Monthly Archives: August 2013
Second week of grad school. This week main title shall be “The French Connection”. Why you may ask, my dear reader? Simple. I have to do a research project, and since somebody very special to me reignited my curiosity for French Music, I want to research French Choral Music in the 19th Century. For the sake of this research project the CSI suspect is Henk Badings a dutch composer from the 20th century. The case: Did Badings have a 19th century inspiration or stylistic approach for his choral music compositions? If so, were they inspired by Debussy or Ravel?
Fairly exciting, isn’t it? The correct answer is YES! Now. I am loving Badings first “movement” or first chanson from his “Trois Chansons”. The Title? La nuit en mer. (The sea at night). Here I leave you the beautiful lyrics written by Théodore Botrel.
La brise enfle notre voile :
Voici la première étoile
Qui luit ;
Sur le flot qui nous balance,
Amis voguons en silence,
Dans la nuit.
Tous bruits viennent de se taire,
On dirait que tout, sur Terre,
Est mort :
Les Humains comme les Choses,
Les oiseaux comme les roses
Tout s’endort !
Mais la Mer c’est la Vivante,
C’est l’Immensité mouvante
Prenant d’assaut les jetées,
Dédaigneuse des nuitées
Et des jours !…
Hormis Elle, rien n’existe
Que le grand Phare et son triste
A la place la meilleure,
Mes amis, jetons sur l’heure
Le filet !…
Puis, enroulés dans nos voiles
Le front nu sous les étoiles,
Rêvons en paix profonde,
A tous ceux qu’en ce bas-monde
Nous aimons !
Dormons sur nos goëlettes
Comme en nos bercelonnettes
Et demain à marée haute
Nous rallierons la Côte,
The time has come. I have started my graduate studies in Choral Conducting, and to quote that famous phrase all I can say is “I’m not in Kansas (Puerto Rico) anymore.” How can I describe this? One word. Wow. It is completely different from what I’m accustomed, but that was the necessary change, right? The answer, of course is a big, bad, YES!
Now. There is a lot of work, but I’m surprised that the Faculty is very supportive, appreciative, and really wants to see you succed. From my experience back home, most of the Doctors’ perspective is: “I know more than you, you are beneath me. I have all my three degrees so, basically I don’t care.” It’s very refreshing in seeing that here is the exact opposite. Which leads me to the other (unspoken) fact. If they see you slacking, I am sure you will get a kick to your patootie (yes, I really used that word) and they will take no prisoners. Which is good, because as a Doctor told us at the Graduate Orientation:
Receiving a Higher Education (Masters or Doctorate degree) is not a right, it is a privilege. We, the faculty, are very possessive and protective of our field. We don’t want anybody in receiving the same title that we have, we want you to show us how much you wanted and how determined you want to be as good or better than we are.
Which is really true. If you were a professor, wouldn’t you want to make sure that the people you send out to the field are competent and can do their job? To send professionals out on the field, and maybe one day could possibly take your job? The answer or the answer should be yes. In how I’ve been finding my place here, well that’s another story. Day to day living is exactly what I’ve always wanted, peace and quiet, no reggueton (the devil’s music). Musically? It’s day and night. I prided myself that over in Puerto Rico, at least vocally, I was very good. I always learned my music in a fast efficient manner. In just this week alone I’ve felt that some of the undergrad students are ten times better than I actually am right now and their piano skills (a weakness I know and admit I have) are twenty times as better as I have. And I’m sure that my fellow graduate peers are even better in that area as I am. It sort of feels like heaven (and a little slice of hell).
Heaven, because I feel as in this is what I wanted as an undergraduate experience. What I want to see in Puerto Rico, where students have a great musical education and when they go to college you don’t have to go to a rehearsal and play notes all day. Students actually go home, study their music and come to the classroom to sing. But that puts me in a (very big disadvantage) because I have to work ten time as hard in everything, because I feel like I’m not “as in musical shape” as they are, holistically. I can express that my culture shock has been more artistically than it is, well in the other sense. Compared to the other international students, Puerto Rico has always had the presence of the United States over our shoulders. That’s why I feel as if it is moving over here is a natural (and necessary) progression I need to grow in every sense in my life. After this first week, I all can say is that I really have my work cut out for me and that I need to hit the turbo to actually do what I want, what I love, but give that excellence I want from myself (which is more than other people want) and what my professor will expect from me. So just like in “The Wizard of Oz” “I’m not in Kansas anymore.” and just for that fact only I have to give 200% of me so that I can excel!
So. The moment has come. Between tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday I have two Graduate Advisory Exams on Musical Theory and Music History. On Monday I begin my first semester as a Grad Student and Graduate Assistant for Choirs at Western Illinois University. You may ask, how do you feel? To that, my dear Watson it’s Overwhelmed. A good and a bad kind of overwhelmed. How is that possible you may ask well, let’s be all Grad Student and use points *insert CNN news music here*
- I think I’m not in Kansas (Puerto Rico) anymore. When I say this it’s awesome and terrifying at the same time. I’m alone. Nobody knows me (yet), my professors, advisors, and supervisors don’t know how exactly I work. So this is a chance to prove myself that I know my stuff and that I can grow.
- The School of Music is big (at least to what I’m used to). I’m used to a small (intimate) Music Department so when you show me a list of… 20? 30? music professors and that you have minimum 100 students in a specific program in the School of Music you get shocked (in a good way). It’s refreshing to see the School and know that you may be teaching/assisting in the Professors in what you love.
- You can’t geek out to your friends and family about everything you see (in person).
- You are (somewhat) terrified for you don’t know what is going to happen, but you know that you must face the storm and deal with it.
- I have a lot to do and… I LOVE it. (That’s what he says now. Let’s check in Mid September and in October.)
In these past two days, I’ve been in and out of Faculty reunions & Graduate Orientations. Now, all of this is really … how should I put it in words… epic. Why? Because it’s all new to me. And what my friends and family know is that I love the Academia world. I live for it. That’s what Third grade Jose wanted to be when he grew up and now where is he? In an hands on opportunity in being in the Academic world, and in the hopes in becoming “Americas Next Top… Choral Conductor”. (Who wants to be on top? Me. Sorry. Too much Netflix and reality TV).
In all these commotion and reunions, some doctors have said things that have inspired and stuck to my brain. These are :
- “Receiving a post graduate degree (Masters or Doctorate) is an opportunity, not a right. We as Doctors are very, very territorial & protective of our field. You, as a new graduate student, need to show us -your faculty- how much you want this degree. You must be proactive in your education, not reactive. You must show us that you want to be as good or better and greater than we are. Only then, will you receive that degree. If not, you will be in that group of people that don’t achieve their dreams.” – Doctor who’s name I couldn’t jot down for they spoke to quickly.
- “… We need to grow our way out of the recession. Hence why we should look for a way to better our curriculum, better ourselves (as professors and teachers) from within so that we can give our students the best experience they can receive for their Higher Education” Dr. Ken Hawkingson, Provost & Academic Vice President of WIU.
After all it’s said and done. What do I, Jose Clavell, want out of my Higher Education. What should everybody want out of Higher Education. Sure, you can say jobs, money, prestige. What you should say is. Reinvent myself. We all come for different backgrounds, faiths, walks of life. When it comes to our education we want to reinvent ourselves. We don’t to be ignorant about a subject or a field. We want to know. For ourselves and (here enters the beauty of academia) to share this information. To share what we love, what gets us passionate to somebody. To shed light in a subject people can’t grasp. I want to share my love for literature and choral music to as many people I can.
With a Masters degree (or doctorates) we transform ourselves into experts. Into Scholars in our community. And in this era, where information runs faster than the speed of light, we can diminish the incorrect information that is out there.
“When we learn we can therefore teach. When we teach we ignite curiosity. When you ignite curiosity you ignite a revolution. I believe this world needs a revolution. Let’s start an educational revolution, shall we? ” -J. Clavell
Walk through endless halls of history
Pick a story of your choosing
Sit on a cloud