3 Nights in Hamamatsu, Part 1

Once we arrived in Hamamatsu, we got our suitcases, checked into our hotel and wandered the area of the hotel a bit. We were told that karaage (fried chicken), gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and unagi (eel) were specialities of the area so we set out for some gyoza. The front desk suggested we visit a restaurant near the train stop we came into so we headed that way. We learned that larger cities in Japan have a great series of underground passageways to help keep pedestrians safe from crossing busy intersections. In Hamamatsu, this was very useful. In Tokyo, it was still way too easy to get lost underground so we often stayed street level (that is an option still).

Menu picture:

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What we got:

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After we ate:

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It was really yummy! 4 people easily shared that plate of 25 or so gyoza.

Our hotel had a great view of the train station area, too. After I took this picture, I thought about taking one with all the lights in the room off but I really like the way it turned out and kept it as is.

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The next morning, we had a visit with the Deputy Mayor of Hamamatsu. It was a good will type meeting and Keith Bearden was very eloquent with his remarks on our behalf. I was reminded at how passionate he is about music education and was proud to be represented by him and his words. There was a nice gift exchange, accompanied by lots of bowing (of course) as well. This was apparently highly appreciated by the City of Hamamatsu as well because our meeting made the paper!

The Deputy Mayor:

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Keith Bearden speaking wonderfully on our behalf:

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The gift exchange:

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With the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Osada:

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The newspaper article:

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Hamamatsu is known for headquartering several musical instrument companies.  We had a great tour of the Yamaha factory. Unfortunately, they don’t allow any photos inside so I don’t have any to share. It was a great tour, though! The Hamamatsu Musical Instrument Museum is also there. It was so amazing, it will probably get its own post.

Suzuki Motor Co. has their headquarters there and Honda Motor Co. was founded in Hamamatsu. It would have been cool to go see one of those factories (especially since I talked so much about car manufacturers with my student Xavier) but our days were so full, it wouldn’t have been possible to squeeze in another tour somewhere. Maybe next time I’m in Japan without a pre-set schedule, I’ll make a point to go, probably to Honda.

After the City visit, we went to Kaisei Junior High for our first band visit. I’ll write a post on that visit soon. If you’d like to see all the pictures of this day, please view them in my Flickr account:

Hamamatsu, Japan
City of Hamamatsu visit

More adventures, band, band and more bands, to come!
~C

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Japan 2018 – Tokyo, part 1

2 years ago, a bunch of my friends went to Japan and posted a ton of pictures on Facebook. I found out who organized the trip (Thank you, Keith Bearden) and decided right then and there that I was going on this trip the next time it was offered. And I did! The next few blog posts will be about various parts of our trip to Japan.

We begin with our trip from Austin>Dallas>Tokyo.

Cliff (my friend and Japan travel buddy) and I took the Megabus from Austin to Dallas. Turned out that Yvonne, who was my trip roommate had also taken the same bus so it was a little bit of a party on the Megabus. Once we got to Dallas, Cliff & I Ubered to our Airbnb, which was a lovely guest suite inside this gorgeous home owned by Nazare & Eric in Flower Mound. If you need to stay somewhere in the DFW area, I highly recommend looking into her Airbnb. She uses the money she makes from her rental to support a family in a 3rd world country overseas that one of her children worked with. They are beautiful people and I hope to spend more time with them in the future!

The next morning, we Ubered to the airport and I left my phone in the Uber. Thank goodness we had several hours before we boarded our flight, hadn’t gone through security yet AND Cliff had called the Uber because we were able to get the phone back without any issues and get our trip actually started. Once through security, we met up with 46 of who would become our closest friends at the gate.

We finally boarded our flight, which was about 13 hours long and began our journey to the Orient. 13 hours is a long flight and although we had all the luxuries offered by coach on JAL, I was tired of being on an airplane!

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Cliff and I were certainly happy to be off the airplane as we loaded our suitcases into the truck at Narita airport. By the way, THAT’S the way to travel with 48 people – have a truck move all the suitcases from hotel to hotel! And this was a cool truck, too. The door opened on the side, much like a transformer. Actually, quite a few things in Japan opened and shut like a transformer.

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From there, we bussed to our hotel, the New Otani Inn, had dinner at the Yebisu Bar nearby, where you can get amazing Yebisu beer that you can’t get in the US anymore, and my cousin Shigemasa joined us after work. I didn’t get a picture of us, though. I was too tired yet excited and forgot.

