Sunday, June 8, 2014

Blog post # 25

So. We're here.

Our speeches are finished and graded, we had a very successful TEDx event on Saturday, and finals are this week! It's ridiculous. It felt like just yesterday I was thinking to myself, oh don't worry, self! You've got forever to write this music! 

And now it's said and done, and the quartet is even being played by a highschool string orchestra! 

Even though through 20 time, I have accomplished a lot, and put in a ton of effort, I don't think that 20 time can necessarily ever be over. As long as I keep writing music, and discovering new ways that music helps to heal our bodies, my 20 time project is probably going to continue forever. Which I'm pretty thrilled about. 

Anyways, the point of this blog is to answer some questions asked by Mr. Provenzano, and to wrap up our in school 20 time project, so I'll answer those now so I don't get carried away and forget. 

1) What is your opinion of 20 time, based on your experience in the class? 

I LOVED 20 TIME. A lot. A lot a lot a lot. Mainly because normally I view school as a thing that I go to, just so that I don't get put in Juvi, or have my parents arrested or something for my lack of going to school. Typically the only classes that I think will actually help me land a position in an orchestra or in a quartet or teaching at a university is Orchestra, Band and tutorial. Because let's be honest. At my future orchestra auditions, they aren't going to be asking me to find the volume of a half sphere, or know the difference between all the King Charles's. THEY'RE GOING TO ASK ME TO PLAY THE VIOLIN. Conservatories don't even look at your GPA or test scores. Everything is based off of that one 10 minute audition you take in March of your senior year. BUT, 20 time gave me a sense that I was doing something useful for myself when going to school. Every friday in English class, instead of thinking "oh my goodness I need to be practicing my Till Eulenspiegel and Don Juan excerpts right now or else I'm never going to get back into orchestra." i could think about how much better I was getting at composing and how useful sitting in school was for me at that moment.  Since I got to do whatever I wanted, I chose something I loved and something I could benefit from, and I grew as a musician and as a person. 20 time forced me to make decisions I would have normally ran away from, and also got me on stage talking to my peers about the most important thing in my life and what it has done for myself and for my friends. It was crazy. No way I could have done that in September. So that's basically why I loved 20 Time. 

2) What are aspects of 20 time you think could be changed for next year? 

I basically loved 20 Time in it's entirety. But if Ihad to pick one thing, it would be to give mini presentations periodically to the class. This would sort of warm students up to their big presentation in June, but also serve as a motivator to get stuff done. I know I would not want to have to stand in front of my class mumbling some incomprehensible rubbish about ALL the hard work I did last week, when in reality it was nothing. Just the thought of "oh shoot do I had to present this week?!?" would definitely push me to work hard. 

3) What would you not change about 20 Time? 

I would not change how open ended this project is. I think that the fact that we could do whatever we wanted really helped me pick something I loved and cared about. If the topic weren't as broad and I had to pick something relating to English, I wouldn't have learned anything because I have to do that anyway, and I wouldn't have pushed myself to do it because it would have been homework again. And no one likes homework. Teachers don't even like to grade homework. 

4) is 20 time something more students should do in school. 

YESYESYESYESYESYESYES. While I agree that yes some people sat every Friday and did absolutely nothing, I think that these kids learned from their mistake of doing nothing because they either failed at their presentation, or had to cram a years worth of work into a week. Neither option is fun. I also think that it would teach kids how to take responsibility on of their own, and would help them mature further. It would also reopen up their minds to creativity, something that school cleverly shut out of all of us. Just thinking of a project is a start to battling "robot students."  My friends who didn't have the option of 20 Time actually planned out what they would have done if they ha 20 Time, and let me tell you, their ideas were AWESOME. All people have the ability to be extraordinary, the only thing different from extraordinary people and ordinary people is opportunity. That's why I think all students should have 20 time. Gosh, there could be a secret Picasso right under everyone's noses who wasn't discovered due to lack of opportunities like 20 Time. WHAT ARE WE DOING. 

5) what advice would you give to students who are doing 20 time next year? 

DON'T DO SOMETHING THAT WILL MERELY GET YOU INTO COLLEGE. Don't do something because your friends are doing it. Don't choose a topic you hate just because you can't think of what else to do. 

Choose something you love and something that will keep you interested to work all year. Guess what, despite all the shared clothing and makeup, you and your friends aren't the same, so please for the love of god do something you like, not something your friends like. Don't limit yourself in a box because everything outside the box seems impossible, and don't be afraid of what you don't know. It'll work out I promise. 

Also, talking on stage to your peers about something you love and are passionate about is a LOT easier than talking to them about something you hate and had to memorize because you don't remember things you hate. (Cough world history tests cough) I always got B-'s on my presentations on the economy this year, but I got an A+ while talking about music. Just sayin'. 
Chose something you love. I promise your life will be a lot easier and less stressful throughout the year. Less stress=good. 

So that's about all I have to say for this past year. Maybe if something awesome happens over the summer I'll write something about it. And I'll probably post that recording of the high school orchestra playing my music, if I can figure out this whole technology thing.

(I like this sun because it reminds me of my hair. Wow this is so random okay bye.) 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Links to my music, blog post #24, and various things of the sort.

I have to give my 20 Time talk this Thursday and I'm starting to panic because everyone's talks have been fantastic! I'm also scared because I'm playing an excerpt from Beethoven's Romance in F on violin and possibly and excerpt of Rachmaninov's C# minor prelude on piano as examples of what music can do to your body. 

I'm also talking about when my friend, Alex Peabody, had his heart and double-lung transplant and sometimes that's a little hard to talk about for two reasons: He's not me and I don't want to end up quoting him one something that is not true, and also it's hard to remember how sick he was and not cry. I'll try my very best. 

Also when I'm practicing my talk, it's coming in around 13 minutes which is pretty long considering that the average is 8-9 minutes. I know that it will be shorter when I actually give the presentation because I will be nervous and talking faster but I guess we'll just see how it goes. I really do not want to cut anything out of my project because I feel that all of it is necessary to show people the power that music has over your body. 

My second concern is how my heart is going to fare getting up there because gosh it already beats too fast what on earth will it be like nervous. Don't want to, I don't know, faint or anything.
I don't get nervous when I perform anymore so I have no idea. 

Even though I have my concerns, it's really nice to think that after this Thursday, all I have to do is learn the 50 page packet of excerpts I just got for Tanglewood Institute chair auditions JUNE 30TH! (They're crazy) I've got a month to learn all of that really well and I'm also panicking for that so one less thing to panic about will be nice! 

And just because my brain likes to go off on tangents when I write, I absolutely have to remember to secure an accompanist if I perform my violin solo at the TedX event. 

Right now I'm listening to Mahler's 5th symphony(playing it this summer:D) and I think that's why I'm just really off topic with this blog post because I am always so creative when listening to music. Which I guess supports my presentation, so it's sorta a good thing that this blog post will be a little crazy. Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry. 

OH! This is super exciting, okay? I made a lot of my music on Noteflight public so now anyone can listen and view those so that's really exciting for me because I'm always worrying about people not liking my music so this is a leap of faith and self confidence for me. I'll link some of those for you. (In the order in which I like them ahaha) 

Three Part Fugue in C major for String Trio (I won a bunch of awards for this one so yea I'm liking this the most right now)

String Quartet No. 1 in g minor (this is the piece I worked on during 20 time so it has a special place in my heart too)

Waltz in f Minor (this I also wrote during 20 time when I would get distracted with what I was supposed to be writing and it needs a lot of work still so sorry about that one)

And here's an album cover of the Mahler I'm in love with right now. 

(Mahler. The man was a genius and there is no way around it) 

I hope that this blog post has provided you with your every-other-week's dose of music nerdiness. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blog post #23

These past two weeks I have been trying to gather all of my pictures and finish my slides, and find some clips of music to play for my presentation. I know all of what I want to say, I just really need to start practicing it. I have my ideas bulletpointed, and because my speech involves some medical facts and different heart rates and blood pressures, I need to get some of those into my slide. The only thing that I am still undecided on is what order my slides and presentation will be in. I think that I will work that our while I am practicing it. It is unbelievable how fast this school year has gone! It's crazy to think that we are already nearing the end of may! 

I'm a little bit sad that the music therapist I emails never responded back to me, because I really wanted to get some first hand information on the topic. But that's okay I guess. My presentation should go fine without it. Maybe she will respond back in time for me to throw her ideas in the presentation, who knows. 

This week has been exhausting so I really didn't accomplish much on this presentation since last weekend, so I am hoping that this weekend I will finish up everything and really practice what I am going to say. 

At the moment I'm pretty terrified for my presentation because I have a crippling fear of public speaking, and because i haven't practiced my speech yet. It is always hard for me to perform and have good stage presence without and instrument, and I'm scared, yet excited that this might help me get over that.  Kinda wish I had a time machine to take me back to April, though. Ah! This is crazy! 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Post #22

Over spring break I started to work on my slides for my talk, and I was compiling some pictures of I got of Alex and I in the music therapy room at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. I noticed that the pictures before and after visiting the music therapy room were drastically different. Before he looked tired and more sick, and then after he lit up and looked healthier.  I was also visiting various hospitals and clinics over break for my own health, and I saw that nearly every place had a piano or a music therapy room, though they looked virtually unused. I'm pretty sure that the reason they are unused is because people don't realize how healing music can be. 

