I am addressing a letter that you put in to your last newspaper written
by one Rita Vanacore. Obviously, I don’t like her letter, otherwise
I would probably not be sending this letter, other than in response
to William Warnecke’s letter, which I will respond to if he
So, lets read her letter: ”I would like to address the fiscal
responsibility of the Onteora Board of Trustees to the taxpayers of
our district. In all due respect, there is a grave injustice being
done when the closing of the West Hurley School is discussed. None
of the present board members or administrators were involved in this
decision or any investigation following the closing. This closing
was a knee jerk effort by the board, at that time, to save the district
an increase of $850,000 in budgetary dollars. The school had some
serious environmental issues that had to be addressed immediately.
Rather than deal with a major increase to the budget, the decision
was made to close the school and transfer all students to Woodstock.
There was no immediate need for consolidation so all staff was kept
intact and very little renumeration was seen in the budget.”
So it’s better to close a school and make Woodstock Elementary
a very crowded place, which will cost more money in the long run (more
gas burned when the buses are driving from Hurley to Woodstock, etc.)
than pay 850,000$ across the district, a cost of about $300 per household?
Okay, you need that $300 for something, I see that… ”Right
now, if I were a board member I would...”
Which you aren’t, you got voted out, remember?
”Ask for a study to be done on the feasibility of a consolidated
K-4 in the Bennett School... without a bond.
Ask to have the middle school teams reconsider a 5-8 configuration...
without a bond. My research shows that, although we wouldn’t
have all the niceties that a bond could bring, it could be done with
no measurable out of pocket expenses for that district.”
It might cost more to do that, if ya think about it. More gas the
buses have to spend, more classrooms to hold everybody, the fact that
this move would only help out Olive, and hurt Phoenica and Woodstock;
and the utter agony of myself and my classmates.
”If I were a board member I would...
Put a resolution on the floor to investigate the closing of the Phoenicia
School and the feasibility of selling it to the Town of Phoenicia
for $1. It could be used as a community center, town hall, public
library, senior center, or whatever the need might be.”
Phoenicia is an eyesore. The school is about the only thing keeping
the town alive. Why would people stay when their town is as ugly as
hell, and their kids have to go 15 minutes to their school?
”If I were a board member I would...
Question the retiring of a kindergarten teacher, if it is still in
the budget proposal, With three elementary schools open, there is
still a need for 6 kindergartens, even though these 6 will be housing
only 14 to 16 students per class. With consolidation, there would
only be a need for 5 classrooms which would also prove true in the
other classes with consolidated Bennett School, immediately showing
a considerable savings to the district.”
All you care about is saving every little last cent of your pocket
money, not the kids. You probably care NOTHING about the welfare of
the children, the destruction it would cause on Phoenicia and Woodstock’s
economies, the fact that we would be cramped into classrooms. All
you care about is YOUR welfare.
”If I were a board member I would...
Put a resolution on the floor to make the West Hurley building ‘school’
ready and sell the Woodstock property. These nine acres in Woodstock
are a valuable asset and could be sold for a major amount of money.”
So $1 for Phoenicia, “major amount of money” for Woodstock?
”If I were a board member I would...
Ask the Transportation Department for a comparison of costs if we
went from a two bell system to a one bell system... There are too
many half empty school buses running in our district.
Our students’ exemplary education has always seemed to be the
number one priority but trying to scratch items from each yearly budget
in hopes of quelling the rise in expenses is not bettering this educational
process, it is limiting it. We must look to fiscal efficiency and
long range goals regardless of how unpopular, in order to support
the exemplary 21st century education we all dream of for our children
and grandchildren... vision, not shortsightedness is the key.”
Exactly. Try doing that sometime, it’s quite nice.
”I will vote ‘NO’ to any budget that does not include
consolidation and I would
urge others to do the same. The loss of equipment because of contingency
is minor compared to the educational and financial disaster our district
could potentially face….”
…from doing your plan.
This letter is in response to Rita Vanacore’s “What I
Would Do” letter to the editor (April 9, 2009). I am a mother
of three children, we reside in Phoenicia and I am also a seventh
grade teacher in a nearby district. I have been reading the editorials
that have been going back and forth concerning the issues that our
Onteora BOE must make important decisions on. I feel extremely proud
to live in an area where both sides are heard and hopefully taken
into consideration when the BOE is making these tough decisions. I
MUST speak out though, not only as a parent but as a teacher as well.
