Let’s ignore the fact that I haven’t blogged in four months and get on with it.
Yesterday, I participated in the Vancouver Women’s Musical Society scholarship competition. I’ve been working diligently on my three competition pieces since January, and yesterday was the big day. Leading up to it, I’d been practicing performing in front of my teacher and peers, recording myself, and doing plenty of visualization. I went into the competition with the attitude that I’d never done any festivals or competitions the whole time I’d been at UBC, so why not? It’d be a good experience whether I win or not.
Yesterday, I felt really good about my performance. I wasn’t nervous like the day before, where my hands had literally been shaking during studio class. I felt the first two pieces went exactly how I wanted them, and the third while it had a few slips was still pretty great. So, I mean, yeah, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t even get an honourable mention. But just a little. With these things, everyone does so well that basically everyone deserves to win, but everyone can’t. It doesn’t mean I’m a poor harpist or that I actually played badly yesterday just because I didn’t get the prize.
It was still a good experience, albeit an expensive one… I could have used that prize money to cover the application and taxi costs :P But I digress. I tried! And I showed that I can compete with the rest of them.
Yep, I’ve got it bad. I feel lazy and unmotivated and I used to think I had the dreaded “senioritis” in second and third year, but boy, was I wrong. I just feel so done with everything to do with school. I haven’t even been writing on my blog!
After three years, I guess at this point I’m feeling tired. Tired of feeling restricted by expectations and course requirements, tired of feeling judged. I’m tired of the mentality of trying to play music in order to get good marks, or to impress someone. I’m looking forward to getting out of school where I can get back to basics: making music to share and connect with others.
I think in a way I feel like UBC no longer belongs to me. I feel like I belong at UBC, but UBC is a place for growing. I have grown, and now I am ready to fly the nest. UBC belongs to all the new faces just getting started, who will get to enjoy all the new buildings and not just the construction detours (I’m not bitter, I swear).
I’m excited to graduate. (Let’s ignore the fact that I’ll be leaving all my friends here, for a moment.) Earlier this summer I was scared thinking about what I would do for money directly after graduation, but at this point, even a mundane job not relating to my degree sounds like a nice change of pace.
For the time being, I’ll try to still get all my assignments and practicing done despite my lethargy and hold on for just a few months more.
After many months of preparation and anticipation, I will be leaving for Belgium this Saturday! Needless to say, I am mega excited.
The preparation phase has been kind of hectic, as there are a lot of things you need to do before going overseas. Pay for flights, buy insurance, get currency, make photocopies of documents, pack, sign up for the student registry (a list of UBC students overseas so that if something bad happens in a country, eg. the tsunami in Japan, UBC knows where you are and helps you get home), keep up with coursework, and then annoying unexpected things such as forgetting your duffle bag on a bus and then having to go all the way downtown to pick it up from the Translink Lost and Found office. (Yes, this happened. To be honest though, I’m just happy that it got turned in.)
I am so stoked to be going on this trip! After finding out that exchange wouldn’t work for me, I thought I’d never get an opportunity like this in my undergraduate degree. I am so thankful to Dr. Bob and everyone at the School of Music and Go Global and UBC in general who made this happen!
P.S. There will be pics. At some point. Don’t know if I’ll have time to blog in Belgium.
It occurs to me that I haven’t been blogging much this year; I think that once you’re in the third year of something, everything you do becomes somewhat commonplace and I’ve forgotten that this stuff might be interesting to people outside of my own head. That is, everyone. I promise there is no one else inside my head.
This term I’ve gotten to do some pretty fun things because of my coursework! Here are a few:
- Trying out songwriting in my creative writing class.
- Playing a concert at the Vancouver Convention Centre with the UBC Symphony orchestra and broadway star Elaine Page.
- Arranging Silver Bells for a brass ensemble for my instrumentation class – and then actually getting to hear it performed.
- Playing a percussion piece which involved hitting trash bins.
- Playing electro-acoustic music which involves waving my arms around and hearing cool noises that I control.
I’m not actually taking that many courses right now, so here’s some fun things I’ve done outside of class:
- Meet a world-class harpist from Belgium and attend her workshop.
