Saturday, December 13, 2003

excerpt from a conversation while studying theory last night with Brian and Jaana:

Sarah: Well, Brian, I know you have a limited vocabulary, but I'll try to explain it so you can understand...

Brian: Hey, the only reason you have a vocabulary is because all you do is sit around each evening reading The Oxford Concise Dictionary for People Who Are Lonely!

Friday, December 5, 2003

I'm waiting for my laundry to finish drying so I can go practice some more. In the meantime, why not blog? Why not indeed.

I've had a brilliant idea. Two of them, actually.

1) I am going to exert minimal effort in every aspect of my life, or perhaps no effort at all, until people's expectations of me drop to ground zero. From that point, I'll start working again, beginning with small achievements. Then, people will be really impressed, no matter how little I accomplish or how pathetic I am. This way, I can start getting some encouragement and affirmation for even the smallest of things that I do each day already, like practicing or doing my homework. People will be thrilled with my small successes! (This plan could backfire, though - while I'm in the process of leveling people's expectations to nada, it's quite possible that my teacher could kick me out of his studio, I could fail all my classes, and I could lose my scholarships. Hmm, is it worth the risk?)

2) I'm going to start telling people that I'm quitting the violin. Darcie, a cellist here, is thinking about not taking lessons or playing in orchestra next semester, and everyone's being so nice to her! Her teacher and our orchestra director are full of nothing but encouragement. Meanwhile, my teacher tells me that I sound like a cow and he feels like he has to babysit me.

(By the way, I'm not complaining about my teacher... I'm really complaining about myself. I'm only upset that I'm not the kind of student I could and should be. And, he really is a very encouraging teacher. He's so kind to me. It just that he really sees me and figures me out. Sometimes his honesty in my lessons, about me as a violinist and me as a person, can be overwhelming.)

I feel loserly. I hate the way I am. It's the same every year, every semester. I promise myself I'll work hard, stay on top of things, get ahead even, but by the time the end of the semester rolls around, I have a million things to do and I don't know how to do them all.

I miss the days when my ego was stroked a bit more often, and people thought I was bright and clever and talented. And my music teachers praised what work I did do and didn't expect a whole lot more. Okay, okay, I KNOW I'm better off with my teacher now, with his higher expectations and my higher expectations of myself... I'm just whining because I'm feel terrible and I'm worried that I'm disappointing people and not living up to all that I could be doing with my life.

I also miss the days when I was eager and curious about life. When I asked big questions and actually wanted to find out the answers. At my lesson this week my teacher was talking about motivation and initiative and curiosity, and it was upsetting to realize that I don't have that curiosity about life anymore. I check out books from the library, but when it comes down to it, I'd rather sleep than read them. I've been meaning to read Les Miserables again in my spare time this year, but I've barely made it through four chapters. I drag myself to my classes and force myself through my homework assignments, putting them off until the last possible moment. I'm enthusiastic about violin, but even that sometimes feels like I'm just pushing myself through it... one more hour, 30 more minutes, 15 more minutes...

What has happened to me? I talked to a friend and she said she felt the same way. We both just want to sleep. *yawn* Maybe it's normal, as a junior in college approaching finals, to feel this burned out. But I hate it. How can I regain some enthusiasm?

I miss being at home and feeling special just because I was me. I miss laughing until my stomach hurt. I miss the things I used to do. I miss the way I used to be... some aspects of it, anyway. In some ways I like who I am now a lot better, though. But... yeah. I miss a lot of things.

On the other hand, I have a lot of wonderful things now that I wouldn't want to give up. So, I'm reminescing and missing things, but I wouldn't necessarily want to go back, you know?

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. I am generally the sort of person who likes most people - all sorts of people - and feels a broad sort of love for all of humankind, for God, for creation, for all sorts of things. That being said, I can also be an extremely guarded and sarcastic person. So I have been wondering what it means to walk in His love, to love others the way Christ commands us to.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God... if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." ~ 1 John 4:7

Okay, my laundry should be just about dry now.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Thanksgiving Break

I have returned from a wonderful Thanksgiving break, spent with Jen and her family at their house in Pennsylvania. They're all from Long Island, and their accents are hilarious. They were so kind and friendly to include me in their holiday celebration. I learned a teeny bit of judo from Jen's step-dad, goofed off with Kourtney, her little sister, had some wonderful talks with Jen, and watched movies and slept a lot. Her whole family is wonderful, and it was a nice time to rest and be lazy! I did practice some too, though. (I hope I practiced more scales than Story did so I can win the scale competition!) Jen's mom and stepdad liked my playing and made me promise to send them tickets to my eventual concert in Lincoln center.

