School, Blah, Blah

October 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm (School) ()

After some initial confusion (or bad communication, Lord knows) with the counselor – who thought I was talking about the Berkeley School of Music in BOSTON – I think I may have everything I need short of the CD. I’ll give UC Berkeley a call tomorrow to ensure they understand the sitch, to see if they want the grades from Germany transferred (I’ll have those translated anyhow) and how my transcript will have less than 30 credits when I send it to them before November but I will have more than 30 by the time I’d actually transfer out. And so forth.

All that’s missing is an actual CD and the contact I was supposed to receive so I’d have a bit more of an in with Berkeley. Apparently I’d be able to record our lab sessions or something? I’ll have to track down the technician for it, but I’m sure it will be an adventure.

This is incoherent, but that’s alright. I’m not feeling horribly stringent right now. Next on my list: Calling about contact lenses. I’m getting pressure marks on the bridge of my nose and some minor headaches from wearing glasses again. Blergh.

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Busy, Busy, Busy

September 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm (Music, School) (, , )

School has been driving me nuts. It’s only week, what? Three? And I’ve been running around like a decapitated chicken. I’m up to six songs for my voice lessons this semester – minimum requirement for a second semester student: six. I am working on memorizing the four-song cycle Blue Mountain Ballads by Paul Bowles, I have the de Luca song in Italian down pat and am struggling through the two Handel as per usual.

Baroque music is hard, in case you didn’t know. For a look at the second song I am working on, look here:

The soprano doing it is fantastic and I’m a little jealous. Ah well, someday!

As she ought to, Dr. D’s coming down hard on my bad habits. I have several years of bad singing habits deeply ingrained into both brain and muscle memory, cemented by two voice teachers. I was taught by a tenor for a while, which apparently was the worst idea ever because the way their voices and bodies work to produce sound are so vastly different from all voice types that having them teach is just bad all around. A lot of it is breath management and breathing, with which I can legitimately argue that it’s not going to improve until I move somewhere where I won’t be exposed to allergens 100% of the time. More importantly, though, is convincing my brain that no, I am not, in fact, a heavy voice type, therefore I have absolutely no reason to be pushing as hard as I do.

Out, not in.  And turning off my brain for half of what I am doing would also be brilliant because I tend to overthink what I do. As Dr. D says, I work too hard and being a lyric soprano I should not be working hard at all because it’s equivalent to erecting giant barriers to work around. It can also damage the vocal cords in the long run; I’ve had a few close calls before and have no interest in repeating that experience or winding up like either Karita Mattila or Natalie Dessay, who both required surgery to reverse the damage done.

I’m also struggling a lot with piano; I am simply not very good at it and I’m absolutely terrified I won’t do well in this class, thereby ruining my GPA and dashing all hopes of transferring wherever I want to. I haven’t had the chance to talk to Dr. D about transferring and recommendations and such yet because she’s been just as ridiculously busy as ever, but I have an appointment with a guidance counselor for next Tuesday. Here’s hoping it’ll go well.

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A Job Well Done

September 2, 2009 at 6:20 pm (School) (, , , )

Or not, which is more accurately the case. I had my first voice lesson for this semester. I walked into Dr. D’s office at nine o’clock sharp. She’s a dog lover. She has pictures of her now deceased lab and her current dog all over the place. When she asked me how my summer was, I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “It sucked, to be honest.”

It’s not exactly common to be that blunt here in the US. Mostly, we are taught to say “It was fine” and leave it be. I don’t believe in lying. I was being honest. The summer, for most part, did suck.

“Why was your summer so bad?” she asked.

I’d intended to just mention my root canal. But out popped “I had to put my dog down.” I immediately started welling up when Dr. D said she was so sorry, that she knew how much it hurts to lose a pet. I felt like an idiot. I didn’t want to say it, I don’t want to make my voice teacher aware of how emotionally unstable I was. I also don’t think I have ever been this lucky with an instructor. She didn’t try and coddle me, but she told me how sorry she was while I grabbed a tissue and wiped furiously at my eyes. I think performance and the ability to perform are intrinsically linked to your emotional well-being. This whole summer, I’ve felt like the music in me died, because I was sick in the heart and body. I’m getting better again, but it’s still difficult to do it.

I came out the lesson with no less than three songs to work on until next week.

“Ombra Cara” by Handel

“Heavenly Grass” by Paul Bowles (Part 1 of the Blue Mountain Ballads; apparently I am to learn the other three at some point soon, too.)

And I cannot, for the life of me, find a good rendition of Bononcini’s “Non posso disperar.” This is going to be interesting.

During chorus, Dr. D moved some new girl next to me after she admitted that she was completely lost. Why Dr. D did this is beyond me. She must think I read music and follow along better than I actually do. What happened to the girl the music teachers used to roll their eyes at because she couldn’t do anything worth jack?

