School starts in two weeks! It didn't quite sneak up on me like it did last year, but I would still like some more time to get through the reading I seem to be accumulating. It tends to be split between thesis reading and baroque flute reading: baroque and blues. It makes for an interesting shift halfway through reading sessions. It also makes for an interesting shift in the car/on the ipod. Going from Sleepy John Estes to the Bach Partita in A minor can be more than a little musically schizophrenic....but I think listening/playing a large breadth of the musical spectrum is one of the things that makes me very engaged and excited about what I do.
Returned two days ago from the NFA convention....I have now been termed a "flute dork" by Coyotebanjo
, a title I think most of the Flute Studio at my university would gladly embrace. Classical flute players tend to be a breed all their own.....neurotic, type a, overachievers who get way too much of a kick out of diva-like situations. We're guilty as charged. Anyway, I did my Irish flute presentation for a surprisingly large number of people. I feel pretty happy with it. I didn't finish my presentation, which bugged me, but I thought my presentational style was the best it's ever been. I think it was one of the first times I felt like a professional, and that was a great experience.
I'm trying to attack this year better than I did last year. Last year sort of dragged me along in quite a few ways, and I don't want that to happen this year. First, I've decided not to audition for a major ensemble this semester. This is a big deal for me, because the only semester I didn't participate in a large ensemble during the last decade (it's actually a little more than that) was when I was student teaching and they wouldn't let me. But I picked up a small gig at one of the local middle schools teaching the flute section, and I'm basically just swapping my time. I realized over the summer that I need those extra six hours I spend in rehearsal, either for research or for practicing the massive amounts of instruments I seem to want to learn how to play.....oh and there's that pesky school thing too. So in an effort to have a better academic year than the last one, here goes:
Goals for the year:
1) Balance my life better.
- So maybe grad school isn't the best time to try and balance life, but I was an emotional wreck for a decent part of last year because I was out of balance. What does being more in balance mean? For one hour a day I will do some type of physical activity (on T/TH it's Yoga! on M/W/F it's hopefully going to be running). Once a week I will do something that makes me happy and has no relevance to school (I discovered this summer that I really like to cook.....a lot, or I could go to a movie by myself, or read a fiction book, or meditate, or sit outside and watch the sunset....). Obviously there will be some days/weeks that this won't work....but I will also try and be gentle with myself when life gets crazy. I will not allow my inner critic to run rampant.
2) Pursue Buddhism more.
- I think I'm lacking a spiritual side to my life, and I really like the path of Buddhism. I will actively pursue deepening my spiritual life.
3) Do fewer things with a greater degree of skill.
- I will start to make choices (like the major ensemble thing). I can't do everything, so I am aiming to do fewer thing with a greater degree of skill instead of lots of things at a mediocre skill level. This also means I will not let my ego get in the way. I have recently realized that I take on some commitments because my ego tells me that I have to be competitive in every field I dabble in. It also means that I won't let anyone's disapproval make me defensive or tempted to change my mind. The path that I'm on now makes me happy, the people in my life right now make me happy. People from my past who disapprove or the occasional friend who disapproves will not take that happiness away from me.
4) Specific Playing Goals
- Learn to play the Baroque flute. I had a flute lesson at NFA with Quantzalcoatl and he showed me the magic "Jed Wentz Thumb Key." Intonation is now greatly improved. I want to send in a tape for the NFA Baroque Flute Masterclass next year. I probably won't get it, but I'm not going to afraid to try anymore just because I might fail. Who ever did anything by sitting at home being scared?
- Get better at the Irish flute. I need to consistently learn new tunes and search for new techniques. Key word here: Consistently. I like the Irish flute and play it with a modicum of skill, it doesn't need to take a back seat to everything in my life.
- Classical Flute. I need to figure out where this fits in my life now. I still want to play. This year I'm going to compete in the concerto competition, learn some more orchestral excerpts so that I can audition for symphony positions, and possibly put together a program for one of the local competitions. I will not be afraid to fail, and I will not feel ashamed of my classical playing.
- Learn more songs on guitar so that I can have an entire set and get some gigs playing at coffee houses and such. My flute prof has pushed me towards this for about a year now. No fear.
- Learn the uilleann pipes. This is fun, and strictly for me.....and that's ok.
5) Specific Academic Goals
- Take my flute comps. No fear.
- Research my thesis, and set up some fieldwork opportunities.
- Try to present at an academic conference.
- Start that study group myself and one of the other Ethno students have been talking about.
6) Have fun doing what I love.
Peace, love and tunes!