Thursday, September 30, 2004

A Unique Oportunity

This week has been quite an eye-opener. After talking to many other first-year students at DePauw, our first-year seminar seems to be the most rewarding. This week we have gained the necessary skills to start preparing for after college. We have done this by exploring different career opportunities, preparing resumes, and discussing goals. Students in the school of Liberal Arts have been refering to their seminars as "blow-off" classes and aren't learning anything. Who wants to pay tons of money for a class if you're not getting anything out of it? And, I highly doubt their professors are guiding them in preparing resumes. In conclusion, it is brilliant to require all of the School of Music students to take this First-Year Seminar.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Performing

This segment of the seminar has been so much fun. We have learned to let go of our inhibitions and just be ourselves. Also, just the fact that we get to listen to each other perform is awesome! I haven't had any chance to hear the other members of my mentor group play/sing before and it's such a treat! Everyone is so talented! I think it's a very important part of the learning process...just the fact that we can see others perform and then take away something that we can learn from. I also love the fact that we had to make our own resumes. I have never made a resume before and it gave me a chance to get it done so now all i have to do is revise it whenever something new comes along. I really have loved this rotation and I'm really going to miss it because i would love to learn more about performance anxiety and such. Besides, Professor Foy's laugh is priceless...gotta love it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Train!...

Today, we created a train. Although we didn't prepare the train, it turned out quite well. We were told to create a machine with our instruments that we brought in from last week. Some of the instruments that we had were, coat hangers, bottles of water, a cardboard box, a halfway filled tin of cashews, etc.. Although we only put this performance together in about 5-10minutes, it turned out great! It was very unique that each individual instrument served its own purpose. Also, without one of the instruments it would not have sounded the same. "The Train" needed each sound to really deliver the whole event of the train routine. One thing that interests me is that each time we have tried to immate things that happen, we have done in the same way. We start slow or quiet, then progress to a faster speed and/or louder, and then eventually come back to nothing again. With the rainstorm, we started quiet and got really loud, then came back to nothing again. In some cases, this is what really happens, however, I have heard/seen many rainstorms that just randomly start hard.
It is very interesting to me that many objects just lying around can really serve as musical instruments. It all depends on how creative you can be. A great point brought up about this event that we did today was the fact that doing this performance really relates to a real musical concert. In an orchestra, there are many instruments and although some play more often than others, it does not make them more or less important. One might sit for half of the piece, but when they come in to play it is very important. In our train, if one person would have not played it would have really changed the sound. We needed each individual noise to complete the train. Everyone has to play together, and listen to eachother. In situations like these, you are performing as a group, NOT a soloist. Without the blend of eachother, you would not complete the sound/piece that you are trying to perform.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Child Geniuses

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
-Pablo Picasso

I thought about this quote a few times while in seminar this week as we explored ways to portray events using our body or other household items. The activities that we have been doing, especially the rainstorm, have reminded me that it doesn’t take a doctorate in music to “get it.” I feel like this past week has taken us back to our roots as little children who simply enjoy making music with nothing more complicated than pots and pans. I think that is a good reminder every once in a while that it doesn’t take any musical training to enjoy music. This is sort of a tangent, but I am going into it anyway. I was reading an article this weekend and evidently researchers have discovered that newborns can identify people regarded as “beautiful” by society. From the time we are just a few months old, we know what beauty is. That simply blows my mind that babies can identify a beautiful person before they themselves can walk. We always think of “beauty” as a label that has developed within society and that is molded as we live our lives, but apparently that is not necessarily the case. We have this preconceived notion of beauty. Perhaps we also have a preconceived notion of what music should sound like too. I think that would be an interesting idea to explore. I wonder how much of our idea of what is “good” music was determined as infants or possibly before we are even born.

Lightning, and Thunder, and Rain...................Oh My!!!

Who would have guessed that we would be making instruments, and rainstorms this week.
But even though it may have seemed a little awkward at first, I understand why we are doing this. As music students we must be able to express our feelings through whatever means possible. When we were making our rainstorms, it gave us the chance to not worry whether or not our voices, lips, or hands were ready to sing or play. I main focus was on using our own body on making raindrops. I believe Prof. Foy did this because we needed to realize that our creativity doesn't start when we sing or play. The creative side of us is always there and we just need to harness it into whatever we want to put it into.

Performance Savoir-faire

I am excited about the Performance techniques part of our rotation! As first year music majors, we all have a great deal to learn in this area, and I for one have already learned many valuable things from Professor Foy. The information he gave us about performance resumes was absolutely vital. We will all have to apply for jobs after we graduate from the school of music, and most likely before then. The advice he gave us about being confident but not cocky, and about trying to get along with whomever we work is important for any profession. He also taught us the importance of setting goals, and giving a professional presentation of ourselves. Also, the improvisation exercises we have done have already taught me a great deal about conveying a musical idea. The most appealing aspect of any musician is their ability to convey the true meaning of a piece through musical expression, and these improvisation exercises have taught us all how to take an abstract idea and turn it into a musical concept. I am looking forward to seeing what this class will teach us in the upcoming week.

The Art of Performing

So I am definitely all for this "first year seminar" thing. I am learning so much about myself as a person AND as a musician that I can hardly believe it! First with the ragas, I really didn't think things could get much better from there, but apparently they can. Some of my friends outside the Music School were commenting on how the projects we did in the Music School (like make homemade instruments) reminded them of first-graders. I guess that makes sense to me, but I think that all of us can learn something from remembering and repeating things we did when we were 6, 7, or 8. Children this age can teach us a lot about creativity. I thought it was amazing that the two groups, for both projects intrepreted things so differently, but the rain storm was definitely my favorite. The portrayals of the same event were completely different and both were completely correct, it was crazy! And like Prof. Foy said, it was just as easy to get immersed in the rain storm as it was to be immersed in a professional concert. Performing and practicing are both arts that we can all really improve on during our time here.
And it's also wonderful that we are able to put a professional spin on all this "first-grader-ish-ness" by talking about our performance and career goals and making resumes. I'm really excited for this coming week, and to perform for each other.