The next morning, we checked out of our hotel, loaded up the motor coach with slippers and a gift and headed to the Japan Air Self-Defense Base. All the “military” forces in Japan are called “Self-Defense” because after WWII, Japan signed an agreement to not have their own military anymore. They are allowed to defend themselves, however, which is how the various Self-Defense forces came to be. We got a tour of their band facilities and they played a wonderful concert for us!

For pictures from this portion of the trip, please see my Flickr albums:
Tokyo
Japan Air Self-Defense Force Band

Stay tuned for the next portion of our adventure!
~C

You might have noticed the name (not URL) of this blog has changed. That’s because I’ve decided to start a new business called The Big Benford Show. Like an old fashioned variety show, it encompasses a few things that can relate to each other but aren’t exclusive of each other. The main portion (for now) is photography with a specialization in marching bands but it also includes organizing musicians for hire as well as officiating weddings.

Because it’s a variety show that I’m “hosting”, I can offer other services such as program administration, educational consulting and student leadership training. I’m promoting my renaissance woman-ness, I guess. 🙂 I’m really excited about the possibilities and opportunities this could create.

Help me celebrate the beginnings of this new business by visiting my website, liking my Facebook page and following me on Twitter.

Love you, mean it!
~C

So, you want to be a music performance major?

I’ve had a few students who have recently come to me, wanting to be music performance majors when they get to college. Students I’ve talked to about becoming a music major have all been interested in one day becoming a band director so this was a bit of a new thought process. The most recent student is mid-way through sophomore year so I feel like it’s critical to get everything on the right track now. So, here are some things I’ve come up with. If I’ve left anything out, please add in the comments.

  • Start private lessons with a college professor.
  • Skype lessons with as many professional musicians as I can connect with them.
  • Summer programs like Tanglewood or Interlochen.
  • Find as many performance gigs as possible.
  • Figure out where professional performers went to school and look into the current procedures of auditioning at those locations.

What else?

Thanks for any input in advance.

Finding Balance

Recently, I was part of a nice “conversation” on Facebook about New Years Resolutions. I haven’t set any New Years resolutions for quite a few years now – I realized a while back that when I try to make resolutions because of a special occasion, they weren’t authentic resolutions so I didn’t stick to them. Don’t get me wrong, I still set personal goals as I need them, I just don’t feel the need to set any JUST because it’s a New Year.

Anywho, my friend mentioned he was looking to find more balance in his life this year. What a wonderful resolution! It got me to thinking about my own life and the balance that exists (or not) within. How does one find balance? Before a person can start finding balance, maybe a few questions must be asked.

  • What does one try to find balance between?
  • What’s weighing one down?
  • What in one’s life is unimportant and can be discarded or released?
  • What’s missing in one’s life?

I’m sure there are quite a few more questions that can be asked but they’re probably more personal to each person trying to find that balance. What are some ways you’ve found balance in your life? Or, if you’re willing to share, what are some of the answers to the questions above for you? What other questions could we ask in finding balance?

I think it is very important that we all try to keep balance in our lives. Of course, “balance” means something different to each and every person so the process will look different for every person. I’d love to hear what you’d like to share about it!

Love you, mean it!
~C

Posts of 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people. All for the 6 posts I wrote this year!

Click here to see the complete report.

iHurt

I’ve been in pain for about a week now and I can’t wait to see the chiropractor on Monday afternoon!! Last Tuesday, I woke up and my upper back hurt so much that I thought I was going to throw up. I took a very hot shower, which helped to relax some of the aching muscles, and headed to work. Thank goodness the athletic trainers at THS are just has helpful as Coach Bowman and Coach K were at SPHS! I got a 15 minute electro-shock treatment (I like to joke and call it electro-shock therapy but I have no idea what it’s actually called) and headed to the middle schools. The rest of the week was rounding out okay and my back wasn’t hurting nearly as much, thanks to Aleve and hot showers.

Then on Friday I woke up really cold – the thermostat said my house was 10 degrees colder than I’d had set it for. After a hot shower to get my brain working, I went out to the heater and saw that the pilot was lit but no fire on the burners. 😐 Turns out the HVAC unit is unrepairable so I get a new one….on Tuesday! Thank goodness for a great landlord because he left me two space heaters that have kept the living room and master bedroom nice and warm.

Having to go to the cold rooms in the house for various reasons hasn’t helped my back. The pain is mostly in my neck and shoulders today. I’ve managed to get some laundry done as well as unload/load the dishwasher. That’s about it though. I’m having a hard time thinking about what I need to do, much less get much done. So if this blog entry has bits and pieces that don’t make sense, that’s why. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s chiropractor’s appointment!

Love you, mean it!
~C