The week in Heaven (and just a slice of hell).


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!

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About theartofmusicalpoetry

I'm Jose Clavell, graduate student at Western Illinois University. Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico alumni. Choral Conductor, writer, blogger.

Posted on August 25, 2013, in Academia, gradschool and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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