26 May 2010

The Desire for Hermitage

Bonus points if you can name the composer of this song. Extra credit if you can name the larger cycle of which it is a part. Without Google or a book. :-)
Pictured is my "study." It is my brother's old bedroom which has a sweet desk space with a great view. From this vantage point I can see lots of animals running around in the CRP, the airport, town, and various buttes including Black Butte all the way over in Regent. It's completely peaceful. With the window open I can hear all of the birds.......as well as my dogs barking. I used to sit on this desk as a little girl and "talk to" the meadowlarks on the electric pole when I was supposed to be in bed in the early summer. It felt violating to be in bed when the sun was still shining, and I always felt like my mom was treating me like a baby, so I would get out of bed and sit on the desk and sing to the meadowlarks and thought that they sang back to me.
I was an oldest child. I lived in the country. I had to find ways to entertain myself. Don't judge.
Anyway, I think this is about the best place in the world for me to sit and do A LOT of studying for my upcoming comprehensive exams in July.
The comps are two-three full days of testing. The instruction is "just know everything about music." My rule for myself is that I have to study for at least two hours every morning. So far, I have stuck to the rule for over a week. I have made my way through American, British, French, German art song, and now am delving into the "Short History of Opera" by Donald J. Grout. The "short" history is 785 pages of excruciatingly small print, but it is surprisingly fascinating.
Following the opera book, which should take me roughly 1.5 weeks to get through, I will move on to music history, to pedagogy, and finally to music theory. I will probably have just enough time to get through everything, and I will probably only remember 25% of it if I'm lucky.
I would never be able to do this if I were in Fargo because all I would be seeing is all of the "stuff" around the house that needed doing--and I would be constantly distracted. This is one of the many reasons why I am extremely thankful for this "temporary" housing situation. I have little to care for, a beautiful environment to study in, and a large amount of peace and quiet.
My desire for hermitage is finally being satiated. I get to spend several hours a day immersing myself in my subject, spending as much time as necessary trying to understand as much about it as I can. It is a luxury! I'm thankful I have the opportunity for this--to just let things really sink in rather than glazing over them or cramming the information into the little cracks in my brain.
I wanted to introduce some of the Skinny Bitch ideas for better health in this blog. This relates to studying as I am implementing at least two or three of the ideas during my study periods.
First--when you get up, don't eat breakfast right away. The body is in a cleansing period in the early morning since your body has been fasting all night. If the body is not digesting (which takes a tremendous amount of energy), it has energy to purge bad things out of the system. Wait until you are actually hungry to eat.
I love this rule because I never feel like eating when I first wake up.
Second idea--breakfast should be herbal tea (I do green tea instead b/c of the benefits) and fruit. It should be eaten slowly and only until you are actually full.
So, I do a small fruit salad.
The result: I feel very satisfied but clean after eating this breakfast.
The breakfast of champions? No. The breakfast of a would-be academic? Yes.
So, the comprehensives are the penultimate step in the completion of my DMA. The final task, then, will be to complete my dissertation.
The topic for that is two-fold and relates very well to our lifestyle change. 1) Rural and agricultural themes in vocal art music and 2) how to relate vocal art music to a rural audience. I am not sure that the second question can be answered, but I am going to attempt it. I am also going to implement the idea by giving a vocal recital here in Mott on July 11th. The program is all music on rural and agricultural themes and includes photos taken by my brother of the prairie, wildlife, etc that relate to the music and hopefully speak to the people who come to the recital. It is sort of an experiment in answering the second question of the dissertation, if you will.
What am I going to do with a doctorate in vocal performance in the middle of nowhere? I don't know. How does this serve me in my quest to live self-reliantly? I have no idea. Frankly, I don't really give a rat's ass about that. I just want to FINISH. I will figure out the rest later. I know that it is all happening for a reason and that I don't need to understand the why right now--I just need to be faithful to completing the work. Maybe I will do some online teaching? Maybe I will do some regional performing or teach adjunct somewhere close by?
I will not be teaching piano lessons or voice lessons or flute lessons to kids. That is for sure. I will not be teaching music at the high school. I do not have my ed degree, and frankly, I would rather clean toilets than do that for a living. Maybe I will write articles and do research for scholarly journals. There are lots of possibilities, and sometimes the most important possibilities are the ones that I will create for myself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Samuel Barber, Hermit Songs. Now name who he wrote them for and his style characteristics. Without google or a book

7:55 PM  
Blogger Kiersten H. said...

a) Yea for peace and quiet. SUCH a blessing.
b) Personally, I feel like I'm starving to death by the time I wake up. Sometimes I have to have a midmorning snack b/c I'm so hungry.

9:12 AM  

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