Category Archives: Academia

Tour, Paper, Presentation, GO!


And this week passed… It was a very intensive week for me. 4-5 hours of sleep, 30 pages of a paper that was due, a presentation for my choral literature class, 7 schools  visited, 2 Church Concerts, 3 days of Recruitment Tour with the Western Illinois University… let’s just say you have 1 very tired graduate student. Nevertheless, I enjoyed each nervous breakdown, screaming because WHY WOULD I WANT TO INVESTIGATE 9 SCORES, each time we got to sing, in short I liked the experience.

In this week, the choral grads got a lot of time together, and we noticed that we can actually relate to many things, one of them being our love for choral music. Overall, this week as been intense, but good. Just another test so that I can show if I can handle the stressful life of Academia, specially the life of a Choral Conductor.

A good thing that happened in this week is… the culture shock (educational shock) that I had when we visited all seven schools. I was constantly reminded that I am not in Puerto Rico anymore. The sheer size of the auditoriums, theaters and students in each choral program was a minimum double of what I am accustomed. It is nice to know that somewhere people actually support the arts, even more than what they do back home. Here in the United States they say how much they are cutting money from the arts, but from coming from a Department of Education where everything has to come from the conductor (scores, renting a space for concerts, etc) this Educational System is, well paradise. I’m still on the fence if I want to go back to Puerto Rico to teach, but the fact that going back home means, leaving good choral programs that have at least twice as support as the programs they have in Puerto Rico is tempting…

Write, though your hands are aching


This week is going to be a very hectic week for me. These past weeks have been ok, but every single thing that occurred, was in preparation for this week. In this week, I am going on tour with the Western Illinois University Singers  tomorrow (Monday), Tuesday and Wednesday. For this tour, whom my very awesome peer gracefully arranged, we are visiting parts of Illinois and Iowa. This is exciting because I will get a first hand experience in going (for the first time) to a High School in the United States, and can truly start comparing the organization, curriculum, and musicality of this system to the ones I had.

Nevertheless, this week is also very demanding for I have two big projects to hand in. I have to due a presentation on Pergolesi’s The Magnificat and hand in my first draft of “The French Smuggler: FrenchInspiration in Henk Badings Trois Chansons Bretonnes “. Up until what I have written now for both things, I don’t really like, because it feels sloppy and not as polished as I would like, but it is a first draft. Now, the “problem” is finding the time (and space) so that I can work during tour. It will probably happen after we finish every night, which will be exhausting, but as Chris Martin wrote “Nobody said it would be easy.” Something that is funny? I’m actually taking a break from working today and continue to write in the form of this blog entry. I believe that I have been fully emerged into the Academia life. Maybe other graduate students around the world do the same? Maybe I am the only person who is somewhat crazy and is doing this? Maybe. Maybe not.

All that I know is that I have to keep writing until I can’t write anymore. Just keep swimming!

From Light to Light- Wind


Thin this silver cord like wisp of smoke
mere brush of breath against the face
ah!
I know I do not know…
and smile grateful into light
(mild clouds of myrrh the eagle soars
and hyms the heart of god)
and smile grateful
into
light

Text: Susan Palo Cherwien
Music: Aaron McDermind
Preformed: The National Lutheran Choir

http://aaronmcdermid.com/from-light-to-light/

The ground, the occult, and the savior.


Wow… it’s been more than 10 days since I’ve updated from the grad school tag. Grad school is… still intensive. Not as intensive as before, ’cause I am getting the hang of it, but intense nonetheless. At least, I am getting better in my conducting, in internalizing this harmonic system, and getting to be “myself” in front of the choir. Things I need to finally get into my head…

  • nothing will be perfect or go as you think it will.
  • Just like Wagner stated in his article “Art takes time”
  • nothing will change in a day
  • Keep practising, done? Again.
  • I’m here for a reason
  • I am good at what I do and I should just stop self doubting
  • If the University gave a fall break, it’s because it’s NECESARRY. Stop overthinking and doing and give yourself a free day!
  • have more fun
  • Musicallity cannot be taught, it comes from within

 

 

Metaphors


A metaphor is the omnipresent principle of language… Thought is metaphoric, and proceeds by comparison, and the metaphors of language derive from them

– Richards

I feel it’s going to rain (paperwork)


