Sunday, July 26, 2015

Been a little busy

So I've been a little busy to post every day, but want to share some highlights.

  • Level 3 is intense. No way around it and no way to sugar coat. My brain is being stretched and challenged but I am loving every minute.
  • These professors are some of the smartest people I have ever met in my life. It's an honor to be learning from the best. 
  • I have made some really great friends in my 3 summers at Hartt. It's amazing how close you become through shared experience of torture. 
  • My musicianship is challenged big time. 
  • Friday night was the strawberry social/ folk dance/ singing at Dr. John Feierabend's house. This is very special. His wife is there and so were his boys. It is a joy to see babies through seniors all gathered to enjoy music. There was a long line of dancers on the driveway, a live band on the covered porch, and a grandma in a rocking chair on the other porch with a baby playing on the ground. So picturesque and ideal and beautiful. While I don't appreciate the language choice of many of the people here and it is very clearly a secular group (not all, but the majority), there is still something beautiful about people of all different backgrounds coming together through the shared experience of music. We danced and danced and danced. You have to have a different partner for every dance, so it's a great way to get to know people. Can I just say that I LOVE to dance? I love to be twirled and whirled around, the live music is amazing and there is just a rush you get from dancing with a big group of people! The live band was amazing and the singing was great. Our one teacher, Jeff, know Jean Ritchie personally. Aside from being awesome that he knew her and I'm learning from him, he sang a Jean Ritchie song and told a great story, honoring her memory since she passed away this past June. We owe so much to Jean Ritchie. What an amazing woman she was. I have more pictures than I can ever post, but I'll post a few favorites for your viewing pleasure. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Day two reflections

I'm too tired for a long post, so here's my thoughts for the day.

You know you are in the thick of Kodály training when:
1) You hear people singing in the shower and can immediately determine what level they are in based on what they are singing. 
2) It is midnight and the last three people to walk by the lounge on the way to the bathroom did so while singing and signing. 
3) You have so many songs going through your head like a broken record that it is too loud in your head to possibly sleep, not to mention the clashing keys drive you batty. 
4) You are surrounded by people who are actually as nerdy as you are. 
5) You feel simultaneously more exhausted and more alert and alive then you have in a long time. 
6) You know without a shadow of a doubt that your profession makes a major difference in the lives of children and our society. 
7) Despite the stress and anxiety you are really savoring every minute and having your musicianship challenged in huge ways. 
8) The feeling of being affirmed in your vocation pushes doubt and anxiety out for at least a little while.

Day one complete, along with a little fun

Day one is in the books. I'm still alive to tell about it, too. I must confess that, despite all the stress and anxiety and hard, hard classes, it is a pleasure to spend time with such amazing professors and colleagues and I'm thankful that there are moments of laughing (our way of coping perhaps?) and silliness. I don't think I've laughed so hard in a long time as I did tonight. More on that later. 

The day began bright and early with ear training. Nothing quite as awesome as having Gábor first thing in the morning cramming chromaticism down your throat and calling you an idiot before 9AM. Brutal, absolutely brutal. We spent the next hour and a half singing, signing, taking dictation, and singing one by one. This guy has an ear that doesn't miss a thing. You can always smell the fear in the room when he's around, and dictation this morning was no different. "Let me see your hands! Hands up, hands up, hands up!" he commanded as we sat there with our hands up listening to the music we were supposed to notate when he gave word to do so. Whew! In all honesty though, I do very much respect him as a teacher and learn like mad in that class. Once he released us from this torture, it was off to orientation and snack break, then to Conversational Solfege II. This class began as John Feierabend's classes always do, with singing a canon, doing a dance, and doing a Move It. John was his usual flamboyant self and it's hard not to smile and laugh when in his class. The canon this morning was most certainly a level 3 canon with odd intervals and unexpected jumps. This was NOT a canon to take back and teach your kids, but rather one to challenge your own musicianship, and challenge it did. The dance this morning was the Grump Dance! Nothing like starting a class with a rousing high spirited dance. This is one of my favorites, so it was a good review. I LOVE to dance. I wish I could have gotten it all on video, but of course I was busy dancing. This dance is full of emotion and weight, and my favorite part is when the head couple grabs each others wrists and twirls their way down the longway set. I picked a partner who would go crazy and we twirled and danced and nearly lost our grip half way down the set. It's quite a dangerous dance but oh so much fun. From here we did our daily Move It and when we returned to our seats, everyone was wide awake. I love that about music. It gets you moving and breathing and the endorphins flowing. What a joy and blessing music is. Feierabend's class was great and we were up and down, taking notes and trying different activities. 

At this point, we got a break for lunch, so back to the dorms we went for a quick lunch, change of books, stop at the bookstore, and off we went to our afternoon, which was filling me with dread and terror. First we had choir which wasn't bad. Pretty typical Hartt summer choir rehearsal. Awesome to sing with so many fine musicians, but churned up the usual struggles within me and my brain was going a million miles an hour thinking of it all. 