I am appalled with the lack of focus on our teachers and our children.
I completely understand how the economy is affecting all of us in
this district. I, myself, am being cut back at my district due to
low numbers. I also understand that my personal set back means that
I will be spending much less and trying to find deals wherever I can.
My husband is a plumber, and as many of us know, his income depends
on what people are able to spend these days. Again, I repeat, I am
well aware of the effects of our economy and unfortunately, my children
are as well.
What I am hearing loud and clear is that some feel that it is necessary
to shut down one or possibly two elementary schools in our district.
This means we will have more parents in our communities without jobs.
This also means that our businesses in the area will suffer even more
than they are already, because like me, other families in the community
will need to find cheaper options. Well…I suppose this fits
right in with the ideology of closing our schools to save money. We
definitely will get a cheaper deal if we consolidate into one school…by
cheapening our children’s education.
I am extremely disturbed by the thought of closing down two or even
one elementary school(s). If you read any of the educational research
out there you would know that overcrowding a school is NEVER a good
idea no matter how much money you think you will save! According to
studies, several years in small classes in elementary school yields
huge rewards at graduation time, especially for our high-risk students.
An experiment called Project STAR, which was started in the 1980’s,
involved randomly assigning students entering kindergarten to a small
class (13-17 students), to a full-size class (22-26 students), or
to a full-size class with a full-time teacher aide within each participating
school. The results show that for all students combined, four years
in a small class in K-3 were associated with an 11.5 % increase in
high school graduation rates. Even greater was the effect on the low
socio-economic students (students who were receiving free lunches).
In fact, after four years in a small class, the graduation rate for
free-lunch students was as great as or greater than that for non-free
lunch students (more than doubling the odds of graduating). The study
also reveals a strong relationship between mathematics and reading
achievement in K-3 and graduation from high school (http://www.apa.org).
Why is Ms. Vanacore suggesting that we change our Kindergarten class
sizes from the 14-16 children per class to 19-20 children (or even
more) per class? As an educator, I feel this would be a serious mistake.
These children (if they decide to stay in our county) are our future
doctors, lawyers, musicians, county employees, entrepreneurs, etc.
By consolidating and overcrowding our schools, I feel that not only
will our unemployment rate increase in the short-term, but also our
graduation rate will decrease in the long-term. This is not a healthy
mixture for any economy, saving 9% on a budget or not! The figures
for the kindergarten class, as mentioned in Ms. Vanacore’s letter
to the editor, are only for next year’s class. I recently read
that our country’s birth rate in 2007 had broken the 1950’s
“Baby Boom” record. These children will be going to school
just 3 years from now!
There must be other options. Why not weigh positive options that will
create jobs, which would build a stronger community, create a larger
tax base and keep our children in the area for the long run. I think
that our BOE needs to be very creative and fair when making these
decisions. I would like Ms. Vanacore to explain (face to face) to
my eleven-year-old son why he will be ripped out of his small class
environment (where he flourishes) and shoved into an overcrowded school.
I think some of these people running for the BOE need another hobby,
instead of being part of a plan that could ruin my child’s chances
at a successful education. And by the way, I live in the Town of Shandaken,
NOT the Town of Phoenicia. I would think a former BOE member would
know the difference.
Beth A. Rice
I am writing as an involved and concerned Woodstock Elementary School
parent, and a resident of West Hurley ( in the interest of full discIosure,
I am also the Woodstock Elementary School PTA president and a member
of the OCSD Communications Committee). I think it's important for
the voters of this district to keep perspective on the issues relevant
to the district and to the upcoming election. The future of the Onteora
School District presents many challenges, yet let's remember that
the constituents of this district last year voted down the closing
of local schools and were overwhelming against the forming of a 5-8
MS in Boiceville. Last year the voters spoke in favor of the creation
of a vision for exc
As we all know our district and country are in great economic distress.
When we hear words like declining enrollment, consolidation might
seem like the logical answer. I disagree with the view that not closing
Phoenicia Elementary School is "shortsighted". I would aruge
that the opposite is true, closing a community school would be extremely
shortsighted. Research shows that closing community schools can have
a negative effect on both the students and the community as a whole.
School closures have been known to bring property values down, and
to have a negative impact on local businesses and local economies.
The premise that perceived declining enrollment should dictate the
future vision for the district is also shortsighted. Budget concerns
are important but excellence in the education provided in return for
our tax dollars should be measured in outcome rather than how many
children can be packed into a classroom. Consolidation is not the
answer for increased excellence, is not a magic solution, and there
is no evidence that it would dramatically reduce the budget constraints
facing the district.
If consolidation is not the answer, what is? Now is the time to establish
a vision for the future and the quality of education we can deliver
to the students of this district. After confirming the appropriate
curriculum, and grade configuration the district must plan for and
renovate its existing facilities to provide the best education and
return on community investment.
Ideally, our schools will not only provide quality education to the
students but also attract new families and businesses to the commuinties
within the district. When we meet young families who are visiting
the area, the first question they have is "how are the schools"?
I know of one family who decided to move out of the district because
of the current uncertainties in the OCSD. Another family I know seriously
considered living here but chose to settle elsewhere because the state
of the OCSD. Reversing this trend should be a goal of our planning
for the future of the OCSD. With the right choices we can foster growth
rather than accelerate decline.
Let's focus on the children and the communities we raise them in.
I urge you to become informed in these issues and to be sure to vote
in the schoolboard election on May 19th.
West Hurley, NY
Could Onteora’s 2009/2010 budget been less expensive then the
one planned by the School Superintendent? A better question might
be. Should the school board had done more to lower the 9% increase
and continued with the long range consolidation plan that was started
last year? I don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but
I can’t recall seeing anything in any of the board’s minutes
regarding the previous board’s plan to consolidate and in time
close one school. If Onteora’s school board would have continued
with the previous board’s long range consolidation plan the
school would have been closer to driving down spending now and into
the future. At the time board members and the administration with
help from an advisory committee estimated annual savings of two million
threehundred thousand dollars. That plan included consolidating and
closing one school.
There’s an underlying question as to why school administrators
and the board didn’t continue working on the consolidation plan
that was studied last year. Did the board completely ignore the plan?
Did they do a study that proved the previous board’s plan was
not cost effective? I don’t think they can say that they didn’t
know about it. All the hard work, the countless hours of study by
the board and the
advisory committee not to mention the architects work and fees is
gone down the drain. Apparently they decided not to make the hard
choices so they took the easy way out and simply more or less went
along with the school’s proposal.
There were other options the board had to help reduce spending. Employee’s
salaries, health insurance, and other expenses associated with employees
are the most expensive part of a budget. Approaching the employees
unions in the district to see if they would be willing to make some
kind of concessions might have reduced some spending. Also, looking
at the possibility of out-sourcing or sub-contracting some or all
of the custodial services etc, maintenance, increasing class sizes
that would have reduced the teaching staff all could have had a positive
effect on the budget. Businesses of any size out-source all the time
because it saves them money. Out-sourcing is always cost effective
for companies so why not our school? Because the school will receive
then expected from the state it’s likely that the increase in
the budget will be reduced, but that won’t help to drive down
spending in the future. The board’s job is to provide education
at the most cost effective way.
With the budget vote due in May, our local papers are filling up with
letters concerning the future of the Onteora school district. A small
handful of these letters, from familiar names, have seized upon the
school board's difficult budget decisions (some inherited as a result
of the old board choosing not to pass last year's three percent budget
increase on to taxpayers, ensuring it would come due this year; others
the result of the recession) and are advocating the closure of another
elementary school. But not any elementary school; they want to close
a school in somebody else's town, far away from where the financial
and social fallout would affect them, and regardless of the fact that
our elementary schools are thriving, producing mostly contented and
well educated children. This is the kind of me-first behavior that
has so greatly damaged our country's economy, and it insults the families
who choose their homes based in large part on the local elementary
schools, and pay school taxes to those towns accordingly. For Onteora
to survive and thrive, we have to work as four (or, to be precise,
six) towns and one district, not as one town, one district.
Some letters have gone further and suggested that an elementary school
closure would save the district $2.3 million, a figure taken from
a presentation last year by a lop-sided Budget Advisory Committee.
