|The Grotto, Notre Dame University|
I just started my second semester as a DMA student in organ performance at Notre Dame University. I will be completely honest, I did not want to go back to school this semester -- which is very odd for me, as I have never experienced this before. I used to like school. I love to learn, I love to study, and I love to read, so much so that when I was finishing up my last semester at Franciscan U. as an undergrad, I was one of the few seniors who did *not* suffer from acute senioritis. Well, it hit me this year, BIG TIME, and the bad news is : I have two and a half years to go before I am handed my expensive piece of paper saying I am a doctor!
Over winter break, I kept asking myself -- why don't you want to go back? And I came up with three reasons:
1) Part of it was due to a few of the classes I took last fall, which left me dissatisfied and frustrated, but that happens, and that's not enough to quit school.
2) Part of it was due to my frustration with myself. The organ at Notre Dame is unlike any instrument I have encountered thus far in my career as an organist. It is extremely sensitive to the touch of the player, forcing him/her to be very precise when they play. For this reason, most of my lessons and practice time have been focused largely on technique rather than learning lots of repertoire. Improving performance technique is good and extremely important, but I have to be patient with myself, and that's hard because I can usually pick up things relatively quickly.
3) But I think the primary reason why I wanted to leave was because of my internship as a music director! As some of you know, I started working as the music director at a small episcopal church near Notre Dame and, as it turns out, I love being a music director! While it has definitely challenged me in many ways, (there are currently six people in our choir including myself), there are definitely a lot of good things going on (I get to play one of the best instruments in town every week), and it came to the point where I wished I could forget school and doctoral recitals and dissertations so I could devote all of my energy and time to building up the music program at this church!
So some of you are probably wondering, why don't you just leave?
Three things: 1) The organ and my teacher have shown me that I still have a lot to learn, and so I am going to take advantage of both of these fantastic teachers while I still can! 2) There are plenty of other church musician skills which I can learn and improve upon while I am in school, especially things like vocal technique (a.k.a. good singing techniques), choral conducting, how to cultivate a healthy, vibrant children's choir, how to fund raise, etc. In short, there are still plenty of gaps in my training which I would like to try and fill as much as possible before I head out into the job field! 3) And *least* importantly, I still want to be able to write the letters "Dr." in front of my name someday... and I hope that doesn't sound terribly pretentious...
So far, this semester has been better ... I am making progress with my recital music *and* my technique (woo!), I like all of my classes, and I am taking voice lessons on the side both for my own personal development and (more importantly) to gain more experience/knowledge as a singer so I feel more confident standing in front of a church choir!
So, yes, I may not be able to be a full-fledged music director I want to be just yet (and, as I understand it, this is constantly a work-in-progress), but on the bright side, I suppose it's good to find out that you enjoy what you want to do!
Until next time!
Reading: Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wife by Sigrid Undset
Watching: Downton Abbey, Agent Carter
Listening: Alice in Wonderland Soundtrack by Danny Elfman
Quote: "It was Freak who told me about King Arthur. How he got this round table, and how he got the bravest knights, and the whole world to sit at that table. 'You will be brothers,' said King Arthur. 'And you will fight for all those who ask for help. You will be gentle to the weak, but terrible to the wicked.' It was Freak who told me about King Arthur. It was Freak who told me everything." -- The Mighty, 1998.