<"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Welcome to the Ceili
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Travel time
On the way home for the holidays and currently blogging from a hotel in a major city in the same state as Flat Place U. The nice thing about this rest stop is the large bookstore and the nice restaurants easily accessible from said hotel.

Trying to use the break to get some things done. Me and Beloved Roomie are planning to do a medieval cantigas concert in the Spring, so we used part of yesterday to plan some of the repertoire.

I'm also trying to plan two traditional recitals in the fall. One as an ensemble concert and the other as a solo concert.......and when I say solo I mean COMPLETELY solo....no accompaniment at all. It's more than a little intimidating. I had a conversation with Dr. Coyote about doing a completely solo recital. I have several misgivings about a completely solo recital. The easiest thing to say is that I doubt my audience's ability to appreciate what I consider pure drop traditional Irish music, but the truer statement is that I doubt my own ability to hold an audience's attention completely by myself. I plan to do it anyway, but it still scares the hell out of me.

Meme's abound:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both.

2. Real tree or artificial? In recent years there haven't really been trees to speak of....but when there are, they're always real.

3.When do you put up the tree? About a week before Christmas

4. When do you take the tree down? Dec. 26......I think my parents left it up till Easter one year and they swore never to leave it up that long again

5. Do you like eggnog? Blah, no. Althought the Flute Studio Christmas party has famous egg nog

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Ummmm......From my first christmas to this very day I get a book of poetry every Christmas. I love that. I've gotten great presents over the years: a fabulous midi keyboard, my first computer, I think I got a piccolo once, my first Irish flute, my family's always done well with presents.

7. Do you have a nativity scene? My father does....I however have several Buddhas

8. Hardest person to buy for? I'm pretty good at buying presents......usually I involve books.

9. Easiest person to buy for? See above.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Purses.....for some reason my Mother's side of the family loved to give me purses every christmas. I have a bookbag and a gig bag, I don't really need purses.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Unfortunately neither.....I'm trying to get better at it.

12. Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas/The Year Without a Santa Claus/A Charlie Brown Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever I realize how little time I have left....usually I brainstorm for awhile and just have to actually buy it.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? It used to be this breakfast caserole that my mom made every christmas morning.....now it's generally anything my dad makes.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Both.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Dave Mathews' Christmas Song

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home? Travel

19. Can you name all of Santa's' reindeer? Definitely.....think of all of the things I could cram in my brain if I could forget that.....or the entire periodic table (singable by weight thanks to my 8th grade science teacher)

20. Angel on the treetop or a star? Angel.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Massive ammount of crazed drives/shoppers and rabid consumerism

23. Favorite thing about Christmas? Seeing people be kind to one another.

Anway, I'm off to sleep and drive another 10 hours tomorrow.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 10:55 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog
Still in the death throes of the semester, but I recently discovered this blog, which includes the best description of my book addiction:

As messire John of Gaunt loueth women, so ich loue bokes: without limit or discriminacioun, ich loue hem oolde and newe, short and longe, frensshe or latin or on englysshe tonge, of heigh sentence or of lowe japerye, from the smalest leef of parchemin to the gretest volume clad in blak or reed wyth commentarye and big honkinge metal claspes for fasteninge it shut.

I'm desperately trying to get everything done before I leave for the two day trek home for Christmas. It'll be a much shorter stay than normal, as I have meetings and the middle school teaching gig starting up on Jan. 7th/8th. So basically it's run home for Christmas, see everyone I can, and then run back, trying to hit some of the better blues museums on the way back (not really likely as I'll be traveling back Dec. 28th-ish).

Next semester looks interesting....for the first time in 13 years, I won't be playing the classical flute on a daily basis. That thought was more than a little terrifying at first, but now that I've gotten used to the idea, I think it's going to be nice to concentrate on the Irish traditional playing without having to feel guilty about whether or not I have time to pick up the classical flute. I'm also discovering that as I step back from a community and discipline that has dominated my time and identity for over a decade, that I get a clearer picture of who I want to be......and interestingly enough, it doesn't really involve classical flute music all that much.

Dharmonia asked me a while ago, "What do you want to do? Who is the 30 year old Mac?"
The most honest answer to the first question is that I want to play Irish traditional music.....all the time. I want to LIVE in this music. It's the reason why everyone comments about my music listening habit. I always have some form of audio with me.....and if I were to put my new iPod on shuffle for every 100 songs, a good 85 of them are Irish traditional in nature. As to who the 30 year old Mac is? That's harder for me, mostly because I really and truly can't imagine my life after 25 (I'm currently 24). I know that I love teaching musicology/ethnomusicology, but I can't see myself teaching only academic classes. Anyway, it's a process I guess....trying to figure out who you want to be. I guess the dream job would be Professor of Ethnomusicology and Irish Flute at any university in Ireland.....but I know how hard dream jobs are to get.

Anyway, enough about the future.....I'm off to try and clean my apartment some more, and maybe get some reading done.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:16 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, December 07, 2007
The Bitter End........or How long till I can take a nap?
I actually have some thoughts of things to blog about, not limited to ranting about this or telling some scary stories about the church gig I've got. It pays extremely well, but.....Miniature Horses....Camels......Goats.......in the sanctuary? Not to mention that I got hired to play penny whistle in a "celtic style" during......The Little Drummer Boy? Because there were so many Irish whistle players in the ancient Middle East. Anyway, it helped me to buy a new iPod (with none of that touch technology nonsense) which I was in desperate need of.....and it's going to help me fix my almost completely dead laptop (luckily I backup my data religiously so it's really just an inconvenience at this point).

Anyway, basically done except for one online assignment that won't be to difficult to take care of and the FINAL OF DOOM. Ok.....possibly that's overly dramatic. It's an upper level seminar on the History of Music Theory from Antiquity to 1600. The final has been made open resource....but it's more than a little daunting to prepare for. I'm basically making sure I have all of the printed material, and then I'm taking it and labeling/gathering outside information to help the process. This is where trust comes into the academic picture. The professor is a good teacher who is fair in his treatment of his students. He's not out to fail anyone. With that in mind, I trust that the exam will be given fairly and graded fairly. Sometimes it feels like you're out on a limb, but it's good to know that your professors have your back.

Anyway, at the library (which is surprisingly empty for dead day....then again it's before noon) working to make a huge history of theory notebook with notes and extra material, then off to run a study session for the undergrads' final next week, teach the flute kids at the middle school, then home to grab the gig stuff, play the Six Flags over Jesus production, and then probably back to the library to study some more.

Hope finals treat you semi-decently!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 10:59 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Sleep Deprivation......
So you know it's right before finals when you're too tired to actually go to sleep.

I went home to grab the classical flute and a different whistle for the gig rehearsal last night (more on the monstrosity of this production later.....it's more than a bit scary), and was so out of it that I grabbed the whistle and a hair brush instead......and didn't realize I had left something until I had driven all the way back to the school. Flute studio Christmas party tonight then dress rehearsal until 10.

More when the semester finally comes to an end.

Peace, love, and tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:46 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, December 03, 2007
The Point of it All
Weekend's over, but still stuff to go before the semester ends.

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Terminal Degree. Let me say that the subject of her latest post scares the absolute hell out of me. From the post itself:

A bunch of students chose to comment on an essay about same-sex marriage:

"Marriage is the solidification of a man and woman." (What, do they get frozen in carbonite by Darth Vader?)

"Gay marriage was legalized in the State of San Francisco."

In a paper in which the author claims gays should not be free to marry, he/she writes that the gay rights movement cannot be compared to the civil rights movement because "The gays are already free and can do what they want."

"Traditional marriage is better...well hell yea it is more stable; how messed up do you think a kid is going to be when they think that two guys are really their birth parents. For instance how is a young boy supposed to grow into a man; when both of his parents are men, and one of them is a little bitch for the other one to pound on whenever he gets the urge."

"Fagots claim that it is not their fault they are queer, but every person has the knowledge of write vs. wrong." (Incidentally, if a student is going to use a pejorative term like "faggot," it might help if he/she doesn't spell it as "fagot." I'm just sayin'.)

"The only thing that can save them from going to hell is to change their lifestyle, get saved by God, and confuse their sins."

"No one should feel comfortable being interment with the same sex. A child raised by same sex parents wont make since." (I think he meant intimate.)

Why does this scare me? Well not least of all, I come from the South. I went to high school in a place where anyone who was suspected of being gay went to the counselor's office. I know better than most what type of prejudice there is out there, but to spout this garbage on a COLLEGE ESSAY. That's what blows my mind. Not only do these students think this way, they can't comprehend a world bigger than their small minds. I love where I come from. Hospitality, high emphasis on friends and family, a sense of community and stability......my home has all of these. Unfortunately it also harbors racism, sexism, and overall a generally confining view of what is right and wrong based on outdated religious beliefs.

I play music because I believe it's what I'm made to do. I teach to open minds. Despite what David Horowitz thinks, I don't want to indoctrinate them with my Godless liberal leanings......then I'd be no better than him. I teach because I want my students to intricately examine the universe they live in and make their own decisions. We can shake our heads and laugh at their ignorance all day long, but isn't it better to do something about it? Isn't that what we try to do? Aren't we supposed to meet ignorance, prejudice, and hate deep in the trenches with knowledge, compassion, and love?

I had a conversation recently with my father about plagiarism and the idea that it's becoming almost impossible to catch everyone who's cheating. He was rather disheartened by the large numbers of students he suspects of cheating, even though he can only catch a small number of them. This may be naive, but I told him that I didn't think our real purpose was to catch the cheaters. Do we try to? You betcha. If I can catch a student presenting someone else's thoughts as their own I will nail them to the wall. But, I make it clear to the student that it's not because they took the shortcut. It's because they claimed work and ideas that weren't theirs.

What's important about research papers?
  1. Teaching students to find CREDIBLE sources.....this means making them realize that not everything they read is accurate. They learn that the human condition distorts reality, and because of this fact they need to learn to use their brains.
  2. Teaching students how to PROCESS large amounts of information and how to COMPILE it into something useful.
  3. Teaching students how to make a LOGICAL argument by presenting RELEVANT evidence to support their ideas.
  4. Most important......Teaching students that their ideas and observations are valid, and that they should have the courage to say what they think (after they've thought it out).
Everyday we show up for them. We get less than five hours of sleep (on a good day); grab the coffee; fight the high school kids in the neighborhood to get TO the college; walk carrying three flutes, two textbooks, and a guitar halfway across campus; rehearse for performances; learn tunes; console friends; fix crises; TA for the Early Music section of history; write the blog posts; teach the middle school kids how to play the flute; study for exams; put on the costumes and play, play, play; go home and set up extra study sessions for the kids who want them; read for the thesis; plan recitals; learn the gig music; read more of the independent student evaluations so that we can reach them better; drift off to sleep at about 1:30AM after setting the alarm for 6:00AM and get up and do it again. We get burned out, and stressed, and wonder if we have what it takes to give them what they need AND do what WE have to do without going insane.

But we do it so that we can get rid of hateful, ignorant words and deeds.

"Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love, this is the eternal rule." --Buddha

Peace, Love, and Tunes,


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posted by Mac Tíre at 12:42 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Grading and Gigs
Busy with the end of semester research paper grading. On a lunch break right now, then back for more at 2pm.

I find it incredibly amusing that I've been so worried about getting classical flute gigs, that I haven't tried to go for penny whistle/irish flute gigs......and that the first classical flute gig I get in town is because I play the penny whistle......go figure.

Semester's almost done! More after this weekend!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 1:14 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments