Friday, October 31, 2003

Lesson on Barber

Well, Happy Friday! The week is over...I finally feel like I can stop and breathe. I love Friday afternoons, because I can do nothing at all, while experiencing none of the guilt that comes with doing nothing on a Saturday. Once it's Saturday, I feel like I have to get to work on homework, but Friday afternoons are for relaxing, in my opinion. (Although I should probably be getting started on those variations I'm supposed to be writing...)

Oh, I forgot to mention our orchestra recording session last Saturday. It went pretty well, I think. Mr. B. and Dr. O. seemed really happy with how we played. It was kind of fun, seeing all the equipment and all the crewpeople and all the work it takes to film a project like that... well, it was fun for the first hour or two. By the end of the day, the 10 am-6 pm thing had definitely worn me out a bit. But still, overall it was a good experience.

I've been feeling a little better each day since Monday (aka The Worst Day of My Life), which is good.

Wednesday I had a violin lesson. It was okay. I hadn't made as much progress as I should have. I always feel that way when it comes time for my lessons, and I feel terrible about it. Self, you must work harder! Anyway, I'm supposed to keep thinking about continuing to fix my left hand position (lower, looser, flatter) and about fixing my bow hand (keeping my pinky on the bow, my wrist down, and my bowgrip sinking down lower around the frog). With regards to the Barber specifically, we talked about rhythm (don't be wishy-washy), articulation, keeping the bow in the string, being thoughtful and aware in my use of the bow (as opposed to thoughtless and utterly distracted, which, sadly, is generally what I am in most aspects of my violin playing... hey, maybe even in most aspects of my life. hah.), and making a sound like silk instead of like cheesecloth. At one point he asked me to widen my vibrato. I tried, and it still wasn't right, and he said to me, "Sweetie, do you need me to write you a textbook for you to figure out how to widen your vibrato?" I felt sheepish. But he said he can tell I'm working hard and that my practice is more thoughtful and productive than it used to be.

Last night I practiced in Phillips Recital Hall for a while. Mike came in and made me play through the first movement of my concerto for him. I whined and complained but finally did it, and I suppose it was good for me to have to "perform" it for an audience of sorts. It gives me a better idea of where I am in terms of learning the piece and how soon I could be ready to really perform it. It was also good to hear Mike's comments. (Some of the things he said were exactly the same things my teacher tells me!) Basically, I need to pay more attention to rhythmic precision in my playing, and I need to make my fortes real fortes instead of nice-sounding, tame mezzo-fortes. After I played, Mike played Crumb and Bach for me, which was nice... ahh. Bach can just make your heart ache sometimes, it's so beautiful and pure and transcendent.

Friday, October 24, 2003

smiles, friends, and recordings

I haven't blogged in a while. It's been a busy week. My teacher is back from Korea, and I had my first violin lesson in like five weeks on Wednesday. And of course, I've had the usual orchestra rehearsals and such, with the added stress that tomorrow is the recording session for a music appreciation sort of video we're playing for. Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Smetana, Foss... yeah. I also had a theory exam, and I have a New Testament exam this coming Monday. blech.

Today I realized... smiles can make such a difference. If you're smiling, people notice it. If you smile at people, they usually smile back. And the more you smile, the happier you end up being. Try it, and you'll see that it's true!

I think I am making some friends, which is a great and happy thing, and is probably at least part of why I'm smiling more, and/or partly a result of me smiling more... I suppose it's a cycle, and a nice one at that. The happier I am, the more confident and able to make friends I feel. In the past week I am suddenly getting opportunities to get to know some really great people better. Late-night Snapples in Gillies with Jaana, nachos (oh! so unhealthy, but so delicious!) with Sarah, an afternoon trip to Starbucks with Kathryn... chances to talk about God, growing up, life, families, careers, motherhood, music, academics, theology, friends, and much more. So there are some great people here, and I am happy for the chance to make some friends and get to know several people better in the past week.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


Thoughts from today:

1) Moody people unnerve me with their general unpredictability.

2) Practiced Barber. Sounding terrible. I don't really like the third movement yet.

3) Thought of Calvin today and missed him. His crazy curly-headed-ness. The way he'd sight-read things with me sometimes, just for fun. The way he'd always compliment me and pretend I was some great violinist, which of course I wasn't, but still, it was nice. The way that one evening I cried in my practice room, and he saw me and came in and rubbed my back and sat with me in the practice room for a long time. We were going to play a trio this year, with Mei-Shen. I hope the violinist who's doing it instead of me is good, and I hope things are working out well. Then again, I also hope things aren't working out *too* well, because some selfish part of me is hoping that people think of me and miss me sometimes.

4) In spite of my great respect for reason and rationality, it seems that I'm just like everyone else when it comes right down to it. Even though I know that what I intellectually know to be true should then rule over my emotions and feelings, I feel like my feelings end up controlling me instead. Feelings are not a good basis for action. Or, not even a good way to live even if you're not acting on them. So why can't I change the way I feel about things? It must be because at the root of this, I don't desire the end result (being the kind of person I should be) enough to exert the effort and do the work it takes to be virtuous. Um, this is bad. I should be practicing, praying, reading, spending the appropriate amount of time in the right kind of contemplation, and loving God and those around me. Instead I daydream in a self-centered way about how I might like my life to be. This is absurd. Self, you are going to do better tomorrow. That is all there is to it. You are not going to oversleep and then lie in bed imagining yourself and your life differently, like you did all weekend. You are going to change yourself and your life in the ways that you can.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Gordon, Wheaton...

Another post this evening... thoughts from today.

As you may have noticed, I fiddled around with my blog template today. I was rather pleased with myself for figuring out enough of the html code to change fonts where I wanted to. I also added some more links. Hehe, now you can link to all the schools I've gone to in the past three years and more specifically, all the departments I've been part of! Later I might make some more changes... try different colors, or a different layout for my links and archives. I'm also thinking about adding a tagboard.

Tonight was the homecoming choir concert here at Gordon. I went, and am glad I did.

Things I didn't like:
1) Bad idea to not have standard choir dresses for everyone. Basically, letting soprano-diva-types select their own wardrobes can often prove to be a bad idea. Many people were not dressed tastefully. And it just didn't look as classy as Wheaton's choirs do.
2) It also wasn't classy for people to have music stands pulled up in front of them. I've never seen a choir do that before. What about those nice, sophisticated black folders most choirs use? Yeah, come on, people - they can't be that expensive.
3) I got a little bored with all the secular music during the first half of the program. Some was nice, but some was kind of lame or avant-garde, like the Whitman settings they sang. Blah.
4) The occasional intonation problems... or, the frequent intonation problems.

Things I liked:
1) Just being surrounded by all that choral music, filling the chapel.
2) If Music Be the Food of Love by Dickau
3) Der Geist Hilft unserer Schwachheit by Bach
4) Praise His Holy Name by Keith Hampton. They ended with this piece, and I liked it. It was one of those terrific gospel-esque spiritual pieces... And the accompanist was absolutely fantastic! He wasn't even using music for some of the pieces.

After the choir concert, I came back to my room to watch and listen to the Wheaton Symphony Orchestra concert online. Tonight was their fall concert, and all the main concerts are broadcast live over the internet. Unfortunately, I missed the first two pieces of the evening because the firewall here wouldn't let me access realplayer video/audio. However, after searching hacker webpages for information on defeating the evil firewall *evil grin and cackle*, I was victorious in getting around that minor difficulty! I got it to work just in time to hear the first notes of Mozart's Symphony No. 35, "Haffner." Then, after intermission, the Symphony Winds did a piece called Celebration, and then the full Symphony Orchestra returned to close with Elgar's Enigma Variations. The entire program sounded so good. I miss everyone. I admit it, I cried. Rather a lot. I feel okay about it, because I haven't been self-pitying at all, and I've hardly cried at all since coming here... but look, transferring isn't easy, okay? Watching the video, I saw all these wonderful people that I knew... Ruth, Cheryl, Laine, Christine, Ethan, Alisa, Graeme, Kelly, Pam, Lydia, Hannah... awww! I miss Wheaton so much tonight. Friends, music, Debbie, the dear and wonderful familiarity of the conserv, the way orchestra was like a big family, the way we played all music there for the glory of God.

I know I made a good decision in coming here to study with Mr. B., and I know that it takes time to make friendships (and I know that it took time at Wheaton, too), but I'll never forget my year at Wheaton. I think most of all I'll always remember playing Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture with Mr. Floriano conducting. Especially the Russian Easter Overture. The way Kelly and I cried because of the beauty and the glory of the Risen Lord, and the way Graeme made the 2nd trombone solo so heartwrenchingly beautiful. And just the excitement of that whole concert and the weeks of rehearsals preceding it. Awww, Wheaton!

I wonder if you can ever really fully know all the things to love and appreciate about a place until you have to leave it?

recitals and friendships

Leftover thoughts from this past week:

Last night was the freshman general recital here. Overall it was extremely exciting and encouraging. A lot of the new students here this year are excellent. Two of the vocalists, a euphonium player, an oboist, a trombone player and a few pianists in particular impressed me. One of the pianists played Beethoven's Variations on God Save the Queen and did a terrific job. A vocalist did O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi, which I love. Most people did very well, and I enjoyed the recital a great deal. Afterward I talked to Holland a bit, which was fun. She came to hear her two students play...I thought that was admirable.

Then, best of all, later last night Libby called me! Oh, my wonderful friend... I miss her so much! Sometimes I worry that she and I will grow gradually apart, since I've been far away ever since transferring from Biola, and we don't see each other often anymore. But after conversations like last night, I feel better. Of course, I miss her more than ever, but I love how we can laugh and talk like we saw each other yesterday. We just pick up right where we left off. Last night we reminisced about freshman year... the performance of Titanic we were in together, our friends, being freshmen, our jokes, etc. Weird that we're both juniors now... just two years ago we looked up to the juniors so much.

Aww, Libby, if you're reading this... I miss you! Remember "Baby Sourdough" and "Ghetto Beast"? Remember "Satan on ice-skates"? Remember how we were going to (I mean, we still ARE going to, of course!) become nuns and have a convent in a fire-house in San Francisco and adopt a dozen orphans and classically educate them all in Latin and Greek and literature and philosophy? Remember how we felt after our first context lecture? Remember reading the Odyssey aloud all night under the tree in Dr. Reynolds' yard? Remember eating Lucky Charms together, and how I'd always try to steal your marshmallows? Remember how I always forgot which lines were yours and which were mine in Titanic? Remember your huge billowy skirt at rehearsals that we all laughed about? Remember hours of torturous dance practice? Remember "shuffle-ball-change-and-jump"? Remember how I always messed up and sang "Let's be getting it on"? Remember how we knew from the first day we met at the freshman retreat that our souls were on the same chariot? Remember smoothies together sitting on the bench in the sun? Remember when you worked in the caf, and how I'd almost always go through your line to get food, no matter what you were serving? Remember how many times we watched Princess Diaries? Remember car rides with Emily and Gabe, and how we'd sing VeggieTales and Psalty songs and laugh a lot? Remember when I came and visited you at Biola last year, and we had our little "Christina Theodora" phase with Becca Frassett? Remember when you came to our house this past summer and we tied up Abbey while our parents were away?

Awww.... LIBBY!!!! So many memories!!! I'm glad you still have your toenails painted the purple-blue mood changing color we did together at the end of the summer! Mine are blue right now; what color are yours? And just so you know, eleven of the pictures on my wall here in my room have YOU in them - I just counted.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003

From Anyssa

Just now talking with Anyssa a bit about the sorts of things I blogged about tonight, and this is what she said:

the very few people i've ever really wanted to be like were the ones that looked at the same world i look at but saw something different
and i didnt all of a sudden see what they were seeing
but i saw the result of what they were seeing
which was them...their's really a beautiful thing.

And I liked that.


Sadness is having your violin lesson cancelled because you're congested and running a fever and feeling generally wretched and your teacher can't risk catching it because he's leaving for Korea very soon. And after he just got back from Germany (I think it was Germany) so you haven't had a lesson in three (two? three? my head is feeling fuzzy with this horrid illness) weeks already.

Happiness is having a few friends here who show tremendous potential to become very good friends.

Happiness is talking to your Mom on the phone for a while and feeling better about life in general afterwards. My parents are so wonderful... they have a way of making life look more live-able.

"Mom? Am I really naive? Because I always believed Dad when he said that he thinks you're the most beautiful woman in the world and he's never thought twice about anyone else. But the guys I've met here are making me lose faith in the entire male gender. Isn't it rude and ungentlemanly for them to discuss women in a crude and immature way, and especially when there are women present? Am I being silly? Are men so hopelessly driven by their testosterone as to have no hope of being virtuous? How can you trust anyone? How can marriage be forever like yours with Dad?"

So we talked about it. And it's true that my Dad thinks my Mom is the most beautiful woman in the world. And it's true that their marriage is solid and stable and the happiest marriage I've ever seen or even heard about. And we talked about how silly this sex-obsession in our culture is. Everyone now says that guys can't help it, and so... they don't try to. When instead of obsessing about sex, they ought to go and pursue interesting things... read a book, study architecture, go canoeing, or go to a museum. I mean, isn't that the way life really is? If you're only thinking about getting laid, then once you do... then what? You'd better be cultivating a variety of interests and developing yourself as a person! And as you're doing this, and as a Christian, as you're running the race with your eyes fixed on Jesus, you look alongside and see that there's somebody running right with you, in the next lane over. Maybe they were there all along and you hadn't noticed, or maybe they just moved into a lane near yours, or whatever. And there you are, running side by side, pursuing the same ultimate goals and sharing a lot of interests along the way, and... so you just join hands and run together in the same lane as one. Kind of like a three-legged race, except you really just become the two legs of one person, the two of you together, and you run better together than either of you could separately. And you glorify God even better together as one than you did as two. And that's that. And it's wonderful and you live happily ever after and then in the ever-after after that, too.

I wish I could argue some people into having a much fuller view of life. Why do people say that Christians "aren't living in the real world"? Even some Christians say this about people who choose not to... oh, whatever. Get drunk on weekends. Do drugs. Screw around. Or whatever. But as Christians -- the kind of Christians whose worldviews really infiltrate the way they see everything around them -- our world is the real world. So beautiful and solid! And meaningful! So it's the others, really, who aren't dwelling within reality. Their world is the pseudo-world of relativity and soul-less, evolved, "trousered apes" and "men without chests."

The heavens declare the glory of God, and yet so many people do not see it. We live in a world where God's invisible qualities are displayed through the visible; we can look up at the heavens and all around us on earth and still...people do not believe. And if the invisible qualities weren't enough, there's Jesus! And fullness of joy! And I'm a little bit frustrated right now with people who say they believe and yet don't live any differently. The world is so full of such a great openness and expanse of possibilities. It makes me sad to see Christians pursuing happiness in stupid ways. So many people are looking in all the wrong places.

Now... I was thinking about something. This is not deeply theological, but I like it anyway. It is personal. Don't laugh. When I think of what it means to abide in Christ, the mental image that I have that comes nearest to expressing what I think it must mean is that of walking on my Dad's feet when I was a kid. You know... standing on his feet and wrapping my arms tightly around his waist and holding on while he walked around. Just going where he led and holding on tight and resting against his comfortable familiarity and letting him take care of things. Trusting. Hmm... that may be theologically absurd, or it may sound stupid or childish... but it makes sense to me. Just the being part... and if you're abiding, just being like that, then the doing part of Christianity stems from that, I think.

