So for those of you keeping score, it's week 7 in the Spring term--end of my first year of my PhD program. If anyone's wandering, the quarter system is indeed BRUTAL. It probably doesn't help that for Spring term I'm carrying my heaviest load since starting the program here (2 seminars and a survey plus a pretty heavy teaching load).
Anyway, good things and not so good things happening out here.
I'm learning a lot (although sometimes barely keeping my head above water).
I love my classes (except when I feel completely unprepared...I got back ahead of the curve this week): Women in Music in Medieval Germany, Medieval Survey, and Historiography of Black Music.
I love the final projects I'm working on: The Hirsau Reform in 12th c German-Speaking Women's Monastic communities, Medieval Sephardic Music, and Negotiation of the "Folk" in Black Music: A Case Study of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. It feels like good work, y'know?
I love my students (I hit the jackpot this term).
I have people willing to help me build a traditional music community here. Slow session has at least 4 regular attendees.
My blues class has 13 kids so far for this summer....this is the first year that I will be an employed musicologist for the entire year (ie no crappy summer job).
I am working on a folk music project with senior faculty at my university (it's grunt work, but again, it feels like good work, y'know?).
I am barely keeping my head above water. Seriously. This week is better, but I've taken on too much. Must figure out how to make sure this doesn't happen again.
That's most of the bad actually....except for:
I have my first bad seed (here after referred to as BS.....fitting don't you think?) in the slow session. BS is a beginner (very) fiddle player (retired ex-professor). After his second slow session, BS wrote me an email detailing his problems with what I was doing. First off....SLOW SESSION IS FREE...you don't like it, DON'T COME! As my former roomie said, "You're outta the herd!" His main complaint was that is wasn't as "satisfying" as the first time he attended (ie it wasn't catered entirely to his playing/learning level). His first slow session, he was the only melody player, so I taught the Kesh Jig (easy, basic tune). BS had come in, and wanted to play tunes he already knew. I explained what a slow session was, and wanted to teach him a new easy tune because he had a really hard time playing in time (he compresses the beat like crazy). His second slow session I taught a harder less well-known tune because there were other melody players. In his email complaint, he also complained that I wasn't sure about the name of the tune. He said, "a name is really important." What is it with people and their obsession with tune names here? He also told me the way I was leading slow session was impractical.
I waited a week and then replied to BS, basically telling him that this is the way I learned the tradition so that's the way I'm passing it on. In addition, I explained the fluid nature of tune names, and the idea that the pedagogy of the tradition developed this way for a (good) reason.
BS returned to slow session last week and was combative in his attitude. I'm giving him one more week, and then I'm going to flat out tell him that these are free group lessons taught in a very specific way for a very specific reason, and if he doesn't want that, he's free to leave and go learn somewhere else. Any advice?
Also, it feels completely insane to me that _I'm_ the one passing on the tradition. I feel inadequate, because I know how far I need to go to be the player I want to be (especially because I'm talking to people in both the melodic and accompanying parts of the tradition). I don't know how to stay in the shallow end do I?
Ah, the politics of community building....
Peace, Love, and Tunes,