This week that passed on grad school…

  1. You may mess up completely in your conducting and may have to meet your professor for further assessment.
  2. The day feel ready to meet your professor is the day he’s not on campus.
  3. That’s not the way you hold a baton… in your case you should ’cause that baton is like a Harry Potter wand. My response… CRUCIO!
  4. Handel composed “And the Glory WRATH of the conductor shall be revealed”. A song specially dedicated to all conducting majors in the world.
  5. When you think you don’t have enough work, think again.
  6. How many grad students does it take to move a speaker?
  7. Are we on key? Is that a C? a C #? C flat? whut? My thought process when we Glory the anna
  8. Britten concert was a cool experience as a birthday.
  9. You can fall asleep on your couch after a skype call, while your friends wait for you in their house to celebrate.
  10. You will start missing people the day before, during, and after your birthday. (Specially those who are in the moving process).
  11. You all did well, but you still have to take another test of the same material next week (this Wednesday).
  12. My abstract was French with a touch of Dutch… I think I can roll with this… if I can ACTUALLY get the dissertation and scores I asked for… 3 weeks ago?
  13. Lully and Mendelsohn are cool… so cool that I listen to their pieces for basically an hour on repeat and then say WAIT I need to annotate things on these scores. Process may be repeated at least three times this weekend.
  14. J. S. Bach is a cat. With fluffy ears, which I want to pet (if he doesn’t kill me first or tries to escape, and succeed.)
  15. Starbucks Colombian coffee is NOT good enough. I need my Puertorrican coffee.
  16. That moment when your harmony professor calls you and tells you “if you migrate from our harmonic system to theirs (US system) I will disown you. Hey, here’s my email. Anything you need call me, text me or email me (specially for scores).”
  17. Choral Literature Jepordy:  Here… listen to these 3 obscure passages from the 16 pieces. They have no text. Who wrote it?
  18. Something as simple as assisting in giving a midterm may be reassure yourself that you want to be a professor.

 

Always have this in mind…


Always have this in mind...

Grad School Haiku


Oh my God,
Too much work! I need sleep,
Jesus, take the baton!

The week in Heaven (and just a slice of hell).


The time has come. I have started my graduate studies in Choral Conducting, and to quote that famous phrase all I can say is “I’m not in Kansas (Puerto Rico) anymore.” How can I describe this? One word. Wow. It is completely different from what I’m accustomed, but that was the necessary change, right? The answer, of course is a big, bad, YES!

Now. There is a lot of work, but I’m surprised that the Faculty is very supportive, appreciative, and really wants to see you succed. From my experience back home, most of the Doctors’ perspective is: “I know more than you, you are beneath me. I have all my three degrees so, basically I don’t care.” It’s very refreshing in seeing that here is the exact opposite. Which leads me to the other (unspoken) fact. If they see you slacking, I am sure you will get a kick to your patootie (yes, I really used that word) and they will take no prisoners. Which is good, because as a Doctor told us at the Graduate Orientation:

Receiving a Higher Education (Masters or Doctorate degree) is not a right, it is a privilege. We, the faculty, are very possessive and protective of our field. We don’t want anybody in receiving the same title that we have, we want you to show us how much you wanted and how determined you want to be as good or better than we are.

Which is really true. If you were a professor, wouldn’t you want to make sure that the people you send out to the field are competent and can do their job? To send professionals out on the field, and maybe one day could possibly take your job? The answer or the answer should be yes.  In how I’ve been finding my place here, well that’s  another story. Day to day living is exactly what I’ve always wanted, peace and quiet, no reggueton (the devil’s music). Musically? It’s day and night. I prided myself that over in Puerto Rico, at least vocally, I was very good. I always learned my music in a fast efficient manner. In just this week alone I’ve felt that some of the undergrad students are ten times better than I actually am right now and their piano skills (a weakness I know and admit I have) are twenty times as better as I have. And I’m sure that my fellow graduate peers are even better in that area as I am. It sort of feels like heaven (and a little slice of hell).

Heaven, because I feel as in this is what I wanted as an undergraduate experience. What I want to see in Puerto Rico, where students have a great musical education and when they go to college you don’t have to go to a rehearsal and play notes all day. Students actually go home, study their music and come to the classroom to sing. But that puts me in a (very big disadvantage) because I have to work ten time as hard in everything, because I feel like I’m not “as in musical shape” as they are, holistically. I can express that my culture shock has been more artistically than it is, well in the other sense. Compared to the other international students, Puerto Rico has always had the presence of the United States over our shoulders. That’s why I feel as if it is moving over here is a natural (and necessary) progression I need to grow in every sense in my life.  After this first week, I all can say is that I really have my work cut out for me and that I need to hit the turbo to actually do what I want, what I love, but give that excellence I want from myself (which is more than other people want) and what my professor will expect from me. So just like in “The Wizard of Oz” “I’m not in Kansas anymore.” and just for that fact only I have to give 200% of me so that I can excel!

Stop, review, and rewrite


So. The moment has come.  Between tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday I have two Graduate Advisory Exams on Musical Theory and Music History. On Monday I begin my first semester as a Grad Student and Graduate Assistant for Choirs at Western Illinois University. You may ask, how do you feel? To that, my dear Watson it’s Overwhelmed. A good and a bad kind of overwhelmed. How is that possible you may ask well, let’s be all Grad Student and use points *insert CNN news music here*

  1. I think I’m not in Kansas (Puerto Rico) anymore. When I say this it’s awesome and terrifying at the same time. I’m alone. Nobody knows me (yet), my professors, advisors, and  supervisors don’t know how exactly I work.  So this is a chance to prove myself that I know my stuff and that I can grow.
  2. The School of Music is big (at least to what I’m used to). I’m used to a small (intimate) Music Department so when you show me a list of… 20? 30? music professors and that you have minimum 100 students in a specific program in the School of Music you get shocked (in a good way). It’s refreshing to see the School and know that you may be teaching/assisting in the Professors in what you love.
  3. You can’t geek out to your friends and family about everything you see (in person).
  4. You are (somewhat) terrified for you don’t know what is going to happen, but you know that you must face the storm and deal with it.
  5. I have a lot to do and… I LOVE it. (That’s what he says now. Let’s check in Mid September and in October.)

In these past two days, I’ve been in and out of Faculty reunions & Graduate Orientations. Now, all of this is really … how should I put it in words… epic. Why? Because it’s all new to me. And what my friends and family know is that I love the Academia world. I live for it. That’s what Third grade Jose wanted to be when he grew up and now where is he? In an hands on opportunity in being in the Academic world, and in the hopes in becoming “Americas Next Top… Choral Conductor”. (Who wants to be on top? Me. Sorry. Too much Netflix and reality TV).

In all these commotion and reunions, some doctors have said things that have inspired and stuck to my brain. These are :

  • “Receiving a post graduate degree (Masters or Doctorate) is an opportunity, not a right. We as Doctors are very, very territorial & protective of our field. You, as a new graduate student, need to show us -your faculty- how much you want this degree. You must be proactive in your education, not reactive. You must show us that you want to be as good or better and greater than we are. Only then, will you receive that degree. If not, you will be in that group of people that don’t achieve their dreams.” – Doctor who’s name I couldn’t jot down for they spoke to quickly.
  • “… We need to grow our way out of the recession. Hence why we should look for a way to better our curriculum, better ourselves (as professors and teachers) from within so that we can give our students the best experience they can receive for their Higher Education” Dr. Ken Hawkingson, Provost & Academic Vice President of WIU.

After all it’s said and done. What do I, Jose Clavell, want out of my Higher Education. What should everybody want out of  Higher Education. Sure, you can say jobs, money, prestige. What you should say is. Reinvent myself. We all come for different backgrounds, faiths, walks of life. When it comes to our education we want to reinvent ourselves. We don’t to be ignorant about a subject or a field. We want to know. For ourselves and (here enters the beauty of academia) to share this information. To share what we love, what gets us passionate to somebody. To shed light in a subject people can’t grasp. I want to share my love for literature and choral music to as many people I can.

With a Masters degree (or doctorates) we transform ourselves into experts. Into Scholars in our community. And in this era, where information runs faster than the speed of light, we can diminish the incorrect information that is out there.

“When we learn we can therefore teach. When we teach we ignite curiosity. When you ignite curiosity you ignite a revolution. I believe this world needs a revolution. Let’s start an educational revolution, shall we?  ” -J. Clavell

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