Prioritizing Personal Musical Growth Amidst Teaching and Family Responsibilities

Prioritizing Personal Musical Growth Amidst Teaching and Family Responsibilities
In the ever-changing reality of life as a musician (we all know it can ebb and flow... it's crazy!), each season brings its own unique rhythm and challenges. Balancing the demands of teaching, family obligations, and personal musical growth requires adaptability and creativity. Here are a few strategies for navigating the shifting seasons that have worked for me while also staying true to my own musical growth.

  1. Set Clear Goals: Begin by defining your musical objectives and the milestones you aim to achieve. Whether it's mastering a challenging technique, learning new repertoire or a new instrument, or honing your improvisational skills, clarity in your goals will guide your efforts and help you stay focused amidst the busy-ness.
  2. Establish Boundaries: While teaching and family commitments come first, it's essential to delineate boundaries to safeguard time for personal musical pursuits so that we don't become musically stagnant. Communicate your needs to your students and loved ones, setting realistic expectations and carving out dedicated time for practice or time with an ensemble.
  3. Create a Flexible Schedule: Acknowledge that different seasons may afford varying amounts of time for personal musical endeavors. Design a flexible schedule that adapts to the demands of teaching and family life, allocating resources accordingly. During busier periods, focus on maintaining consistency in practice habits, while in quieter seasons, seize the opportunity to delve deeper!
  4. Practice with Purpose: Maximize the efficiency of your practice sessions by prioritizing quality over quantity. Identify specific areas for improvement and tailor your practice routine accordingly. Embrace focused repetition, targeted exercises, and use your goals to establish priorities that make the most of your available time.
  5. Embrace the Power of Reflection: Use downtime between teaching engagements and family responsibilities to reflect on your musical skills. Evaluate your progress, identify areas of growth, and strategize ways to overcome challenges. Cultivate a mindset of continuous improvement, seeking opportunities for learning and development in every season.
  6. Seek Support and Accountability: Surround yourself with a supportive network of fellow musicians, mentors, and loved ones who understand and respect your commitments. Lean on them for encouragement, advice, and accountability as you navigate the complexities of balancing teaching, family life, and personal musical growth.
Navigating the seasons as a musician requires a delicate balance between fulfilling professional obligations, nurturing familial relationships, and prioritizing personal musical growth. By setting clear goals, establishing boundaries, creating a flexible schedule, practicing with purpose, embracing reflection, and seeking support and accountability, we can navigate the ebb and flow of time while staying true to our musical aspirations as busy music teacher moms. Remember, each season offers its own opportunities for growth and discovery -- embrace it!

Mindset Hacks for Creatives

Mindset Hacks for Creatives


Embarking on the self-employed journey is like setting sail in the vast sea of creativity. To navigate the waves, a resilient and growth-oriented mindset is your anchor. Here are some down-to-earth mindset tips for the creative souls embracing the unpredictable path of self-employment (like I did!) -- things I wish I knew sooner!

  1. Embrace Growth Mindset: Think of setbacks as plot twists in your creative story. Roll with the punches a bit—see challenges not as roadblocks but as detours leading to unexpected inspiration. Let the journey be just as important as the finished masterpiece.
  1. Sketch Your Goals: Self-employment can get messy, especially for creative people. Jot down clear, achievable goals. Break down your big ideas into actionable steps, infusing variety to keep things lively if that's your thing! Tailor your plan to fit your unique strengths, ensuring that your goals become a playground for your creativity rather than a mundane to-do list that you don't even feel like doing.
  1. Take Creative Breathers: Creativity thrives in a well-rested mind. Take breaks to recharge and let ideas percolate -- it's great to use a notebook or the notes app on your phone to keep track of these ideas! Balance work and life like a pro—your best work often emerges from a rested and rejuvenated mind. Remember, you can't force creativity; sometimes, stepping away allows it to flow back naturally.
  1. Bounce Back Like a Champ: Resilience is your secret weapon. Treat setbacks as mere hiccups. Bounce back, adapt, and let each challenge make you stronger. A resilient mindset is your greatest ally in the unpredictable world of self-employment. And if you feel like this is a struggle for you, Big Think transformed my mind around these ideas!
  1. Learn as You Go: Think of your creative journey as an ongoing workshop. Stay curious, adapt to new trends, and keep learning. The more skills you add to your toolkit, the better equipped you'll be to paint your entrepreneurial canvas. I love that HBR (my business mentor's course) is constantly being updated and added to (which I have access to for life!) so that I can keep learning and growing and adapt to new things happening in the market, social media, and world.
  1. Surround Yourself with Positivity: Create a vibe that fuels your creativity. Build a network of fellow creatives and mentors who understand the self-employment world (join us music teacher moms over here doing just that if you'd like!). Positivity is contagious—let it be the background music to your creative process.
As a creative in the world of self-employment, simplicity and practicality are your best tools to allow the creativity to thrive while also getting done what's needed to make income. Sketch your goals with flair, adding variety to keep things exciting while tailoring plans to fit your strengths. Roll with the punches, take creative breathers without forcing creativity, bounce back with resilience, learn as you go, and surround yourself with positivity. Your creative journey is a work in progress—make it uniquely yours!

12 Benefits of Teaching Music to Toddlers

Teaching music to toddlers is incredibly beneficial for their overall development.
Here are several reasons why (if you're a parent or a music teacher, read on!):

1. Cognitive Development: 
   - Enhances Memory and Recall: Learning music involves memorizing patterns, melodies, and lyrics, which helps improve memory skills.
   - Develops Problem-Solving Skills: Figuring out rhythms, notes, and melodies encourages analytical thinking and problem-solving.

2. Language Development:
   - Expands Vocabulary: Through song lyrics, toddlers are exposed to a wider range of words and phrases.
   - Improves Pronunciation: Singing helps with speech development, enunciation, and pronunciation.
   - There's research that shows that being able to keep a steady beat actually helps with language development and future reading skills!

3. Motor Skills:
   - Fine Motor Skills: Playing instruments like drums, xylophones, or even simple hand clapping exercises fine motor skills.
   - Gross Motor Skills: Dancing and moving to music helps with coordination and balance. Crossing midline is very important for future motor planning, which clapping and other movements that are musical can help with (like keeping the beat activities I use with my early childhood classes!).

4. Emotional Expression:
   - Encourages Emotional Expression: Music provides an outlet for children to express their feelings, which can be particularly helpful for those who may not have the verbal skills to do so.
   - Music can help calm a worried or sad child.

5. Social Skills:
   - Promotes Cooperation: Group activities like singing in a choir or playing in an ensemble teach children how to work together towards a common goal. It teaches them how to start together with a group and builds teamwork.
   - Encourages Communication: Sharing musical experiences encourages interaction and communication among peers.

6. Mathematical Understanding:
   - Introduces Basic Math Concepts: Rhythm and beat introduce foundational mathematical concepts like counting, patterns, and divisions of time.

7. Cultural Appreciation:
   - Introduces Diversity: Music exposes toddlers to different cultures, traditions, and musical styles from around the world, fostering cultural appreciation and understanding.

8. Creativity and Imagination:
   - Fosters Creativity: Music allows for self-expression and encourages creativity as toddlers experiment with sounds and melodies.
   - Stimulates Imagination: Singing and playing with instruments can stimulate imaginative play. Arioso (a type of solo singing I use in my classes) is a great place to show this!).

9. Boosts Confidence and Self-Esteem:
   - Positive Reinforcement: Learning and performing music in front of an audience can boost a child's confidence and self-esteem. I have seen SO many students grow in this area in my time with them.

10. Stress Reduction and Relaxation:
    - Emotional Regulation: Music can have a calming effect, helping toddlers manage stress and anxiety. They can process sadness or learn to wait through songs too.

11. Foundation for Future Learning:
    - Prepares for Formal Education: Early exposure to music can provide a strong foundation for future music education and learning other subjects.

12. Enjoyment and Fun:
    - Promotes Happiness: Music is inherently enjoyable and brings joy to children's lives.

It's important to note that the benefits of teaching music to toddlers are maximized when it's approached in a fun, age-appropriate, and engaging way. Activities should be adapted to suit their developmental stage and interests, and should never feel like a chore. Ultimately, music offers a holistic approach to early childhood development, nurturing cognitive, emotional, and social skills in an enjoyable and enriching way.

If you're a parent looking to find classes for your toddler or baby, check out my offerings on my website menu above!

How to Re-Inspire Your Choir to Finish the Year Strong

How to Re-Inspire Your Choir to Finish the Year Strong
Spring fever got your choir extra squirrely, lacking focus, or just struggling as we near the end of the year?

I can relate; we've had some antsy and not-our-best rehearsals in my groups lately too.

Thankfully I have some strategies for refocusing and recentering a group as we hit this point in the year to invigorate and inspire everyone to finish strong. I talked about them in this video here, and share them below as well:

1) Play a singing game, take a movement break, or try out a folk dance! These methods work really well for my younger choirs (3rd-7th ages) as they get more physically antsy in the spring as the weather gets nicer, and it really helps to refocus us in the middle of a rehearsal. I find that if I can teach them a few of these at the beginning of the year, they are great team building and connecting activities that help students get to know one another, and they are really easy to pull out this time of year as a 5-8 minute break in the middle of rehearsing concert repertoire because they already know how to play/what to do.

2) Keep something motivating or something they are looking forward to as top-of-mind. This could be a concert, event (like taking your students to a sports game to sing the national anthem like I am!), an outing, a tour, or even something like a party they are planning. Remind them that they are working towards that event and how much you are looking forward to seeing them succeed. Take moments during rehearsal to envision together what it will look/feel like to accomplish that, how you all will feel afterwards, and how you want to see it play out. This can really help remind an ensemble why they are here, their collective purpose, and help them look forward to how their hard work will pay off.

3) Re-visit our choirs commitment/values. I wrote about creating these here, and this point in the year is a great time to revisit these if part of your group is struggling to remember the ensemble's goals or why they are all there together.

I hope these tips were helpful. What other ways do you help your choir reset and be inspired this time of year?

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Like this and want to surround yourself with more people on this journey with you? There's great conversation in New & Freelance Music Teacher Community about this topic and more. Come join us!

The Most Important Part of Choir Rehearsal

Just as I put my hands down and they stopped singing, they turned to one another and started chatting, distracted and some disruptive. Some were whispering or talking as I was talking to give them the next feedback I had for them.

I will not talk over them. My vocal health matters too much to do that.

I felt discouraged. We'd wasted at least 10 minutes of our 75-minute rehearsal on these interruptions to the flow of a rehearsal, and I was tired. There had also been some typical teenage drama coming out earlier in rehearsal too, and I don't like feeling like a drill sergeant. I would way rather they learn how to self-manage and work with people they don't prefer, as in real life sometimes we do need to interact with people we don't prefer. But that won't just happen by chance.

So I decided to implement one of my favorite choral management techniques: a Choir Commitment that they write, agree to, and are held to.

My 7th-10th grade students did not disappoint, in fact, their wording was much deeper than I could've imagined or chosen myself.


The discussion that I guided as they came up with these guiding principles by which we would function in rehearsal together was the most important part of this commitment. If they don't know what it looks and sounds like for these to play out in a rehearsal space, how can they follow it? Clarity is key.

The word change from Respect to Honor occurred as a girl raised her hand to say, "Respect is something earned. What if someone is acting in a way that doesn't earn our respect? I think we should change the word to Honor. The Bible calls all to 'honor your father and mother.' There are kids in the world who have parents who do things that are not earning of respect, but they are still called by God to honor them. I think we should all honor each other even if someone does or says something that doesn't deserve respect."

"Wow." I agreed as I wrote in the additional edit, others nodding their heads as they thought about what she said.

There was a perfect teaching moment during the writing process too. When I wrote 'mistakes ar OK' on the board, I accidentally left off the "e." One girl, who can sometimes respond in an immature way, raised her hand and politely said, "Umm, Mrs. Orem, I think you made a mistake when you were writing."

"You're right, I did!" as I went to correct it. "Thank you for correcting my mistake in a respectful, kind way. I don't mind you calling out my mistakes or each others' at all, as long as you do it in a way that is honoring to the person who made the mistake. We all can keep learning."

We even had a conversation about changing voices in this context too, since that is a reason some do not give Maximum Effort -- fear of teasing when their voice does something they didn't want. It was SO good, and really shifted the atmosphere of the room from a space where there are things to hide or be embarrassed by to a sense of safety or transparency.

