Monthly Archives: February 2014

What a lot of hard work can do

Another ridiculously busy day at work, this time with solo practicing.  I’m feeling quite confident about tomorrow’s performance, which is always a good thing.  I haven’t performed repertoire like this in a long time.  Not since the New Years Eve parties that I volunteered at 2 and 3 years ago.  It’s been all festivals and recitals lately, so it will be nice to accompany and perform with a professional.  Speaking of, there is a festival coming up in April that I will be accompanying at which I will be working on with students in the coming weeks.  It never ends, and I like it!

I’ve been working so hard lately that I slept until 11 today.  Usually I get up at 8 or 9, so I guess my body really needed to sleep.  Considering I’ve been working 8 – 9 hour days lately, I suppose that’s a given.  Tomorrow is no exception.  I’ll be working from 10:30 – 6 and performing from 7:30-10:30.  10.5 hours of working ahead of me, but that’s just fine.  Sunday will be a day of rest, except I have an awesome dinner lined up with my good friends! So excited to catch up!

Honestly…

I’ve been behind on my post writing.  This week has just been nuts.  Heading into work for 1 PM and not getting out until 10 is fine and all… but I’m not holding up my end of the bargain with these posts.  Technically, I am writing a post each day by sending it back in time.  Probably not the best thing to do, but at least there are posts here.  May as well write something rather than nothing at all right? What I really should be doing is writing my posts BEFORE I head into work, but I don’t have much to write about as I wake up.  After all the interesting stuff happens during my day and by the time I get home, I start writing but it’s already the next day by then, hence the time travel.

Anyway, on this day in my history I practiced my songs more and then did 5 hours of wonderful ballet.  I am still having trouble getting the right timing for poses, pas de chat, and other movements that are used in allegro and the like.  I think I just need to learn more codas and it will become clear.  Pirouettes make more sense to me now.  Slower and give time for however many spins there are.  Since they’re just learning, control is important and not flying all around (which will make them finish faster and throws me off).  I do wonder sometimes if I am supposed to lead or support the class.  With the younger kids, they’re told to listen to me, but I end up falling in with the instructor, which I suppose is the best thing for the exercises.   I suppose for an actual dance it’s about me leading them.  I guess every part of the class is different.

See? This is what my posts turn into.  Rambling.  Ah well.  Another day down.

All sorts of stuff

Today was a very busy and rewarding day.  I was offered to accompany and perform with a co-worker at a party this Saturday which will be quite nice.  We will be doing jazz and classical repertoire, so it will be a lot of fun.  My kind of music for sure.  We rehearsed today and there are a few songs I don’t know too well (La Vie en Rose, surprisingly) but I’ll be heading in tomorrow to practice them and rehearse again.  We also talked about University and how it’s never too late to get that piece of paper.  Something to consider for sure.

Teaching wise, things are going quite well.  My students are learning and loving music, and I got to sub a Grade 5 RCM student, which was a delight.  I missed talking about colour and what you are supposed to be thinking and feeling as you play each section.  Really it’s the fine details I enjoy, and it’s a lot of fun to revel in that for half an hour.  I hope the student got a lot out of it.

I also heard back from the National Ballet School.  They don’t have the dates to accommodate me during March Break, so I’ll have to settle for September it seems.  Which is a shame because I don’t want to miss out on the first weeks of class with my students, so I’ll have to think of something.  I’m gonna want to have a rest on Sunday, for sure.

At least I had time

Today I didn’t have my head on straight.  Well, it’s always set to gay, but I mean that I was particularly forgetful.  I was heading to work early because I thought I’d be awesome and organize stuff at work (I hate seeing the music books in disarray.  I’ve organized them since then, they just need a little tidying).  Practicing new material would also be a good idea.  So off I go in my car and as I am getting off at my exit, it dawned on me: Today is Tuesday! I have clarinet to teach! I look at my passenger seat where I tossed my stuff… Bag, check.  Tea tumbler, check.  Clarinet? … Is it underneath my bag? No.  Shit.  SHIT.  Well maybe I only have the one student today, so it’ll be ok…

I get into work and check the schedule and it’s the day when I have my new trial student for clarinet, so I really have to have my instrument with me.  ARGGGGGGH.  I paced in my room for about 2 minutes hemming and hawing on whether I should really head back… and then got into my car and drove back home, picked up my clarinet, and headed back to work.  All of that practicing and organizing time was squandered, but at least I had the time to go get my clarinet.  If I had left home at the time I normally would leave, I’d have no clarinet at all.  Silver lining I suppose.  I guess I am smart for leaving time for my forgetfulness.

MY ROAD, MY STORY

As I was reading over the past posts from this week, it dawned on me.  My blog is all about the adventure leading up to my Japan trip.  When I actually get there, I don’t know what this blog will evolve into.  I don’t really want it to be just another “I’m a gaijin in Japan! Stuff is SO CUTE and WEIRD here! Stuff in Vending Machines?! MASCOTS FOR EVERY PREFECTURE?! Oh Land of the Rising Sun, you so crazy!” If I was leaving for Japan 4 years ago like I said I would then yeah, it’d probably be that way.  But now, I’m looking at Japan as a chance to see what another society is like and if (or how) could I fit into it.  I’ve got 14 years of interest and speculation, but now it’s really coming true. I can finally fill in the other daruma doll eye I have on my desk once I get back.  Of course I will pick up another one while I am there and get a new goal.  What that one daruma’s goal will be though, I’m not sure.

On the topic of goals, I don’t particularly have one at this point in my life.  It’s more of a checklist.  Japan is certainly a special one, but other than that, it’s the standard fare (not that there is anything wrong with it):

  • Improve my skills as a teacher and accompanist (and be better at my job every day)
  • Try out piano technician courses
  • Figure out where I wanna end up in life geographically
  • Get a boyfriend at some point?

I’m not itching to do all of those things at once, I know they will come in time.  I am taking a course at the National Ballet School in March to beef up my accompanying ability for dance (which I, and the Ballet Faculty at my work are super stoked about).  I know the RCM does their piano technician courses in the fall, so I will go do one of those (though I’d like to do it sooner, maybe there is a way)… and if I like it, then find a way to enroll or apprentice.  Western has a program for that, so that could be another thing to add to the list.  A part of me is a tad wary of going back to school again (I am 26 after all), but it’s not something that will hurt to do.  I may even go back and get a degree (not that I need it here particularly, but if I do want to live and work in Japan or other countries, it is necessary).

As for the boyfriend thing… It would be nice to have someone to share these things with.  Although the more I am in this job, the harder it is to meet people since I am on opposite schedules with the rest of the world.  I do get lonely sometimes (we all do), but I have friends and co-workers, so it’s all good.  Plus I don’t know where I will end up.  Not exactly fair to the potential suitors out there! In short, it’s extra icing, but it’s not mandatory.  I’ve already lived all over Canada, so the next step (naturally) is to conquer the world.  Can’t have a man cramping my style, unless he’s coming with me.

Of course, in the end I’ll be walking down that road alone.  Which suits me just fine.

(Wondering about that title? It’s my new category for this arc.  Kind of a play on MY ROAD, MY JOURNEY from Dragon Quest II.  I use the DQ music in ballet classes sometimes.  So classical and wonderful, I love playing it!)

Potpourri

This post (like most of my posts) is a bit all over the place today.  Just thought I’d give a warning.

Did a lot of house keeping today.  Dishwasher, vacuuming, organizing my room a bit, 2014 taxes, bills and practicing the clarinet.  I’ve been covering for a teacher on Tuesdays so I do more than just voice and piano now, which suits me just fine.  I’m a jack of all trades, musically speaking.  Let’s have a little list, shall we?

Instruments I can teach:

  • Piano (all RCM except ARCT since I never did it)
  • Voice
  • Guitar, ukulele, bass (beginner only, can’t teach super awesome solos)
  • Clarinet and Saxophones
  • Accordion

The only instruments I am missing from this list are violin, drums (which I don’t intend on doing because they’re so loud), and brass (I couldn’t buzz in high school… haven’t tried now and maybe I should?).  Flute is tricky for me too, but I suppose if I spent time with it I could learn.

Caught up with Grandma and my aunt today and it was really nice.  Grandma is going away on a cruise to the southern islands, and I’m a bit jealous (even though I just came back from my own vacation in the freezing depths of Montreal).  I’ve never been down south (phrasing) but it may be nice to see just once.  I suppose Japan is a good start.

