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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…

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


Caught in the Storm


Caught in the storm. This is the only way I can accurately explain the way I’m feeling these past two weeks or specifically 4 months. If you’re a constant reader of this blog, you might have read “The Year that never was part une & part deux” After basically losing everything I’ve worked crash and burn in my professional as well as my personal life, I haven’t well in every sense of the word. I don’t feel ~as bad~ since what I will now start calling “The Second Great Depression (2008 edition)”… it’s been bad. On top of everything that I’m passing through it doesn’t help in having more or less a family that supports you when they please or better yet say they support you and then stop.

Right now I’m in limbo mode. I have to start preparing to leave the island to start my masters. I can’t do as much as I would like for I have to visit where I’m staying to actually have an idea of what I can take and leave here. I’m equally utterly terrified and completely excited of being in a new place, new people, new experiences but at the same time I don’t want to leave home (mostly because of my friends). I don’t know what exactly I’ll be doing as a Graduate Assistant, but I’m most utterly grateful for the university in giving me the opportunity. So in these next two months I have to, go to the Open House, start packing, try and not get “the support system” to me (as I have done before and it’s not good), try and not get myself killed by two of my friends, try to move on and start living the way I would like to.

He told me I was in over my head, I didn’t want to say yes but I know I am. I’ve bitten more than I can chew (as I always do). Not going to lie, throwing myself like this to somewhere I’ve never been to, alone, with a very limited (to almost no) budget 2058.63 miles away from what I know… it’s not going to be easy. I know that if I come out victorious from this… nothing will stop me. I just have to wait for certain things to resurface, try and maintain calm and let this storm pass.

Hear it thunder
And I wonder
How long can I hang on

I’m caught in the storm
I’m caught in the rain
I’m caught in the rush that hides this pain

I’m ready to drown
But it’s coming down
But I feel so alive
(…)
Let me wash away
You can find me after the flood
Let me wash away

Caught in the storm

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