Monday, August 21, 2006

Daily updates, Day 6

Most of my mind today has been taken up with trying to decide whether or not to take an apartment slightly out of my budget range. It's beautiful, and perfect, and just barely too expensive. It's got a charming roommate with a darling cat. It looks like a home, not an apartment. And I keep telling myself I will take the plunge and do it, and then I remember that I really need to be taking voice lessons, and maybe organ lessons, and ideally Alexander Technique lessons, and that I'm still in a place where music is likely to cost more than it pays, and then I feel that I can't go forward with it.

This is all made harder by the fact that I feel that I got this degree, and now I somehow am not managing to do anything with it. It's very hard not to feel that the only explanation is that I haven't tried hard enough. I have classmates with music jobs (in fact, I can't think of someone in the program with me that doesn't have a music job) but here I am wondering if I should go back into tech support to pay off student loans. This feeling of "failing to be a musician" is common, I know - I've talked with friends about it - but that doesn't make it particularly easier to handle.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Daily updates, Day 5

Personally, I have nothing of musical interest to report today. I visited apartments, and ate with friends and family. However, that doesn't mean there's nothing of musical interest going on in the wider world, so I will use this daily update for some signal-boosting.

London's Proms are in full swing! You can listen to the concerts online, if you wish.

Outside London's Royal Festival Hall, a "virtual orchestra" has been put together.

Farinelli's body is exhumed. Yuck. (Farinelli was one of the most famous castratos in the history of the world.)

Wynton Marsalis is going to write an opera for the New York Met.

The Tehran Symphony Orchestra goes on tour in Germany.

It's not news, but if you missed the articles about U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, a Xhosa version of Carmen, the film won rave reviews and quite a lot of press last year. (I was trying and mostly failing to find news that was not in the US or Europe.)

And finally (and sadly) Elisabeth Schwarzkopf passed away on August 3.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Daily updates, Day 4

Today I went shopping. Again. (I went shopping just a week ago with my friend AN.) I now have a complete wardrobe for teaching, (at least in the fall) and feel quite comfortable and professional in what I have.

One of the things that I faced up to at Westminster was how important image is. I think singers have to deal with the importance of presentation and body image more than any other type of musician, so as a school, it was a very clothing-conscious place. (I've never seen so many high-heeled shoes in my life. Did you know they make high-heeled flip-flops now? I'm not kidding!) And the importance of image is especially relevant for conductors - after all, people are staring at you for hours during a rehearsal. Your entire job is visual - while the music is going, it's the only available method of communication. It may seem obvious that therefore one's appearance plays a huge role in how musicians respond to you, but it is an idea that I've only grudgingly accepted. However, when faced with the prospect of a roomful of middle-schoolers, I am going to take every advantage I can get, and looking like I mean business will definitely help!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Daily updates, Day 3

Dear Diary,

Today, my friend JL taught me to play the organ. It was fun! I learned that I have no business doing anything with the pedals anytime soon. Also, my feet are much larger than I thought. Then I had a more-than-four hour meeting with the teacher I'm substituting for at the private school in September. She is wicked helpful and super-organized, with lesson plans for every day. Whew! Then I cooked some pasta primavera. It was yummy! It was the best day ever!

Tomorrow I go shopping, so I look all cool for school! Yay!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Daily updates, Day 2

I almost forgot to update today! I have no interesting musical tidbits to report, so I will simply provide a musical joke for the day.

What's the definition of an alto?

A soprano who can sightread.

Hey, it's funny because it's true! (There was no other reason for me to end up in the alto section in 3rd grade.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Daily updates, Day 1

My friend Christianne (over at Singin' in the Lane) and I met for a good-bye dinner of sushi before I left Princeton, and we agreed that we both wished we updated our blogs more regularly. So we made an agreement that starting today, we would post something every day for a week.

Luckily, I have something to report! I got offered a job today, and I took it. It's a temporary substitute-teaching job at a private school in Cambridge, and I'll be teaching middle-school music for the month of September. The school has a good reputation, the classes are small, there's tons of administrative support, there are complete syllabi for me to follow, and the compensation is generous. It's a great gig. This doesn't mean I'm not still somewhat terrified of jumping in and teaching middle-school full-time for a month, but I think I'll survive. What happens after that is still unknown, but at least I'll have income for one month, and you know I'm going to learn something.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Car on fire!

I haven't posted for a while, mostly because there hasn't been much going on in my life. I've been applying for jobs, I've gotten a few scant interviews, and nobody has seen fit to offer me employment yet. It's been a pretty quiet summer, which is good for me after two intense years of graduate school, but maybe not so good for the excitement levels of my blog.

However, at last I have something to report! Last night, I was in a car that caught on fire!

Yesterday I went to a recording session in Philadelphia with fellow singers AN and LLJ. Dr. Jordan is recording some pieces for the publishing company he's associated with. I believe this is so they can provide recordings to prospective music-buyers, but I'm not entirely sure - all I know is, I learn my part, I show up, I sing, I get money. Pretty sweet. The group is called Anam Cara, and was formed for this recording session, but Dr. Jordan's so pleased with the sound that he wants to try and do other gigs in the future.

We took LLJ's car, which is actually her roommate's Aunt Betty's car. Her roommate is in Turkey. She was given the car by her Aunt Betty two years ago, who promised it was in perfect condition, but neglected to mention the bullet holes in the passenger-side door. I merely provide all this as background, and to prove that this is a car that appears to attract excitement.

The air-conditioning in the car was broken, so I spent one and a half hours yesterday in that heat in a non-air-conditioned car. Which wasn't fun. The drivers (AN and LLJ took turns) noticed that the transmission was acting funny, but we didn't worry about it. We did the recording session, went out for food afterwards, and headed home at probably around 11:30 pm.

When we got back into Princeton, LLJ noticed that she smelled smoke. I did too, but AN didn't, and we both (being rather blase persons) told LLJ not to worry about it. However, about a mile away from my house, LLJ saw smoke as well as smelled it, and pulled the car over. At this point, I think AN and I both a little annoyed, because hey, we were only a mile away from my house, right? How bad could it really be? However, I opened my door to get out, and that's when I saw flickering orange light coming out from under the bottom of the car. This rather changed my attitude. "Flames! Flames! Get out, guys, now!" I said. We all scrambled out, and stood about 10 feet away, and watched as the flames (which were coming from under the chassis, right under the driver's foot-well) died out over the course of about 5 minutes. LLJ during this time was placing a call to 911, with the pithy message, "Hello, my car's on fire." It must have been a slow night in Princeton, because we ranked 3 police cars and a fire truck.

The firemen all clustered around and helpful advice and various possible explanations were provided mainly by one fireman in flip-flops, boxers, a tank-top, and a big fire-hat. Everyone else was in full fire-gear. We tried to come up with hypotheses for this variation in dress code on the way home, and concluded that the car-fire-expert must have been asleep at the time of the call. They sprayed water on it to cool it down, and told LLJ to leave it there, call the police station in the morning to make sure she wouldn't get ticketed, and have it towed in the morning as well. Then all three of us walked the mile home to my house. AN had already planned to stay over, and LLJ stayed as well because she had no way to get home.

The moral of this story is that if you smell something burning, maybe there's something really wrong with your car, and if you smell something burning and see smoke, then you should probably get out of your car in fairly short order.

The last thing we did before bed was leave a message on the CarTalk voicemail system. If those producers don't choose LLJ to be on the next CarTalk show, they're crazy.