<"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Welcome to the Ceili
Friday, August 31, 2007
Is teaching supposed to be this fun?
So I taught my first discussion section today. I should perhaps preface this post by saying that I've actually taught classes since I came to grad school. Day 1 they had me up and teaching Aural Skills to a bunch of college sophomores. Never mind the fact that I was scared to death about being in grad school, let alone teaching music majors. Day 1 of year two, I was teaching flute methods to upper-level music majors. Needless to say I felt a little more comfortable with the material I was teaching, but it still wasn't as enjoyable as I knew teaching could be (I think half of that was the job of trying to teach a bunch of music education majors everything they needed to know about the flute in order to teach it......in 6 weeks.....at least theoretically....). I have 40 people in my discussion section, and I didn't have to speak over anyone.....they answered my questions, laughed at the jokes, and asked questions. I know that I've changed as a student and where I feel I am on the continuum between student and teacher/professional, and I owe a lot to the professors at my university in helping move me towards the other end of the spectrum. Still I can't help but feel that I really do have a passion to teach THIS PARTICULAR SUBJECT, a passion that was absent from the other classes I've taught, a passion to use musicology and ethnomusicology as tools to teach concepts and basic musical knowledge that transform us into musical professionals instead of just people who play instruments and sing.

This is gonna be fun.

Peace, love, and tunes,



posted by Mac Tíre at 12:43 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Almost through the first week of classes!
As the title suggests, almost through. Still lack teaching my discussion section and don't start teaching the beginners at one of the local middle schools until next week. Trying to manage my time.....I like lists so I made a schedule and color-coded it. White is free time (ie: sleep).....I don't have enough white in my life.......

Shaping up to be a good, though hectic semester. More to come this weekend!

Peace, love, and tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 3:09 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, August 19, 2007
What's Next?
One of my favorite shows on TV was the West Wing. What I've seen lately, is mostly based on DVD's I own. Anyway, after dealing with anything, Jed Bartlett always asks, "What's next?" I guess that's the main question I'm asking about my trad flute playing. I consider myself to be a fairly steady trad flute player, but recently I've been listening to my own playing and the playing of those I admire and wondering, "How do I get there?" In other words, what's the next step for me.

For the past two years I've used a program called Audacity to slow down the tempo of tunes I want to learn. Why is this so important? Because it allowed me to hear for the first time exactly what the players I admired were doing. Since I started this brand of exact copying, I've gotten better at adding ornaments in tunes that I learn from non-flute players, as well as varying melody with different ornaments. But there's a limit to such learning in that sometimes you misinterpret what a player is actually doing. So how do you figure out what they're doing an incorporate it into your style of playing? That's a pretty big question considering I live way out in Big Flat Dry place, where we don't get out much. I'm surrounded by great players, but eventually you want to figure out something new that gets you to that next level. Enter youtube and videos like:


And suddenly you've got the ability to see what the fingers are doing. Hopefully this will spark my playing a little bit. Enjoy the videos!

Peace, love, and tunes,



posted by Mac Tíre at 1:47 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Goals for the year
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!

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:34 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Sorry for such a long absence! Late night blogging has never been good for me....or to me for that matter, but I'm worked up about the trial run of my NFA presentation for tomorrow. It's not like I haven't given this presentation before.....three other times to be exact, but tomorrow I do it for 5 of my teachers.

Have you ever noticed that the people you're supposed to make mistakes in front of (ie teachers, parents, friends) are exactly the ones you don't want to see you make mistakes? Ego's sometimes a bitch, but I guess admitting it's only ego is the first step in overcoming it.

I think I'm more concerned about cramming everything I want to say in 50 minutes.....and did I pick the right stuff to concentrate on.......the right tunes....and on and on.

I've been trying my hand at some new things for the past couple of months. Around the time of my last Master's classical flute recital I was handed a baroque flute. My prof really wants me to concentrate on it.....and I was pretty set against the baroque flute for lots of different reasons, mainly because I didn't think I had enough time to learn a new instrument. A few months later, and I'm kind of addicted to the squirrely little bastard. My uilleann pipes also came in. I now have a whole new appreciation of anyone who plays the pipes. But dammit, whenever the right sound comes out of the instrument, it's a crazy wonderful feeling. I've also been attempting some songwriting. I've never tried it before and it's something new and different. It all keeps me honest. ;)

Anyway, I'm off to see if I can sleep at least a little before I have to give this thing tomorrow. Hope to see you at the convention!

Peace, love, and tunes,


Labels: , ,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:29 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments