Opening the violin case is a very hard process at times. It often means you are about to focus extremely hard for a long period of time. It is much more convenient to just swipe past the Google Docs tab I’m writing on, to stop on Netflix about two slots over, or go grab lunch with friends. In musical communities, these negatives exit the mind, because everyone else is going to rehearsal/practice as well. It’s inspiring, because you see the hard work and great music of your peers, and also competitive because odds are the person you are listening to will be competing for a job or ensemble seating in the future. However, that practice room inspiration got taken away recently due to the epidemic. For a long time, there were no ensembles, no summer camps, no concerts, and no trips with friends to the practice rooms. How does a musician gain the motivation to practice during the pandemic?
Gender Identity & Music Education
Over the course of my last eight posts, you have learned about the ways that I have attempted a balance between mom life and PhD student life. You have read a couple of “interview-like” posts from a first-year DMA student, Andy Bruhn, in choral conducting, and from Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Andrew Megill. You have also read a couple of posts about my covid vaccine experience and all about my weekends at the Music Ed Annex. But how well do you think you know me based on those posts alone?
A Unique Recording Session
Previously, I wrote about singing a concert in Foellinger Great Hall with the University of Illinois Chamber Singers, which was recorded for Carle Hospital patients. We did not record all of our repertoire, and the following week, we decided to continue our recording streak, but this time, it would be in a strikingly different location! The Women’s Glee Club has used the Krannert Center Green Parking Garage for their rehearsals and recordings, so we followed their lead, and the results were fabulous! Dr. Megill spoke highly of the acoustics in this unique space-- he compared them to those of a cathedral, which would make the space ideal for some of our haunting a capella pieces.
As both an instrumentalist and vocalist, the care in the instrument is very much different. An instrument, such as the cello, is separate from your body and being. Stringed instruments you have to be aware of during the changes in season, cracks, bending of the bridge, the hair on the bow, etc. But when taking care of the voice, it teaches you what your limit is and how to be patient. Of course as an instrumentalist, no matter what your instrument is, you learn your limits and patience, although I have learned that as a vocalist, there is a different sense of limits and patience for yourself.
Student Teaching and Self-Care
Student teaching as a young music education major can be rewarding, but it comes with many challenges. The picture accompanying this post is from my semester of student teaching grades 6-8. It was not the fairy tale adventure that I thought it would be, but it was a great learning experience.
Today, a university-wide non-instruction day, I was struggling to begin practicing my violin. The thought of it seemed overwhelming like it was too daunting of a task, and my mind began to throw evaluative statements at me, like “it’s not going to be good enough, you should’ve started earlier in the day, why aren’t you being productive?”, which made it even harder to begin. So, around 5:30 pm, I forced myself to stop watching Youtube videos, trying to distract myself from the stress, and took my roommate’s puppy on a walk around the block, focusing on breathing in the cool spring air. Then, I decided to sit down and write this blog post!
Combating Imposter Syndrome
At some point in their college career (or afterward), most people experience some form of imposter syndrome, or the feeling that they’re a fraud/don’t deserve their successes. As a woman, in a major comprised primarily of men, this feeling is all too familiar to me. It’s hard sometimes to not doubt yourself and your skills, but over the years I’ve found there are ways to make imposter syndrome feel a little less overwhelming.
The Marching Illini is a 375-member historic marching band composed of students from all majors, backgrounds, and walks of life. This fall (2021), I will have the privilege of being a music section leader for the trumpet section! So, let’s talk a little bit about this organization that has had such a profound impact on my life.
The first few days to weeks of graduate studies are already stressful enough. So, why then would we want to worry about the level of our playing in addition to everything else? We don’t want to be worried about the consistency of performance on our instruments when we are trying to do things like adapt to a new environment, fit in with our new community members, start new courses, and perform ensemble auditions. There may seem to be lots of solutions to this wealth of stressors, but I am going to focus on just one preventative action step that you can do this summer to increase your consistency in performance, reduce your stress, and come into grad school feeling confident in your playing. It’s really a simple solution. Take the time now to develop an effective warmup routine and get your fundamentals locked down!