Michael J. Thom Father. Nerd. Race fan. Musician.


Last from Anderson Highland

Well, my time at Anderson Highland has finally come to an end. (Well, actually, it officially ended 5/2 and practically ended 5/10, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it.) What a wonderful time I had there. Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Stickler truly were wonderful to work with, and I had so much fun working with all the students in all the various ensembles. I'm blessed to have been given the opportunity to student teach at Highland.

I wanted to share the corollary to my first post about Highland. In the middle of the semester, Mr. Fletcher had the students write two things I was doing well and something I needed to improve on. This produced many interesting (and all anonymous) notes. Well, I asked him to have the students do similarly again, this time at the end of the semester. This produced many interesting responses again, but in very different ways. I even had many students sign the notes. What follows is, again, selections from these notes (typed verbatim, if any errors exist).

I think you're doing AWESOME 🙂 GOOD LUCK! Congrats on your engagement too! 🙂 (I'm sure that's a little late.) If you're dealt with some in this class, you'll be ready for almost anything.. Ha Ha!

You have progressed tremendously. Work on: Discipline & authority.

You're Amazing
don't change Mr. Thom!!!
sectionals are amazing with you!
woot! woot! congrats

it's all good so far that I can see
Don't go

Mr. Tom
You've done a great job. You don't constantly mess up like our student teachers last year. Thanks for putting up with all of my stupid sounds and stuff, and good luck after graduation.

Mr. Thom,
Thank you for being a director for our band
You did well.

Mr. Thom is an awesome conductor and student teacher. Compared to all over the other student conductors, I would say I like him the best. He is easy to get along with and he knows A LOT about what he's doing - more so than our previous student conductors.
Can't think of anything for him to improve on.

Mr. Thom,
You did a super job putting up with this band. I know that even just as a student, this class can be frustrating to deal with, and as a student teacher, you dealt with it well.
You'll make a fine teacher, and whatever school you go to, they'll be lucky to have you! 🙂
and have fun at graduation.

Mr. Thom -
You are amazing, don't ever change. We'll miss you sooooooo much. Thank you, You're the best!

You were confident without seeming cocky. You seemed laid back but in a good way. (You weren't stressful). You did a Great job conducting.

Mr. Thom,
You did a great job this year with us. Your conducting was actually better than a certain someone else that shall remain nameless!
Thank you

Mr. Thom
I think your great. You did a great job. I like the way you dress. Your style is fly. Good luck in the future. Hopefully one day there will be a cozy couch with Mr. Thom and don't read me and Jordan's text message when you have my phone.

I think Tom is a really good band director. Whatever band he teaches will surely benefit them all.

Mr. Thom,
I think you were great! You were fun and most of the time pretty energetic. I really enjoyed being taught by you. Keep your good sense of humor, because I'm sure your future students will dish out all kinds of stuff. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself though. If they make you mad, tell them! Have a great summer! :]

Mr. Tom youre an awesome guy. Even though you cant beat austin in a race, you're a really great director. Good luck with your career.

goo yob!
(That's what she said) lol

I sure am gonna miss those kids.



Unbelievable... not that I ever actually thought I may not graduate, but I still can hardly believe that this day is here now.  High school graduation was one thing, but college graduation was always the lofty, far-off goal to which most all of my classmates and I attained, but it nonetheless always seemed so far off.  But it's here.  Tomorrow.  Well, actually today, given the time.  It's surreal.

And most of all, I'm just struck by the mixture of emotions.  I cannot remember the last time I had this diverse and extensive a collection of emotions all at the same time.  I am relieved to be done with student teaching.  I am happy to be graduating.  I am proud to be graduating magna cum laude, even if I didn't follow through with the Honors College.  I'm happy to be moving forward.  I'm optimistic about my job.  I'm sad that I'm going to be leaving friends (or, more accurately, I'm sad that my friends are going to be leaving me).  I'm nostalgic about the times we have had together.  I'm reminiscent of the activities and fun we've shared that will not happen again.  I'm apologetic for the times I've screwed something up (and Lord knows there have been plenty of those times).  I'm humbled by the presence of such fantastic friends.  I'm repentant to God for the way I've acted at times over these four years.  Most of all, I'm just a bit stressed over the enormous transition, milestone, and turning point that is graduation.

I pray for the Lord's guidance moving forward, as the inevitable dispersion of friendships and relationships takes place and the wonderful, if not uncertain, new chapters in our lives begin.

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More Amusing Student Work

Yesterday at Highland High School, Mr. Stickler gave the Blues Band a 5-minute assignment: using the provided paper, answer the following question: What is Jazz?  Here are some excerpted responses.