...

"Now that you have created this commitment, you can hold me to my word that I will follow it. Do I have your word?"

*Nods of heads, looking around at each other seriously.

"Good. I'm here to develop you musically, of course, but my calling is greater than that. I know I have a responsibility to develop your character and speak into your life spiritually as well. I will hold you to these principles you put up here today. I will do it with ultimate honor and kindness, but I care about each of you too much to allow you to break your commitment on my watch. I am here to help you develop the character to keep your word. Alright, take out 'Praise His Holy Name' from your folder. Let's do this!"

...

The most important part of choir rehearsal? It's the little things, the small moments where we get to shape minds and hearts and build character.

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Like this and want to learn more? There's a training coming in New Teacher Support & Community about this very topic (and the replay will be available if you're reading this in the future). Come join us!

The Power of Our Words

The Power of Our Words
I sat there nervously twirling my hair, my thoughts trying to convince me I shouldn't.

"What are you thinking, hon? Are you thinking you shouldn't do it even though you told me a few minutes ago how excited you were?"

I nodded at my husband and sighed.

Two days later: I just took a big leap of faith this weekend. And I know that it was a decision I was supposed to make, but there were a few moments when I wasn't so sure. Yesterday, I applied and got accepted for something really cool, which I'll share more about as time goes on. But I had a lot of limiting beliefs & second-guessing myself.

I wanted to share with you some wisdom from my husband that also it really helped me clarify the thoughts that were racing through my head as I was trying to decide about doing this, taking this big step. The power of Should is what we tell ourselves, especially when our mind is racing. We have so many thoughts that go through our head each day. We tell ourselves so many different things throughout the day. And honestly, we are the ones who speak to ourselves the most out of anybody, anyone, even our, our close family and friends. We talk to ourselves more than anybody else talks to us. And sometimes we tell ourselves a lot of unhelpful things: "I should or should not think this, I should have done this, I should not have done that, I really should go do this, but I don't feel like it."

Does that sound familiar to anybody else? We tell ourselves so many different things throughout the day. And oftentimes we kind of guilt ourselves into doing things. We say, "Oh, I really should do the laundry, or I really should go do dishes," implying, "I don't want to go do that. But I should, because I it's just my duty, right rather than an obligation instead of something that I actually want to do."

I realized that instead of saying "I should do this," I am choosing to focus more now on "I want to do this, I am doing this, I will do this, I or I will not do this," rather than using the word 'should' so much. Because 'should' just puts my mind in a mindset or a frame of guilt and shaming myself. And that's not necessary. I don't need that, any you don't either!

How can you choose to think and speak to yourself differently today about habits you desire to change or mistakes you have made? How can I support you in that?

One of the ladies I am coaching asked me to send her spontaneous texts that say something like, "I choose to eat _____ today. Remember how amazing you feel when you _____?" To help reminder of 1) what she wants to do, 2) how she wants to feel when she does it, and 3) the way she wants to speak to herself.

Or maybe you just need direction first and practical steps to take on your journey. My TMJ Strong course, if you're dealing with those issues, may be the perfect fit to give you step-by-step applicable action items to get you moving rather than sitting in analysis paralysis.

If you need a little kick in the pants or gentle nudge and coaching is for you, reply or reach out with the words "I choose" to get 50% off your first session. I'm here to help you!

Choose your language; it's more powerful than you think.

How Can I Get Rid of Anxiety

How can I get rid of anxiety?

This is a question I asked myself a LOT when I was hardcore struggling. I mean, I felt like I was powerless over the thoughts and feelings running through my mind and body, and it was very difficult. For a long time, I couldn't believe I had any control over it -- I thought I was just at the mercy of it.

But I realized later how wrong that was... how it didn't at ALL fit into my beliefs.

I believe personally that God lives within me, that I have His power and strength and love residing in my heart and mind and soul and spirit. If that's true (which if you don't believe that's true, replace it with love or the universe or something else... what fits your framework, just hear what I'm saying).

If God lives within me, I 1000% have His power to take control of thoughts and feelings within me. I'm fallible and will make mistakes being human too, but I CAN reclaim that power of God in me through the strength of the Holy Spirit -- "not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind."