Forget the fact that the closure of West Hurley saved barely a penny,
and remember this: we were never promised any savings at all. The
previous board, in early 2008, recommended that the projected savings
from closing a school be applied to a bond, of anywhere from $60-$80
million, to build a bigger middle school - on the central campus,
in their home town (of course). The public, when presented with the
facts, did not see this as a desirable exchange of goods and funds,
and voted it down by voting in a new board. Now we see the same argument
brought back into print, the same figures resurrected, except this
time without any discussion of a bond. This makes me wonder, as many
of us asked publicly at the time: were these people ever serious about
passing the bond? Or was their goal all along to close one more elementary
school then (Phoenicia), yet another one down the line (Woodstock,
as was discussed at board meetings in early 2008), and consolidate
the entire district into Boiceville without the necessary structural
Certainly the timetable was set up to facilitate exactly such a course
of events. First, the board would decide, without public approval,
to close Phoenicia school. Next, the public would be asked to vote
on a $60-80 million bond, and if it said no - and can you imagine,
in the current economic crisis, the public voting yes? - Phoenicia
would still have been closed, our fifth and sixth graders across the
district would still have been removed from their thriving elementary
schools and placed in the existing middle school, and all this with
no funds for structural improvements. Thankfully, the public saw through
this sham and voted in new board members.
This brings me to a final point. Rita Vanacore has been writing regularly
to the papers of late, as is to be encouraged, though like many, I
found her recent description of Phoenicia Elementary as a "white
elephant" to be abusive to that school's staff, students and
parents alike. Her latest letter includes the statement "If I
were a board member..." no less than five times. But Rita Vanacore
is not a board member. She was voted out last year, polling seventh
out of eight candidates, with only a high school student trailing
It would greatly benefit our School District if those who continue
to flog an overwhelmingly rejected philosophy could, a full year later,
accept the majority vote. Then, perhaps, we could focus on our schools'
many successes and seek to improve upon them. That, I believe, is
where our energies ought to be focused.
Mount Tremper, NY
For deer hunters there stands now a rule that a buck to be legally
shot it must have one antler at least 3" long. Supporting the
below rule change will make it necessary that a legal buck must have
one antler with at least three points. This long over due rule change
will enhance deer hunting and the general health of the deer herd
for all the common sense reasons below.
Please refer to; Proposed Regulations for Part 1, Section 1.22 and
1.27 – Deer Hunting
Address mail to:
NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Albany, NY 12233
Please feel free to use any of the following points in your own words
or use your own supportive points when responding with a support letter
Being a hunter, hunting in ____ (WMU) I would like to see more deer
with heavy body weight and larger antlers.
I feel that AR would result in a better age structure in the buck
population and restore a more natural balance to the age and sex structure
of the entire herd.
I believe that AR would in time increase hunter satisfaction which
would increase the time spent afield resulting in more expenditures
i.e. gas, gear & food bettering the local economies.
Having spent _____ (number of) years hunting and seeing only spikes
and fork horns, it would be great to see some more mature bucks and
clear signs of an active rut i.e. large scrapes and rubs. This kind
of sign is exciting and exhilarating for a hunter and can really help
in getting (my) kids involved in hunting. I think this will greatly
help recruiting and retaining young hunters.
It seems deer hunter numbers have been declining at an alarming rate
since the late 1980’s. I find the most satisfying things about
hunting for me and my hunting buddies are “seeing deer”
and especially “seeing bucks and their sign” AR could
sure enhance this, which will result in recruitment and retention
I know that AR is not “trophy” management but it would
eventually result in a greater portion of the buck harvest being 2
1⁄2 year and older age classes.
Right now these yearling bucks, which presently are the bulk of the
harvest, have small body weight compared to the weight of more mature
bucks, giving me considerably less meat on the table.
The implementation of this rule in Pennsylvania has been a great success
resulting in some of my friends going there to hunt where there is
greater chance of harvesting an older age buck that they sometimes
have mounted by a taxidermist.
An important aspect of this rule change is that it will NOT affect
youth hunters under 17 years who can still harvest bucks with one
3 inch antler.
Importantly, this is NOT more legislation but, a much needed, and
hunter supported, change to a regulation that has been in existence
since 1912 and does not meet present day deer herd dynamics.
Voluntary AR simply has never worked.
This restriction should enhance SAFETY greatly as hunters will pay
closer scrutiny to ID their target and make our sport even safer.