  • It's that feeling when you first get in the shower and no matter how hot the water is it still feels cold at first. Jazz is when you find yourself sittin in a dark corner by yourself.
  • Jazz isn't just another genre of music.  Jazz is a feeling. ... Traditionally, jazz is a genre in which rhythms have lots of accents and tenuto markings. ... In a typical concert band, music is usually soothing to the ear and has a message but jazz is one big party.  Jazz can be loud and rhythmical or it can be soft and smooth.
  • Jazz is a form of music using swing and slurs to make different kinds of sounds. ... Jazz has a nice beat and its [sic] consistent.
  • I think it's a popular form of music that people enjoy lissoning [sic] to.  It's a style of music that has a nice feel to it.
  • Jazz is a music form that first originated from Blues [sic].  It brought something new with is [sic] swing, accents, and its different styles.  Since the only thing before it was classical.  Its music that can more easily describe the players personel [sic] mood rather than classical.
  • The Risky type of music that involves putting together a variety of notes that will sound different and unfamiliar but at the same time still sound pleasant to the ear.
  • From scattin' to actively playing an instrument, jazz grew rapidly.
  • Jazz to me is the gathering of musicians for the common purpose of having fun and playing the same kind of music.
  • Jazz is a form of music that was founded in the early 1900s.  Major elements in jazz include rhythm, improvisation, and instrumental choice.  Jazz takes on many styles of rhythms, but most share a "lazy" swing feeling with unexact [sic] beats.  Improvisation is used in jazz solos.  To solo, one must improvise with the chord being played.
  • a laid back kind of music, with wind, drums, stringed instruments.  Its [sic] very fun to play.  but also challenging.
  • Jazz is enjoyed by all ages today and has made many musicians into legends. ... Jazz is fun and it seems to make older people feel young again.  Jazz is fun to dance to and it's lively and exciting.
  • Jazz is a style of music.  The playes make up notes as the [sic] go (sometimes).  It expresses how the [sic] feel.  There are many different styles of Jazz (to [sic] many to name).  Jazz is listened to every ages today.
  • Jazz is a kind of music that is played more for entertainment that other kinds of music.
  • Jazz is a way people express themselfes [sic] threw [sic] music.  When someone is happy they play bright and joyfull [sic].  When someone is sad they play slower and the music is relaxing.
  • Jazz is music.  It is groovy + it is good dance music.  It has many different rhytms [sic] like Rock, Latin, + Swing.  There is Blues too.  I really don't know alot [sic] i'm still getting adjusted to it.
  • Jazz is expressional [sic].  It has mood and many different styles such as: swing, rock, Latin and many more.  The greatest musicians played jazz.  Louis Armstrong and many others is great credited for the style of scat.  Many people don't understand the true meaning of jazz.
  • Jazz a enumoosmet that is injoned by lots of people throught the years of muncie it is the most inportint thing in life for a methless a kasins.  It was brought too US from African people.

Ultimate Pictionary

I finally got to play a game with some friends tonight who have raved about playing it before.  They call it "Ultimate Pictionary."  While I have no idea where this idea actually originated, it's brilliant.  In short, each player gets a number of scrap pieces of paper (this number is equal to the number of players; 6 players -> 6 pieces of paper for each player per round).  Each player writes something (anything, really: a name, a movie title, a person, a book title, a phrase, anything) on the first piece of paper in the stack.  Everyone then passes their stack (at this point just the first paper has anything on it) to the left.  Now, each player reads this new card and, on the next paper in the stack, draws a representation of what was written on the first paper.  Next, pass the stacks to the left again.  Now, each player looks at the drawing on the top paper (but not at the first paper!), and writes, on the next paper (which is blank), what he or she thinks the drawing is describing.  Play continues like this, alternating back and forth between writing a word-based description and drawing a visual representation of the words.  Ideally, this game is played with an odd number of players, so that by the end of each round, each player has a stack that begins and ends with a set of words - it just finishes off nicely this way.  Regardless of how many players are playing, each round is over when the players all have their own stacks back in their hands.  Each person then goes through their stacks, showing or reading each paper aloud.  There is no scoring and there is no winner; it's just super-fun to see what happens to the original words or phrases.  It's sorta like Pictionary meets telephone.  Please see the following seven frames for an example of how one hilarious round might transpire.

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Last-Minute Trip to Indy/Test Post

Dinesh D' SouzaWell, I'm heading to Indy in a half-hour.  Mark informed us that Dinesh D' Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity?, among other books) is speaking at Crossroads Bible College in Indy this evening, so I'll be traveling down there with him to see Dinesh speak.  Should be interesting!  Depending on how the talk goes (and my energy level when we get back), I may blog about it later tonight.

On a slightly geeky side-note, this post is partially just to try out a new method of blogging.  Same service provider (Blogger), but I'm using Microsoft Windows Live Writer (a desktop-based app) to compose and publish from.

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Student Evaluations

Last Wednesday, March 12, Mr. Fletcher (my supervising teacher for student teaching at Anderson Highland High School) had all the students in the Wind Ensemble write on a piece of paper two things that I am doing well and two things that I need to improve. The responses ranged from very helpful to useless, very serious and boring to hysterical. Overall, the general (useful) themes were: speak up, be more emotional (or just show a personality!), and discipline more/harder. Those are all very valid points. However, I wanted to quote a few specific entries here, because they are just amusing.

