Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pre-Departure Thoughts

WOW! I leave tomorrow! So surreal. It won't hit me till I'm getting off the plane surrounded by the Andes Mountains and hearing Spanish and having to pay in pesos-maybe then it will hit me. It has been QUITE a whirlwind of a summer between running three summer camps and weddings every other weekend. Something I did this summer that was invaluable to me as a teacher that I haven't had time to reflect on was sitting in on some of Angie Broeker's Teaching Young Singers course. She said something that really struck me: Trusting my authentic self even if that's different. So often, I'm trying to blend in, be the adaptive chameleon, I'm really good at being. Hell, I even tried to be a brunette for the trip, thinking somehow brown hair would have me fit in-not that the 5'10" stature or blue eyes wouldn't dominate that. But then I asked myself-why? Why am I so afraid to stand out, to draw attention to myself, particularly as a musician? Why do I hate being in the limelight so much? I've finally started to be able to accept compliments, but it takes a lot of conscious effort! If anyone else struggles with this, feel free to comment!

As I further reflected, the only logical reason I came up with was the musician world-dog-eat-dog competition, musical excellence solely defined by how well you wave your hands as a conductor or perform, and achieving the most advanced music as the primary goal. This was most of my solo performer life-worried about how others would judge me, or perhaps how I thought others would judge me. Being transparent, there were times I was told in college to choose other career paths, that conducting particularly was not for me. But I persevered and will never regret majoring in music-it has brought me around the world! But as a solo musician, it wasn't until I started going around the world that I felt value as a solo musician again. Between the chastising of my conducting technique and battling tendonitis so I had to switch from piano to voice as my main instrument, no wonder I froze up in college.

But Tanzania was what reignited me-I played Brahms Violin Sonata-awell-advanced technique piano piece and again understood why I was playing-to share my gift with others. I want to quote Angie again saying we should redefine excellence as an organization that fulfills its mission statement. Amen to that. Perhaps that was what grabbed me and inspired me in Tanzania, in Venezuela, in Boston, and now, yes in my own program here in Minnesota. There is no objective truth in music, only in a specific paradigm, which we tend to use the Western classical one as a given, not an assumption.

My challenge to myself as I embark to Colombia tomorrow is (aside from my formal research questions) to a) not be afraid to stand out and own that-height, who I am as a musician, being an American in this time, all of it. That in itself is a challenge, though always easier for me to do when I am in a new environment. B) To explore the mission statements of these programs and if they are fulfilling them. C) To explore, observe, and listen-not to hypothesize, assume, or otherwise make pre-conceived paradigms. I am really going to strive to take these programs for what they are at face value, whether that is incredible or underwhelming. I am going with zero expectations, only an open heart, mind, a recorder to record their words and a camera/video to capture memories or illustrations that exemplify a program's mission--or don't.

I applied for the Charles C. Jackson grant last November so I have been working on this project for 10 months-tomorrow I take off. Special thanks to them and the University of MN Judd Fellowship for making this trip possible! Here's to adventure, learning, and expressing my whole self, blonde hair, blue eyes, 5"10 height and all!

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