The traditional minimum antler standard for a legal buck is based
upon an old tradition, not current science.
Tremperskill Hunting & Fishing Club
I think the New Thermos cartoon by Gus Murphy in the April 9th issue
of the Olive Press about our medical system is in bad taste. Even
though I agree the the general comment being made in the cartoon and
applaud its inclusiveness. The characterization of the nurse with
Sambo lips and inarticulate speech insults the professionalism of
African-American nurses. I think such a broad characterization, in
spite of it being a cartoon, reflects the unconscious insensitivity
to the issue of race still in our culture.
As a child I proudly collected donations from my neighbors to be used
for planting trees in Israel. In the 1950s, the Israelis proudly reclaimed
the desert and prospered.
Now, over 50 years later, we have an opportunity to help the Palestinians
flourish by helping them exactly as we helped Israel many years ago.
A contribution of $4.50 will either plant or replant a small (3-year
old) olive tree sapling in a Palestinian olive grove.
This project is only in its third season and is administered by Canadians
who distribute olive oil grown in Palestine. Find them on the internet
A good idea, right?
With all of the new documentaries being aired about the illicit marijuana
business and California's boom in the "medical industry,"
there is still not a mention of the word hemp. Tens of millions of
Americans smoke cannabis on a regular basis and there are over 600,000
arrests per year for possession of the herb, which has been a hot
topic for the past several months. But this economic crisis warrants
a balanced discussion about hemp and the potential multitude of industries
that stem from its seed.
The "Green Economy" is a term thrown around by grassroots
environmentalists, politicians and billionaire investors all the time
right now as the replacement to the toxic petroleum-dominated, consumption-based
economy that the world has been running on. But we still have no real
quick answers. The majority of working class people are still waiting
for some positive results to come from the federal stimulus package.
The good news is Ron Paul has introduced the Industrial Hemp Farming
Act and Hemp Industry Promotions is lobbying the New York State Legislature
for a bill that emphasizes the medicinal uses.
There's a lot of confusion and disarray in conversations about what
to expect with our economy. But hemp industry lobbyists and bio-regional
economists are all saying in unison, "We need locally grown food
and green industries that can be maintained by a local customer base
in order to be sustainable." Going green is going local. It means
spending most of your resources in your own town or county; even with
your own friends and neighbors.
Hemp is perfect for this type of development, because with it we can
grow all of our own fiber for paper, rope, clothing and plastics.
The hemp seed is a highly nutritious, high protein food that produces
oil that can also be used to make cosmetics, soaps, paint and wood
sealer. The medicine made by extracting resin from high potency buds
kills cancer cells and effectively treats diabetes, glaucoma, Alzheimer's,
arthritis, anorexia, migraine headache, chronic back pain and numerous
other afflictions. The excess bio-matter that is left when the fibers
are removed from the stalks is used to make ethanol, so we can make
our own fuel to generate electricity without all of the pollution.
We need a green economy and we need the ability to grow it from the
ground up, not just wait for government stimulus to provide us with
the capital for green industry. If we can do it ourselves and do it
locally, then what are we waiting for? Citizens Against Marijuana
Prohibition are assembling for a rally at the capitol Friday, April
17, to tell our New York State legislators and Governor Paterson that
we have the green answer. Prohibition was created with the swipe of
a pen. It can be removed by the swipe of a pen.
Abigail Storm, Exec. Director
Hemp Industry Promotions
This year’s state budget required lawmakers to make difficult
decisions in a year when the state faced an historic deficit. Thankfully,
the Legislature reaffirmed New York’s environmental advocate’s
commitment to protect our land, air and water, and support programs
that benefit local governments and the economy by allocating $222
million to the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Programs like
the farmland protection programs which have preserved family farms,
community character building across the state and resource protection.
In addition to funding the EPF, the budget maintains its stable and
proven funding source and does not allow resources to be swept into
the state’s general fund. The agreement on the Fund was a result
of the Senate, Assembly, and Governor working together to reach a
compromise to support essential environmental programs.
Finally, the compromise to expand the Bottle Bill to include water
bottles will increase recycling rates, reduce pollution and provide
as much as $115 million in much needed revenue for the state.
