March 25, 2013 · 8:25 pm
For the last couple of days, I’ve been thinking. (I know, an abnormal occurrence at a university.) On Saturday I attended the March Welcome Event for MUG Leaders, and there were two things that happened that made me reflect on how I’ve been spending my time at UBC. The first was when one of the coordinators said: “Think back to August before you came to UBC. What were you excited about? What were you afraid of?” The second one was re-watching old Imagine Day pep rally videos.
These things reminded me of when I entered UBC: inspired and wanting to pack each day as full as I could with new experiences so I could really make this amazing campus mine, and so that I would be someone who was a part of UBC, not just a face in the crowd. I think I did a pretty good job of that last year; I attended lots of events, got pretty involved, met lots of people, did lots of exploring, and really delved into my studies. It was easier then, though; I lived on campus and everything was right outside my bedroom door.
Now, in my second year, though I practically am still living on campus, not living in residence can make it more of a challenge to be involved and become part of a community on campus. The beginning of the year was new and exciting, with new courses, and living in a new situation and responsibilities to learn to navigate. However, this year I feel like I settled in after a while. I didn’t go to as many events, and though I am involved in a couple of clubs and am continuing to blog, I didn’t take on anything really new and I’ve spent way less time exploring campus. I’ve become a little bit of a commuter student who wants to get home as soon as possible.
I recognize that I am an introverted person and that being the next chair of the SLC is not something that I would enjoy, but next year I resolve to try at least one new thing. Whether it’s a volunteering position or a new club (sailing sounds interesting?) or a work-study position, I want to do something more to be part of my university. After all, I’ve only got two more years left!
I realize that it’s a bit late for me to do much this year, but I have taken the step of running for (and winning) the position of treasurer of the Knitting and Sewing Club. It’s a fairly small club so I don’t think it should take so much time that I can’t get involved in other activities, but it’ll be one more thing I’m actively involved in.
For the remaining month or so before summer, I’ll be heading over to our campus’s lovely gardens – the Nitobe and Botanical Gardens! I’m particularly excited for the Botanical Garden – the rhododendrons are blooming and they’re my favourite flower :) And maybe in between exams I’ll find some time to explore Vancouver, as well. I still haven’t done the Grouse Grind or the Capilano Suspension Bridge! Samantha, time to get your butt in gear!
March 19, 2013 · 4:45 pm
Or more to the point, lessons I learned from playing an opera.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that in the past, playing in the orchestra has majorly stressed me out, made me feel intimidated and incapable, and my fear of ensemble playing even drove me to a panic attack this January. However, with the help of mindfulness classes and gaining experience playing the opera, I’ve learned a lot. I just finished playing another orchestra concert last Friday and the whole process was much smoother, less nerve-wracking, and actually fun.
The first thing I realized was that everybody is here to learn. Not everyone is going to hit every note at the first rehearsal, and there’s a decent chance no one will even notice if you mess up. And there is a definite chance that no one is going to hate your guts if you mess up. We’re all students – making mistakes is part of learning! If you do make a mistake, it’s your job to figure out why and fix it for next time, but beating yourself up over it is totally uncalled for.
Another thing I learned somewhere along the way is to not take criticism personally. If the conductor tells you you’ve done something wrong, it’s simply because you need to fix it for the sake of making the ensemble sound the best that it can. It doesn’t mean that the conductor hates you, or that you’re a horrible person. The key word in “constructive criticism” is constructive.
Feeling intimidated still? Don’t! The next thing I learned was to play confidently. Playing confidently, even though it seems scary, actually helps you play better. And being too scared to play loud enough isn’t a way around your fear of someone hearing you play something wrong; you’re actually not doing your job if you can’t be heard when you need to be. Breathe in, say you yourself, “I can do this! Anything can go right!” and let the music flow. It’ll come right out.
And finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I sat in on a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra rehearsal this Sunday, and they just pipe up with any questions they may have right away. It’s better for everyone if you can clear up any confusion from the moment it arises. If you’re not sure if you should ask the conductor, you can always start with your section leader. (Story time! During the last orchestra concert, I was having trouble hearing from where the harps were set on stage. I emailed the conductor and talked to the stage manager and it got cleared up! Problem solving for the win!)
Basically, it gets better with more experience, and also with a more objective attitude. Stay calm and believe in your capabilities and you’ll be fine. After all, what’s the best that could happen?
March 12, 2013 · 5:44 pm
If anyone wants to come see me (and the rest of the UBC Symphony Orchestra) play, there is a concert this Friday that I am playing in! Here are the details:
Date: Friday, March 15, 2013
Time: 8 pm
Location: The Chan Centre
Works by Vaughan Williams, Beethoven, and Elgar
I’m playing in the Vaughan Williams piece, Serenade to Music. It is an absolutely gorgeous piece and the choir sings in it too! You should definitely come check it out :)
March 10, 2013 · 11:57 am
I opened my email Friday afternoon, saw the subject line pop up in my inbox and hurriedly scrolled down the message to see
We believe that you would be an excellent addition to our program this year, and we would like to offer you the position of:
Music MUG Leader”
In two weeks I’ll get to attend a “March Welcome Event” and meet my fellow MUG Leaders, and I’m sure it’ll be one of those fun and spirited days that become one of your UBC experiences you’ll always remember. I’m looking forward to it!