And now I'm back at Gordon for the end-of-semester sprint-to-the-finish-line... you know, that time that comes before The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. A research paper, music history final exam, New Testament final exam, theory exam, new orchestra music to learn, lessons, and of course, juries. But my nerves are made of steel, my heart is stout, and my mind is solid... I will prevail.

I bought Christmas lights at WalMart over break, and I just put them up in my room after arriving back from PA. It looks lovely and sparkly and cheerful and bright! And I'm listening to Christmas music on the radio. I know, I know... with all that I have to do I should be studying or practicing... but I refuse to let reality sink in quite yet.

When I was in Boston with my Dad, we walked through some old cemeteries. We saw graves of people like Paul Revere and John Hancock. We also saw so many graves of babies. I can't imagine having your baby die, and still having to get up each morning and keep living. I also remember in particular one grave that belonged to a woman whose first name I've forgotten. What I remember about that grave was the inscription. It read something like this: "here lies the mortal part of the virtuous and amiable wife of Moses Black." And I thought to myself, that's how I'd like to be remembered. Virtuous and amiable.

I wonder what I'd like my grave to say? Perhaps that I was virtuous and amiable. Perhaps that I loved and served the Lord. Or maybe I'd just like it to say, "Behold, I tell you a mystery..."

Well, I'm alive now, and life is full of possibilities and things to learn and people to love!

Concert tonight... the Ying Quartet!

Monday, November 24, 2003


By popular demand I will write something in my blog today. Sorry it's been a while... I've been busy.

Things of note from this past week:

1) I had a good lesson on Wednesday... but sometimes this learning process is overwhelming.

2) My Dad spent the weekend here visiting me! He arrived Friday evening and left last night. It was so good to see him!

3) I played the first mvt. of the Barber concerto in a general student recital here Friday evening. I like the professor who is my accompanist. I fumbled an entrance slightly, and he was terrific in covering for me. He did a great job making the piano reduction sound as big and orchestral as possible. I guess overall the performance went okay. I was so nervous about it, probably because I really haven't performed much - not anything to speak of - since high school. I know, it's weird... but I've managed to avoid most "opportunities" to perform in the past few years. I think some things went well, and other things could have been better. However, everyone seemed to enjoy it. Today one of my professors here, who is kind of a cynical, sarcastic, closed-off, hard-to-please, and overall mean person stopped me in the hall and told me what a great job I'd done in the recital. So, wow, high praise indeed. And best of all, my Dad liked hearing me play.

4) Our orchestra concert yesterday was really fun. I loved all the repertoire we did. Smetana is such fun, Mozart is charming, Enesco is rhapsodic, and Brahms... well, what can one say about Brahms?! After the concert we took some pictures, then I went out to dinner with my Dad, and Jen came along. Oh, I just love Jen! I love spending time with her, and tomorrow I leave to go spend Thanksgiving break with her and her family!

5) I had a New Testament exam this morning... blah. I actually studied for this one a little bit, but I have a feeling I may have done worse than I did on the previous exams, where I never did anything to prepare except go to class. We'll see.

6) I must practice lots over Thanksgiving break. I must practice lots of scales, in particular, so I can beat Story in the scale competition! Have I mentioned Story yet in my blog? Perhaps I haven't. Well, she's just one of the most wonderful people I know. And she's my stand partner in orchestra when the mentors aren't there. We have dinner together after scale class each week, and I always look forward to it. Sometimes we practice scales together, too. Last Thursday we got tired after about half an hour, and we tried practicing lying down. It's kind of tricky that way.

7) The season of Advent is about to begin! I love the anticipation of Christmas. I can hardly wait until I can go home for Christmas... I'll sit at the piano and play Christmas hymns and just relax, and spend time with my family, and sleep in for at least a few mornings. Oh, it will be so nice. Christmas!!

8) I have a quiz tomorrow in music history, plus outlines and listening entries due. Then I have a test to finish in theory class, and a rough draft of a paper on Purcell's Dido and Aeneas due. I had better get to work.

Au revoir, friends. I hope this satisfies you for now.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Lesson Synopsis etc.

I had a good lesson on Wednesday. I think it was my first lesson with my teacher where I've come very close to crying. But still, it was really good. Not in the sense that I was as prepared as I should have been, and not in the sense that I played well or impressed him, but in the sense that I learned a lot. And I've been working harder since then, too.

Things I learned from my brilliant teacher (taken from brief and probably slightly incomprehensible notes jotted down immediately after my lesson):

1) attention span and concentration, dilligence and consistency in practice.
2) security - our culture and generation is obsessed with it, in every sense of the word. But don't be afraid to decide what you want in life and then work as hard as you can to attain it. "Keeping your options open" isn't always a virtue, even though it may feel more secure or safe, not having to commit to something and thus fear that you might not be able to attain it. Trust God for eternal security (Providence, not Prudential ;)), but then remember the parable of the talents and go be a good steward by practicing your butt off!
3) Rode - practice scales in 3rds to help in learning this etude. Remember: 0 eye --> 1 ear --> 2 brain --> 3 fingers. My teacher said that the last 45 seconds spent on this etude in the lesson proved to him once again that I can do it - I looked at the double stops and heard them in my ear, sang them accurately and "beautifully", then played them - the first time okay, the second time better, and the third time exactly right. Practice like that - expect that of yourself!
4) Telemann - bow speed; dance; "paaauum" sound; 2 voices, hear counterpoint; 1st note must lead to 2nd, vibrate; framing; rhythm; tempo; energy; dynamics; don't be sticky.
5) 2 things in practicing - better ears and a more alert mind, or just repetition. Both have their place in practicing, and a lack of the latter was evident in my lesson - showed that I hadn't practiced enough to prepare during the week.
6) About me - my teacher said once again that my mind is very sharp and good and I have no handicaps and nothing holding me back, and that I also have a great musical sensitivty being unearthed and developed. (This is when I felt like crying, because even though he can be mean, really my teacher is so good to me and I owe it to him to practice more than I had in the past week! WHY do I let my moods affect my practicing? It shouldn't matter at all! Why can't I just block people and emotions out of my practicing and do what I need to do each day?)

After my lesson my teacher came and jointly coached the chamber music sessions for the day with his wife. I loved every minute of it and learned so much from both of them - as I always do.
The Gilbert and Sullivan gig I played for this past week was kind of fun. I enjoyed seeing and hearing the students perform. The best part was after the final performance, when the students acknowledged all the people who had made it possible. The love these kids had for their music teachers was so evident, and it just amazes me, the immense way in which one person's life can influence so many others... wow.

Well, the time has come. I have to play a solo in a recital here on Friday. I mean, really have to. My quartet was signed up to play, thus conveniently getting my required general recital performance out of the way in a non-stressful way, but Nicky's still mostly unable to play, and Mike doesn't really want to do the quartet anyway, and so I am going to be playing a solo.

Last night I was practicing until late in the recital hall, and Jon came in to say hi. He said he'd never heard me play before, and asked me to play for him. Eventually I consented (well, after he sang "Lord God of Abraham" for me) and I played a movement of the concerto I'm studying. I'm glad I did. I've never had the experience of playing for anyone before who loved it so much, except maybe my parents. He really just sat there loving to hear me play, sometimes closing his eyes, and each time I paused telling me to keep playing. It made me happy, seeing him enjoying it like that. He told me I should perform it soon and that it was definitely ready. I told him what terrible performance-phobia I have and that I knew I'd screw it all up. So then, he decided to record me playing, so I could hear it "from the outside." The Green Room was open, and he insisted that we do it right then. I played the first movement through again, and he put it onto a blank CD, and then afterwards we listened to it together. He was so encouraging and kept pointing out all the parts that he loved and all the things he liked about the way I was playing the piece. Of course, mostly I hate the way it sounds, but there are parts that I like, and that is encouraging. And the parts that I don't like are very helpful too, because now I know more clearly what to be working on. So, Jon is a cool person.

Tonight Sarah H. and I listened to the first 2 CDs of Les Miserables. I love Les Miserables... it's all grace and hope and redemption and love and life... it's so wonderful.

Tomorrow is the Day of Prayer... which means... NO CLASSES!! Hurrah! But of course, tons of work to do: a theory paper to write and a theory exam to prepare for, loads of practicing to do, a New Testament exam to study for, and piles of music history homework to do, as usual.

On Friday my DADDY is coming to visit me!!! (Well, he's coming out to the area for a business trip, but then coming here to see me! And he'll be here for the recital Friday night and we'll spend Saturday together and he'll come to our orchestra concert on Sunday.) Oh, happiness. I love my Dad!

My roommate from last year sent me cookies last week, which is just one small example of the sweet and thoughtful and wonderful sorts of things that she is always doing for people! I miss her. It's hard to go from being roommates with her to this - not knowing much about her life and not having her know much about mine. I miss late-night talks and inside jokes and pretzels and ice cream at the Stupe. I miss just having a cozy room with someone wonderful and fun and cute and funny to share it with, someone to come back to at the end of a day who would always listen to my ramblings and tell me her own, too. I remember how she used to watch taped episodes of Gilmore Girls every night while she did her nightly situps and pushups. And I always just loved her and thought she was so funny, so cute!

But I shouldn't end this evening's blog on an unhappy note, so I'll add that having a room to myself is rather nice too, in it's own way. And I am not unhappy. In fact, I am quite happy.

And with that, I am going to bed.

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!

Monday, September 29, 2003

New Room

So this morning at 8 am was my first New Testament exam of the semester. I already know my grade (oh, the joys of knowing your TA personally)... it's not bad all things considered. My weekend was SO busy - I moved from my original housing situation in an on-campus apartment into my own room in a dorm here, for various reasons. Now I have a room all to myself, and my own bathroom too! It's like living in a hotel... except a little bit more ghetto. heh. But still, I'm happy. My apartment situation wasn't so great for me. This is nice. So, with everything going on in my life, I didn't have time to study until late last night. Oh, and being my lazy self, I hadn't done any of the readings assigned so far, not really, so I basically had about 400 pages of material to cover in a night. So, my grade. Not bad, but not wonderfully good either. I'll do better next time. Next time I'll get a solid A.

I'm lonely. I wish someone would call me, or come visit me, or... I don't know what I wish. I wish I didn't have so much homework. I wish I didn't suck at the violin. I wish I weren't so lazy. I wish I felt like I had friends here who liked having me around. I wish I were optimistic. hah.

I wish someone would read my blog and fall hopelessly in love with me.

I mean... errh... my other blog... the one that is charming and witty and intelligent and articulate and would make me seem like a wonderfully desirable person. Yeah.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

SarahMarie: A Life in Music

My life:

violin Bach cantus firmus Beethoven Mozart glissando Britten symphony violincello concerto Brahms Jascha Heifetz sforzando Barber Hindemith Mixolydian opus Mendelssohn-Bartholdy oboe scales voice leading Oistrakh Prokofiev Stradivari chamber music concerto grosso Galamian counterpoint Kyrie Lydian Aida clarinet Ravel dominant seventh Yo-yo Ma string quartet cadence Chopin anticipation augmented Anne-Sophie Mutter col legno Baroque vivace ritard Mischa Elman parallel fifths Sarah Chang Monteverdi La Boheme flute passing tone Schubert chord Guarneri loure Shostakovich Mahler piano quintet woodwinds fugue Liszt natural trombone strings octave Musicorda binary ternary E-flat Hilary Hahn obbligato recitative Szell Dorian modulation development diminished clarinet Wozzeck cantata Luciano Pavarotti trio Grieg Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields major homophonic Bizet neighbouring tone tonicization octave Ionian pianoforte monophonic organ choir Kreutzer diminuendo Telemann decrescendo BWV Tchaikovsky Gunther Schuller Franck octet harpsichord Christian Tetzlaff Rachmaninov K gavotte chorale B-flat andante Midori rallentando Haydn crescendo Sanctus Benedictus con desiderio e passione Serkin molto Upshaw Locatelli largo Berg sonata rondo Saint-Saens rounded binary da capo aria Schumann suite opera Marlboro Lalo Maria Callas Tafel Musik Joshua Bell Dounis BSO flat grave Dvorak vibrato presto motive minuet recapitulation hemiola minor Aeolian Evgeny Kissin Arvo Part Vivaldi moderato key signature Debussy sextet adagio mazurka inversion alto impromptu Janos Starker Boccherini f-sharp Sevcik time signature Itzhak Perlman musicology viola ensemble Horowitz vivace Toscha Seidel allegro ritardando portato overture Faure Le Nozze di Figaro Bernstein key change Wieniawski retardation Pamela Frank etude Gloria ballade soprano mode CSO tenuto staccato Argerich tenor Rode Tanglewood Barenboim Gil Shaham allemande Mass prelude pizzicato tutti sarabande Gingold Strauss semitone Rubinstein instrumentation Magnificat invention gigue Segovia Stravinsky nocturne chromatic Credo Otto Klemperer countertenor Jacqueline Du Pre Rossini fermata twelve-tone opera slur spiccato seventh chord sequence concertmaster ciaconna Paganini Vespers Gershwin repeat duet figured bass chorus Pachelbel ABA appoggiatura da gamba solo conductor caprice harmonic encore orchestration bravo Cage non-chord tone Schoenberg trumpet bouree Yehudi Menuhin suspension Schumann Rostropovich brass motet St. Matthew Passion fugato Pierre Boulez repetition Leila Josefowicz cantata Miserere Me Deus Allegri bass septet Guadagnini Bizet waltz atonal Palestrina Elgar operetta Requiem Bruckner cadential 6/4 arpeggios cadenza melody Partita Szigeti serial Mark O’Connor music of the spheres Bruch Sir Neville Marriner espressivo Crumb orchestra Dohnanyi Kreisler Edgar Meyer harmonic analysis Sibelius Ashkenazy Popper sharp tacit Mussorgsky appassionata polonaise Copland Rimsky-Korsakov Joan Sutherland portamento violin...