I played a performance at the DIA recently, and before my section of the performance started, there were no empty seats so I ended up standing for a minute too long and I nearly fainted and my heart rate skyrocketed. However, as soon as I got on the stage and my accompanist started to play the beginning of my concerto, the music made me forget about trying not to faint and performing actually slowed my heart rate down, and I by the end of my concerto, I felt much better. Music has always had this effect on me, and many other people too. 

I guess this week I'll just finish compiling picture and editing my draft of my speech and see where that will get me. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blog post #21

So for my 20 time talk, I am going to completely rearrange my talk. Before I was going to talk about music education and how it's important. That's great and all, and it is important, but this past year I've been really sick tachycardia and dysautonomia, and this project has really been a therapy for me. It is something where when I'm feeling really sick, I can sit down at a piano and pound out some Rachmaninov, or grab manuscript paper and write and it really helps take some of the pain off my shoulders. I also noticed musics healing powers last spring and summer, when my friend Alex Peabody, got a heart and lung transplant. When I visited him or after his music therapy sessions, he looked and sounded better. He always had more color on his face and looked a lot happier than without music therapy. 

I think that I want to talk about music therapy for my 20 time project. Music can take anyone's mind off things, and can make anyone feel better. However very few people use it and I want to talk about how anyone can use it, and how music therapy can really improve a situation. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Blog post #20

These past two weeks, I have been incredibly sick. Not in the sense of the flu or a cold, but because I have been having migraines left and right, my heart rate has been off the charts, and every time I stand up I go into a near-syncope state which really has made doing even the simplest of tasks miserable. However, whenever I have migraines or get really sick like this, I always, without fail, have a ton of random creative bursts. Such as yesterday when I was faint and lightheaded all day, I had the sudden urge to start writing a piano concerto, or the day before when I recovered from a migraine, I had a bunch of ideas on how to improve my piece I have been writing for this project. It got to the point where when I'd go to the hospital, I'd make sure to bring a bunch of manuscript paper, just in case. A lot of my best motifs and harmony has come out of a hospital bed. At any rate, the nurses always get a kick out of it. 

I have been trying to think about what I am going to talk about for my project, and I honestly have no idea. I feel like this year I have learned so much from this experience, that it is going to be really hard to narrow it down and pin point the most important thing that I have learned. I think that figuring out what I am to talk about and narrowing down my options is going to be my goal for next week, and I will leave the actual music out of these posts for a little bit, while I'm gathering my thoughts. 
I found this picture, which I really like, because the head is a light bulb, which symbolizes creativity, and the person is sick and lightheaded. Perfectly explains me right now:) 

This picture is an album cover from this website.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog post #19

This week was really busy. I did a little bit of editing of the piece I have written but for the most part I started thinking about my presentation. 

I think that the biggest thing I learned through writing my piece was how much there is to be learned from criticism.

There are two types of criticism. 
Constructive criticism and the useless kind. 

When people tell me "oh I didn't like your piece. Try again next time." Or " know...I just really hated your interpretation of the Beethoven concerto..." and then they WALK AWAY without telling me what was so awful about it, it leaves me feeling terrible. Nothing good can ever come out of that. 

And then there is Constructive criticism. 
Constructive criticism is kinda like a gift from the heavens. When someone tells me, "hey, you just gave a great performance of that Beethoven concerto! There's only one thing that I would do differently." And then they go on to tell you what they would do, how to do it, and why. Then you go and try it, and if it doesn't work for you, don't sweat it! You still know you gave an awesome performance. But most of the time, I have at least, found that I really like people's ideas for me. A project always turns out better when you have more than one mind looking at it. Two brains are better than one! 

Throughout this project I received much criticism, most of it constructive, that really helped me form my own ideas for what I wanted to do with my piece. I showed my piece to a fellow student composer, and they told me that they really enjoyed my piece except for two things. The lack of a key change and the ending. The lack of a key change because it tends to get kinda slow and boring without anything fun and crazy in the middle, and the ending because it didn't fit the character of the piece. I had the same worries for the ending because to me it always felt like I was just rushing to get to the end, and wasn't very fitting. So I have begun work on a new ending which will hopefully be finished as soon as possible. What I have written this far I am far more happy with than the original. It is heading in a much clearer direction. 

I'm really happy that I came to the realization that the more I show people my work, the more constructive ideas I get, and the more criticism that is thrown at me, the better my project becomes. 

This has really held true for anything I, looking back, have ever tried to do. 

I suppose criticism can be very hard for anyone to accept, because it contradicts what they have done, but I've found it important to know that it broadens the mind further into the topic and helps you dive into what everyone else is thinking.

Criticism has really been invaluable to me throughout this year and I'm really thankful for all of the criticism I received.