I am writing this to you from the warm and relaxed chaos of wrapping paper-strewn holiday joy in our house. We have had a very nice break, kicked off by the kids' playing at West Hills Village Senior Residence on Monday the 21st. The seniors remembered our previous recital, and were happily surprised to find us playing songs for them as they ate dinner that night. Even with a certain two year old (mine) throwing an uncharacteristic tantrum (albeit quietly, thank goodness), it was a fun evening and something we plan to organize regularly.

This seventh year of directing our academy has been a year of deep gratitude. As both a mom and as RCMA's director, I feel privileged to have such great music teachers for my own kids through our school who add depth to our weeks. I am grateful that we have been able to launch donated music lessons for Portland area refugee children and look forward to watching that grow. It's a joy to me that we have begun planning our summer camps in July, because I love camp and because my boys are already asking what classes they will get to take and which friends will be back to play alongside them.

As I take a second to sip some coffee, ignore the pine needles falling off our tree and reflect on the year behind us, I'm struck by a sense of curiosity for the coming year. I wonder what songs Isaac (7) will want to repeat on his cello ad infinitum (this year it was Harry Potter and a song from choir this summer that he figured out). I'm looking forward to watching Toby (9) take more ownership of his own piano playing as he continues to surpass my limited abilities there (I'm a string player- a poor assigned tutor helped me squeak past the piano requirements back in college). I really love the little smile he gets as he realizes he can play things I cannot, and that he is a faster study than I ever was.

Here is my wish for each of our students in 2016: that you would find many things that you are curious about, and that studying music would reveal aspects you might not have known about yourself. I wish you loving audiences (including your own two ears and heart) and ever-increasing skill. Most of all, I hope you continue to discover how to teach yourself in the practice room, because that's where so much of the good stuff is, deep in those many hours of attentive curiosity and care wrapped up in a hard-won phrase or bit of technique.

Happy New Year, Rose City Music Academy. And thank you.