Along a similar train of thought, after talking to Melissa a bit lately about her family situation, I'm grateful for my own family. In particular, I'm grateful that my Dad thinks I'm beautiful and tells me so all the time. Funny how important that is. Funny how I still remember vividly walking into Dad's office several years ago and one of his employees saying I looked nice, and how Dad beamed with pride and said fondly, "isn't she beautiful?" Wow. Yeah.

I talked to Brian recently, telling him a little bit about my siblings. Talking about Jonathan, I said I just love him so much and think he's brilliant and clever and funny and good and handsome and wonderful. Brian interrupted and said something like, "Dude, you think your brother is hot?" How weird. How stupid. How sad. I didn't even get to Christopher because of the interruption, but I would have said that I think he's wonderful and brilliant and clever and funny and good and handsome too. That's as it should be. I love my siblings. I'm proud of them. There's nothing wrong with thinking your brothers are handsome; in fact, there's everything right about it.

Well, over the weekend I tidied up a bit, put up some pictures in my new room (well, it's still new-ish at least... I've been here about a week now), and did laundry. (Was down to 0 pairs of underwear, but am now back up to 12 pairs.) Also, my Mum sent me cookies and my sister and her husband sent me a package too, both of which arrived recently, to my great joy.

One more interesting thing: my blog inspired Jonathan Rowley (at least in part) to start a blog of his own. I'm feeling rather pleased with myself about that. His is nice, so go read it! (er, after you're done reading mine.)

Must get back to work on the Barber concerto, starting tomorrow. I've had enough of a break from that. Must begin the third movement, too. It's going to take some work. Must practice scales and arpeggios with more diligence, too.

Must get my fever-ish and sickly self into bed. Last night I couldn't sleep well at all... my skin felt prickly and painful all over, and I was hot and cold alternately. My head was pounding and my heart felt like it would thump right out of my body. Blah. After tossing and turning for hours, I got up at 4:00 with an obsessive desire to clip my nails... and then couldn't find my nail-clippers anywhere. I looked and looked. It felt sort of like that half-dreaming state... and like a dream in the sense that I latched onto something pretty unimportant, but something that I had indeed thought about during the previous day. And then it became this obsession. But I was awake. Weird. Oh, and I still can't find my nail-clippers.

The other thing that happens when I have a terrible fever like this is that I play an endless game of Scrabble with myself in my mind. Letters flying all around in my mind's eye, rearranging themselves, and I've got to keep making words, words, words.... I hate this. So restless. I just need to sleep...


Saturday, October 4, 2003

Violin Stuff

Hello, world... can you believe it? I did not blog for two days! And just when you thought I was becoming a real chain-blogger!

So, life has been busy but good. I've been practicing a lot. I actually feel pretty good about the amount of practicing I've been doing. I'm satisfied with myself for the first time in a very long while. Zigeunerweisen provided just the needed kick in the pants to get me excited about being in the practice room each day. So after the obligatory time spent each day on scales (why is F Major hard?), Rode, orchestra music (the last two pages of Smetana!), Telemann, Beethoven, and Barber... I can pull out Zigeunerweisen and spent a bit more time in my cozy (or depressing, depending on my current mindset) little practice room! I started doing some work on it on Friday, and it's just a fun piece. My frustration with the Barber concerto was keeping me from being enthusiastic about practicing, and having a fun piece to fiddle around with has provided me with a needed respite of sorts. The Barber... I had already memorized the first movement before I was finally able to get a copy of my teacher's fingerings and bowings. And at this point, I do not have any interest in entirely re-learning the first movement. Ugh. But I am practicing and doing my best even when it's not fun. I have a lesson this Wednesday, and I know he'll expect a lot since he's been gone for a few weeks now. Oh, please let him be happy with me... please... ?

