Re, a Drop of Golden Sun

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love music. I’ve always loved to sing, and I began playing the piano at the age of 5. I took lessons for about a year, and then I just played for fun. I even won an award for an original composition in… Kindergarten? It might have been first grade. In grade school I performed and sang in several school plays. (The two I remember are The Little Red Hen, and some play where I was a witch. My family does not have a record of these performances, to my knowledge, and for that I am very grateful!)  At the beginning of the 5th grade I joined the band and began playing the clarinet. I played clarinet through my junior year when I switched to the bassoon. In that time I also participated in a number of different choirs and musical productions, talent shows, etc.

My high school band teacher, Dan Stowell, understood the importance of music education. Much to the chagrin of the community, he had discontinued the marching band quite a few years before I got there. He used the time that he would have spent teaching us to march, focusing on theory, ear training, and music history.  (Try this vocabulary word on for size! ‘Sprechstimme‘)   I don’t believe I could ever express the gratitude that I have for the experiences and the lessons that I learned while under his tutelage, and I guarantee that what I am to day is, in part, a result of the time he put into my education.

Unfortunately in the time between graduation and now, I have allowed my gift to weaken from lack of use, and I have have also been woefully remiss in my attention to my academic studies. I am fully aware that this is my own fault, and I believe that I have finally found the catalyst that I needed to re-commit myself to my musical and academic education.


It’s that simple.

Music has the amazing ability to help us learn, grow, and heal in ways that we do not fully comprehend.

I am going to run a little test for the next two weeks*.  I am going to listen to one piece of music from the Baroque period** (ie: Bach, Handel, Vivaldi) each day. That is the only rule. It doesn’t matter what time of day, or how long the song is. I just have to listen to one song per day. At the end of two weeks, my goal is to see how much, if at all, my cognitive functions have changed, and how they have changed.

I’d be interested, if any of you would be willing to join me in this little test, what your results are as well.

Til two weeks, happy listening!

*This test was inspired by the first part of a talk on tape by Michael Ballam entitled ‘Music and the Mind’. Another blogger mentions this talk in more depth here,  and you can find more about this tape and other studies done about music and education on Michael Ballam’s website, here.

** If you don’t have any music from this period on hand, and would like to join in my little test, contact me, and I’ll help you find some. (I’d suggest starting with Pandora.)


The First One

My name is Keely Shiraki. I’m the oldest in a family of 8 children, and I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. These 2 things have defined and shaped who I was, who I am now, and who I will become. I will admit that I have spent periods of time wishing that I could escape these defining parts of myself, and for a short while I even tried, but at the end of the day, I am grateful for my membership in these two very special, distinct groups.

Publish Peace Place was my mother’s idea. My mom has always had big ideas, but the thing about my mom’s big ideas is that they always take a lot of small, patient steps to achieve them. As a kid I was never keen on the ‘delayed gratification’ idea that she’d present along with her new plan, and as a teenager I’d taught myself to just humor her and her big ideas, and then just not follow through. Even as a young adult I have not learned to respect and understand the place where my mother’s ideas have always come from.

In the last month or so I have begun to slowly turn my heart toward my Father in Heaven. I have always known, in theory, that anything I do with Him will turn out better than anything I try to do alone, but I have not always had the faith to test it for myself. I believe that He finally got sick of my procrastination, and has begun prodding and poking me in ways that He never has in the past. He has also brought into my life wonderful people who have been inspired to share parts of themselves with me in a way that has borne testimony to me of my Father’s love for me. It is a humbling journey to begin, and one that I anticipate with joy and hope.

I believe that this blog is to play an integral part in my learning to lean more on the arm of my Savior than on my own judgement. I have mentioned that the idea for this came from my mom. She called me on a Friday morning and left me a message to call her back because she had an idea. I will admit that my first thought was, “Uh-oh” and my stomach did a little flip in nervous anticipation of what this ‘idea’  might entail. I called her back and had to leave a message. I don’t know why, but as I sat down to lunch later that day I decided to read a chapter from the Book of Mormon, and I opened to Mosiah chapter 27. My mother’s call interrupted my reading and she told me that she thought we should start a blog that centered around publishing positive news stories along with positive things going on in our lives. We discussed the idea for a while, and as I ended the call, I told her that it was a great idea, that I’d do some more thinking about the details, and I’d call her back later. Though I had finished my lunch by that point, I wanted to finish the chapter that I’d begun. For those of you who don’t have a Book of Mormon handy, the last verse of Mosiah 27, verse 37, says this, “And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth.”

For the first time in my life I have found an answer to prayer in the scriptures. I was not praying about a blog specifically, but to know what my Father wants me to do. He answered me through a loving mother, and a verse of scripture.

I know that the answers to the rest of my questions are out there, and will come to me in the time and in the way that the Lord desires. In the mean time it is my job to Publish Peace.

So Much Color

This is a test post… My Cousin, Koji, works closely with Invisible Children to promote awareness of horrible situations that African children are forced into. I attended a show tonight for Invisible Children hosted by What Uganda Do. It was a great show! I am so grateful for all that Koji and his friends are doing to help! This is a video of Koji from a Rock Uganda event last July, singing Spring Song.