Then, we had conducting and masterworks materials.  Two separate classes. Same teacher. I've had this guy for choir, but never for class, and I've been terrified of his classes since my first year here. Conducting was all the level 3s and also the conducting kids. I was pretty nervous and was glad I wasn't the only one. That class seemed to go on forever and made Gábor's class look like bliss. When class was done, my friend leaned over and whispered "I can see why so many people cried last year....". I couldn't agree more. Last year we saw so many Level 3s crying and we felt bad for them and terrified knowing that would be us next year. Well, now next year is this year and we are the Level 3s. Time will tell how much crying ensues. I mean, this man is brilliant, yes, but talk about intense. There were glimmers of gentleness when he would show a bit of empathy but then without warning there would be no patience and yelling. I think he is one of those people who is so brilliant that he doesn't really understand what it is like to be a regular person with a regular brain. I don't fault him or think ill of him because I really don't think he sees how hard he is or how hard it is for us to do what he asks. Masterworks Materials was interesting and helpful, but I didn't realize it was also going to be more ear training and dictation. I about died, and 5:45 never looked so good when he finally sprung us free. 

Our class then spent some time working on the skit, which comes with more pressure than I thought. From there, we went back to make dinner. (Without a kitchen it's slim pickings and a lot of cereal and microwaveable shelf-stable meals) and then to practice some more. We took a break around 10PM to wash dishes. We were a bit slap-happy and when I joked with Jessica that it would be fun to wheel the desk chair down the hall she decided this would be fun. So, I sat in the chair, took the huge bag of dishes, dishtowels, and soap in my lap, and she wheeled me very quickly down the super long hall. We were laughing so hard my stomach hurt. She pushed the chair right to the elevator where we rode down to the first floor (We're on the 5th) to the little kitchen that has a place to wash dishes, then rode all the way back up. Once we got control of ourselves, we spent several more hours on homework and then survived the shower experience again. 

Now it's time for bed, nearly 1:30 AM already. Not much sleep here, which is partially why we so easily get to slap happy. 

I did, by the way, get a video of the chair ride down the hall. I posted on facebook, but this wont' let me post it since the file is too big. If anyone has an idea for how to post, please let me know.

PS I should note that 9 times out of 10 when I say "we", I am referring to me, Jessica, and Sue.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Kodály Level Three Begins

Maybe I'm getting old and sappy. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe the intensity of Kodály messes with my mind. Maybe it's because its the last year. Maybe it's because of Poco. Maybe it's because of the dorm situation. For whatever reason, this year feels different. I have been panicking about leaving Poco. I have left him many times and for much longer periods but this is the first time I've left him since he got sick. I think I about drove my parents mad with my worry leading up to leaving. I know dogs often suffer from separation anxiety but I think this time I am the one struggling with this and not Poco. Church this morning was good. Then I got on a plane. A very loud plane. A plane that sat for a long time before leaving, then hitting horrible turbulence before landing. The turbulence was so bad they couldn't even come around with drinks. After all this, there was a problem with luggage. I finally got mine. I should note that while I usually go in a carry on, I splurged and checked a bag, carried on a bag and a backpack. I figured with everything going on I wanted all the comforts of home and lots of food. By 10:00 pm I had everything and my friends picked me up at the airport. My friend from China burst out of the car to hug me, and my friend from North Carolina quickly followed. My crazy friend from Pennsylvania was driving and remained in the car. We arrived and were soon laughing and joking as if no time had passed. I love that about music friends. There is a certain bond between music teachers that exists simply because we are music teachers. It is so nice to have people that you don't have to explain things too. You're a little odd, but they are too so it all works. We reminisced about the last two years, commented about it being strange to be our last year, and lamented the fact that the housing this year is so darn crappy. You see, dear reader, the last two years we lived in graduate student housing. While they were nothing fancy, they were little apartments with two bedrooms (2 people each), a full kitchen, family room, and bathroom. This year, they have us in Hawk Hall. If you changed the vowel in the second word, it would be a more accurate name for this place. This is a big freshman dorm so all three of us are sharing one room. This is no problem, and actually is quite fun. The not fun part is the fact that there is no kitchen, meaning we will starve, and the floor is co-ed with awful bathrooms. I will post pics later but they are BAD. I had to muster up all my courage to take a shower, which was worse even than some of the showers experienced last year in Germany. Ugh. I was grateful I packed some shampoo/conditioner/body wash all in one to make the experience as fast as possible.

I am glad to be back. I am excited and nervous and terrified all at once. I'm already a little sad this is the last year. I am going to do my best to savor every moment of it, but I know there will be plenty of panic mixed in with that too. Now it is slmost 3 am. Class starts at 8:30 am. Time to try to sleep.