Anyway. I was actually still feeling somewhat down until last night, in spite of my improved practicing. I had dinner with Melissa, after which we decided to go to the mall. I had just found out that I had $600 more than I realized I had, so I felt okay with spending money. And in some weird way, the new outfit I bought last night makes me feel ten times better about myself. After weeks of feeling like a fat, ugly blight on humankind, I felt glad to be me today! (Is this wicked of me? Allowing superficial things to matter?) So anyway, between having new clothes and having improved my practicing habits lately, today was remarkably better than yesterday and the days that preceeded it. Oh, and maybe the fact that today was Saturday helped a little, too.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

Brahms, Barber, and Mr. B

Today was a long day. I went with Melissa and Nicky to check out some violas... but we came back empty-handed and feeling like the trip was a waste, since things with our quartet feel so up-in-the-air right now anyway. So there went my whole afternoon. I really only practiced about two hours today. I bought the music to Zigeunerweisen while we were at the instrument and music shop, though, so that should be fun. Just something to mess around with for fun. We drove past NEC today and I found myself wishing I went there. Not that I could ever get accepted there, but that's not the point. On the one hand, either way I get to study with the same teacher, sure... but on the other hand, at NEC I'd be in a somewhat more inspiring environment, I think. A lot more pressure, too, but that's not necessarily a bad thing for me. In general I'm not finding a lot of people here at Gordon who love music as I do or are really investing a lot in their study of music. I'm also meeting a lot of people who are disillusioned with Gordon in general, and that's dragging me down too - at a time when I need to be thinking positively about my coming years here.

And I need to be practicing. More than I am. Much more than I am.

I'm listening to my teacher's recording of the Barber violin concerto. The opening phrase is so beautiful. So open and spacious. There is something so soothing about it... it's a sort of enveloping openness and generosity. For me, it's like the opening of the Brahms G Major sonata for violin and piano, in the sense that there's a universality about the music that just expresses everything, all of life, all together. It's not the sort of music that's specific to one time or place or emotion... it's an expression of something universal. Listening to it is like a good cry for the heart and soul. (Why can't I play the Barber like this? Why?)

I feel ugly and fat and lazy and inept and generally unliked by all of humankind. I sort of wish I could have stayed in my room all day today and slept a lot. But of course, I couldn't, and I suppose it is a good thing that I have so many things to keep me busy. (If only I had more time for practicing, and fewer stupid busywork homework assignments taking all my time!) Now I'm putting off my music history homework for a few more minutes, just a few more... so I'm sitting at my desk, alone in my room, blogging, listening to music, in my pajamas, and drinking hot chocolate for comfort. Bah, humbug to the world. I'm almost enjoying my chocolate-and-Barber-and-Brahms induced misery, in a morbid and selfish sort of way. Bad mood. Bad day.

I miss Wheaton and for crying out loud I even still miss Biola. I try not to talk about either school too much here, but they encompass two years of my life and important parts of who I am. And when I do complain about things here (like music history, which is really terrible), even though things may objectively be less-than-optimal, it's not that I hate it here... it's partly just that I miss Biola and Wheaton.

I really am trying to work hard. Fortunately, I have so much to do that I don't have much time for self-pity each day. It's just the evenings, I guess... I waste time before starting my homework, I stare off into space wishing I had things that I don't have and probably wouldn't even want if I had them - certain friends or groups of friends, a certain guy to like me, certain things attained in my life, whatever. I think about pointless things that don't really matter and therefore don't improve my mind or soul, and I isolate myself to do more of the previous, because I'm insecure and worry that I'm not wanted in social gatherings. I need to stop this. I need to kick my moodiness out of this dorm room and out of my life.

Enough of this. Tomorrow I will blog about something meaningful and interesting, something inspiring and fascinating and wonderful. Because, whatever things may sound like from this blog entry, I am a happy person who enjoys life a great deal.

Okay, time for homework!