- Be a MUG leader for Imagine Day.
- Man a booth at Clubs Days.
- Work on campus – have I mentioned that I love my job and all my coworkers and my boss? I’ll write a post about it some time.
- Try out a new restaurant in Vancouver pretty much every week.
- Learn how to play Settlers of Catan.
The UBC life is a good life; the challenge now is not to get complacent about it!
This past Friday, the harp students had a studio class where we all play a piece for each other, give each other constructive criticism, and there’s also a teacher there who critiques as well. I played my piece, and my classmates told me what was good, and what needed work, and that was fine. I appreciated that. Somehow, the criticism from my peers was much easier for me to handle than what came next. I wouldn’t say that the harp teacher who was there (not my harp teacher) tore me apart, and she definitely wasn’t “out to get me.” I know that all of her comments were well-meaning, and she wants me to be the best musician I can be as much as anyone else. And yet, that didn’t stop me from feeling like crap once the class was over.
The class made me feel as though I have no idea what I’m doing, artistically. Maybe this is because my teacher and the teacher at the class tend to have opposite opinions, but it still felt bad, and I honestly don’t want to practice that piece now because it makes me feel like an idiot. I also felt like all the other students had all their pieces in performance condition, when I totally do not. I felt really behind.
Over the weekend I’ve thought about it a lot, and I was reminded of my pre-kindergarten self: I was determined that I had to know how to read before I went to school. I didn’t want to be behind. So, I taught myself to read. I also wanted to know how to play piano before my first piano lesson, but my mom put her foot down on that one. But I think the effects of this Friday’s studio class are an echo of what has apparently always been ingrained in me; I want to be perfect before I even get there, to not need criticism.
Well, newsflash, this is a university. A school. A place to LEARN. If we were all perfect already we wouldn’t be here, right? You’re not expected to know everything beforehand, that’s what your teachers are HERE for. If I could finally just internalize this lesson I think I’d enjoy studio class so much more.
Now that two months of school have passed (see: class ends in 26 days), I can give a little insight into the Go Global group study project I’m participating in. It’s called UBC IMPART; what the acronym actually stands for I have no idea, but the basic idea is that we use various technologies and software to interact with acoustic musical performance.
Mainly what we’ve been using so far are gesture-tracking technologies, such as accelerometers, webcams, and Xbox Kinects. The programmers in the class then take the data generated by those devices to create an electronic element for the performance. For example, the sound generated by the acoustic instrument may be picked up by a microphone, and then depending on how the performer moves, the computer program could change how the sound is processed, by adding reverb or echo, etc.
It’s a really cool project, and it’s really fun to be one of the performers for the group. (I just play harp, I don’t do any programming.) It’s so neat to be able to wave my hand around and control a sound effect and hear it change based on how I move.
What’s also very exciting is that we will be travelling to Belgium in February to perform our music and share with students there. If you’d like to keep updated with the IMPART project, you can follow the blog at http://ubcimpart.wordpress.com.
A phrase coined by Dr. Bob Pritchard which I often heard while taking MUSC 119 has become a general life motto for me lately. It’s a rule that I sort of forgot, and when I would get a tough-looking orchestra part or a new piece for Contemporary Players, I would panic and stress myself way beyond necessary, and that, you know, is a bit of a downer. And then by the next week or a few days later I’d realize that actually it isn’t a huge deal and it will be fine, it’s always fine, but I just can’t seem to learn that.
So I was at Laptop Orchestra (another class taught by Dr. Bob) when we received our next project, in which I will be learning four pieces in about four weeks. And then he said: “Rule Number One? Don’t Panic.”
Oh yeah, I though. That’s right. I forgot about that. So I didn’t panic. I was fine. I didn’t start stressing. It’s going to be totally fine, I told myself. And it will be. And then I went home and rewarded myself with leftover pumpkin pie for being so cool and collected. Go me!
It was pretty astounding how out of hand I was letting my panic get. And it’s pretty amazing what a difference it can make if you can just remember Rule Number One.
(Also if you are reading this, Dr. Bob, hello!)
