Tuesday, October 1, 2013

back in the dorm but not yet sleeping well

This is the sort of thing I'm dreading.

I came back to the dorms last night. I went home to practice for about five hours in the early afternoon, then came back on campus in time for dinner. My mom has a real thing about wanting me to eat either at home or in the cafeterias. She says that my uncle is spending so much for my meal ticket at school that it's a complete waste for me to survive on fast food. She says she understands why my friends and I might occasionally want to go out, but that dorm food is much better than it used to be, and that until I get food poisoning from something they serve me here, at which point we'll revisit the issue, she wants me eating in one of the cafeterias here (we have several from which to choose). She said that I'm more than welcome to eat anything at home or to take food from home with me. She just doesn't want me single-handedly keeping the fast-food industry here in business.

This upcoming weekend I was going to be inviting the floor plus anyone who hangs out on our floor enough to see the posted signs to come to my house to have dinner and ice cream and to watch a movie. No one seems to be going home yet this weekend, but some are the next weekend. My mom suggested it might be better to wait until the next weekend because homesickness is more likely to hit on a weekend when a lot of people are going home, and that though it will be a smaller gathering, it will do more good for the people who do come. She said I can have an all-out bash with everyone later, like maybe right after my concert or perhaps even sooner.

She said she remembers feeling really down the first weekend that almost everyone but she went home for the weekend. Her dad lived in Nebraska at the time and her older sister was in Vegas with her husband, and she had nowhere to visit. I'm lucky in that regard. There's probably always someone here who is either genuine family or like family that I can visit.

I have two more days of new classes this week, at which point I will have been to every class at least once. I think I'm delaying The Big Push until the weekend of the 17th. It will actually start on the evening of the 16th this quarter, as I have no Friday classes, and should be my shortest Big Push ever.
I may be able to cover it in five days, as several of my classes involve more practical work than reading, writing, or other forms of projects. Since most of my memorization for my Englih Practicum is already done, it's mainly the Anglo-Irish literature and the History of Mexico over which I must toil. I have a few small writings and readings for conducting, accompanying, and vocal/instrumental coaching, but those are very minor compared to that to which I've grown accustomed. I've already read all the course reading material for those classes. If you have basic theory down pat and you have a bit of common sense, and you have the skill to manage the practical exams or evaluations, you're fine in those areas. I'm not taking anything for granted.

I hope the poor piano and violin students who ended up with me as an instructor really want to learn to play the piano or violin, because they're going to learn whether they want to or not. Mine are all music majors, so they really shouldn't want a poor letter grade in a music course on their transcripts. My students will be evaluated by faculty in the department. I receive my grade before I have to give theirs. If I don't get an A because of any one of them, there's no way the person who robbed me of an A is getting anything better than a C. The evaluators are relatively lenient, and the students have to log in practice time with a department receptionist and have to practice in the music department's practice rooms for it to count toward their required practice time. If they haven't logged in the required time, it isn't held against the student instructors, and the students themselves automatcally receive between a C and an F unless they freaking blow the faculty member away with their proficiency. One of my students already knows how to play the piano and just is taking the course to prepare to pass the piano proficiency exams, so that one is already in the bag for me, as there are no pre-tests.) I can be a little more laid back in the vocal coaching. It's all freshman and sophomore voice majors I'm coaching, and they're all motivated and well instructed, as they all either have my mom or one other vocal professor who's really good. The vocalists evaluate me in addition to my evaluating them, so I need to be really nice. I'll be nice to my piano and violin students as well, but they WILL learn to play piano or violin at least to a minimal degree.

I haven't yet mastered the art of falling asleep easily in the dorms. I'm almost desperate enough to try headphones. My room doesn't have the flashing lights if an alarm goes off (some of the more recently updated rooms do)so I'll need to ask my neighbors to pound on the walls if there's an alarm. I could get in serious trouble if I were caught staying in my room during one of the burnt popcorm-induced drills, or God forbid if it were an actual fire. I need to ensure that there is a plan in place if the headphones, if they're not too uncomfortable, actually block sound to the degree that I could sleep through an alarm.

this blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to find the perfect balance between alrms that block out ordinary dorm noise and those that endager you in the case of fires.


  1. Your college experiences are kind of surreal... To think at age 18 you are already so far ahead of your peers. My experiences were so different than yours. When I was your age, there was no way I'd be thinking about teaching anyone my age anything.

    1. Surreal they are, but I started teaching my brother to play the piano when we were in kindergarten, and he did actually learn to play, so I have some experience. My motivatinoal technique will be to show my students a picture of my brothr, and say, "Look, I actually taught this dunderhead to play piano, which means I could probably teach a termite to play. What does that say about you if you cannot master two major scales and two easy pieces?" Actually I'm not that cold, but it would be tempting.

  2. That preceding comment was entirely in jest, I should add. I have total respect for and complete patience with anyone who desires to learn to ply an instrument. I understand that my new students' lives do not revolve around musical instruments to the degree that mine does at the moment, and I have no problem with mastering the piano or violin not being the number one priority in any of their lives.
    I just hope they understand, without putting undue pressure on them, that they have an obligation to put in at least the minimum of practice time and effort, and that they'll gain much more from the experience if they do so.

    My mom and and a few other professors are attempting to change the grading criteria for the class. Because we teach our lessons behind one-way glass, we can be observed at any time by anyone who is in the music faculty conference room. My mom and the others think HOW we teach is more significant than the level of proficiency our students achieve, and that those charged with supervising US should have the obligation to monitor what it is we are doing with our students. Our students are paying for the privilege of being taught by us (though we're not seeing a cent of the money) and deserve to have the REAL faculty periodically checking in to ensure our students are getting their money's worth. Moreover, in spite of however well or poorly we do our jobs of both teaching and motivating our students, those students come to us with different exposure and different levels of natural ability. It's not fair for our grades to be based entirely on how well our students play by the end of the winter quarter (it's a two-term course, which is good, because one cannot delve very deeply into the technique of an instrument in just a quarter) when so many variables exist. Maybe all my students were superior to my classmates' students from the outset. If so, why should their final performances be the sole criteria for grading? It will involve more work on the part of our professors, but we deserve to be evaluated on how well we teach and not just on the levels our students attain.
    Subjectivity is a factor, but subjective grading or evaluation happens in tons of instances.

    In any event, I hope the changes are made, as they're in the best interests of everyone except perhaps the faculty members, but they're not exactly overworked under the present system. It won't kill them to monitor us as we teach,