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So-so

September 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

Another successful day. I was at the college at an exceptionally early hour, but that turned out to be okay. One of the guys came over to talk to me because he was just as early as I was. Polishing up my social skills: success! I picked up both the recordings of the pieces we will be singing in chorus this year and the soprano part, so I should be alright. I also signed up for a practice room. I only filled out one time slot, on Tuesday, but I might check back for a second because I just don’t know how much I will have to practice just yet.

After my last class, I headed over to the student services building where I picked up the form I’ll need to fill out in order to get a confirmation letter from the college that I am enrolled in the fall semester. For what I need it, I do not know, but my father requested it and so I hopped to it. It’ll cost me five bucks. I can deal with that, even though it’s like, uh, I’ll be picking it up, so it’s not like you guys are paying postage. Seriously?

I am still a little jet-lagged, but what else will you expect? I made it until 09.30pm yesterday and then collapsed into bed. I felt a little ill, so I couldn’t sleep at first. Downed a phenergan. Sleep was imminent. I have found that packing my stuff the night before allows me to sleep a little longer if I want to. I might even start laying out my clothes like an elementary schooler again if it saves me time and stress in the morning. Getting to school early saves me a lot of money because I only have to pay for the bus fare in one direction. I am also still waiting for the books I ordered to arrive. I need my schoolbooks, Amazon. I can only deal with irritated professors for so long. On the other hand, I don’t feel as though they have any right to be snappy – schoolbooks cost a fortune. Even with the discounts and the books being used, it still made me cringe; it’s no wonder everyone is heavily in debt. Jesus.

I have also started keeping a hand-written journal again. I figure it is a quaint, if slightly anachronistic, thing and that such written forms keep for a while. Who knows? Maybe my future self may need it or find it good for a laugh. If nothing else, if anything happens to me, there will be something in paper for people to hold on to. I would know that feels; Lena’s box has been in my bed ever since I picked it up from the vet because it helps me sleep better. It makes her memory feel a little more tangible, even as I hurt inside.

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Beginnings

August 31, 2009 at 4:58 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

The first day of the new semester has come and gone. I’m not sure I feel any better or wiser; I just feel like I’ve progressed further down the line of education. I suppose that’s part of the deal, eh? My schedule’s going to be pretty full with all the practicing and registering with the DMV for my learner’s permit and God knows what else I can come up with.

I’ve been going to bed at nine. I think I might try and push that up to ten, just so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night because my bladder is so ridiculously full. That’s one nightly ritual I can live without. However, ten is the latest simply because I’ll probably be getting up between 7.00 and 7.30 for the rest of the semester. This allows me to hitch a ride to school with C. Yeah, it gets me there an hour earlier than I have to be, but I figure I can take a book along, listen to music or actually socialize with people for a change. I managed to avoid that for much of the last semester. I’m making an active effort to no longer do that.

So I arrived in the music building a full hour earlier than I had to and immediately proceeded to fall back into old habits, which includes sitting quietly and not interacting with whoever may be in the hall with me. At some point, one guy looked at me as I dropped my iPod back into my bag and said, “Did you dye your hair?”

“Yeah, I did. And cut it, too.”

“OH MAN! I’m sorry! You’ve been chilling there the whole time and I didn’t even recognize you. It looks great. How was your summer?”

I was a little stunned because I end up considering myself fairly mousy for most part. I know I’m not, but I can fade into the background pretty well if I want to. I didn’t feel super confident my first semester. As I’ve stated here before, I’m getting over that phase. I need to be more outgoing, talk to people and just be myself. I’m just surprised this guy had noticed my existence the semester before at all. I got up and chatted with him for a bit, then more people drifted in, all of whom also recognized me. I talked to them until they had to go to class, at which point I sat back down and watched some more of Pushing Daisies on my iPod.

Someone sat next to me and I tried not to listen in on their conversation on the phone. I’d thought the voice sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure. Turned out it was T, one of the girls who’d been in my class during the first summer session. She signed off the phone and we talked for about half an hour; turns out we have some classes together. I should be okay.

My music theory class is small, which is fantastic. Same prof as last semester, as I’d requested. Thank God it went through. Not that I have anything against the other guy who teaches it, but Prof. S has a different understanding of teaching that meshes well with my personality and way of learning. Once I find something I work well with, I try not to change it. My lab class also runs at the same time it did last year. I felt a little uncertain during the half-hour break between Chorus and Lab, but some new girl broke the ice by telling me she thought I was really pretty and it went from there.

