30 August 2006

Reason #14 To Love Grad School

Today, we improvised simple fauxbourdon on Virgo virginum praeclara in the class I'm taking on 15th Century Counterpoint and Improvisation. Next week, we learn about the differences between French fauxbourdon and English faburden. (I didn't know until today that they were two different things!) Also, I got to sing some Bolivian baroque music this afternoon, accompanied by some period-correct instruments.

23 August 2006

Airline Restrictions Terrible For Musicians

This article from the BBC details difficulties faced by musicians travelling with instruments because of the new safety restrictions.

I feel their pain. In the past I've travelled with my Celtic harp, and it's too big even to buy a seat on the plane for, let alone stow under the seat, so I had to check it. No one will insure an instrument in the baggage compartment of an airplane, even if any high-quality instrument were really replaceable. My harp was damaged on two occasions, thankfully only cosmetic and not too hard to repair, but the airlines would not accept responsibility for the cost of repairs--and yes, my instrument was in a $2,000 rigid travelling case. Incidentally, I left one harp at our vacation home in NY and brought the case back empty. The case arrived in California with the top completely smashed in, which would have amounted to a $10,000 loss if my harp had been inside. I'm glad I don't make my livelihood as a performer, because there's no way I'd take my harp on a plane again, and I'm wary of normal shipping companies after having a horrible experience four years ago (which I won't go into now).

If anyone wants to start a courier service for musical instruments, let me know, and I might consider travelling with my instruments again.

17 August 2006

All the Way Home

As you see, the cat has found her new favorite spot. Actually, she seems to have staked out sleeping territory all over the place. The living room windowsill, my bedroom windowsill, under the pedestal sink in the bathroom, the middle of the couch, the chair in the guest room, anywhere in my bed where I'm trying to put my feet, etc. She seems quite content in our new home, though I think I will try to walk her in the park tomorrow. She'll probably be terrified, but I want to give it a shot.

I am quite content in our new home, too. I'm almost totally unpacked (one more box of books to go), and would be totally unpacked except that I keep discovering more little things that need attention (dresser drawer is falling apart--buy glue). I could never have managed this week without my fantastic parents, who assembled furniture, shopped for necessary items, and generally made sure everything was in order.

I could have done it all myself, but it would have been much harder, since I had three tests to take, five different kinds of orientation sessions to attend, besides auditioning for an ensemble and meeting with my advisor(s--I'm not entirely sure whether Renaissance Prof or Department Chair is my advisor. I was supposed to meet with Renaissance Prof from the beginning, but then Department Chair wanted to meet with me for an advisement session as well, though he wasn't at all helpful and I still had to see Renaissance Prof to clear it all up.), then registering for the classes so helpfully picked out for me by Department Chair. I'm sort of psyched about having to take Music Theory Review, because it's listed as being taught by Famous Choral Composer this semester. Some older, wiser grad students cautioned me that Famous Choral Composer sometimes delegates this task to T.A.'s or the professor assigned to the course changes at the last minute, but it still might be FCC, so that's cool.

Oh, and the prof I'm supposed to assist hasn't attempted to contact me, and hasn't replied to the email I sent her, and hasn't been in the office for the last two days. I have no idea whether or not I'm expected to be at the first class or not. I've come to the conclusion that if being a graduate student is this hard before classes even start, the next four or five years are going to be insane. But hopefully I'll come out of it with my sanity intact, and a PhD to boot.

10 August 2006

Hitting the Road Again

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go! Tomorrow my parents and I drive down to L.A. and collect the key to my new apartment. We have the freight elevator reserved for Friday morning (fancy stuff) so we move the furniture in then, except for the furniture which is being delivered, which of course we don't have to carry ourselves.

We decided at the last minute that my cat gets to come too. This necessitated picking up her medical records from the vet and buying her a harness, since taking her out of the apartment will require a leash. She models it for you below, sort of:

Looks happy about it, doesn't she? Actually, she always looks about like that. Despite appearing perpetually ticked-off, she's an affectionate animal, and I will be glad to have a warm furry critter to cuddle up with when I come home at night. I think she'll adjust pretty well to apartment life, since she's shown almost no interest in going outside in the last two years.

I'm very excited about the move. I'm also welcoming any suggestions for decent parishes in Los Angeles. Surely someone, somewhere, chants? I'll be living in the city of Los Angeles itself, but am willing to drive up to 45 minutes to go to Mass. (If all else fails, I'll hang out at an Eastern Catholic parish.)

07 August 2006

Flash of Brilliance

As my family wended its way toward brunch at a local country club, my mother read aloud a note in the bulletin that the Knights of Columbus were putting on a pancake breakfast at a local parish. This amused us, because the Knights of Columbus in East Durham, NY put on a pancake breakfast every single Sunday (now that's dedication!). Recalling the ubiquitous K of C pancake breakfast prompted my brain into action, and after a moment's cogitation, this is what it produced:

Knights of Columbus Pancake Mix.

It could be packaged and sent in bulk to each outpost of the Knights (instant pancake breakfast for your parish! just add water!). They could sell smaller boxes at the breakfasts for those weekdays or Saturdays when you're just craving some good pancakes, to raise money so that the Knights can send pancake mix and other nutritious foods to homeless shelters and third-world countries. There would be a brief history of the Knights on the back of the box, a reminder not to consume pancakes within an hour before Mass if intending to receive the Eucharist, and maybe a form the gentleman of the house could fill out and send in to get more information about how to become a Knight. They could even make different flavors of pancake mix--imagine going to breakfast in your parish hall and having a choice of regular, blueberry, or chocolate chip (which I don't like, but have heard some people do).

(Now, of course, someone will tell me that someone else has already thought of this, but I don't care. It would still be a good idea, right?)