Here's one way you can do that, one antidote for fear, anxiety, and worry. Be filled with courage.


How to Cut Caffeine & Sugar So That You Feel Alive & Thrive

How to Cut Caffeine & Sugar So That You Feel Alive & Thrive
Do you wake up in the morning feeling energized and alive? If you answer “no” to that, you’re not alone. SO many people are leading busy lives during the day and not getting enough restful sleep at night, and feel like they are dragging during the day. I know I was a few years ago.



If you are stressed-out and sleep-deprived, it is likely that you are turning to refined sugars and caffeine to get through the day. The problem is not your morning cup of coffee or enjoying the taste... the problem is when the resulting blood sugar crash leads to an afternoon coffee or sugar craving and then another, and another, and another...

Once the cycle has started, it’s very difficult to achieve a state of balance until it's broken. When the body’s natural energy rhythms are off, these issues can pop up: raging food cravings, weakened immune system, increased inflammation in the body, weight issues, difficulty with restful sleep, and more.

In order to proactively care for your body, soul, and mind, it is important to break the cycle. Some people can quit caffeine and sugar cold turkey. Most people struggle with that, though. Since sugar and caffeine are addictive, withdrawals are common, usually in the form of headaches and fatigue. Gradually reduce the amount you’re consuming AND find a replacement that will truly fuel your body's need for energy. Often we also become attached to the routine, so it is important to find something else that can be just as emotionally satisfying. I have LOTS of great healthful fuel ideas in 
Abundant Life Community.

It's not that you have to go the rest of your life without birthday cake or an occasional cappuccino. These foods are meant to be enjoyed in very occasional moderation. If daily indulgences begin to take their toll on energy levels, take simple steps to regain control and reconnect with feeling naturally alert and energized all day long. It's 100% doable!! But it starts with belief, mindset, and practical action steps. Having a cheerleader can be SO beneficial along the way, too. I'm starting a natural energy challenge mid-April if you would like practical steps, a mentor to walk you through it, and the determination to complete what you start! Contact me if you're interested, and I'll ask you a few basic questions to ensure that this challenge is right for you.

5 Ways to Actively Detoxify and Gently Cleanse

5 Ways to Actively Detoxify and Gently Cleanse
Detoxing and cleansing are super important for our body to optimally function, especially right now. To learn more about why detoxing and cleansing is important, check out my other post here.

But now that you know why it's important...

5 Ways to Actively Detoxify and Gently Cleanse

1. Drink LOTS of Water -- Learn more about why water is so important!

2. Lower (or Eliminate!) Processed Sugar Intake
       Processed sugar, when consumed in excess as most modern foods/diets do, can affect our health negatively in several ways. It can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of several potential diseases. Reduce consumption of sugar, table salt, processed foods, and junk foods to help the body lower inflammation and detoxify.

3. Add Antioxidants to Your Diet
       Antioxidants protect our cells against free radicals. Unhealthy habits including smoking, following a modern processed food diet, drinking too much alcohol, exposure to pollutants such as toxic ingredients found in personal care products and household cleaners, and more can lead to the accumulation of free radicals in the body. To fight these, we can add foods loaded with antioxidants to our diet daily like wolfberries, grapes, onion, garlic, mango, spinach, capsicum, and certain herbal teas. Some have a much higher content than others, so if you're looking for the highest antioxidant content in foods, check out my favorites list below.

      My top 5 favorite foods and teas high in antioxidants:
          -- Wolfberries, specifically a certain kind from China: learn more about my favorite kind.
          -- Detoxify Tea (includes tumeric and other herbs that help our body cleanse)
         -- Increasing fiber in your diet -- I specifically like a supplement called ICP for occasional help with increasing fiber in my diet and helping scrub that colon wall (you can purchase it here, though not everyone benefits from the same thing. Schedule a wellness consult with me to get more info or shoot me an email).
         -- High-quality garlic and other foods high in antioxidants. Always choose organic/locally grown, when you can, and go out of your way to prioritize that. Why? Learn more about it from my dad who has an 8-acre organic vegetable farm near Rochester, MN.
        -- Moringa, a superfood high in antioxidants. I like adding it to smoothies. :)



5. Do a specific cleanse/reset of the digestive system.
   I am actually newer to this concept (it's something I'm still learning about!) but I am going to be doing a cleanse (no food, just a homemade lemon juice mix for 10 days!) described in this book after the Thanksgiving holiday before Christmas so my body and digestive system/colon can reset.
   Some of the supplies/ingredients needed:
      -- Maple Syrup (someone else doing this cleanse specifically recommended getting this kind, perhaps it says in the book why, but I haven't read the book yet!)
      -- A caffeine free laxative tea like this one
     -- Fine ground REAL sea salt (this one non-iodized!)
     -- Ground Cayenne Pepper 
     -- Organic Lemons
     -- A juicer is HIGHLY recommended!
  If you're interested in joining me, get the materials above and let me know you're doing it! There's a few other tips I've learned from others doing it that can be super helpful, and I can pass along to you. I'll add you to a group I'm in all about cleansing in this way to have support and accountability together.

People I know who have done this cleanse have reported:
1: Lowered Inflammation
2: Have more energy
3: Better sleep
4: Clarity of mind
5: Positive outlook
6: Greater flexibility
7: Weight loss
8: Freedom from addiction
9: Increased strength
10: Swelling and pain
11: Hair loss regrowth
12: Skin improvement
13: Allergies reduced
And simply just feel better.

Sounds good to me!!

So there you have it. Some simple ways to help the body detox and be at our best. Feeling stuck, or need additional tools to get you moving in the right direction? I have additional simple detoxing strategies from the ones listed here. Or maybe you just need some accountability and encouragement! Come join a group of like-minded people who want to do this wellness thing naturally, and encourage one another to stay the course.

My Top 5 Current Favorite Growth Books

My Top 5 Current Favorite Growth Books
I have GROWN so much in the past year -- physically stronger and truly healthy (nope, I wasn't really that physically healthy before, though to most in our culture I would have looked it), emotionally more stable and empowered, mentally fitter and challenged, relationally in connecting with others, and more grounded in who I am and my God-given purpose.

Much of this growth has been through being challenged by mentors in relationship (a HUGE perk of our wellness team. I would have never met these amazing people who encourage and spur me on were it not for this journey over the past 3 years!), but a lot of my own growth has been having the space in life to READ again. Of course I read and was reading the Bible, but I used to read a ton during high school, both personal development books but also fiction. College left me with only time to read assigned textbooks and such, and after college I found myself super overwhelmed figuring out my career and reading got put on the back burner.

One blessing from the past pandemic season has been getting back to reading! It's been so healthy and transformative for me. So without further ado, my top 5 recommendations for personal development and growth:

1. Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf -- Mindset and emotions work. SO powerful. She talks about retraining our brains, as our brains are a muscle and SUPER adaptable just like other muscles and parts of our bodies. I gift this book to people who join my Empowering Emotions/Managing Mindset Challenge (contact me for more info!).

2. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell -- I've learned a lot about the skill and art of relating to people recently from this book. It really IS something we can get better at and learn how to do (it's not just something some people are born good at and others aren't). I'm in a Tuesday morning book club right now going through this one and LOVING it!

3. Sensing the Rhythm by Mandy Harvey (70% off on Amazon as I write this!!) -- A memoir type book following Mandy's story of losing her hearing but still going on to be a singer/songwriter, her spiritual and growth-driven perspective isn't just inspiring, but motivating. I see SO much of my own story in hers (my journey through TMJD to the other side and the unexpected blessings from pain).

4. The Superior Ningxia Wolfberry by Hugo Rodier -- I just HAD to learn more about why I am feeling so much better and my body is doing so much better now than I was a couple years ago. This little book was a goldmine. And if you'd like to start this wellness journey with me and join our natural wellness community, I'm happy to give you this one for free. Ask me for more details if you're interested.

5. The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron -- This book started our (my and Gabe's) journey to understanding ourselves better, so much better, in the context of relationships with others and with God. We are SO grateful for reading this book first, but also being able to dive deeper in learning about ourselves through some amazing friends/mentors. If you're interested in learning more about yourself via the Enneagram or coaching opportunities with my friend Kristi, you can check it out here.



There you have it! What are your favorite books that have led to growth and personal development?




Check out my YouTube channel here where I'm going to be doing a video book review soon. Subscribe to stay tuned!
 
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