Ensemble Competition 

This afternoon I experienced the perfect break. My grandson Dayan, a senior at Carl Junction High School, competed at Missouri Southern State University with a brass quartet. I love listening to these talented teens play music together. I picked up my daughter Elissa from work and we slipped into the music room where the musicians would perform. 

Ensemble Competition
Elissa and I arrived early enough to watch the group compete ahead of Dayan’s quartet. Although they were from the same high school, I didn’t recognize any of the musicians. However, I enjoyed their lively performance. 

After smiles and sighs of relief, the group quietly exited the room and moments later, Dayan and three other musicians took their places. I have been present during many of my grandson’s concerts and marching band performances and various competitions, and I never tire of watching him play his tuba. 

Ensemble Competition
Ensemble Competition

I am always deeply moved by these young musicians. They devote time and energy to practicing their music. And each teen focuses on learning his or her part well, so that when they play together, whether as a band of hundreds or a small group of four, they harmonize wonderfully. 

In Dayan’s quartet there was a trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba. For the competition they play Bayou Bagatelle, and played it beautifully, each contributing their part to create something bigger than they could individually. 

Ensemble Competition
I watched these two groups perform today with a heightened awareness of the unique gifts each musician offers to one another and to the world. Yesterday my community lost two Joplin high school seniors, in two separate freak accidents. Two 18 year olds, set to graduate in May. My heart breaks for their families. The community’s collective heart breaks. 

There are no easy answers to the many questions that are circulating through a shocked and saddened city. Watching the earnest faces of the musicians today, watching Dayan as he masterfully played the tuba, listening to the music that they created, I know those young lives, while seemingly cut short, left vital legacies behind. I was made aware today that our lives matter at every age, and an 18 year old, as much as a 58 year old, can change the world, or change another life, simply because he offers his gifts, and himself, to others. Like today’s musicians, those young men played their unique parts well, contributing to a larger story that we only occasionally catch glimpses of, and rarely understand. 

Thank you to Dayan and the other musicians that I listened to today, for reaching a tender ache in my heart, and reminding me that each of us, no matter our age, color, gender, orientation or financial status, is significant and crucial. Each of us impacts this world and beyond, the ripples created by our lives flowing outward, like fine musical notes that echo into eternity, beautifully harmonious forever. 

Day 119: Mind Reader: Eric Dittelman


My first today marked the end of the wonderful entertainers and performers brought to Joplin by Missouri Southern State University’s Campus Activities Board. At least for this semester. I’ve really enjoyed the quality and variety of the shows and you can’t beat the free admission. These events have been wonderful opportunities for firsts for me, but beyond that, they are fun, entertaining productions. I’m so glad I got to see each one.

Tonight my mom and I enjoyed watching Eric Dittelman, Mind Reader. I attended this program with the same open mind that accompanied me to the hypnotist’s show. I decided to observe carefully, suspend skepticism, and have fun. As with the previous entertainers, Eric possessed a quirky, playful sense of humor that enhanced his mind reader performance. He was very serious, however, about his craft.

Eric Dittelman has been entertaining audiences around the US at colleges, comedy clubs and private events with his unique blend of mind reading, stand-up and improv comedy. In 2012 he was a semi-finalist on Season 7 of “America’s Got Talent”. Last year he appeared as a headline guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show.

Growing up in central Massachusetts, Eric began his entertainment career with stand-up comedy, which he continued to develop during his college years. After graduation Eric became more and more interested in combining his comedic abilities with his lifelong passion for mystery performance. Traveling to Las Vegas, Eric studied with some of the top mind readers in the world and has performed at the Palazzo and the Tropicana there.

I was impressed with this guy. He’s not flashy or over the top with his humor. He begins right away with random audience involvement and proceeds to not only read minds, but blow them! He admitted to being an excellent reader of character, body language and subtle clues given off by the one being read. He told us frankly that he’s influencing the decisions his participants make, but I can’t tell you how he does it. From revealing what costume a young man wore for Halloween when he was in second grade, to writing down the correct name of another guy’s first crush, Eric amazed. He wasn’t vague, nor did he use guesses to narrow down to the correct answer, he was very, very specific, and always correct.

My favorite routine was his version of Pictionary. After picking three members of the audience to draw pictures, Eric had two helpers come up on stage to tape half dollars over his eyes and then wrap his head with duct tape, covering his eyes completely. He then affixed a blindfold over his taped eyes and had the assistants check his ears for any type of hearing device. None were detected. The drawings were collected and one by one, held above Eric’s head. Each impromptu artist stood, saying his or her name, as Eric then began to accurately describe what each one had drawn. He was absolutely correct, down to the smallest details. On the last drawing, which was of a doghouse, the man had even written his dog’s name across the front. While the audience applauded Eric’s description of the doghouse, Eric shushed everyone and said “Wait, he has a name written on the house and he wants me to say the name.” The man laughed and answered that yes, he did. Without any hesitation, Eric called out, “Rover….the dog’s name is Rover.” The applause was wild after that!

I really enjoyed this show. With his rather low key sense of humor and uncanny ability to perceive exactly what people were thinking, he made a believer and a fan out of me. I can’t wait to see what MSSU’s Campus Activities Board has lined up for the fall semester! I’ll be there.


Day 53: College Basketball Game


I’m not a big sports fan but today’s first, attending a college basketball game, was fun! I haven’t attended a basketball game since I was in high school, many years ago. And I’ve never been to a college level game, even though Joplin is home to Missouri Southern State University, and my kids and a nephew went to school there.

My sister, Linda, and I were given the opportunity to go to a MSSU game because we visited Southern’s booth at the Business Expo back in January. When we were offered free tickets to a game, we knew this could be a first for me and we immediately accepted. We were given the option of two dates to attend and we selected today, simply because we had plans for the other possible Saturday.

What a great date we picked! Today’s game was against major rival Pittsburg State University. It was also the last home game for MSSU and coach Robert Corn was being honored with a ceremony as he prepares to retire. This was a BIG game. A friend of mine gave us both a Southern hoodie to wear and our stepdad came up with a Go Lions! banner. We were ready to cheer for the home team!

Leggett and Platt Athletic Center was packed with fans from both universities. I’d forgotten how loud friendly rivalry is during a game and the depth of devotion some fans exhibit. You wouldn’t have known we were newbies to college basketball though. We yelled and cheered and clapped with the rest of them and groaned when a shot was deflected or a foul was called.

It was a fun afternoon. I’d definitely go to another basketball game and attending a college football game is on my list of first things as well. I’ll hang on to the banner. Go Lions!