All in all, I’d say it’s been a pretty good day. I finished a book I’d been postponing reading for quite some time due to the fact it was my dad who handed it to me. My father and I don’t usually agree on what either of us consider a great read. This book, Eine exklusive Liebe is not something I’d consider a FANTASTIC read, but it was a good book. It was written by a woman a little older than my sister in an attempt to reconcile and explore her grandparents’ double suicide and how that tied into her understanding of herself and her family, and to rediscover some of the history lost in the concept of “We don’t talk about that.” I’d say pick it up if you understand German; it’s not a must read, but I wouldn’t consider it a waste of paper and time, either.

It was just a little ironic how the book closed with naming the locksmith’s fee. My dog’s life had basically been reduced to a hospital bill and an euthanasia fee. I wonder if it is part of human nature to grasp at numbers in an attempt to understand something, even as it constitutes a cruel twist because there is simply no way of attaching monetary value to a life.

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Countdown Starts Now

June 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

Three more days of school, then the summer session will be over. Another week after this and I’ll be on my way to England to spend some quality time with my mother, the dog, and presumably Orla and Helen. (Bitches, I WILL hit you up. Be very afraid.) Unless they plan on being dicks, in which case bad things will happen.

My parents are going to replace my MacBook; which means I have to make my way to Montgomery Mall tomorrow to return the MacBook I ordered (it should arrive tomorrow morning) as well as the keyboard cover. My father gets a not-so-small discount with Apple Germany. My parents also want me to have a German keyboard, for whatever reason. So. I don’t feel TOO horrid about the cat destroying my current one. (To make a long story short: I had a glass with Coke next to my laptop. Not Diet Coke. REAL Coke. The cat jumped onto the desk and when he landed, he knocked over the glass. Let it suffice that I was NOT a happy camper.)

I think I will spend a significant amount of time in July exercising, sewing and writing. And practicing. Yeah. My voice teacher would murder me if I did little to no work for two months because you can seriously regress in terms of muscle memory. I’ve got a skirt or two in mind that I would like to sew, and I bought some neat boots I had been eyeing for a while so I would have fun shoes to go with costumes and for just because.

151405BRN1ZThat is all!

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The Final Countdown

May 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm (School) (, , , )

Photo 76

I have jury tomorrow. That just about sums up how I feel about this.

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SUCCESS!

May 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm (Art, Life, Music, School) (, , , )

I would not say it went perfectly, but overall, the concert was fabulous. I invited my cousin – who, as I found out, lives and works in D.C. and has done so for the last five years – to come out and listen. He seemed impressed. It turns out I had a nice little support group, but I feel it’s weird to receive compliments for the performance. I feel like I was only a tiny, tiny cog in the machine that made this happened and can’t accept praise for the entity as a whole.

I am a little sad we did not get to hear the piano concerto; it appears that, too, went well. Instead, I sat in the rehearsal hall with about fifty other people and chatted for a bit until we were allowed to wander to the Performing Arts Center. I am still trying to figure out which YouTube Channel this whole thing is on because they will apparently be put up at some point.

More importantly, it turns out we – my aunt and I – know the production manager, which means I may be able to get a DVD out of the whole business. My family will certainly be pleased with this news. There will be no pictures of tired Dani in choral garb, as I am now off to bed because I have voice lessons at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.

Good night!

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Pathetic

April 29, 2009 at 11:28 pm (Life, Music, School) ()

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a whiny college student discovering their major is pretty dead-end. Case in point: moi.

I love music. I love my major. I love singing. So why am I unhappy?

A lot of it has to do with the fact that sopranos are a dime a dozen. I am averagely talented at best. I sound horrific to myself. My voice is far from spectacular. And to top it all off, I am not some exotic-looking beauty, but just your average white girl who passes for cute on good days. I just have no idea how I will ever find a job doing what I want to do, which is singing. On one hand, every untalented fucking hack is successful with a good marketing team – for proof, just look at the majority of what you hear on the radio these days. Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, the list goes on. Why should it be any harder for me?

I’m working with an entirely different scene. I sincerely doubt half-talented idiots like myself have a good chance in the classical music community. In other words, I am hosed and destined to sign up for the Army Chorale so at least I won’t live on the streets. It’s not what I want. I’ll try and work for something better, but right now I can’t see further than the end of my nose and with the jury date looming ahead. I’ve been working on these fucking songs for twelve weeks. Why can’t I just have them down and perfected yet?

Don’t mind me. I’m just being a spoiled asshole.

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Honors

April 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm (Life, Music, School) (, , , , )

My aunt and I went to the Honors’ Recital at my school’s music department on Friday. It kind of raises the question – what qualifies you as an honors’ student? Being at the school for a certain amount of time? All I know is that I was pretty disappointed in a few people who did perform. The instrumentalists did fine, but the three singers were kind of . . . meh.

The sad thing is that I knew two of them were much better than they presented themselves as on Friday. I’ve heard them practice. They were much better in the practice room than they were on stage. I realize nervousness plays a large role in performance, but seriously? It was lackluster.

Sigh.

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