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

 

 

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.

 

What I’ve learned in Grad school is….


Wow.  I knew Grad School would be challenging and it has been more than I have ever imagined. Up until now I’ve been a grad student for  a month, and I love it.  So here you have the things I’ve learned in graduate school so far

  1. Everybody is on the same playing field, no matter if you peers have 10 years or more working or just out of their undergrad.
  2. Do not compete, you are there to better yourself.
  3. Every single one of your peers is a geek or nerd the “difference” is how much they show it.
  4. Your professors are nerds. Embrace it, one day you’ll be a nerd with a doctorates.
  5. One of the (many) reasons we want a Doctorate degree is so that we can have the same title as THE Doctor.
  6. Sleep is overrated.
  7. You may not have that much time to have that mythical thing called “lunch” if you’re a TSA, TA or GA.
  8. You will be in one, two or three ensembles at the same time if you want it or not.
  9. Your supervisor may and can send you an email at 5:30 am.
  10. You are expected to do so much more.
  11. If your professors don’t push you to be better something is wrong.
  12. Listen to ALL the music!
  13. Did you think you were fully bilingual?  Ok. Let’s ask you something very randomly in class. 😀
  14. It is necessary to go out with your peers on a weekly basis or somewhat similar to this. If you do not do this, you will die from frustration or drown in music scores.
  15. Print everything a week or two ahead. It’s better.
  16. Read, Review and Re-read anything you have to submit 3 or more times.
  17. Enjoy grad school!
  18. “Don’t think about it too much. It doesn’t have  to be perfect. Go out and have a drink with your peers.”
  19. The professors may remind you of TV show characters… DoctorDonna for example… or the Dean from Community.
  20. Your peers are really cool.

The French Connection


Second week of grad school. This week main title shall be “The French Connection”. Why you may ask, my dear reader? Simple. I have to do a research project, and since somebody very special to me reignited my curiosity for French Music, I want to research French Choral Music in the 19th Century. For the sake of this research project the CSI suspect is Henk Badings a dutch composer from the 20th century. The case: Did Badings have a 19th century inspiration or stylistic approach for his choral music compositions? If so, were they inspired by Debussy or Ravel?

Fairly exciting, isn’t it? The correct answer is YES! Now. I am loving Badings first “movement” or first chanson from his “Trois Chansons”. The Title? La nuit en mer. (The sea at night). Here I leave you the beautiful lyrics written by Théodore Botrel.

 

La brise enfle notre voile :
Voici la première étoile
Qui luit ;
Sur le flot qui nous balance,
Amis voguons en silence,
Dans la nuit.

Tous bruits viennent de se taire,
On dirait que tout, sur Terre,
Est mort :
Les Humains comme les Choses,
Les oiseaux comme les roses
Tout s’endort !

 

Mais la Mer c’est la Vivante,
C’est l’Immensité mouvante
Toujours,
Prenant d’assaut les jetées,
Dédaigneuse des nuitées
Et des jours !…

Hormis Elle, rien n’existe
Que le grand Phare et son triste
Reflet ;
A la place la meilleure,
Mes amis, jetons sur l’heure
Le filet !…

 

Puis, enroulés dans nos voiles
Le front nu sous les étoiles,
Dormons !
Rêvons en paix profonde,
A tous ceux qu’en ce bas-monde
Nous aimons !

Dormons sur nos goëlettes
Comme en nos bercelonnettes
D’enfants…
Et demain à marée haute
Nous rallierons la Côte,
Triomphants !

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!

Ready? Set? Conduct!


And may the odds be ever in your favor. ” Said Effie Trinket in Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games”. That’s how I basically feel. I’m starting my masters next week, and I have no idea how I should feel. Should I do a happy dance? Should I continue to run around (in my awesome apartment that I moved into) in circles? Should I continue to study for the GAE (Graduate Advisory Exams) I have on Saturday & Sunday? Should I start picking my outfit(s) for those first couple of days? I. don’t. know.  All I know is this (in points to be all professional like)
Continue reading “Ready? Set? Conduct!”

Everything’s a learning experience


Everything's a learning experience

Even though I couldn’t go to the audition, I learned how to cram this masterpiece in less than a week. Preparation is key. Pressure is what differentiates a coal from a diamond!