In case you haven’t been looking at your calendar recently, OH MY GOSH THERE ARE ONLY TWO WEEKS UNTIL SCHOOL STARTS. Part of me is crazy excited for Imagine Day and all the cool stuff I get to do this year and seeing my friends again and being back in Vancouver and the other part is taken aback by how fast four months went by and sad that I’ll have to leave my friends, family, and boyfriend for several months once again.
In the midst of this swirling muck of emotion I thought I’d write down a few thoughts about entering my third year of my degree.
- Where the heck did the time go? I feel like I just moved into first year residence. Now you’re telling me I’m halfway done?
- I’m halfway done?!?! This means I only have two more years left before entering the real world and leaving behind this campus and the friends I made here?? So not ready for that. Not ready to think about it. Moving on to the next point.
- I’m excited to be doing more courses that I’m enthusiastic about taking. At this point in my degree, I get to focus on playing my instrument and taking electives that interest me.
- I feel kind of like a grown-up mentor person. Then again I don’t really have that many people to mentor so that also feels kind of irrelevant.
- I’m feeling more responsible. I plan to take on a lot more extra-curricular activities this year (including being a club executive!) so I’ll have to step up and make sure I handle them all!
- I’m excited to take advantages one of the best opportunities UBC has to offer: Go Global. If everything goes according to plan, next February I’ll be on a plane to Belgium!
- I feel like I really need to experience everything at UBC before I leave. In first year I felt like I had tons of time, but now here I am two years later, and although I’ve already done a lot, I still feel like there’s a ton I want to do! Time to make a UBC and Vancouver to-do list and cross those experiences off.
Goodness, before you know it, I’ll be graduating. Wait, I’m not thinking about that. Not thinking about it.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m finally getting my Go Global experience! If you are a regular to my blog you may recall that first I really really wanted to go on exchange, then found out that it wasn’t going to fit into my degree, and then was really disappointed when everyone else got their acceptances for their magical exchanges in far off lands while I was stuck at home. And while UBC is totally amazing and everything, I was still very disappointed.
But then, about a month ago, I received an email from the school of music saying that a research project involving gesture-tracking software was looking for third and fourth year musicians to participate, and that the project will be going to Belgium for two weeks to collaborate with students at another university there. I was so excited! This would be my chance to go experience another country as part of my UBC education.
At the moment, I’m not 100% clear on what exactly the research is going to entail, but I’m very excited to find out. Also, I haven’t technically received the Participation Agreement yet, but I have been accepted into the program, so I feel like it isn’t too early to celebrate. If it is, well, whatever. But for now I’ll be daydreaming of Belgium!
Looking back on my first year, I remember it well; how it felt, what I did, mistakes I made. Perhaps I can impart a little of my wisdom to those coming to UBC for the first time this fall. Here are some things I wish I knew before coming to UBC.
- Put yourself out there. I am a shy person; I’ve said it many times. The mistake I made was always shutting myself up in my dorm room, studying for long hours (which is a good thing, I suppose) and keeping my door shut where I was beyond the reach of other humans. You’ve probably heard a million times all the reasons you should keep your dorm room door open; however I would take it a step further and say get out of your room in general more. I needed to learn how to just hang out, how to just show up at a friend’s room and just chill in there so I wasn’t always alone.
- Stop competing. You’re entering university. It is guaranteed that there will be people who are smarter than you or better than you at some things. That doesn’t matter, so stop comparing yourself! What’s important is your own personal journey – so only race against yourself. Need more convincing? Click here.
- Don’t blow all your money on stuff you don’t need. Although I’m generally a very frugal person, I am guilty of occasionally spending on stuff I don’t need. Ask yourself if this is something that you genuinely do need to spend your money on (like textbooks, or rain boots), or something that is just a want (like Starbucks – do you know how much you spend if you buy coffee every day?!)
- Explore the city more. If you’re coming to UBC from outside the lower mainland, it could be that after your time at UBC is up – and time goes by fast, believe me – you won’t get to come back to Vancouver much. Campus is a big place and definitely needs to be explored, but make the trek to the bus loop and get a feel for the city as well.
Got more suggestions? Got questions? Leave them in the comments!