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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
End of the Semester Nostalgia (brought on by sleep deprivation no doubt)
So the computers at school can be evil, because I was almost done with this post when the computer closed Mozilla. Death to technology that I don't control.

Anyway, as all good grad students know, now is the final push to the end of the semester. By Friday I will be pretty much done with everything, except juries and an exam (potential). The downside? Friday is when I can sleep again. Although there are worse ways to lose sleep than by being obsessed with something you love and are passionate about. I gave my final presentation in my performance practice class. I sang Mandad'ei Comigo by Martin Codax, and was happy with what I did with it. I will stop before I say anything negative about my performance/presentation/paper because I'm trying to be happy with my effort. I guess that should be a New Year's goal?

The end of the semester has brought about a thankful attitude towards the people I'm surrounded by. Talented, caring, wonderful individuals who are always willing to share of themselves and their knowledge. In that spirit I thought I'd blog a bit about the families to which I belong, but am not in any way physically related to.

  • There's the Russian community in my hometown. I was lucky enough to be raised bi-culturally by parents who knew that the world was bigger than one small group of people. These people a brilliant, and will do anything for anyone. They opened by mind and eyes before I even knew they were shut.
  • There's the small group of students from my father's classes who have become older siblings. Specifically there's my "older sister" who now live IN Yellowstone with her husband and daughter who is basically my little niece. She makes me feel that the world is full of possibilities every time I talk to her.
  • There's the group of teachers that has profoundly and concretely affected my life. Mrs. F helped me cope with my mother's death by listening whenever I needed to talk for over two years. She also taught me to think deep and to question everything. I learned more about literature from her than from any other teacher I've had. Dr. B, my undergrad flute professor, taught me to be a musician. She always pushed me, always believed in me, and set me on my path into world music (she gave me my first Matt Molloy CD). More than that, she's my second mom. She helped me become who I am, and for that I'll always be grateful. My current professors continue to push me intellectually, spiritually, personally, and musically past every boundary I think/thought I have/had. They are showing me a bigger world full of endless possibilities. They are showing me who I can become. These people are the reason I want to teach.
  • Finally there's the group of friends I have who have become sisters. My beloved roomie who puts up with me when I need to rant, and who always is ready to play tunes and share the music. She makes me more creative and a kinder person in the process. My three flute friends are kind, intelligent, caring, talented people who always make me feel better about whatever is bugging me. They each have distinct personalities and they don't let people change them. One is a brain, who is about as strong as anyone I've ever met. She knows what makes her happy, and works tirelessly towards that goal. She's never been handed anything, and yet she's not cynical. She's a happy well rounded person, who cares for other people. Another has dealt with a number of personal tragedies this semester. She struggles on, and she has faith that could move mountains. She's smart and talented and just a fun person to be around, with a sarcastic wit that will surprise you. I wish she could see the beauty and talent we see in her. The third is one of the most caring people I've ever met. She takes care of others and no matter what happens to her, she still keeps her heart open. Have I mentioned that they all play like goddesses? All of these guys are like sisters, and most importantly we take care of each other.
So why am I going on about all of these people? All of these families? I think one of the most lasting things a person can experience in this life is the joy of human relationships. People matter, individual relationships matter. Small things make a big difference in the world. Celebrate the people in your life. They make all the difference.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,
posted by Mac Tíre at 1:45 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Rumi rings true
Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Today is a good day. Last night was the concerto competition I've been stressing over for about a semester. Stressing for several reasons: 1) I've overloaded myself (something I won't do again if I can help it) and haven't been able to devote the time I would have liked to the piece I was playing, 2) I know I'm not competitve in the classical flute department, and it's hard for me to admit that I do WANT it, I'm just not sure I can get it, 3) this has been a rough semester on several levels, not the least of which is emotionally, and it's been hard to get my head in the game, 4) for about a semester now, I haven't been able to find my happiness with classical flute--I play and I get frustrated, but I couldn't find the joy in it, and joy with the music is what will get you through the tough times. So I competed yesterday, and I didn't "win" (these are only preliminaries, so you just advance), but I did what a musician was supposed to do: I affected my audience. I played two movements from the Rouse Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, the first being the Scherzo and the second the Amhran (gaelic for song). Now the technique just wasn't there on the Scherzo.....but I hit the Amhran. It's one of those moments, where you're having this profound dialogue with the audience, and you realize as you end the movement and hold the moment, that everyone's with you. That matters. That's joyful. It made me want to play classical flute again. Last night, I rediscovered a way to kneel and kiss the ground. And it was glorious.
posted by Mac Tíre at 11:58 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Veteran's Day
I've been trying to think of what to say about Veteran's Day. I'm about as anti-war as you can get. It's not that I think that use of force isn't called for sometimes. I come from a family that has two navy veterans and one army veteran. They stormed the beaches of Normandy and liberated concentration camps. One of my father's best friends when I was growing up was in the Air Force. Being from the deep south, it's hard to avoid knowing someone in the Armed Forces. And growing up in what is still the South's fairly martial culture, I know that sometimes you have to be willing to give "the last full measure of devotion." Moreover, I was taught as a martial artist when to enter a fight. If you're put in a situation where force might be called for, assume you would die.....if the rules of common decency and honor still call for you to enter the fight, then you can face the situation with honor, dignity, and bravery because you can't change the fact that you will enter the situation.