I really like Mr. Thom. He is probably one of my favorite students directors I've had. I like how he's not full of bologna like most of the other people that come into here. Like, he doesn't try to act all tough in front of kids to prove he has dominance over us. He if [sic] he was a bit more strict that might help.

I think Mr. Thom is a great music teacher. He actually works with the group until we get it right and doesn't just run through all the music like some special director I know. [Who's that?]

I think is a great well-rounded person
- He directs very good
- He actually think about the band
- He's a nice guy! [all that, sic... yeah....]

Mr. Thom,
Your [sic] doing very well with us here at Highland. You seem to like us and have fun with us. You seem to know what your [sic] doing. The only thing I would say is to [sic] talk to [sic] soft. Just be able to yell at us if your [sic] trying to get us to pay attention. haha!
It's been fun! [It's not over...]

We're getting better at the pieces that he works with us on (different from other student teachers).

You are a very good student director. You have a very good way to direct the band.

Well organized (good planning before directing) [ha! I have them fooled!]

Mr. T is actually the best student teacher that I have ever had. He actually involves his students and makes it fun.
he is Neat-O

Mr. T is very good at being a music teacher. As he teaches us, he is also learning by observing. [uhh, okaaaay....?]

Mr. T keeps control of the class well. He is smarter than most people. He should replace Mr. Stickler. Better than last years [sic] student teachers.

Mr. Tom [sic] is a nice, well dressed guy. He needs a backbone though.

Just give him an "A". He did fine. I'm sure whatever school he will (eventually) conduct will love him.

He has a much better style than the other directors and he is a good guy. [style... conducting style? teaching style? clothing style?]

He is a cool guy and I like his sweater.
But in all seriousness he's pretty good.

I like Mr. Thom because he is very lively, he knows a lot about music. I also like how he knows how to have fun but is serious about what he does.

Keep up the good work. Your [sic] doing a really good job. [oh, thanks, that's informative!]

He's been conducting well. [also useful]

G: tries to keep tempo pretty well
B: go faster


YouTube – Star Wars Cantina By Richard Cheese!

YouTube - Star Wars Cantina By Richard Cheese

This is very funny, particularly if you're a fan of the Star Wars series at all. Just a warning, I don't necessarily condone all of Richard Cheese's work, but this particular video is fine and very funny.

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FOXNews.com – Violent Jet Landing in Storm Caught on Tape in Germany

FOXNews.com - Violent Jet Landing in Storm Caught on Tape in Germany

Whoa, make sure you check out the related video. Major kudos to the pilot for trying and then (smartly!) aborting the landing, but also major kudos to the plane for holding together for this ride. Commercial jets aren't exactly known for their nimble handling skills, but this is pretty good given the circumstances.

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Sitting in a Live Concert

So this is cool. I'm sitting in the Student Center at Ball State University, watching Jon Hainstock perform live for a Late Nite event. I've had the opportunity to see Jon at least three other times, all of them in Muncie. In fact, the Christian Campus House has had him in to play twice as a part of our Stone House Stage series. He's a great guy, a Godly man, and a terrific singer/songwriter. And the band he has with him tonight sounds especially good (I suppose it's his new touring band?).

This concert is just another instance of the great partnership with UPB and Late Nite that we have had this year. We have had the opportunity to bring some of what we do to the campus, rather than doing what we can do bring the campus to us. Though that certainly has its merits (after all, the hope, even here, is that we would be able to be a place that students can come to in order to get plugged in), this is a much more effective way to meet and talk with people. Even if we never see them show up at the Campus House, we can hopefully at least have a few minutes' impact on them for Christ. And while these events are not explicitly a "Christian" show, they are nonetheless co-sponsored by us, and we are available at these events to talk with anyone who wants to talk.

On a side note, I'm doing my best to take mental notes as I will be in charge of activities like this next year. Yikes!

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Exciting News!

Well, it's official: I have a job!

And furthermore, it's an opportunity that I never thought I would have (although, in a small way, always wished I would). In short, Alex Robinson is leaving the Christian Campus House. This makes me so very sad, because I have looked up to Alex ever since he joined the ministry in the Fall of 2005. He's been a good friend and leader at the Campus House, and he will be greatly missed by all of us there. However, his departure has created an amazing opportunity for me (and apparently it was first his idea to have me succeed him).

Starting this Summer (nearly right after graduation), I will be spending the next year as Associate Campus Minister at the Christian Campus House, with my main responsibilities being music and media, with some preaching and teaching responsibilities.

This is yet another opportunity for me to say, "Well, okay Lord, if you say so!" If it was up to me, I would tell you that I am so under-qualified for this job. Nonetheless, Mark and Alex (and apparently many of my peers, too) have faith in my and my ability to be used by the Lord in this new role at the Campus House, so I should just trust them and have faith that He will guide me through this.

On a more surfacey level, I'm so excited just to have a job! And, yes, a paycheck! And no more of this duality; I'm so used to "doing school" and then coming home and doing all the stuff at church that I love to do. Now I get to do just what I love to do so much!

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