We thank lawmakers for their work to protect the environment in this
Ron Urban, Chairman
NY Trout Unlimited
Port Ewen, NY
It is a shock to realize that our use of plastic is taking the lives
of many aquatic and terrestrial wildlife throughout the world. The
creatures ingest it, are tangled up in it or smothered by it. It also
is overwhelming our ability to dispose of the gargantuan amounts of
it. And it can be changed! We can use fabric bags for grocery shopping.
That is the way it is done in France and other countries. We can filter
our perfectly safe tap water if we don't like its taste instead of
buying bottled water in plastic bottles. Much bottled water is filtered
tap water in fancy bottles. Manufacturers and retailers can reduce
plastic wrappings tremendously if required to. We can refrain from
buying plastic liners or we can reuse plastic liners for baskets in
which we discard dry debris. We can use newspaper for wrapping everything
from foodstuff to lining garbage cans. Waxed paper is available and
it is easily recyclable. Remember that plastic is relatively new and
we got along without it! It has been a boon to finicky housewives
and shoppers who "Can't be bothered!" We can quit lugging
little bottles of water around to sip on under the delusion that we
can become dehydrated at the drop of a hat. Folks, much of the water
drinking and dehydration being touted is not physiologically sound.
(It is a wonder that no one ever calls the author of these notes to
discuss matters like this). We beg those ardent environmentalists
to come forth and help reverse the tide of plastic bags in which we
Never in my wildest dreams
Did I conjure up the joyful screams
Coming from across the pond
As if he were preceded by a magic wand.
I’d braced myself for the possibility
of a flying shoe or other act of hostility
Releasing all the pent up repression
of 8 years leading to a worldwide
Now Obama takes his giant steps
With little expression of regrets
Leaving guilt and blame behind
Replacing all of that with a higher mind.
Instead I watched French and German youth
Eagerly absorb his words as the Gospel truth.
He spoke of self interest rising out of
I guess he’s hoping that our souls we will redress.
Who is this man that is named Obama
I think I’ll go up to KTD and ask a Lama.
I got an email from someone last week in advance of a show I was doing
this past Saturday night at the Colony. He was expressing his disappointment
that he wouldn't be able to be at the show and wished me luck. The
last phrase of his email said: "Have fun and make a lot of money."
"Hah," I thought to myself, "wouldn't that be something?"
It wasn't the fun part I was chuckling about; it was the making lots
of money part. I spent a lot of time that day thinking about the fact
that most people don't know how musicians make a living, so I thought
I'd take a minute and use Saturday night's show - a success, I think,
both musically and attendance wise - as an example.
Here goes: My concert at the Colony had a $10 ticket attached to it.
60 people paid to get in, which equals $600. Great. Off the top, the
Colony pays the person who takes tickets $20, which leaves $580. Then
the Colony and I split the rest: $290 for them (to cover the mortgage,
heat, staff etc) $290 for me. My $290 covered $75 for my pianist (underpaid
in my opinion, but the best I could do); $50 for my assistant (who
sells CDs, does sound, helps me load and unload my gear and drives
two hours each way to do so - also underpaid); and, finally, $175
for the ad that I put in Woodstock Times. My pay? A loss of $30. We
musicians call it "paying to play." I did sell a lot of
CDs - $260 worth, so that's good, but here's the catch: investors
own my records, so for everyone that I sell I send them $10. I sold
22 CDs, so I'll send the five people who gave me the money to make
those CDs $220. That means that I made $40 on CD sales. But I lost
$30 on the income from the door, so in the end, I made $10 at my show
on Saturday night. It used to be that I lost a lot of money at my
shows, so at least it's getting better year after year. This is why
it is so important for you to go out and support the musicians that
you love. Your dollars at the door make it possible, literally, for
them to keep doing what they're doing. The math that I've just described
is typical for me at a local gig. The only time I do much better is
when another musician hires me and I'm guaranteed a fee for showing
up and singing what they've asked me to sing. In that scenario, the
other artist is taking the same risk that I took Saturday night. It's
a game that we all play, and I for one, am willing to do it over and
over again because I love what I do and because I feel strongly that
it's what I'm on this earth to do. There's another side of the story,
too, which I won't go in to here, but that's the story of how much
it costs to make a recording in the first place. If you're interested
in that, I've written an article about it that's posted on my web
site. You'll find it at barscott.com under the "Articles that
Bar Has Written" link on the home page.
Thank you everybody, for making my musical life possible.