I’m super pumped for next year’s Imagine Day already. This past year, I wasn’t a MUG Leader, so I kind of wandered around campus, feeling the energy of the day but not directly being a part of it, and I kind of regretted not applying to be a MUG Leader last spring. But next year will be different! I’m already excited to meet new music students and get to know them a bit and be a part of their first year (first day, even) at UBC.
I remember Imagine Day as being incredibly energized and inspiring, and the first day that I really felt as though I belonged on this campus. If I can be part of that again, and also create that experience for someone else, you can count me in!
March 8, 2013 · 3:18 pm
Earlier today I had the pleasure of performing at the Dodson Series Concert (these are concerts held once a month in the Dodson Room in Irving K. Barber Learning Centre), and I’m happy to report that all of the performances (all by UBC Music students) went very well!
Like pretty much anyone ever, I get a bit nervous before I play. I used to get a lot more nervous than I do now, but with every performance I gain better control over my adrenalin. As I sat down at the harp, I took a deep breath in, imagined the first few bars as I wanted them to sound, and then began to play. I knew that I had that piece down cold. I’d practiced well, and I had just played it in the dress rehearsal, and nothing was going to go wrong. One of the most important things I think I did today was keep breathing while I played – it’s easy to forget when you’re nervous, and not breathing makes it very easy to get tense and tired which can sabotage your playing.
I finished the piece, and I don’t even remember playing a wrong note. I stood up, smiled, and bowed, letting the applause wash over me. After pouring all that energy out into the audience, it felt so good to feel all the appreciative energy of the audience come back to me. A few people came up to me afterwards to congratulate me on my performance and let me know how much they enjoyed it. I think those people who come up afterwards are my favourite part of performing; knowing I’ve played in a way I’m proud of makes me feel great, but knowing that I’ve been able to connect with and inspire another person so much that they want to come up and thank me for it makes me feel amazing.
March 6, 2013 · 9:32 pm
A few weeks ago when everyone’s confirmations for Go Global came out, I cried a little bit inside. I have a number of friends going on exchange next year, and their mixers and advising sessions are coming up and it’s all very exciting – except for me, because I will be staying home.
A year ago, I was determined to do an exchange no matter how much red tape I had to cut through. Now, well… the picture has changed somewhat.
Because I’m in music, that already limits my choice in universities somewhat. Well, fine. I emailed a music faculty member to talk about exchange though, and that was where things got complicated. Apparently, most exchange universities won’t give you private lessons because it costs extra. A year without lessons? Yeah, I don’t think so. I also don’t know how affordable it would be to find another teacher and pay for it myself. Then there would be the problem of finding a harp to practice on. It’s not an instrument you can just take on a plane like you would a flute or a trumpet. So finding a harp I could use (hopefully at low cost) would be something of an issue. Then you take into account the way the music degree is structured (ie. full year ensemble courses, third and fourth year recitals), and going on exchange would mean that I’d have to take an extra year in my degree no matter what. (A lot of people take extra years after exchange anyway, but it isn’t really something I’m willing to do.)
Thus, my Go Global story ended before it started. I was disappointed before, but now that everyone is talking about their plans to go abroad it just makes me depressed. That was an experience I really, really wanted. I’m trying to find ways around it; I’m thinking about backpacking through Europe after graduation, taking a learn-German-in-Germany summer program, going to Australia for the next World Harp Congress in 2014. (Hopefully I’ll have the cash to do all that..) It won’t be quite the same as studying in a different country, but guess at least I’ll have the chance to travel.
March 3, 2013 · 2:58 am
So I was going for a clever pun, but it didn’t really work out that way. What I’m trying to say is that I think I’ve come up with a topic for my history paper! Apparently the song “The Music of the Night” from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera was accused of plagiarizing an opera by Puccini written in 1910, and his estate tried to sue for it but it didn’t go through. But, I thought it would be interesting to look into the similarities between the two pieces and in doing that look at similarities between musicals and opera.
This is, of course, if my prof approves the topic. I’m hoping that he does. :P
March 1, 2013 · 7:24 pm
On this rainy Friday night I’m taking a break from Pretty Little Liars (I have become addicted, for which I can thank my room mate) and trying to figure out what I want to write about for the paper I have to write for my music history class. I don’t have to write the proposal until the twentieth, but I have no idea where I want to go with my topic.
The prof said we can write on any music after 1900 in the genres of classical music, jazz, and pop. I doubt it could be any broader. There are so many interesting artists and composers but I have no idea what to pick! Florence and the Machine, Debussy, Carlos Salzedo, Elton John, Miles Davis, Muzak, Disney, Broadway? Any of those would be interesting to write on. But, I think my main problem is finding a narrow enough topic.
“Okay, so you want to write on Florence and the Machine. What about them?”
“Uhh.. Well I think they have a harpist in their band.”
“Right, so what do you want to say about that?”
Yeah and that’s about where all of my ideas stop. How am I supposed to come up with a relevant topic that isn’t just a description of something and also fill up eight to ten pages about it? I feel like actually finding the topic is the most difficult part of doing a research paper.
I’m sure there’s an art kid out there somewhere going, wow, what a complainer, you can’t even pick an essay TOPIC? This is why I’m in music, not general arts. Let me play my harp and I’ll be happy. In the mean time I’ll stop stalling and try to brainstorm something…