Thursday, November 17, 2016

This was from May 20th, 2016:

Here it goes: my daughter has been introduced to my childhood imaginary friend. I don't know how, or by whom, and she says her brain told this to her when she was younger. Of course, she was a bit young to recognize anything that was being taught in the church where I used to lead worship, so I'm curious as to how she was reminded of anything pertaining to Jesus. She laid out the facts, and it came up out of the blue. She asked how the humans were born; not the birds and the bees question, but rather who were the first humans. She already knew the answer: it was Jesus and his mother. Instantly I tried to understand what she was talking about, so I asked if she had read that or heard that, and she insisted that her brain told her from when she was really little. She said Jesus' birthday is on Christmas. Jesus was born in the year two-thousand zero, which I understood her to mean zero. She said he died in 1988. That was an interesting date. Sounds fishy to me.... I'm not one to zone in on such a topic unless it's appropriate, and I really didn't want to make that a huge deal and to have a big impression, so I started talking about other people instead, like my grandparents, and their grandparents, and even Einstein and Newton. So needless to say, the whole Jesus thing will have to wait until she brings it up again.

Thoughts of a Beginning "Brassist"

Today, I worked with a colleague to hone my technique on brass instruments, in particular the trumpet and trombone.  The embouchure is both my friend and my enemy at this point; I need to form my lips so that my breath can simply blow air through the opening and directly into the mouthpiece to make a beautiful clear, ringing sound out of the bell of the instrument.  I cannot form the embouchure consistently, and my lips simply do not want to maintain a flexing in the corners of my mouth to allow for a tighter embouchure with a faster flow of air as well as a faster vibration in the lips.  I want it to be intuitive, like my voice when I sing, simply being able to ascend through my passagio into my head voice and not have to think so hard about maintaining the coordination from my diaphragm and intercostal muscles, up through to my larynx, pharynx and articulators.  All of this needs to happen for me intuitively on the mouthpiece before I can even consider playing the partials on the actual instrument.  I want a consistent sound, and if my embouchure and air supply is insufficient, then my sound will simply be splatty, out of tune and not even hitting the notes period.

Thankfully, it is only my first semester, and my colleague has much more experience than I, so there is not much to worry about with where I'm at.  However, I want to improve, and I want to see results quite rapidly.  My impatience will be my driving factor, because I like to complete something and get to a point where I'm satisfied with the results before leaving it alone.  This will take time to learn, obviously, as would any new skill.  This is for a methods class, in which I'm learning to teach various instrument techniques for band and orchestra students from 4th grade through high school.  I want to be as versatile and helpful of a music teacher as I can be.  Yes, my emphasis is in vocal music, however I find it hard to believe that a music teacher can merely be a vocal teacher and never have to worry about teaching a band class, or conducting an orchestra in addition to a choir.  This seems to be part of the job description, especially when schools are usually expecting a music teacher to cover many facets of the music curriculum, with very slim staffing.

I know I need to take it one step at a time, and I envy those who have had the opportunities in their school careers or elsewhere, to learn to play an instrument long term.  My experience with violin for a couple of years in 4th and 5th grade, and then guitar in my freshman year of college, and piano since I was very little, has only gotten me so far.  I tend to shy away from any sight reading unless it's monophonic - only one note at a time, such as in singing.  My strength is in my acute aural perception of melodies, harmonies, and rhythms.  Notes on a page freak me out.  I can proper analyze an entire score with the cadences, harmonic progressions, meters, modes, transpositions, modulations, etc., but this requires quite some effort to actually throw myself into wanting to think through all of the musical aspects that I'm seeing on the page.  I've been trained for this, and I understand it, and its somewhat enjoyable in its similarity to a set of mathematical or logical proofs, but it's still annoying that it takes so much effort, so I'd rather just leave the visual aspect of it alone and listen to things, to get a sense for how things sound, internalizing it along the way.

I'm hoping this doesn't affect my teaching career too much; I know I will be a step behind any colleagues of mine because of this lack of sight reading and analysis fluency.  We shall see.  Meanwhile I will take things a step at a time, and continue seeking out opportunities to enrich my love of music, and see where I end up.  After all, I should always be a student so that I can continue to increase my capacity as an educator.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Life is Interesting

Here I am, having just completed a Catholic Mass! It's not my first one either. Since the beginning of December, 2015 I've been employed in the parish and seasonal contemporary choirs, as a section leader at St. Olaf Catholic Church. Do I know the Catholic liturgies? No! But this is an opportunity for me to continue in my passion for music. I am an atheist, however the Christian liturgies and rituals are all too familiar to my psyche, having grown up attending a Baptist church, until my high school years when I escaped from my mom's abusive grip, to then begin attending an Assemblies of God church, from which I eventually left for a position with a worship band at a Pentecostal church, where I soon became the music director, only to finally quit Christianity altogether in 2011, after much study of and frustration with the plethora of inconsistencies in the Christian faith and literature, and the ridiculous beliefs and fears which stood in the way of being able to live my life according to what I found to be true.

So here I am, seizing an opportunity to continue singing music, albeit in a religious setting, though I have no spiritual obligations or concerns, except to be the best I can be musically in the role I'm expected to fulfill as a choral section leader.

Life is interesting.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Math, Music, and Money

Right now, I'm laboring over some math problems, which begs the question: Why math when muzach is my moniker? Tis an excellent question which is answered in one single word: Money!

I have a goal, to do well for my family; to enrich my education so as to be the best that I can be in my field of interest, for my family. Music is an odd field after all. I have to jump through the same general hoops that all career seekers do, and get my liberal arts degree, and then some. But in the end, I will be performing and teaching music, a fine art, with little need for academic understanding, except for the fact that music is a fine art as a result of academic intellectuals making it so.

Currently, my status is pretty far from finishing my education. It has dawned on me as the semesters have passed, that I must fulfill certain requirements which I had not known existed for such a career. I was keeping it simple, and taking my time, while holding down my first full time job that has lasted now for just over two years.

It's time to focus now, and to reorient my priorities. My job must be flexible now, as it is standing in between my full-time education and my full-time career as a music teacher and performer.

So long sweet and simple. Hello hectic and hard.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Something Soon

Per request/requirement of my blogger buddy over at Incongruous Circumspection, I respectfully/redundantly submit this post. I was asked/commanded to write "something soon", hence, the title. Without further ado, I now return to my other work. Please check out my blogger buddy/brother over at Incongruous Circumspection. He has some interesting/important things of which to inform you. You'll be all the wiser for it! Just see how wise I've become...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who Do I Thank for Life?

After having good conversation with my brother--who is the blogger of Incongruous Circumspection--and a couple of fickle (on my part) friends, I have some serious matters to sort through in retrospect of a frightening incident I experienced today. Some "what ifs" have come to the forefront of my meanderings, and though they aren't musical in nature, I could easily sing about how I feel--in fact I'm doing just that, as you continue to read.

I witnessed a rollover today on the highway, right in front of me! A Honda SUV was on the opposite, oncoming side of the grassy divide, and somehow the driver swerved onto and over the grassy divide coming into my lane. There were several cars ahead of me, going 65mph, and this SUV flipped, and rolled over across the path of all these cars, not hitting a single one! Then it bounced back upright on the far shoulder, completely clear of any further danger. The female driver was okay, as well as the young adult male passenger. Their belongings had flown out of the windows all over that stretch of the highway, however, they were okay. After I called, first-responding police and firemen arrived and were assessing the situation.

There I was, an observer of an accident that I had nothing to do with, yet what if...? What if I had been driving slightly faster. What if I had left from home two seconds earlier? What if this vehicle had run right into me, or I'd run into it? Had I not been paying attention, I would've done just that.

Who do I have to thank, that they're okay, that I'm okay, that everyone who possibly could've been involved in a potentially fatal crash, are okay. Don't I have somebody to thank? Can't I thank anyone? Or is it all just happenstance, just chance that it worked out the way it did? And is it even a positive outcome that nobody was fatally wounded, that no one died? Can I even consider that as something to be happy about?

Had they died in that accident, I would still be happy that I'm alive, but I'd be sorrowful that they're dead. And towards who would I be angry for their death? Would their death be chance? Either way, if the outcome had been good for me and bad for them, or good for them and bad for me, to whom would I give my gratitude, or my hard feelings? Can I include god in this picture? Is god even actively involved in this situation? Do I have any proof that I was saved, that others were saved from further harm? Do I have proof that god was giving us a second chance at life, showing mercy in a greater way than we had ever seen it? Would something finally click, that one of us had heard or experienced before this incident, and now that we have survived a potentially fatal crash, it would ring truer in one of our minds, so much that we would give thanks to god for our very life that we can still hold onto and enjoy for its remainder?

The only way I can see it as a positive outcome is if I include God and his protecting of us. Without him, there was no one actively protecting us, or even knowing the outcome. It's all up to chance, and therefore it could even be a negative that the crash even happened, that the Honda SUV even swerved off of the right path on the highway, that the vehicle is totaled, and that they might be slightly injured or their progress in life was delayed. There are a lot of seemingly negative outcomes, but the positive outcome of the driver and passenger simply being alive seems to outweigh all of the negative repercussions of getting in the crash in the first place.

So why is it a positive thing that they're simply still alive? What do they have to live for now that they didn't have to live for before the crash? And would something good have been ended, had they died? I think all life is good. The fact that people are alive is good, wether they do harm or good. The fact that they're alive is good because they still have a chance to help others, and to make inroads into others' lives for making a change for the better, creating a greater sense of a loving community.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Urge to Splurge

This morning, I asked myself, with a forlorn undertone, why myself has deserted my blog for nearly a month. Myself casually replied that there just hasn't been a blogging urge. Upon considering such a reply, myself suddenly felt an urge. I and myself are finally converging to articulate my meanderings once again, in hopes of finding another pleasant opportunity to Face the Muzach.

I haven't had much sleep this week, as I am working 14-hour days. Imagine the drop in energy that an Energizer Bunny wannabe would experience. He'd keep on slowing, and slowing... and slowing... in fact, there's only one solution to re-boost his battery: a good nap. But as time is of the essence, that is no option for this workhorse. The next best alternative would be to guzzle a Redbull--or two, to give me that winged-flight-like buzz. Then after being bucked from that bull at the eight-hour buzzer, seconds would become hours as the remaining 43% of my workday edges to a close. It's completely worthwhile however, considering the fact that I'll have a long weekend. It's high time for a restful getaway with my wife!

We most likely will go lie in a nearby flowery field and fly an imaginary kite, as a pricey plane  would fly overhead, far beyond our financial fringes. Much like a kite, our meager income will soar high on this gust of overtime, only to come crashing back down to earth before we'd have the chance to spend its spool. Why should a young, vibrant couple have to resist the urge to splurge? Except for the facts that we have a single income, a daughter, car payments, rent, iPhone bills, other bills, hungry bellies, two gassy cars--and did I mention a single income--we should go along with the urge! But all facts considered, here we'll stay and close our eyes together for an unforgettably fleeting fantastical daydream.