And knowing all of those people (dead and alive), it's hard not to want to see them home from a war we have no business being involved with. It's easy to ignore the casualties......the government makes those announcements fairly quietly. But it's our duty to embrace the legacy of those we've sent to "defend our freedom." For the most part, they joined because they wanted opportunity, a better life, to defend the country they loved. And we have failed them.

Here's my charge to you: carry the face and memory of one person who lost their life because of incompetence, ignorance, greed, and corruption. Never lose that face....never lose that name, because we are the guardians of their memories now.
This is the P.J. I remember. Goofy, nice......not someone I was ever extremely close to, but he was in the artsy community of our small school. He was good friends with people I consider family. Go read about him.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 11:57 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Dang it! I am from the South! Wouldn't my ancestors be horrified. ;)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
The South
North Central
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
posted by Mac Tíre at 11:39 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, November 10, 2006
Aimless Blogging
So I don't normally like to blog aimlessly.....but this week I've got very little to talk about. Maybe that's not quite true.

I got my 1820's 6-key flute that I won on ebay in the mail this week. I'm hoping to work at restoring it. I'll see if I can take some pictures and keep you updated on the process.

The flute studio at Flat Place U also had a masterclass/flute marathon with the former principle of the London Symphony Orchestra. I was dreading this masterclass.....2 1/2 hours of him and us and then another 2 hours later on in the evening, specifically on a day in the week when I'm usually brain dead anyway. Now normally classical flute masterclasses (whether I'm playing in them or not) leave me depressed (I have a bit of a complex about my classical flute playing) and just generally wanting to go home and play trad tunes until I block out the classical world. This was more like Monty Python teaches flute. Imagine the Lumberjack teaching Cappriccio Espagnole. It was great.....with the exception of being forced to play the Titanic flute solo in a room full of other flute players. He was energetic, he was kind, and he was always positive. And he had one hell of a tone. He also harped on one of my pet peeves with classical flute playing: that of wussy playing. For the most part, we classical flute players are nice and polite about our playing (myself included) and I hate it. I think we stay in the box way too often, and it was refreshing to see a top level professional talk about that.

This week was a good flute week if for no other reason than I did not feel like hurling my classical flute into oncoming traffic multiple times. But I thought I would talk a little about my complex. I decided to enter the Concerto competition, which is basically obligatory in the studio. I have serious issues with competitions, and several of my flute-playing friends (who are consummate musicians and who I consider family) were a little surprised. Musical competitions are evil for several reasons, but my main problem with them is that they try to quantify a musical experience, thereby trying to quantify a musician. In other words, we're going to assign you a numerical order based on my subjective view of you at this particular point in your life. Yes....I know jobs in the performing world are competitions, I know that I have to know how to perform under pressure, but do I really need to ram my head into the wall repeatedly. I don't do competitions because I'm insanely competitive....and it's not a side of me I particularly like or can control, so I normally stand to the side. I know exactly what will happen in two weeks time.
1) I will have worked my ass off on this concerto.
2) I will play said concerto and not be happy with it....because that's who I am.
3) I will not place in the final several players who will go onto the final concerto schoolwide division.
4) I will be depressed and my complex that I don't belong in the classical music world because I suck will be reinforced.
5) I will take a week to try and pick up the flute again, while congratulating the friends that I have that I know will kick ass (mine included).

Music isn't a quantifiable event....so why do we persist in forcing ourselves through these experiences? Or rather why do I? One of my closest friends here told me she loves to play, and that competitions are a way for her to play in front of other people. That's not my perspective at all, probably because I have this constant measuring stick that I find hard to get rid of. Why when I pick up the classical flute, can I not just enjoy the journey of playing? When I play trad music, that doesn't happen. And yet the classical flute is so fused with my sense of identity, that I'm having issues about what to do with it when I finish my classical flute performance master's degree at the end of the year. Do I let it sit and gather dust? That thought doesn't make me happy....but does it make me unhappy because I like to play, or does it make me uncomfortable because it's been who I am for so long? I've been trying to decide whether or not I'll take lessons next year. I like the studio, I like the people, I even like that I have gotten a little better at playing. But I don't like constantly feeling like I haven't done enough, or that I'm not good enough, and I know those are my issues not the flute's (and part of my Virgo tendencies as Dharmonia suggested.....an opinion I tend to agree with). One of my friends persists in telling me that the reason my professor has started to push so hard is because she saw the trad recital that I gave, and now thinks I'm capable of more on the classical flute. I'm not sure I quite believe that, but it is something to think about. So enough about the flute.

I've also been thinking a lot lately about the future. I've pretty much decided to add an extra year to my studies here, which would give me time to add some extra skills and take some extra classes. In the wanting to go abroad category I've been looking at pursuing a Fullbright to study traditional music in Ireland. That's still a good time off though. I know it's early for this, but I'm getting to the point in my life where I don't want to keep changing that people that surround me. Maybe it's the fact that I truly love the people I'm surrounded by here at FPU, but I'm tired of having to move my life every two years or so. I want more to life than a career, a thought/need I've sort of ignored up to this point in my life, not that I've been a nun or anything....but I don't date a lot.....I have relationships. Anyway.....more things to think about, as well as trying to finish the semester and getting through the break.

As for now, I'm off to run before the Session tonight!

Peace, love, and tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 3:21 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments