card picture

2013 - the year that brought me new professional and teaching opportunities, the year SD received not one but two letters of acceptance from publishers, the year I learned how to make deviled eggs, the year the President stopped and had lunch across the street from our apartment building, and the year I learned (again) that I really am a terrible bowler.

Happy New Year!

Previously: 2012 2011

Happy anniversary, darling


Dear SD, Two years ago today we celebrated the start of our marriage together on the most beautiful, sunny fall day in the rolling hills of southern Vermont.  We reminisce often about that day and the sweet memories we hold and I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to build another year's worth of memories together this year.

IMG_1625 Remember that time we visited Niagara Falls in the winter?

We went skiing in Utah, saw Pink Martini at the Jazz Festival, and watched a few of the chase scenes for The Amazing Spider Man 2 being filmed downtown.  We shared a pulled pork sandwich from Bogart's in North Carolina (the best!) and sampled the wares of several local food trucks - Marty's Meats (with that amazing fried chicken sandwich), Le Petite Poutine, Macarollin', and Cheesed and Confused (with the pulled pork + macaroni and cheese grilled cheese sandwich).  We bought an air conditioner and wondered how we ever got along without one.  We had a white Christmas, saw the pink magnolias in full bloom in the spring, ate lobster in the summer, and went apple-picking in the fall (we even made an apple pie - and crust - from scratch!).

I love the things you do to make me laugh.  I love your sweet, selfless nature and all the ways you serve me.  I love when you tug on my hand during our after-dinner walks to encourage me to walk a little slower and enjoy the moment.  Thank you for showing me kindness every single day.  I admire your integrity and your giving spirit.  I love your heart, SD.  I am so grateful for you!

Happy 2nd anniversary!

2012: A Year in Review


Happy Holidays, friends! I hope this finds you off celebrating with leftover Christmas cookies, mugs of hot chocolate by the fire, and good conversations with family and friends. For me, New Year's Eve is a time to not only look forward into what the New Year holds but to reflect on all the memories of the current year. Here are a few of my favorite moments: DSCF2491edited Image credit: personal

I applied to two doctoral programs in December of 2011 and at the end of January, we took a trip to Rochester for doctoral interviews (five in all). It was a whirlwind 48-hour trip!

I started teaching a new-to-me class at Fitchburg State in January - Commonwealth of the Arts. I continued teaching two sections of Class Piano, which brought my total number of students to over 45. What an honor!

DSCF2540edited Image credit: personal

Steve and I presented our first-ever Children's Concert in February to children ages 2-5. Originally, we were told to expect 8-10 children. About a week before the program, we found out that 35 were signed up to attend! The morning of the event, however, 56 children plus parents and teachers crowded in to find a seat. It was a great experience and "Saxophone Steve" was a bit hit! Read our recap post here.

lecture recital_cropped Image credit: personal

We presented an informal lecture recital for the community in March called "The Art of the Spiritual." See video excerpts of this program here, here, and here.

triple_4 Image credit: personal

We planned a quick 36-hour getaway to Maine at the end of March - shopping and dining in Portland, cliff walks along the ocean's edge, and visiting Stonewall Kitchen. Also, the President and Snoop Dogg were there. No big deal.

1920_ESM_Panorama Image credit: Eastman School of Music

I got accepted into Eastman's PhD program in March and signed the final papers in April to enroll in the fall. I was over the moon with excitement!

DSCF2615 Dr. Susan Conkling leading the WCMW Community Sing in May 2012. Image credit: personal

Our second year of the Westminster Chamber Music Workshop was a great success! We organized four larger concerts, one each Saturday night in May. See video clips here, here, here, and here.

mwaw_1 Lake Junaluska, NC. Image credit: personal

We spent two weeks on the road in June - apartment hunting in Rochester, a visit with my parents in GA, and a week at Music and Worship Arts Week at Lake Junaluska, NC (read more here). Also, eating as much southern barbeque as possible.

We spent July teaching and packing for our big move - July 29! Thanks to the help of some very able-bodied friends, everything went very smoothly. Naturally, we spent August unpacking and establishing NYS residency. Steve picked back up with work and I began studying for placement exams: counterpoint and Renaissance music history.

IMG_0662 The beach at Lake Ontario. Image credit: personal

We took the opportunity over Labor Day weekend to explore the Finger Lakes - wineries one day, beach the next!

IMG_0958 Image credit: personal

We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October with a day trip to Letchworth State Park. It was gorgeous!

We spent Thanksgiving in CT with Steve's parents and friends of the family and came back to the first snow dusting of the season. It was magical.

advent_dual Image credit: personal

We prepared for Choral Sunday at church on December 9 - Vivaldi's Gloria and three Advent hymn arrangements by SD and got our first Christmas tree. Then, on December 14 tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary School, devastating the quaint community, Steve's hometown. Our hearts just broke at the magnitude of this loss and for all the families who were affected. We sent heart-shaped messages of love and support as part of Hearts of Hope. Join the project here.

I finished the first semester of my doctoral program on 12/21, just in time to celebrate with SD and pack for our big holiday adventure - five states in two weeks!

So here it is - the last day of 2012. This year gave me new teaching opportunities and professional experiences and time to visit new places. I got accepted into Eastman's PhD program, SD and I made the move back to Rochester, and we celebrated our first of hopefully many sweet anniversaries. God is good and we are blessed. Here's to 2013!

Happy New Year, y’all!

Previously: 2011: A Year in Review

Happy anniversary, darling

Happy anniversary, darling.

What an exciting year we've had!  We moved to a new state, visited eight states together + two more on our own, and hit 100,000 miles in the car.  We started (and stopped and started) jogging and started eating healthier.  I became a coffee drinker, you became a Bachelor Pad fan (I take full responsibility).  You had four commissions(!), I started a new degree program, and between us, we had two failed publishing attempts (there's always next year!).  We tried too many new recipes to count, saw Vermont in the fall, made our first trip to the ER, played concerts for audiences ages 2-80+, found our new everyday wine, and became Apple converts.

Our first year as husband and wife was not without its challenges but we had many laughs along the way.  I'm so grateful for your kind heart, your patient spirit, and your unwavering support.  My heart is full of so many sweet memories!  Remember splashing in the puddles on Main Street on our way to the Post Office?  And rearranging the tulips on Easter Sunday morning?  How about that time I opened a fortune cookie that had nothing inside and you opened yours to find two?  I learned just how handsome you look in a bow tie and you learned that my southern charm has a fiery side (or maybe you already had that one figured out).

I'm so grateful for the life we share together.  I love you!

P.S.  See more of our wedding pictures here and here.