Friday, September 26, 2003


I have now been at Gordon College for over a month. Some statistics:

Chapels attended: 7
Violin lessons: 2
Orchestra rehearsals: 3
Sectional rehearsals: 3
Hours spent in the practice room: not enough
Hours where I was in the practice room but crying instead of practicing: 0.25
Quartet rehearsals: 4
Quartet rehearsals where we’ve actually done work: 1...maybe 2...
Rode Etude I'm working on right now: No. 2
Stupid things my New Testament prof has said: I stopped counting at 17... and that was in the first week of class.
Times I’ve gone to bed without brushing my teeth: 1
Number of CDs I’ve checked out from the library: 14
Accumulated late fees at library to date: $0.20
Hours spent on stupid music history busywork: innumerable
Hours wasted by my laziness: I don’t want to think about it
Times I’ve done laundry: 2
Days until I’ll have to do laundry again (i.e. clean pairs of underwear in my drawer): 5
Times I’ve thought about liking a guy here: zero, never, not at all. Okay, fine, maybe once.

Monday, September 22, 2003

How Great a Love

I've been thinking about life. Sometimes the reality of suffering becomes so clear and present to me that it is heartbreaking. I mean, not the kind of suffering that I've ever experienced myself... but the kind that you start to understand in glimpses through a book, or a film, or a newspaper headline, or a sponsor-a-child advertisement. The suffering of the people of Israel in Egypt, the suffering of Christians under Nero, the suffering of modern-day people in Iraq, the suffering of people in war, and in persecution, and in starvation, and in terror.

In the face of such suffering, what can one person do? It makes me think of the quote in the Lord of the Rings... 'What can men do in the face of such reckless hate?' What can we do in the face of the terrors that happened under Saddam and his sons... under Hitler... and even the everyday horrors of abortion, murder, racism, suicide, hatred, war, persecution...?

What are we to do in a world gone so terribly wrong? I was thinking about this, and I suppose the answer is pretty simple. The meaning of life... is to live. God didn't make humankind to die. He didn't make us to go hungry and to wear down and break apart and be alone and suffer and live in fear or terror... he didn't make us to die. He made us to live! In the beginning, God made man and woman to live forever. But He gave us the will to choose, and Adam and Eve chose sin and darkness and ... nothingness ... absense ... instead of good and beauty and light and everything that is real and solid and true. And we all make the same choices, over and over again... loving little reflections more than their image found in God. And when humankind turned from Him in whom we live and move and have our being, some of the privileges of life were taken away. Now all of life ended in death. And death is the opposite of the light and life that God created us for.

We were meant to live, and in the Goodness of the world God created, we were given life. But we turned from Him and now life ends. And now, in the midst of life... sorrow, and terror, and pain, and loneliness, and lost-ness. And that's why Jesus is so central to everything. He came to comfort those who mourned, to cast out fear with Love, to heal wounds, to fill loneliness, and to seek and save the lost. And most of all He came to die, and it's so amazing! The eternal Word, through whom all things were made, took on flesh. God stepped onto the stage of the great drama He was producing. The incarnation of Christ reconciled the painfully real Platonic dichotomy between the world of Being and the world of Becoming. He came and He LIVED, as man was meant to live, and then He died, as man wasn't meant to but had to... He carried the penalty of all our sins and all of the heavens and earth cried out and trembled and when it was all over, everything was made right again from an eternal perspective. "So Man, as is most just, shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die, and dying rise, and rising, with Him raise His brethren, ransomed with His own dear life." He took on Himself death and all the world's sin and wrong-ness and He transformed it to give us LIFE. The forever-and-ever-world-without-end-amen kind of life.

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are." "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God... if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

How good and amazing it is. God's mercy and His justice... Jesus Christ. LOVE. The love that Dante says "moves the sun and the other stars." God just made us to live... to live and to love, I think. To live for Him, and for one another... to love Him and to love one another.

Jesus Christ and the cross... it all came together. Anselm talks about it in Cur Deus Homo, and Athanasius in On the Incarnation. And they're much more eloquent, only I had to write about things anyway to help me process the issues because I'm feeling so helpless about the sufferings of the world. And yet... weeping and being heartbroken isn't the whole answer. Yes, God weeps... and we should weep with Him. But we're here to live, and to live for CHRIST. And we can't just be sorrowful, because we've got to live and love... we've got to create art, and build beautiful architecture, and sing, and dance, and make music, and read books, and explore space, and travel and see the world, and write, and smile at friends, and get married and have babies and teach them to love Jesus, and we've got to be the Church, to be God's kingdom here on earth, to go and love our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and China and New York City and wherever we're called, doing whatever we're called to do. And whatever we're called to, I just think... we've got to be warriors. To lead the culture, to make a difference... by living and loving. Am I getting redundant? I can't help it. God is big and mighty and beyond all comprehension and yet He chose to look upon our distress, us, so lowly, and to come and give us real life again.

So, in the face of suffering and tragedy... I am deciding to be joyful. You know, in the Psalms, David keeps crying out to God to come and heal his broken revive him... but did you notice, it's followed by a reason - a reason that's centered on others and not himself. He wants to be healed so he can go and love and live for God and for others. And that's what I want to do. Not focus on the times when I'm sad or lonely or insecure or anything. I'm not saying that kind of sorrow isn't real; I think it is. But it's not what God made me to live for. I think what we do in the face of apathy and hatred and sorrow everywhere is just to live the way we were made to live. And be intelligent and engaging and winsome Christians who will sneak up on the whole world and take it by surprise with our love and life that is all a reflection of Christ. I think that's what He made us for.

Oh, I know all these thoughts don't really answer all the questions about the depths of both suffering and joy in this life, and how we might reconcile them. But I'm just trying to think it all through.

Coincidentally, I came back to my computer this evening to find an IM from a friend containing a quote that sort of fit with my mindset and all that I had been thinking about tonight.

"When a man lies he murders some part of the world. These are the pale deaths men must call their lives. All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdom of salvations take me home?" ...Metalica

And sometimes I do just want to go home. Home to the new Narnia, to Aslan's country and Aslan Himself... "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this...come further up, come further in!" This is the feeling that puts an ache in my chest and a lump in my throat... It's not sorrow, but it's not joy either, at least it's not either one entirely separate from the other. It's a bittersweet feeling, when I experience beauty, or pain, or goodness, or truth, or sorrow, or any number of very *real* experiences in words, music, or just living.

Of course, the hard thing is to live well while I'm here. To really get outside myself and outside all my insecurities and just live with every single breath and every single word. I'm trying.

All these words, and I haven't really said anything profound or resolved any deep questions. But somehow, I always feel better after writing something like this.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

I Love My Teacher

I love studying with Mr. B. At every lesson, I learn so much from him - he is an amazing violinist and a brilliant man. He not only teaches me to play the violin, but he helps me realize things about myself and how I approach all of life. He makes me set high standards of diligence and excellence and stick with those standards. He encourages me to set myself the highest standards for intonation, tone quality, sound, articulation, etc., and to use my ear as judge until I achieve those standards. He helps me integrate and make connections between the various things in my life that I love and appreciate. He takes the task of getting to know me quite seriously, as an important part of his job. He balances his criticisms very well with encouragement when appropriate and deserved. He teaches because he wants to, and he invests so much in all of his students. He and his wife got involved with the music department here at Gordon a few years ago in addition to their jobs at New England Conservatory, and not because they needed the money - they wanted to be around Christians and invest in Christian students and artists. They wanted to help push the department here towards excellence. And that is an admirable thing. Mr. B. is direct and to-the-point and efficient and enthusiastic and wonderful. (He has released several recordings - one of them was nominated for a Grammy. Get them if you like classical music. He's amazing.)

I did a Google search on him, just to remind myself what a privilege it is to study with him... to remind myself to PRACTICE MORE!!! And not to take it for granted. So yesterday I spent practically my whole day in the music department. It was enjoyable, really. And I always like feeling that I've been diligent and accomplished something. Then, at the end of the day, I relaxed and watched a movie with Nicky. Yep... it was a good day.

Monday, September 8, 2003

New Testament Rant

Wow... it's been quite a while since I last posted. I'm at Gordon College now, and getting quite settled in. Today begins the second full week of classes. Mostly things are going well, I think. But I want to rant about something.

Today in New Testament class the professor mentioned in passing that the disciple John, the disciple Jesus loved, did not believe or know that the earth was round. This comment bothered me. Contrary to what most middle school history and science textbooks tell us, the overwhelming majority of intelligent people since the time of Empedocles (c. 450 B.C.) have not only believed the world to be round, but have also been able to calculate (since the time of Pythagoras) the approximate size of the earth. (Columbus was opposed on his voyage not because people believed he would "fall off" the "flat" earth, as many erroneous textbooks say, but because he was wrong about the size of the earth and people knew it. Where he believed Asia would be, he by sheer luck found N. and S. America - or he would have died at sea.) In fact, not only did the Greeks, Romans, Medievals, and early Christians not believe the earth to be flat; no one before the 1830's A.D. believed that those people believed the earth to be flat.

Around 1830, the idea was established almost contemporaneously (but entirely coincidentally - no connection between the two men) by a Frenchman and an American. One was Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), an academic with strong anti-religious prejudices. In his work "On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers," he drew up both geography and history to misrepresent the Church fathers and their medieval successors as believing in a flat earth. The aforementioned American was the storyteller Washington Irving (1783-1859), who wrote historical fiction under the guise of history. He is responsible for inventing the image most hold today of Columbus appearing before inquisitors and theologicans at a council of Salamanca, all of whom believed (so said Irving) that the earth was flat. Yes, there was a meeting at Salamanca in 1491, shortly before Columbus embarked on his voyage, but Irving's version of this council is misleading, and more than that, entirely inaccurate.

