By about 10 p.m. tomorrow evening BST, I will have completed the 3/5 of my masters in contemporary music. That idea alone is not so crazy, but the idea that this latest fifth only started four days ago? That part sort of is.
It's been a very intense week. Playing your instrument (particularly when you are a wind player or a vocalist, as I am on both counts) for hours at a time takes a lot out of you physically. What it takes out of you mentally, though, is perhaps even more taxing. And doing this for four days in a row, well -- it really starts to wear you out. My lips are chapped, my wrists are sore, my musical creativity goes from feeling ample and overflowing to feeling dry and tapped out at random. But it's really been an amazing week. There have been plenty of times when I've felt frustrated, intimidated, unsure, uneasy. But I think the fact that I feel none of those things now, on the day before our performance, is a testament to what this part of my course has done for me.
I composed a piece of music that we'll be playing as an ensemble on Saturday, and I hope to take video (or rather, have the AEB take video!) to post here for you to see. And to keep for posterity, of course. But let's get back to that first sentence. I composed a piece of music. It wasn't perfect. I'd bollocksed up some of the rhythms in the notation, and my transposition (my instrument -- and thus the writing of the piece -- is in B flat, and thus must be transposed to C for other instruments) was sketchy at best. But with the help of Jeff, the guest lecturer who's leading the class (and happens to be a bass clarinetist) helped me communicate what I wanted from the ensemble and we played music. We played music I had written and it actually sounded really good. Concepts, ideas I'd imagined worked. Words I'd picked out for the piece fit, and meant something. And the other students liked it. It was no less than an absolute rush, and playing it for an audience will, I'm sure, be even better.
I'd spent a lot of time wondering what this week was going to be like, because the idea of getting through an entire component of my degree in five days is a bit heavy. Everything else has taken months, the entire school year. But I think in the end I might've learned just as much through this process, if not more, than I did in any of my other modules. I can't wait to post the video here.
After the concert on Saturday night, things will really begin to wind down for me. The AEB and I are meeting my little sister Rachel (little sister of the sorority variety, not of the womb), who's in London as part of a multi-country study abroad trip, for a roast lunch on Sunday afternoon. Monday and Tuesday are my improvisation exams, both group and solo. My solo piece has to be 15 minutes in length, and yesterday I spent some time in the recording studio on campus putting some vocal tracks together that I'm going to improvise with on clarinet. I need to rehearse it, but I have high hopes for that. And after about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, my actual classes are complete. It's just a dissertation standing between me and a masters degree. Wowza.
I'd like to think I'm going to spend the rest of that week relaxing until my flight on Friday, but I know that's probably a dirty lie. I'll end up working on the dissertation (good girl!) or cleaning or doing laundry or any of a million little things that need to get done before I leave. I hope I can find some time in there to lay out in the backyard because I am pastier than Elmer's right now like the rest of these English cave-dwellers and I have a feeling next to sub-tropical Memphians I'm going to look like a malnourished Scandinavian. You know, what with the blond and all.
Check back on Sunday for video from the performance; I hope we can get it up that soon, but it may be Monday. Til then!
HRH e. cawein