Dear Falcons

Dear Falcons,

It is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to you as your teacher.  I am teaching at a new school this year, and if you can imagine, there are students sitting in a room just like yours, playing an instrument just like yours, who miss their old teacher too.  One of the most important things we talk about in orchestra is that when we play music, we play together.  How one violin plays affects how a bass plays, and this affects how a cello plays, and this bounces around the whole room so everyone adjusts to each other and the music comes alive, and we play together.  I mention this because I made a decision without you, and now you have to deal with a consequence for a choice you didn’t make.  This was not musical, so I apologize for this.  It’s just one of those things where “you’ll understand one day”.

I left to seek new adventures and challenges.  This will never change the fact that we had so many adventures together, and we conquered so many challenges together.  Each of you will always have a special place in my heart.  I am so proud to have helped you learn music, and impressed by how far you have come in such a short time.  But now you have a new opportunity.  You have a chance to go even further, with amazing new teachers, who might teach you new things you never imagined, or old things in new ways.

For those of you who have tried to add me on Facebook, in accordance with school policy I will not accept friend requests.  However, when you turn 18, if you even remember me, I will be happy to accept your friend request, and you will be free to check out the hundreds of pictures I have of myself modeling tweed blazers, knitted ties, leather shoes, premium denim, old lady sunglasses, and pink skinny jeans.


Mr. Cautivar


8. Musculature

I like to go to the gym.  For some baffling reason when I mention this it is always followed by laughter.  People go to the gym for all sorts of reasons, but they tend to do the same things.  I like to warm up on the elliptical.  It’s the machine that’s halfway between running and biking.  It looks really preposterous and silly but I like it because it’s low impact.  Low Impact Cardio – probably irrelevant to you right now but you might be interested in it one day.  After that I do some free weights, machine weights, and core.  I like my routine but I try to mix in a machine or exercise I haven’t done before.

The people at the gym fascinate me.  Some of them are just normal people who want to get in or stay in shape.  Some of them are the pinnacle of physical fitness.  Some of them are enormous blocks of muscle.  I’m not one to share a value judgment so I won’t comment on that, but it’s clear that they want to show how strong they are.

We do a lot of music exercises in class.  Training your ears, training your fingers, your eyes, your coordination.  I asked the beginners who thought their fingers were stronger than what they were before they started learning their instrument in August, and everyone agreed that they were.  Then I told them to look at their fingers, and asked them if they were any bigger than what they were before.  They all thought they looked the same.  Sometimes you want to show your strength.  Sometimes you don’t need to.

My mom bought this machine.

6. Chick Flicks

I really love movies.  You all know of a lot of my hobbies, but I almost never mention movies in class.  This is because for the most part we can’t have a conversation about movies.  Take for example The Hunger Games.  A bunch of you are reading the book in class.  Several of you were excited and told me you went to the midnight premiere.  All I could say was “Cool!  Try not to drop your instrument when you fall asleep in class.”  But what I really wanted to say was “That’s awesome!  Any conversation about The Hunger Games requires direct comparison to [movie title redacted – Rated R] since they are parallel explorations of post-apocalyptic societal pedo-masochism!”  For obvious reasons we cannot have that conversation.  You might have even seen the other movie.  It doesn’t matter.  Every great movie operates on multiple levels.  If one of those levels is inappropriate, we can’t talk about it.  The threshold set by our society is movies rated R.

So I dug deep.  I’ve probably watched a thousand movies in my life.  I went through my favorites.  If you love Catniss, if you’re too old for Ariel and Jasmine and Mulan, here is a list of six action/adventure movies with formidable female characters. Pretty amazing – all of these movies are rated PG-13! They might be hard to find, so ask a parent to help you, or better yet, if you are being roped into family time you can watch them together.

Whale Rider
Realistic, Girl vs Boys
This movie is a great window into a culture on the other side of the globe.  It takes place in New Zealand and is beautiful in so many ways.  The main character lives and breathes strength in such an internal way.  She wasn’t taught girl power.  She just has it.


Princess Mononoke
Epic Battles, Nature
Classic cartoon about a girl raised by wolves and involves some spiritual and earthy elements.  One of the main conflicts is between two women, and both sides have valid points.  This movie tells a great story from Japan.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Martial Arts, Girl Defiance
Sometimes society says you have to be certain things.  CTHD is about a girl who doesn’t know what she is.  All she knows is that she doesn’t want to be what she’s supposed to be.  Hormones I guess.  Plus the soundtrack is beautiful with cello solos performed by Yo-Yo Ma.


Spy, Survival
Hanna is an expert assassin and this could’ve been just another violent movie with a girl in it but it is juxtaposed with her young naivety of the world in a very jarring way.  It is also a contrast in styles because it has a techno feel clashing with an indie feel.


True Grit
Wild West, Revenge
What I love about this story is Mattie is 14 and all the other  main characters are old crabby men, but she is smarter than all of them and has to be to get the job done.  This movie is hilarious if you can keep up with the dialogue.  I had to rewind a lot and listen again.


Million Dollar Baby
Modern America, Boxing
The main character is older than the others on this list but this is still a coming-of-age story, about someone who has to figure out who she is.


Bonus Recommendation: Chocolat
Romance, Chocolate
Not really an action/adventure like the others.  On the surface Chocolat is some kind of foreign romantic dramedy, but Chocolat is really about a mother/daughter team that triumphs over insurmountable odds.  Her weapon is chocolate!

5. Beyblades and the Human Condition

What is life? What are beyblades?

I recently saw Beyblades on sale at the store. I was curious and bought a starter pack. Needless to say I was hooked immediately! Beyblades are a brand of spinning tops that two or more players battle in an arena. You can knock out the other top or it might be a duel of endurance but the bottom line fact is that whichever top spins the longest wins. What intrigues me about Beyblades is that the goal is so simple, and yet playing the game is so complex. There are hundreds of different Beys, each with its own unique properties, and they can be taken apart and rebuilt with different pieces from different Beys. Every Bey has its own personality that it brings to the arena and it has a name that sheds some insight on its character. Some are designed to Attack, some are Defense, some are Stamina, and others are Balance. Every Bey has a different strategy but the goal is the same – outlast your opponent.

I gaze into a spinning beyblade, its colors violently colliding into itself over and over again. It is beautiful in its own way. A beyblade must be seen twice. Once in your hand where you can study its contours, its weight, its layers. And once in motion where all these things become a blur, yet you realize its true value. Am I a Beyblade, spinning in circles until I fall over? Or am I something else, moving on my own volition toward my own goals?

Performance Top System

4. Intersection

As you all know I have many hobbies, some of which you are aware of and others you may not be.  One day during fifth period I happened to mention that one of my interests is studying feminism, which for some reason the class thought was hilarious.

Feminism matters?  For me the central issue is not one of boys and girls.  It is the fact that everyone is trying to sell us something.  People are trying to sell you toys, food, music, celebrity.  People are trying to sell you ideas.  I am trying to sell you music.  I am trying to sell you music education.  I say “This is my class, and if you take it you will get ‘this’, but it will cost you ‘that’.”

The world is trying to sell you your concept of being a person.  I’m interested in feminism because for thousands of years women have been sold certain ideas of what it means to be a woman.  This is changing in our modern society.

I happened to catch this video and it breaks down how two of my interests collide in a very interesting way.  There’s a lot going on here since it presents a lot of big questions.  Maybe you’re too old for LEGOs either way.  (I’m not.)  But think about what you are being sold, and are you buying it?