The false accounts of Irving and Letronne became mainstream "knowledge" within the schools and textbooks as soon as the 1860s, not just as an incorrect conception of the history of Western thought, but as part of a larger falsehood - concerning the "war" between science and religion throughout Western history. This view of the separation between religion and science was invented and propagated by people such as John Draper and Andrew Dickson White, who worked to have the view circulated in texts, encyclopedias, and more... up to the present day. I believe that the reason "historians" such as these men promoted not only the specific lie about beliefs concerning the sphericity of the earth but also the general lie that religion and science are in conflict with one another is a defense of Darwinism and naturalism. Crudely stated, the argument inherent in their view would seem to be this: "See, Christians are stupid people. They interfere with science and progress in civilization. The same sects of people denying evolution and arguing with Darwinism today were denying basic facts such as the sphericity of the earth for at least a thousand years. Obviously, they were wrong about the earth... and they're just interfering with the progress of naturalism and science by arguing with Darwinism." And... it's simply not true. Throughout history the arts and sciences alike have flourished under Christendom. The entire concept of a "Dark Ages" - and thus of the "rebirth" or the "Renaissance" following - was a creation primarily of people in the 19th century. In truth, the Byzantine Empire flourished until 1450 A.D. - a culture of uninterrupted progress and development in the arts and sciences under the university of Constantinople (controlled by Christians) from about 400 A.D. until Islam sacked Constantinople in the 1450's.

The underlying issue here seems very important to me - This secular view of history has so infiltrated our anti-intellectual culture today that most Christian intellectuals have also adopted this view and then pasted Christ over it. This bothers me. And that's putting it mildly.

I'm reading a book (well, trying to, when I have time) called The Stripping of the Altars. It's about traditional religion in England from 1400-1580, and it's full of lots of interesting ideas to think about concerning the Reformation. Really, it's just adding to my questions and concerns with the Protestant, and particularly evangelical, churches in which I've grown up. I'm not sure I can really be an evangelical in good conscience anymore... but that is another topic for another rant for another time.

I'm also trying to find time to re-read the Iliad... fascinating book. I love it. I wish I had time to learn...well...just...everything about everything.

Oh yeah, and I'm practicing the violin, too. That's what I'm here for, after all. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I don't. But hopefully, it's worth it. And I love my teacher here! But sometimes all the hours of practice just seems like... too much. And there are so many other things I want to do too; learn history and literature and philosophy and theology and apologetics and everything! So how do I justify devoting myself to just one thing? But I guess we all have to do it at some point. And I love the violin, I really do. I'm starting a Beethoven sonata, a Telemann fantasy, and continuing my work on the Barber concerto. Oh... and at my lesson last week I officially graduated from Kreutzer to Rode! Words cannot express my delight and jubilation at this. Because I didn't start violin until relatively rather late in life, and because I haven't had teachers who pushed me or had the diligence and initiative to make myself do etudes and scales and such, I've been doing various Kreutzer etudes for far too long now... and I finally get to leave them all behind and start Rode! I feel so grown up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Goodbye, Wheaton; Hello, Gordon

I'm hooooome!! It's good to be back in California, even though I'm leaving again this Friday for school. And yes, I've decided to transfer again. I'm going to be attending a small liberal arts college near Boston and studying with the teacher I worked with at music camp. It's a great opportunity. I'm super-excited about the chance to work with him. But of course, my year at Wheaton last year was a good one...I'm a little sad to be leaving. I didn't really realize all the things that I love about it until I had to think about leaving it all. I will miss my roommate, and my friends, and I'll miss some of my professors, too. I'm sure I'll be a little lonely at first at my new school, until I make some friends. This starting-over-every-single-year thing is hard.

My first semester at Wheaton was so difficult. I missed my friends at Biola so much. Even second semester, I was still really lonely a lot. I mean, I made friends at Wheaton, but somehow it wasn’t the same. And I still miss my friends from Biola. And I miss the Torrey tutors a lot! They can be positively hilarious sometimes. Biola is such a special place. I know that God is doing great things there. It's exciting to see how they continue to expand their faculty and their departments so they can really equip students to glorify God with their minds and to have a reasoned defense of their faith.

After my sister’s Torrey graduation and subsequent wedding this past May, I went through a period of time for about a month where I didn’t want to play the violin at all, much less go back to Wheaton. I just felt like it was doing things disproportionately to put violin as more important than being a good person and having a good soul and learning to love God with all my heart, soul, and mind. Of course, Torrey isn’t the only place that I can learn and develop in those ways, but sometimes when I really miss it a lot, it feels like it is. But already I can look back and see how God taught me a LOT in my time at Wheaton. I think I grew up a lot. I think that I’m less prideful and selfish now, and less insecure too. Or at least I focus on my insecurity less. At Biola I focused on myself and on my insecurities too much, which is a prideful and selfish thing to do... in a strange sort of way. I think this past year I learned to be more independent in some ways, and less dependent on the affirmation of others.

So now I’m not going back to Biola or to Wheaton. Three schools in three years... haha! I really thought about going back to Biola. When I was talking to my parents on the phone from Boston about all these opportunities to transfer again, they asked me several times, “Are you sure you want to do this? Work this hard? Really pursue violin? Are you sure? There are other things you love so much. Are you sure?” They gave me all these opportunities to back out of it, to just decide that I didn’t want to do it. Isn’t that great of them? I mean, after they paid for me to go to music camp, and for years of lessons, and instruments, and all this stuff... they would still be fine with me changing my mind! They wouldn’t consider it a waste! And you know, right then on the phone I remember feeling that I didn’t want to do it at all... just no desire for that kind of life. And in that moment, I was really certain about it. But I said yes anyway. I don’t really know why. So I’m going to transfer. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. I hope I’m doing the right thing. I guess I just reasonably decided that I might as well do it. I mean, God has given me these opportunities, and this is not something I can put off and come back to ten years from now. But if I decide in ten years to get a Ph.D. in literature or philosophy or something, I can always do that later. So I’ll do violin for now and trust God and see where He leads me.

Leaving this Friday. I can't believe it! So much to do before then...Cheerio!

Monday, August 4, 2003

Opportunity and Change

Still at music camp. I really, really like my teacher here. And now he's asked me to transfer to a school near Boston and study with him. As if my life wasn't confusing enough I don't know what to do. One minute I think that of course I'll go, it's my big chance, a tremendous opportunity, and the next minute I don't want to do it at all. Three schools in three years... who does that?! I miss Biola (freshman year). If I leave Wheaton (sophomore year), I'll probably miss Wheaton too. I'll miss my roommate. I'll miss orchestra. I'll miss familiarity... familiar sights and familiar smells and familiar people and familiar feelings. I don't know what to do. I'll write more later... I have to go to a masterclass now. Over and out.

Friday, July 25, 2003

First Lesson

Today I had my first lesson with the teacher I've come here to study with. (The first three weeks of camp he wasn't here yet, and I was studying with another teacher here.) I'll be brief, since I need to practice - so let's just say I got my butt kicked. Completely. How someone can figure me out so well and know my strengths and weaknesses in just one lesson is utterly amazing, but he did it. I've had other teachers who haven't figured me out in years. Oh, it isn't all hopeless - he spent over an hour talking to me last night, and I learned a lot at my lesson today, and he thinks I have a terrific talent and adequate current ability; he just thinks I'm not working at all. Which... is pretty much true. I mean, it depends on your definition of working, but if I really want to be a violinist, then right now I'm not working hard enough to get there. I'm not disciplining myself to do it even when it's not fun. I'm letting myself say, "I've only been playing for six years... I started late... I don't have a great teacher at school right now..." and get by on excuses instead of taking the initiative to practice things until they're the best I can possibly get them. And I CAN do it. And some days I do. It's just that some days I don't, and he could tell. And he knows that I love literature and classics and ideas and philosophy and theology, and he knows that I'm wavering between pursuing music or pursuing something else, and he knows that I really need to commit to one thing now and go for it and pursue it wholeheartedly and whole-minded-ly too. Not to say that I have to choose one thing for forever, but if I'm going to pursue music I need to decide to do it now and really throw myself into it and work at it and not let my fear of failure keep me holding something back. I need to work at it for a few years, and then re-evaluate... instead of re-evaluating my life every day. He's totally right. How can he be so right when he barely knows me?

Thursday, July 24, 2003

First Post

So. I have joined the thousands of people in the world who blog. How do you go about doing this blog thing, anyway? I'm a real person - more than just a screen name and password on a website. I must be desperate for someone to talk to, or I wouldn't be sitting here in a computer lab at a music camp in Massachusetts typing something that most likely will never be read. Yes - I am desperate. I'm lonely, I'm confused, I love the violin, I hate the violin, I want to play Brahms Concerto before I die, I want to quit the violin, I don't know where I want to go to school, I don't know what I want to major in, I don't know what I should be doing in life, and did I mention that I'm lonely? I tell myself to stop being lazy and practice, to stop being self-pitying and go do something for others, to stop being lonely and go make a friend here at music camp.

It's funny that I can be happy and unhappy at the same time. Because I really am happy. But I am also worried and confused. Big decisions...