Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What am I?

Often in examining one's college life, there comes a time to boil down the essence of existance: What a person is really up to. Some students are party animals. Some students are human calculators, these students spend days on end spouting formulas and other bussiness I could never hope to understand. Other students are philosopical beings, their whole lives spent examining the universe and such.
I am of much humbler existance. I am a lung. One big breathing, air-pumping, oxygen-loving organ. My whole existance currently focusing on breathing bigger, better, faster, quieter, you name it. A cold and I'm toast. One of the main reasons I run (minus currently... dumb knee) is because it builds up my lung capacity.
So, I'm headed home and off to bed... so that yet again tomorrow, I can be a lung once again. Woot.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

When I am absurdly rich and famous...

Right now I am slaving over an artist bio that I have put off for roughly a month. While I have no problem blabbering on here, I become tongue-tied at the thought of describing myself to random people through a printed program. So, just know, that when I am rich and famous, I will never write my own bio again. I will have minions to do such things. End of story.

Well, actually not. While I have you as a captive audience, I'll rant about a few other things. Like say, the weather, and the madness going on with that. SNOW?!?! On the southwest corner of the HFAC there is a lovely patch of white snow... exactly one week ago, I took a nap there, IN SHORTS AND A TEE-SHIRT! Luckily, I spend most of my time locked in a practice room, so by all relative standards the weather has little impact on me because I never see the sun anyways...

And, speaking of practice rooms... To all you who feel it is your right to take a perfectly good practice room during the middle of the day to belt Broadway to your beloved, think again. While I find you rather annoying late at night, I can live with you, because I know there are an abundance of practice rooms and I can go find another one. During the middle of the day there are no other practice rooms, so I am stuck with you, and the knowledge that you are keeping a real musician from practicing. (That sounds harsh... sorry... but when practice rooms are in short supply it begins to look at lot like lunch time on the savanna.)

Finally, no really, remember that new phone I got? Well, I figured since everyone has a picture of their beloved on their phones, I needed one on mine. So, today in the practice rooms I took the most studly picture of Johnathan... true (and end of) story.

Okay, I lied... I proof read this, and saw that everything in here revolved around music in some form or other... so to prove I have a life, believe it or not, I did go to enrichment tonight... *gasp* I think this is the first enrichment activity I've been to in my entire college career. It wasn't so bad. I just might go again...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For those of you *sniffle* who didn't come watch me Friday...

WE'RE ON TV!!! Apparently the performance was taped, well at least partially. So, to give you a taste of what I do... here we are!

For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, this is the Woodwind Chamber night performance. There were three groups, a clarinet trio, oboe duo, and flute trio. Each group played twice and the clarinets played a cute Yiddish dance to end the whole concert.
This is the flute trio I talked about previously in the hat blog. Our name is the "TEEN FLUTE SQUAD" however, I am the only teen among the group, causing much confusion for the professors. It's a reference to some movie Meleece has seen and I haven't, which really doesn't narrow anything down, because Meleece has seen (and can quote verbatim) everything, and I have seen absolutely-nothing-what-so-ever. Seriously. Then we came up with names for ourselves... Meleece = "The LOUD ONE" Nicole= "The TALL ONE" & Jenni = "The FAVORITE ONE."
Secretly we were hoping for an MC who would shout out our names as we ran on stage with our flutes, but alas, no luck.
So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you, BYU's Woodwind Chamber Night: http://newnewsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/71863

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today I learned...

That perhaps a wrap-around-skirt is not the best clothing choice for a windy day... awkward...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Calling China

So, my phone is freaking out. I was trying to talk to my mom and suddenly I could hear her but she couldn't hear me. Ugh. Something must be wrong with the satellites, probably more space garbage bashing things around in the solar system (wrecking nature in earth hasn't been quite enough, so now we're on to space garbage).
I thought I'd take a moment to tell you what it's like to live on opposite ends of the world from family. There's a fourteen hour time difference from here to China, so my family and I spend more time in different days than we do in the same day. As I am getting up in the morning, they all are headed to bed. On any given afternoon/evening I can call my family to see what tomorrow is like and if I really want to bother with getting up the next morning. It's like weather forecasting, but way cooler.
The weirdest was first figuring out when to call. I never knew exactly what time it was and I was always afraid of waking them up. Then when I finally did call I got weird looks from those around me as I asked "When is it?" or "What time are you?" Luckily we've moved past this stage.
Now partway through a Saturday afternoon I call them to say "good morning," eliciting about the same weird looks, but I feel less crazy, so it's okay. Actually, it's really cool having them over there. I talk to my mom more now than I did when they were in the states because as I am leaving campus at night, she's eating lunch. I've also been able to see really cool stuff I'd never get to see otherwise, and I've gained a new appreciation for a culture I never really had known much about. So, while sometime it's weird, and satellites fail and phones give out, actually, I really like having them over there and wouldn't change a thing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Actually, I'm not "doing nothing"

Today I did something I haven't done in far too long. I found a book, sat down, and began to read. It was glorious, fabulous, and terrific all lumped into one freaking awesome moment of reading bliss. Then you came along; you know who you are. You had the audacity to assume that because I was sitting by myself, holding three hundred pages of typed goodness, I was horrendously lonely/miserable/bored-out-of-my-mind. I wasn't. I really didn't want to engage in conversation. I was in my own world, and I can promise you that nothing you had to say was as fascinating as what was going on in my book. You cannot compare to the intrigues of the Elizabethan court. The sooner you accept this, the better.
I do not read because I'm bored, or simply lacking something better to. Reading is that better thing. You can keep The Office, House, and American Idol, I'll stick to my books. They've been my constant friends since I was six and I see no reason to abandon them now. So, as grateful as I am that you took a moment out of your day to be friendly/witty/uber annoying, please, next time, LET ME READ!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I've been up and going strong since 5:30 this morning. I ran three miles, practiced, went to classes, began preparing for a midterm, finished putting together the Easter Program, rehearsed and cooked dinner for the week. I'm pooped and it's only 9:15. I meant to start studying again at 8, but somehow my face became embedded in the computer keyboard and I didn't regain consciousness for an hour. I think I'll head to bed...

Sunday, March 15, 2009


So, for those of you who I haven't told yet: I was accepted this week to spend the month of July studying music in Paris!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited, and mostly still in the I-can't-believe-this-is-actually-going-to-happen stage. I applied earlier this semester and spent the last month and a half stressing over getting in. I relived my audition so many times and picked each and every phrase apart agonizing over each imperfection.
The program is amazing, and the faculty is superb, with Dr. C. being one of the teachers. I'll spend the month studying music theory and counterpoint in all it's forms. Also I'll get to play in chamber ensembles, and play in concerts! In the program they bring in artists and composers from all over, and one of my friends who went last year got to premier a piece.
I'm also really excited because we'll get to go see lots of the music sights in Paris. I WILL GET TO TOUCH RAVEL'S PIANO!!! *eek* Also to get to study music and it's history in the city that is the flute capital of the world will be nothing less than spectacular. Paris was where the golden age of the flute happened. Many of the most world famous flute players today got their training in Paris. The Paris school of flute playing is one of the most (if not the most) respected flute styles and through my teachers I can trace my flute pedigree back to Paris. (Doing so probably represents the ultimate level of nerdiness... *grin*)
I'll be going with Amber and Danielle (two other flute majors) along with four other BYU students. During the day we'll take classes and sight see around Paris and at night we'll be attending all sorts of concerts. I can't wait. All I want is to fast forward to July. Although I probably ought to spend the next few months practicing like none other so that I sound good when I get there.... practice rooms, here I come!

Friday, March 13, 2009

I could blog about....

... how I want to do nothing but sleep. Or how I relived my childhood this week as Jana and I watched Star Wars. I could tell you about feeling displaced homesickness. Perhaps you want to know about the number of hours I spend with my flute, and what that does to the rest of my life. Maybe the ulcers that Dictation is giving me could be an interesting topic. Or the words of wisdom my mother gave me as I called panicking on Tuesday. There's the laundry I have to do, but don't want to touch. And I keep thinking about how beautiful Provo looked this morning as I left the temple. I bet you've never realized how hard it is to get a practice room, especially on a Friday afternoon. But it all worked out 'cause I got to see some good friends this afternoon (instead of practicing). I've also started to run once again.

In my flute lesson on Wednesday a opera singer from The Met dropped in to see Dr. C. That was crazy, he's apparently one of the most famous LDS opera singers, ever. I don't really have time to blog, so I can't tell you how much I hate the new facebook lay out. I won't even take time to tell you how irritated I was when my teacher didn't show for my test this morning. I can't describe to you how anxious I am for summer, or how tired I am of school. Even though I feel like drifting off right now, I know I can't take time for a nap.

And time, it's such an interesting thing. I wish I could describe to you how long a single day feels, until about 9 at night when I look back on all that I've accomplished. You'd never believe how good it feels at 9pm as I am looking back, even if I did feel like spending paragraphs on it.

I have so much to tell you, but so little time. I think I need Dumbledore's pensive, because the thoughts in my mind are swimming so fast it's almost dizzying...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Beauty of Music

Welcome address to freshman class at Boston Conservatory given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory:

"One of my parents' deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn't be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother's remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, "You're WASTING your SAT scores." On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren't really clear about its function.

So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the "arts and entertainment" section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it's the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the "Quartet for the End of Time" written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp. He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famousmasterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn't just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, "I am alive, and my life has meaning."

On September 12, 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan . That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took myhands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn't this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York , went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day. At least in my neighborhood, we didn't shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn't play cards to pass the time, we didn't watch TV, we didn't shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York , that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang "We Shall Overcome". Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center , with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of "arts and entertainment" as the newspaper section would have us believe. It's not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can't with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber's heartwrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don't know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn't know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what's really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds ofemotions, and then there's some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn't good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can't talk about it.

Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn't happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I'll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris ; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg . I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life tookplace in a nursing home in Fargo , ND , about 4 years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation. Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn't the first time I've heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again,but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: "During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that?How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects.This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year's freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this: "If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you'd take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you're going to have to save their life.Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You're not here to become an entertainer, and you don't have to sell yourself. The truth is you don't have anything to sell; being a musician isn't about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies. I'm not an entertainer; I'm a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You're here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don't expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that's what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives."

After silence, that which comes the closest to expressing the inexpressible is music. -- Aldous Huxley

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to Write a (not so) Killer Paper, College Style

Warning: This is not for the faint of heart. Not all can live up to the high standards here espoused. Read at your own risk.

1. Pick a paper you have known about all semester.
2. Pick a topic that has almost zero sources in English, preferably one where the only sources are in a language you have no hope of learning or finding a willing translator. Dead languages anyone?
I. Refuse to change your paper topic even after you realize that there is nothing in English for you to read.
3. Do not start anything on said paper until you have less than 24 hours until the due date. This ensures the proper flow of all creative (BS) juices.
4. Facebook: 'nuff said.
5. Bring a cross word or Sudoku puzzle in case you get stuck.
6. Use lots of "technical mumbo jumbo." Phrases such as: "Technically speaking," "in actual fact," and "quite frankly" will, quite frankly, leave your professor utterly and completely thrilled with you.
7. Search for big long words you couldn't define to save your life.
I. Making sure you know how to actually use them is just a fluffy extra... your professor will be inundated to see you proliferate
II. Spellings on such words are also a matter of prerogitive

8. Facebook: Change status multiple times, bewail your existence and curse life in general.
9. Add an extra space at the beginning of each sentence if the paper is on length, if it is word count add lots of "ands" "wells" and any other little words you can cram in. This also will so thrill your professor like to no end.
10. Make sure to schedule lots of other activities around said due date, like say, two competitions. This extra stress level will do wonders for your creativity.
11. Blog.
12. Facebook: Attempt to re-contact those who you haven't spoken to in over five years... not only will it provide awkward moments, but you have just squandered twenty more minutes. If you're a pansy feel free to just stalk these people. That's what facebook is for.
13. Elaborate, Elaborate, Elaborate. Any good sentence with a little help can miraculously become three.
14. If you are really skilled you'll schedule a massive exam for the next day.
15. Pick a topic that your professor is passionate about. Your heartfelt twenty-four hour analysis will really mean a lot to him or her.
16. NEVER SAVE. This encourages you to type faster. It is the Russian Roulette of paper writing.
17. Make sure that the bibliography requires an obscure citation form that you have never heard of and cannot possible accurately complete in a life time, let alone 24 hours.
18. Facebook once again, new profile picture maybe?
19. Make sure your printer is out of ink. This means you will get to rush to the library with the rest of the student body right before class and attempt to print your paper. This technique is highly recommended when the paper is due right when the bell rings.
I. This technique is even more effective when it is the middle of winter and you will have to negotiate through Siberian ice fields to get to the library and then to your class.
II. Especially if the library and class are on opposite ends of campus.
III. Or you just get stuck behind those really slow walking freshman...

20. Turn in your beautiful finalized paper. Feel free to pat yourself on the back. You survived the twenty-four hour paper dash. Now, go shower, eat, and sleep.

(You really don't think you get to shower eat and sleep... odds are good that because you spent an entire day devoted to your paper that you are now sufficiently behind in your other classes to force another cram session. So start back at one... you get to do this again... MU-A-HAHAHAHA)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dear Mom,

Yesterday I had an interesting experience. I was at my flute teachers and we got talking about height. She made the comment that when she was younger she always wished that she was shorter. This struck me because I was hard pressed to find a time in my life where I really wished that I was shorter. I began to wonder what the difference is. I've heard lots of girls who are tall talk about how they wish they had stopped growing sooner, but I've never really been one of them. Being tall is my thing. I love it. Then I realized that the difference is in how you brought me up.
Thank you for teaching me that it's okay to be taller than all the other kids. Thanks for telling me over and over in seventh grade that I need to stand up tall and be proud of my height. You showed me how to be tall with out looking weird. People tell me over and over that they never realize how tall I actually am until they come right up next to me. They always comment that really tall girls often look "lurpy" but I don't, so that's why I seem more "normal." Thanks for teaching me how to feel comfortable with who I am.
Love you lots!