Speaking of Japan, I looked over the pamphlets more today.  Tours are super expensive you guys.  But I suppose if I made the tour my own way and just stayed at hostels and business hotels, I’d keep costs down.  Normal hotels are $150 – 200 a night, easy.  I do want to stay at ryokan and check out a hot spring or two, but that is a special treat.  Most of the time I will be staying in very cheap places.  I really only want a place to sleep anyway, I don’t need the extra amenities.  The brochures have also inspired me to go check out as many UNESCO World Heritage sites as I can while I am there. The ones in Portugal were so lovely, I can only assume it’s just as magical anywhere else.

I am keeping an eye on helpx to see if there are any ways I can teach on a volunteer basis in exchange for food or living arrangements, but I fear I’m not that desirable because I am only in Japan for a month and I don’t wanna spend 2 weeks in one area.  A week may be good though.  We shall see.

Either way, I am super excited! Lots of stuff to do before the trip though.  Festivals, recitals, and teaching abound.  Good times.

Work work wonderful work

All I did today was teach.  Teach and finish arranging a super awesome SONG! I am definitely going to write out a proper SSA version of Let It Go. I feel like I may be a bit too late to ride the wave of popularity, but who knows? May as well do it and see what sticks right?

Other than that, a co-worker invited me out to an awesome pub show, but today is my Grandmother’s birthday and we are doing a mystery lunch/dinner some kind of engagement tomorrow, so I don’t think I will be able to attend, which is a shame.  The guy who is performing is amazing.

Solitary night in, but I feel very accomplished with what I did today.  Plus I gotta save money for Japan.  My parents went to the Outdoor show and got a bunch of pamphlets for me to look over when I go overseas.  They talked to the guys running the booth and told them about how I teach children music and all that.  They said I’d be a great fit for teaching over there too, but I don’t have a degree so no dice.  Japan is pretty strict on that front, which is a shame.  I was thinking that if I really like Japan, I could potentially study there and get my degree and then never look back.  Something to think about…

Chugging along

I’ve been keeping up with posts (though a couple a day late, sorry) and song writing.  Re-wrote an original from 5 years ago that I’d been meaning to finally hash out, and now I have! The progression is good, the melody needs a bit of work, but that will come together with lyrics.  I’m still not very good at writing lyrics… though I guess if I just start it will get better.  The stumbling block comes from getting started in writing them.  I become too wrapped up in what would sound good here, or whether that word will convey the right meaning, etc.  I guess that is a part of song writing itself, but this is the danger of being educated in music.  I got to learn how to simplify and write something I like.

In other news, it’s a balmy 3 degrees right now with a cloudy sky disappearing into a clear evening.  It’s kind of surreal.  I remember when I was a kid, the school would always talk about Groundhog Day and we’d always know when spring was going to end.  Apparently this year we have 6 more weeks of winter.  I’d say that’s true, but today’s weather…

May as well go out and enjoy it while it lasts!

What’s up with you, February?

The weather tonight was something else.  Snow, then thunder and lightning, then rain that ended around midnight.  Get your act together February! Is it gonna rain or snow? Is it going to be 3 degrees or -10? WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!

Tomorrow it’s going to be a high of 6.  6.  Ridiculous! We aren’t in Windsor, this is Toronto for goodness sake.  We shouldn’t be getting this kind of schizo-weather.  Thanks, Global Warming?

On the plus side, if 680 News predicts the weather and it’s not correct, someone’s gonna win some money.  Will it be me? Nope.

No more excuses

When someone else uses a tone that you find offensive, you immediately become more aware of what and how you respond.  I remember encountering this in Katimavik too.  It happens everywhere.  Work, home, traveling, you name it.  It’s a reminder to me that I should pay attention to how I say something more often.  I forget after a while, but something will happen and it will be at the front of my mind.  This post is more of a reminder for myself.

I mentioned this in a post about 100 Things About Me, but I’ll bring it up again.  People that know me know that when I say something, tone is not as important as what I am saying.  However, this only works in personal situations, and it’s really just an excuse for me not to change.  I should (and will try again and again and again) to make a conscious effort to be careful of what AND how I say things to people.

Especially now that I’ve been learning Japanese and practicing it, I’m realizing a bit more that tones in Japanese are simplified.  Raise intonation for questions, stress different syllables for different things are the two that I am encountering right now.  But in English, it’s so much more complex.  People can be sensitive to tone or not at all, and I should learn to be sensitive instead of just glossing over it.  It’s harder to be more sensitive all the time, but it will be easier in the long run.  A new habit will be formed… hopefully.